Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

May 7, 2001

Big day, big event: fishing season opens Saturday

The 2001 Minnesota fishing season for walleye and northern pike opens Saturday, May 12 at 12:01 a.m.

In Minnesota, it's a big day and a big event. In fact, if there's a day or event in Minnesota that's bigger or has a greater impact, I'd challenge anybody to name it.

The opener involves thousands of people and millions of dollars, and is only the start of a season that captures the lives of many and affects just about everybody in the state in some form.

On Saturday, boat ramps will be full, bait shops busy, and if the weather is good, it will be the beginning of angling haven on earth, or at least in Minnesota.

Locally, the opener is much the same as it is in just about every other part of the state that has a body of water with fish in it, maybe even a little busier.

With several lakes, like Howard, Big Waverly, Ann, Mary, Dog, Dutch, and Ida in close proximity, the opener can become very busy here. Throw in the Crow River and a few other lakes, and we have own little fishing mecca.

Regarding local fishing, water levels are up, boat ramps and landings are in good shape and ready to go, and on some of the smaller lakes, water temperatures should be warm enough for good fishing.

In Howard Lake, Joe's Sport Shop will be open Friday, May 11 until midnight; on Saturday, May 12 from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday, May 13, the shop will open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Joe's has a full line of bait and tackle and is an excellent source for local fishing information.

At Highway 7 and McLeod County Road 9, between Lester Prairie and Winsted, Lil' Angie's Bait and Tackle at the Treasure Hunt will be open until 6 p.m. Friday, May 11; Saturday, May 12 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lil' Angie's also carries a full line of bait tackle and is another good source for local fishing information.

Both outlets sell angling licenses and are electronic license vendors.

If you're heading out for the opener, here a few tips:

­ Buy your license, tackle, and bait a couple of days early. If you don't want to buy your live bait a day or two in advance, at least get the rest of the stuff in advance. Lines on opening day, especially early in the morning, can be long.

­ Be prepared and make sure all your equipment is in good working order before you get on the water or in line at the landing.

­ Don't forget about trailer and boat licenses.

­ Be patient and courteous and willing to help others at the landing and while on the water. They will have more fun and so will you.

­ Read the regulations before you go out and carry a copy in your tackle box. Make sure you have enough personal flotation devices and the right kind to meet regulations and for safety. Know the lake you are on and be aware of any special regulations that may apply to that lake.

­ Make sure you clean all the vegetation and weeds from your boat and trailer at the landing and be aware of milfoil and other harmful aquatic species.

­ Be prepared for bad weather and dress warm.

­ Finally, the water temps on our local lakes are still pretty cold, probably somewhere in the high 40s. Because of that, fish shallow, use a live bait rig with a slow presentation, and don't be afraid of trying a small lake where water temps will be warmer.

Firearms safety training

Firearms safety training is for boys and girls who will be 12 years old and older in the calendar year 2001. Interested adults are welcome. This class includes safety, gun handling, conservation, first aid, archery and orientation. Successful completion of the course meets requirements for purchasing a big game license.

Howard Lake ­ Monday, May 7, Tuesday, May 8, Thursday, May 10, 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, May 12; 8 a.m. to noon; fee: $5; High School Howard Lake, room W-3.

For more information or to register, contact Howard Barth at 320-543-3526 or the HLWW Community Education office at 320-543-3600.

Waverly ­ Mondays and Tuesdays beginning April 9 for four weeks, 7 to 9 p.m.; fee: $5; Waverly Gun Club, Inc. You may register the first night of class. If you have any questions, contact Ed Marketon at 612-658-4231 or the HLWW Community Education office at 320-543-3600.

Outdoor notes

­ Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse.

­ Winsted Sportsmen's Club will meet Tuesday, May 8 at 6 p.m. at the Lake Mary clubhouse. Club members will clean up the Lake Mary landing beginning at 6 p.m. and the regular meeting will follow. Items on the agenda include Lake Mary walleye stocking and a he/she mixer update.

­ Firearms safety training is in full swing at the Lester Prairie Club, and instructors noted attendance was, again, excellent.

­ You help to keep our area lakes and rivers clean by using a phosphorus-free fertilizer on your lawn.

­ Put new line on your fishing reels. You will have less tangles and more fun. Also, don't put too much line on the spool.

­ Be cautious and courteous, and not competitive while fishing this season.

­ Reports from local anglers say that Lake Emma completely froze out this winter. A few local anglers noted large numbers of dead bass, bullhead, and carp on the shoreline. Smaller numbers of walleye, crappie and northern were also present.

­ The ice left Mille Lacs Lake April 28.

­ Have your dog checked for heartworm and make sure he or she is on a heartworm preventative medication.

­ Late last week, area farmers were just getting started with planting corn. Compared to most years, this is definitely a late start for area farmers.

­ Take some time to enjoy spring and watch it happen. In the last week, many varieties of trees began to bud and turn green.

­ Morel mushrooms will be popping from the ground very soon. Morel experts say the best time to hunt the mushroom is when the lilacs are blooming.

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