Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Jan. 21, 2002

Lakes are making ice now

After ups and downs in the weather and the ice fishing, a cold snap late last week that sent temperatures well below freezing, added a big boost to the local ice fishing scene.

Although the ice is still somewhat inconsistent and does vary from lake to lake and from one spot on a lake to another, the ice is getting thicker and ice fishing activity is picking up.

Several reports noted the ice is 12 or more inches thick on most lakes and vehicle traffic on the lakes is common.

Regarding vehicle travel, one set back did occur on Howard Lake last week. On Thursday or Friday, a mid-sized car broke though the ice in about three feet of water in the south bay, near the ball park. A few years ago, a vehicle also broke through in the same general area. There is most likely a spring or very dense vegetation in the area that does not allow the ice to get thick or strong enough to support a vehicle.

All anglers who fish or plan on ice fishing on Howard Lake should note the area. Again, several reports noted that the ice on a majority of Howard Lake is consistent and 12 or more inches thick.

For those anglers wanting specific information regarding ice conditions on local lakes the best bet is to stop at the bait shops in the area and ask.

Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported: Aside from the car being stuck in the ice near the ball park the ice has gotten thicker and the fishing is picking up. There was a good spurt of crappie action near the high banks and just off the bars on Howard last week, and the action on northern pike is just starting to pick up.

On Lake Ann the crappies are biting and anglers are still picking up a few walleyes. Good panfish action was being found on Granite and Henry and there's been a lot of fish houses moving around on Big Waverly.

Joe's noted Big Waverly is kind of a sleeper lake in the winter. There's some good fishing out there and not very many anglers take advantage of it.

Lil' Angie's Bait and Tackle at the Porthole Bar and Cafe in Lester Prairie reported that the activity on our area lakes is just starting to pick up and anglers are driving on most lakes now. The snow we got last week didn't hurt the ice conditions and the cold weather is making ice.

On Collinwood, anglers are picking up walleyes on shiner minnows. The best bite is early in the morning and on Lake Ann the walleyes are still hitting and the crappie bite has picked up.

On Lake Ann, which I have ice fished extensively in the past, the crappies can definitely be hit and miss. For me, when the action picked up the best fishing was always around dusk. Then a week or so later the only time the crappies would bite at a good pace was about 2 a.m. in the morning.

On a final note, please check ice conditions before you head out on to the ice. Know local conditions, and if your driving on the ice, don't venture out to areas that you aren't familiar with or aren't sure what the ice conditions are like.

HL Fishing Derby

The 56th annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Howard Lake Sportsmen's Club, is set for Saturday, Feb . 9 from 2 to 4 p.m. on Howard Lake.

The grand prize in this years drawing is a 6 1/2 foot by 12 foot King Crow deluxe fish house. Tickets are available at Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake or from club members.

Outdoor notes

­ DNR officials reported that Governor Ventura's budget proposal will very likely result in more than $15 million being cut from the DNR's operating budget. Look for things like the proposed, walk in area program and various grant programs to be cut. Also, the Minnesota Conservation Corps may be cut.

­ If your feeding pheasants or other wildlife this winter please continue the feeding program through the entire winter. Wildlife using the feeder may become dependent on them and if the food source is removed before winter ends you could end up doing more harm then good to the wildlife you truing to help.

­ The rabbit and squirrel hunting seasons in Minnesota end Feb. 28.

­ The fishing season for walleye and northern pike ends Feb 17.

­ 2001 Minnesota fishing licenses expire Feb. 28, 2002. New 2002 licenses are required March 1.

­ The 2002 Minnesota fishing opener for walleye and norther pike is set for Sat., May 11.

­ The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club has tentatively set the date for it's annual father/son-daughter banquet for Friday, March 15 or 22.

­ Take a kid fishing this winter he or she will have fun and so will you.

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