Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

March 19, 2001

Lake improvement activites on the upswing

Fifteen or 20 years ago, Winsted Lake seemed to be almost a dead sea.

Algae grew thick in late summer, carp tore up the silt-covered bottom, and the only fishing activity I can remember came in the dead of winter from the open area of water behind the Mid-Am plant.

Rough fish and northerns would congregate to the open water area and became easy targets for spearing. I believe the lake, at that time, was often opened for promiscuous fishing because of low oxygen levels and the high threat of winterkill.

That was my recollection, and if you talked to others, I'm sure they could tell you much more about the history of Winsted Lake and the lake's recreational resources and water quality.

However, that was Winsted Lake. Today, the lake, like many fertile shallow lakes, still has its problems.

But, it has improved and continues to improve, due to the efforts of the Winsted Lake Watershed Association.

In recent years, the lake has been a tremendous producer of crappies and northern pike for local ice and open water anglers.

The water clarity is better. Algae blooms in late summer are not as intense, and the lake boasts a great swimming beach with lake curtain in the summer, a skating rink with warming house in the winter, and a refurbished and expanded public water access on the lakes southeast shore.

The key player has been and still is the Winsted Lake Watershed Association.

Association members know that improving the quality of the lake is a very long-term and ongoing process that will take years to accomplish and will require collaboration from many other organizations, landowners, and levels of government.

Created in January 1994 as a task force to address Winsted Lake watershed concerns, the association now boasts over 200 members.

Its accomplishments in the short term include (just a few of the many) installing and maintaining an aeration system, placing the swimming curtain on the public beach, adopting a section of the Luce Line Trail, and annual lake clean-up projects.

In the long term, the association has worked hard to educate people on lake and watershed quality issues, and has built relationships with other organizations and government agencies that assist in the effort to enhance and preserve Winsted Lake.

Currently, the association is on a mission led by Gene Hausladen of Winsted, to raise money to upgrade the current aeration system in order to provide enough oxygen to keep sunfish alive. Hausladen noted that today's new and advanced aerators make that possible, and the cost of a new system would be about $21,000.

The fundraising effort has started, with Hausladen creating and selling a neat little booklet for Winsted and area residents. The booklet lists post office box numbers for Winsted residents and businesses.

Local and area phone books do not list the post office box numbers. The booklet is designed to fit nicely inside a local phone book.

That's just a start to the fundraising efforts for new aerators on Winsted Lake.

Knowing Gene and other members of the association, I'm sure they have a few other ideas dangling at the end of their fishing line.

The Winsted Lake Watershed Association is another good thing happening in local natural resource conservation.

For more information, contact Hausladen at (320) 485-2662. For more information on the planned new aeration system, call Jason Jones at Aeration Industries, 1-800-328-8287.

Outdoor notes

­ Although the ice on our area lakes is still very thick, the time has come to be cautious and careful on and around lake ice. Look for large amounts of water to start building up on top of the ice. Remember that no ice is ever completely safe, and expect ice conditions to change dramatically over the next few weeks.

­ By this time last year, our area lakes were completely open and ice-free.

­ I saw two Canada geese heading north last week, and wood ducks, along with other waterfowl, may be arriving in the area very soon.

­ Don't forget to purchase your new 2001 Minnesota fishing license. Year 2000 licenses expired Feb. 28.

­ In other conservation news, a group of area conservation organizations have teamed up to purchase a chunk of land and establish a new wildlife habitat area bordering the Crow River near Lester Prairie. Look for more information on the new project in this column in upcoming weeks.

­ Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club opens for practice trapshooting Wednesday, April 4 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. League shooting starts Wednesday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m.

­ Spring officially begins Tuesday, March 20.

­ Anyone interested in becoming a Crow River stream monitor should contact Jenny Lee of the Crow River Organization of Waters at (763) 682-1933.

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