Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

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

March 20, 2000

New ice-out records set

The ice officially left Howard Lake Wednesday, March 15, setting a new record for the earliest ice-out date in recent history.

The previous record was set March 16, 1987.

On March 15, aside from a few feet of slush hugging the shoreline on the windy side of the lake, Howard Lake was more than 90 percent ice-free.

Many of the smaller lakes in our area, like Dog, and Mary were ice free by March 8.

According to the Silver Lake Leader, Silver Lake was ice free on March 7. That was also a record for Silver Lake.

The previous ice-out record was March 23, 1987. The latest recorded ice-out date for Silver Lake is May 7, which occurred in 1950.

Although the ice fishing season was extremely short this year, I haven't heard anyone complaining about spring arriving early and the ice leaving our area lakes so soon.

This season's ice-out has also brought fairly substantial fish kills on a few of our area lakes to the surface.

The first reports of a fairly substantial winter fish kill came from Winsted Lake last week. Near the dam and public access on the southeast corner of the lake, a large number of dead sunfish were present, with a few bass and small numbers of other species mixed in.

Reports of winter kills on other shallow lakes in the area have come in, but have not been confirmed at this time.

One final ice-out note: If you noticed, previous ice-out records on Howard Lake and Silver Lake were set in 1987. That was a drought year and several weather forecasters expect 2000 to be a very dry year.

Outdoor notes

  • Congratulations to DNR Conservation Officer Bob Mlynar. Bob is originally from Lester Prairie and was recently named DNR Boat and Water Safety Officer of the Year. Bob currently serves the Crow Wing and Aitkin county areas.
  • Winsted Sportsmen's Club will hold its annual He/She Mixer Friday, April 7 at 8 p.m. at the Blue Note in Winsted.
  • With ice-out here, look for bald eagles in the area. Bald eagles typically follow the ice-out line on their way to nesting grounds farther north. A few readers have also reported bald eagles nesting in our area.
  • Look for wood ducks and other waterfowl coming back or moving through our area. Wood ducks usually return around March 15 and in the last week or so, I have seen large numbers of ducks on several of our area lakes.
  • Firearms safety courses offered by local sportsmen's clubs and the DNR will be underway in our area very soon. Call your local community education department or follow this column for registration deadlines and class dates and times.
  • Sorry about the little interruption in my articles on the Crow River. I hope to continue with a piece on fishing the Crow River in next week's column.

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