Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Feb. 4, 2002

It never really started and it's almost over

The 2001-02 version of the local ice fishing season for walleye and northern pike never really got going, and now it's almost over.

A late freeze up, warm winter weather, along with poor and varied ice conditions kept many anglers from putting their houses on the ice and in general, never allowed the ice fishing ball to get rolling this season. As soon as the ball would pick up a little momentum, Mother Nature would slow it, up or completely stop it sending ice anglers into a state of confusion.

Now, with the ball rolling a little bit, and northern pike action picking up on a few area lakes just starting to pick up, the DNR will put a halt to it with the close of the walleye and northern pike season Sunday, Feb. 17.

The only things left to look forward to will be some, hopefully, very good late ice panfish action, and the opening day of the 2002 - 03 walleye and northern pike season set for Saturday. May 11. Throw in two weeks of walleye and northern action left along with the Howard Lake fishing derby, and that about it.

The season that never really got started will be over.

On the other end of the line, everything has been pretty quiet. Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported a modest crappie bite near the high banks on Howard and a few anglers nabbing good sized northern pike, also, on Howard.

Dave Groff at Lil' Angie's Bait and Tackle at the Porthole in Lester Prairie also didn't have much to report other than evening crappie action on Swan Lake near the city of Silver Lake.

Other fishing news has almost been non existent. With fewer people fishing, it's much easier for tight lipped anglers to keep the word on a honey hole from getting out, and I think we all know that a successful ice angler does a pretty good job at keeping the lips sealed and the jaws from flapping.

On a final note, ice conditions on local lakes are good and there have been no recent reports of bad ice or vehicles breaking though.

Archer's club to offer classes

The Prairie Archers of Lester Prairie will be offering two separate sessions of five nights, two hours a night.

The first session started last week, but the second session starts tonight, Feb. 4, starting at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, call Jim Richardson at (320) 395-2721.

HL Fishing Derby

The 56th annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Howard Lake Sportsmen's Club, is set for Saturday, Feb. 9, 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

­ 2001/2002 fishing licenses expire Feb. 28, 2002. New 2002 - 03 licenses are required on March 1.

­ Spend some time planning an outdoor adventure for this spring or summer. A great local adventure is canoeing the south or north fork of the Crow River. You don't have to drive far, it's challenging, and you can have a blast in just a few hours.

­ The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is contemplating the idea of creating a Walk In Area program in Minnesota similar to the programs in the Dakotas.

The question, aside from paying for it, is - is leasing land for public hunting better than buying it for permanent Wildlife Management Areas. Of course, the issue is much more complicated than that.

However, if the issue has crossed your mind, consider that in Minnesota we don't have as much conservation reserve land as the Dakotas and the cover or habitat on a majority of our CRP acres isn't high quality wildlife habitat like it is in much of the Dakotas or Nebraska. A thin stand of alfalfa/brome doesn't compare to thick, three-foot tall switch grass.

­ If you would like to get involved with helping to improve the Crow River, call 763-682-1933.

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

­ Results from the 2002 Minnesota spring turkey hunting season lottery will be posted Monday, Feb. 11 on the DNR's website, www.dnr.state.mn.us.

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

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