Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

April 30, 2001

Open water fishing is finally here

Lines have been dropped in the Crow River, boats have been cruising the lakes, and although it's a bit slow right now, the spring crappie bite is underway.

Reports have been trickling in about crappie action on our local lakes, and those reports indicate water levels are too high and water temps are still a bit too cold for fast action.

The most interesting report involved a farm field pond adjacent to one of our lakes that had crappies in it. Apparently, high water levels allowed the crappies to make their way into the field pond, and as the water dropped, some of the crappies got trapped there.

The action on our area lakes got rolling on or after April 18. That was the day, or at least approximate date, that Howard Lake became ice-free.

On many of the smaller lakes in our area, ice-out took place days or even a week earlier. Last year, ice out occurred on Howard Lake March 15. That was the earliest ever recorded ice-out date for Howard Lake.

This year, although it seems winter and the ice dragged on much longer than it actually did, ice-out took place on very normal date.

Looking at ice-out data from the past 50 years, the average ice-out date for Howard Lake is probably very close to April 18. The latest ice-out date recorded was May 2, in 1950.

Moving on, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is advising anglers that because of high water levels, many of the boat landings and boat access points may not completely be ready for use for some time yet.

Regarding high water, the levels on our local lakes are high and the Crow River is still extremely high.

When water levels are this high, fishing on the river can be almost impossible. The only benefit of the high water to an angler, is the backwaters that fill up. These river backwater areas, like the locations between Lester Prairie and New Germany, can become honey holes for a variety of fish, and often provide lunkers.

On a final note, as the water warms up, the fishing will get better. Don't forget to purchase your new 2001 Minnesota angling license.

Outdoor notes

­ The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club is open Wednesday evenings for league and practice trapshooting.

­ The 2001 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 12.

­ You can help to improve the water quality on our area lakes and rivers by using a phosphorus-free fertilizer on your lawn.

­ Because of freeze out on many of the smaller ponds across Minnesota, minnows may be in short supply this fishing season. Expect to pay more for them as the fishing season progresses.

­ A wide variety of waterfowl were abundant in our area just a few weeks ago. Today, most have moved on to greener pastures and better nesting conditions elsewhere.

­ If the weather gets warm, look for morel mushrooms to begin popping from the ground very soon. Some morel experts say the best time to hunt the mushroom is when the lilacs are blooming.

­ Get your dog checked for heartworm and started on a heartworm preventative medication.

­ The Winsted Lake Watershed Association will conduct its annual lakeshore clean-up event for Winsted Lake Saturday, May 5 from 8 to 11 a.m. beginning at Mill Reserve Park in Winsted.

­ Here's an interesting item on local geography: While heading north toward Mayer on state Highway 25, I stopped at a high point in the area. From that point, I could see the water towers of Waconia, Mayer, New Germany, Lester Prairie, Winsted, and I believe, Watertown. The spot provided a great view of the countryside.

­ Take some time to get outside and watch spring happen. Before you know it, the countryside will be green and growing and summer will be here.

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