Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

June 18, 2001

Weather dampens outdoor activities

After a very long winter, there are only a few things that can diminish the enthusiasm of those who love the outdoors - humidity, biting insects, and bad weather.

TV meteorologists have said we just had the wettest 13-day period of June that we have ever had.

Farm fields are flooded again, rivers and streams are high and spilling over their banks in areas again, lake levels are high, and everything, including outdoor enthusiasm, is just plain wet.

The large amount of rain we have received has been good for a few things like lawns, mosquitoes, and nesting waterfowl.

However, the rain has been hard on the agricultural and sport fishing industries and finally, may be devastating to nesting pheasants and a variety of songbirds.

Regarding fishing, the rain and stormy weather has been so consistent that many anglers just have not made it out to fish.

Vacations and trips to Minnesota resorts have been cancelled, activity is down, bait sales are down, and in reality, you could probably count the number of good fishing days in May and June on one hand.

Also, the rain and stormy weather do affect when, if, and how fish bite. The run-off alone into our area lakes cools and muddies the water, and washes in more food, making it tougher to catch fish.

On the positive side, high water levels have expanded waters and created more spawning locations for fish, like northern pike, bass, and panfish.

Regarding pheasants, right now they are in their prime time nesting period and some hatching had already taken place, making the rain even more damaging to the population.

Pheasant chicks are extremely susceptible to rainy, wet, and cold periods, and broods of young chicks can succumb to the conditions in just a few days.

So far this spring and early summer, nesting conditions for upland birds in general have been horrible, and I have yet to see a brood of young pheasant chicks.

Pheasants in general need good nesting conditions to sustain the population because the average bird only lives about 17 months.

Also, a majority of the roosters harvested in the fall are first-year birds, and without decent numbers for hunters, fewer people hunt and less money is raised and invested back into habitat that benefits pheasants and all types of wildlife.

On the positive side, pheasant hens are diligent re-nesters and will nest or lay eggs up to four times before they give it up for the season, and there should be an ample supply of bugs for young pheasant chicks to eat.

Lastly, and for one more rain drop in the bucket, how about the thunder that echoed through the sky during a few stormy nights last week. The noise level was awesome and definitely a reminder to who is really in control out there.

GND fishing contest

If you like a little fishing competition and fun, the community of Howard Lake is holding its annual fishing contest Saturday, June 23 on Howard Lake.

Howard Lake had been a hotbed for fishing lately and action at the contest is expected to be very good.

One of the advantages of fishing the contest or just watching a little of is to learn the lake. By watching where a majority of the boats head to and what baits, tackle, and presentations anglers use, will tell you how where to catch fish the next time you head to Howard.

For more information on the contest, contact Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake.

Area lakes fishing report

Although the weather had not been good for fishing, local reports indicate the fishing, especially for sunfish, has been excellent on many of our area lakes.

Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake reported: The action on Howard Lake had been great, and the lake had been producing better than it has in quite some time. Largemouth bass are hitting. The walleye bite has slowed a bit, but is still good, and good sized sunfish are biting in big numbers.

Dave Groff of Lil' Angie's Bait and Tackle at the Treasure Hunt reported: Rain, rain, and wet, and it just won't stop. Dave added the walleye action on Howard had been great. The bite on Mille Lacs has been super, and the fishing good although most walleyes caught don't fit into the allowed 16- to 18-inch slot limit.

Panfish action on Mary and Ida has been good, northerns are biting everywhere, and a few anglers have reported decent catches of small walleyes on Lake Ann.

Dave also noted that walleyes are now being caught in 15 to 22 feet of water on most lakes. Fishing action on the Crow River very close to Lester Prairie may slow down a bit when construction for a sewer line running underneath the river begins.

Outdoor notes

­ Fly fishing for panfish is a great way to experience a different kind of angling. In last week's column I provided you with some info on the subject, which included the bait of choice being a yellow panfish popper.

­ Here's another tip: if you're just getting started with a fly rod, don't worry about casting. That will come in time. Start with understanding that the weight of the line carries the bait or fly, and that the right fly and a good clean tippet cleanly tied to the fly line will catch more fish than a perfect cast will.

­ Make sure your dog had been checked for heartworm and is on a heartworm preventative medication.

­ Be prepared for mosquitoes and other bugs to be out in full force very soon.

­ Conditions for nesting Canada geese in our area have been excellent, and geese and goslings seem to be everywhere. On one little pond, I counted six nesting pair and 24 goslings.

­ Wright County Pheasants Forever will sponsor a Leopole Education Project eduator training workshop Saturday, July 28 at Ney Nature Center near Maple Lake. The project aims to promote conservation and protection of the earth's resources. For more information, call toll-free 877-773-2070.

­ Take some time to enjoy summer. Soon the days will be getting shorter again instead of longer.

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