Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

April 22, 2002

Ice out after a cold month of March

The ice completely left Howard Lake April 15.

Although the ice disappeared from many of the smaller bodies of water in the area a week or so early, we can now officially say the ice is gone and spring is here.

If you can remember back through a goofy winter, Howard Lake became iced over on Dec. 20, and back in February many of us thought the ice might be gone by early March.

In turn, March was the coldest month of the winter and the ice got thicker instead of melting. Then, eventually, the warmer, longer days of April showed up and now the ice is completely gone for another year.

In total, the season of lake ice lasted for approximately 115 days. More than a few days less than the norm.

A short season or not, it's good to see the ice gone and the open water and waves back because now we can get back to a few more important things like spring crappie fishing.

Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported the creek at Lake Ann was providing good crappie action until spring rains muddied the water.

Joe's also noted, although the remodeling at the shop is in progress, it is geared up for the fishing season and have a good line of live bait and tackle on hand.

Lil' Angies Bait and Tackle at the Porthole in Lester Prairie reported: Spring crappie action has been good near the dam on Winsted Lake. Lake Mary has been providing some decent action, and just before ice-out, the crappie bite on Howard Lake was great.

Lil'Angies also noted it is ready to go for the spring fishing season.

As spring cruises forward, look for crappie action to pick up. As the water warms, the fishing gets better and eventually the crappies will move into the shallow bays and mud flats and bait minnows and jigs like crazy.

On a final note, the spring flight of waterfowl through our area was tremendous. Snow geese, buffalo head, blue bills, canvas backs, thousands of red heads all came through the area last week.

Outdoor notes

­ To the delight of many area anglers, Howard Lake will most likely get a new and improved boat launch and access. The City of Howard Lake and the Howard Lake Sportsmen's Club have been aggressively pursuing the project. Either the access at Lions Park on the south side of the lake, or the access at Memorial Park on the east side of the lake will be improved at sometime in the future.

­ During 2001, the Wright County Pheasants Forever chapter donated $10,000 to the Minnesota Habitat Fund. This fund was created to promote the purchase of large tracts of land in Minnesota. Due to these contributions, hundreds of acres have been added as Wildlife Management Areas throughout the state. Donations many times receive a dollar for dollar match from grants through both federal and state programs allowing for larger land acquisitions.

The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District also received a donation from the WCPF chapter to provide habitat and improve water quality within Wright County. It also contributed to numerous projects that results in improved filter strips and shelter belts, as well as the seeding of wetlands at the Goose Lake WMA in French Lake Township.

­ If you didn't know, the Winsted Sportsmen's Club owns and maintains the lake accesses on lakes Mary, Round, Dog, and Ida. It pays the property taxes and the rent on the Mini-Biffs.

­ The trapshooting season at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club began on Wednesday.

­ For information on local DNR-certified firearms safety training classes, refer to your area or local community education department or the brochures community ed puts out.

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

­ The Howard Lake Fire Department Relief Association has a four-wheeler raffle on the go. If you're interested in getting a chance to win a new atv, stop at Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake.

­ For better luck and more fun fishing this spring, put new line on your reels. You'll get fewer tangles, fewer hassles, and you will catch more fish.

­ The Winsted Lake Watershed Association will host a Winsted Lake clean-up on Saturday, May 4.

Volunteers are needed and asked to meet at Mill Reserve Park in Winsted at 8:30 a.m. Lunch will be provided to those who lend a helping hand.

­ Take some time to get outside and watch spring happen. Before you know it, the trees will be full of leaves, mosquitoes will be flying, and the landscape will be green.

­ The application deadline for 2002 Minnesota black bear hunting season is Friday, May 3.

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