Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

January 11, 1999

Winter brings memories of past

Winter, and the cold and snow that come with it, brings all kinds of changes.

Some are very dramatic, but most are subtle and almost kind of sneaky. When the cold northwest wind starts blowing, they arrive without much notice, creating a way of life that most people living in a southern climate could never understand.

Those sneaky little items of winter have also created unforgettable memories for just about all who have had to deal with it.

I remember when I was kid, the big farm house we lived in didn't have the standard forced-air furnace that most of us are accustomed to today.

The house was heated by an oil-burning stove that sat in the middle of the house, actually in the living room. Heat blew out the top, the sides, and from two vents in the front, near the bottom of the stove.

In the ceilings of the home's main level, there were big old metal vents that allowed heat from the stove to get up to the bedrooms and bathroom on the second level.

You can imagine how cold the upstairs bathroom and bedrooms got. When the temps dipped below zero outside, you didn't waste much time sitting on the stool in fear of frostbite on your tush.

It seemed there was just enough heat to keep the water from freezing, but not your rear end. An electric heater kept you from turning into an icicle when you got out of the bathtub.

My parents called one of the bedrooms upstairs the "north room." The room was on the north side of the house, but it was called the north room, because it was always cold.

Needless to say, the north room was the room in the house farthest away from the oil burning stove.

With two cold bedrooms upstairs, my twin sister and I spent many nights as kids curled up in front of the vents on the front of the oil-burning stove. The warm air those vents blew out made that spot in the living room not just the most popular spot in the house, but on the entire farm.

When older siblings were home and other kids or relatives were over, many a battle was fought for that spot on the floor in front of the oil-burning stove.

Another feature of the stove was the pot full of water on the top. Today you would call it a humidifier; at that time, it was just a pot full of water that kept the air in the house from getting too dry.

Actually, the memories of the oil-burning stove came back to me just recently, when the humidifier my wife runs in our home quit working. The filter needed to be replaced and we didn't have another one on hand.

The air was getting so dry, I pulled out a pot, filled it with water and put it on the kitchen stove.

When the steam started to rise and moisten the air, memories of that old oil-burning stove hit me like a cold trip to the bathroom.

Area lakes fishing report

The ice is there. Conditions for fishing have been good, and pail-flipping anglers have been hitting the lakes in big numbers.

Anglers have been reporting good ice conditions, with 12 to 14 inches of ice on many of the lakes. Also, anglers have been driving out for about a week now, with no reports of poor ice or vehicles breaking through in our area.

Several spear anglers also noted that water conditions for spearing have improved. Earlier in the season, the water in many of our area lakes was too cloudy and not clear enough for good spearing.

Now anglers say that the water on lakes like Dog and Howard have cleared up and conditions for spearing are better.

Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake reported: The crappie action around the area has been slow and the sunfish action is starting to pick up. On Howard, anglers are picking a few big walleyes, fair-sized northern pike, small sunfish and all kinds of perch. The northern action on Big Swan has also been good.

Other reports from the area have Lake Waconia producing large numbers of good-sized sunfish and a few crappies. Parley is producing crappies at dusk. Whale Tale is giving up northern pike, and anglers heading to Lake Jennie are still picking up a few walleyes.

The surprise so far this season has been the lack of crappie action. Typical producers like Howard, Dutch, Mary, Dog, and Ida haven't provided any fast action to anglers I have spoken with so far.

Anglers fishing Dog say that the action has been slow, with a good evening meaning only four to five fish.

Sooner or later the crappies will hit. The bite on any of the lakes in our area probably won't last long, so keep your ears open and be ready to hit the lake in short notice.

Outdoor notes

  • The Howard Lake Sportsmen's Club will have its annual Ice Fishing Derby Saturday, Feb. 13. Raffle tickets for the grand prize, a deluxe King Crow fish house are available from club members and at Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake.
  • The Winsted Sportsmen's Club will host its annual He/She Mixer Friday, Feb. 12.
  • The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club has set Friday, March 19 as the date for its 1999 Father/Son Banquet.
  • In the upcoming weeks, look for more information on the events mentioned above and on other fundraising events and local conservation efforts in this column.
  • Pay special attention to lakes in our area that are being aerated this winter like Winsted Lake and Little Waverly Lake. The areas where aeration systems are in use are well-marked with thin ice signs. Stay a good distance away and obey the warning signs.
  • If you are planning to feed pheasants or other wildlife this winter, remember that when you start feeding in an area, you should continue the feeding throughout the winter.
  • In the past few weeks, I have seen several large groups of pheasants in the ares. They all looked healthy and in good shape.
  • Take a kid ice fishing; you'll have fun and so will they.

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