Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

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

March 27, 2000

Spring is officially here

According to the calendar, winter left us and spring officially arrived on Monday, March 20.

By most accounts, and looking back at another very mild winter, it seems like spring has been here for quite some time already.

The ice left our area lakes early enough to set new ice-out records, ducks and Canada geese have been in the area for more than a month, and it's hard to remember the last time it got really cold outside.

On my part, it's hard to remember if it ever got really cold out this winter.

In any case, although it wasn't much of a winter to brag about, it is hopefully gone for another year.

With winter behind us, here are a few points of spring:

­ Take some time to actually watch spring happen. Before you know it, the grass will be green, the trees full of leaves, and summer will be here.

­ Bald eagle sightings have increased in our area and a few may even nest in the area. Bald eagles typically follow the ice-out line on their way to nesting grounds farther north.

Although ice-out in our area occurred a few weeks ago, eagles will stick around a particular body of water as long as it is producing food. Ice-out usually produces dead fish along the shoreline or on top of the water and that is what the eagles are after.

­ I saw my first robin on March 22.

­ The best time to hunt morel mushrooms is when the lilacs are blooming.

­ Daylight savings time begins Sunday, April 2. The sun will set at 6:41 p.m. on April 1, and at 7:42 p.m. on April 2.

­ The 2000 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 13.

­ Pheasants, waterfowl, and a variety of songbirds will begin nesting very soon.

­ Spring ends and summer officially begins Tuesday, June 20.

Fishing the Crow River

Not to anybody's surprise, open water angling on the Crow River has already begun this spring.

Last week, I saw several anglers trying their luck for catfish on the south fork of the river near Lester Prairie, and on the north fork just west of Howard Lake.

Before I get into more info on the river and the fish in it, anglers using the river must be aware that the same regulations about taking fish, limits, and license requirements apply on the Crow River just as they apply to the lakes within our state.

I have a feeling that many anglers believe the fish in the river are there by chance and will probably die in the short term. They come with the opinion that if the walleyes and northerns are biting, catch as many as they can, even though they know that the possession limit on walleye is six and on northern pike, three.

They don't see the river as a renewable fishing resource like a lake is and they don't treat it like a lake.

What those anglers have to understand is that the river and the fish in it are renewable resources and have to be managed and cared for just like our lakes. All regulations apply, including limits and slot sizes.

Another factor regarding angling on the river is access. On both the north and south forks, there are not very many points of public access to the river. Most of the land adjoining the river is privately owned, and anglers wanting access to fish or put in a canoe on private land must obtain permission from the landowner.

Moving on, regarding fishing on the river, there are many other items to investigate.

What species of fish are present?

What are their average sizes and numbers?

How healthy is the fishery, and will the excellent fishing the river has provided continue?

Although open water fishing on the river has begun for another season, make sure you keep reading, because there is still a lot to learn about the Crow River.

Outdoor notes

Winsted Lake experienced a partial fish kill this winter. But anglers shouldn't get too excited or worried. Winter kill on Winsted Lake and many of the shallower lakes in our area is somewhat common.

On March 15 and 16, the DNR did some test netting on Winsted Lake and the news was very encouraging. High numbers of black crappies, white crappies, and northern pike were found, and there should be plenty of fish in the lake for anglers this summer.

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