Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

May 19, 2003

Fishing opener was boom or bust

Cool temps and a stiff breeze greeted anglers across our area on the 2003 version of the Minnesota fishing opener.

Saturday was an OK day to fish, with anglers who headed out at midnight actually finding some decent weather to fish in. Sunday was a different story. High winds and occasional rain made angling difficult.

According to several reports, the hottest lake in the area for walleyes and boats was Buffalo. One angler noted that if you could navigate the traffic jam on the lake, you were bound to catch a walleye.

Other reports indicated that, in general, the opener was slow and angling activity was down a bit, mostly because of the weather.

I know the weather kept me from fishing Sunday, and I probably saw more boats being trailered Monday, when the weather was better than when I did on the weekend.

Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported that Collinwood provided some decent action on the opener and had a good share of activity, with 30 or more boats on the lake just after midnight.

Little Waverly provided good action on northern pike, and Big Waverly is still giving up crappies in shallow water near the ballpark. Howard produced a few fish, as well as Washington. The hottest lake so far this season has been Buffalo.

Dave Groff of Lil' Angie's Bait and Tackle at the Porthole in Lester Prairie reported that opening day angling for his fishing partners and himself was excellent on Leech Lake.

Locally, Buffalo was the hot lake, with Waconia also providing some decent action on walleyes in four to eight feet of water. Groff noted that, because of the weather, opening weekend activity in general was slow.

Personally, the opener was a good one, meaning that I didn't get blanked and my 5-year-old daughter didn't out-fish me.

I nabbed one walleye, one northern pike, a few crappies, and a bunch of sunfish. My fishing plans were altered a little bit due to high water levels and a fast current on the Crow River.

River fishing may be tough this season. By the time water levels drop and the current slows, the bugs may be unbearable.

With the opener behind us now, the fishing should only get better.

Take a Kid Fishing

The annual "Take a Kid Fishing Day" sponsored by the Winsted Sportsmen's Club is set for Sunday, June 8. To register, or for more information contact Tom Kieser at (952) 955-1704.

The event begins with registration at 1 p.m., with fishing from 2 to 4 p.m., and a meal and prizes from 4 to 5 p.m. Registration is recommended.

Fishing with the family event introduces kids to lifelong activity

From the DNR

Fishing is part of Minnesota's culture, but because of our fast-paced lives and increases in urbanization, greater numbers of Minnesotans are becoming disconnected from angling and the outdoors.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources MinnAqua program teaches thousands of Minnesota youth to fish every year at events similar to the "Fishing With the First Family" event at the Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener.

There, 75 children from the Detroit Lakes Area Boys and Girls Club will be special guests of the Governor, First Lady, and their children.

While many of these kids have fished before, some are new to the activity. Research indicates that if kids start fishing at an early age, they are more likely to fish throughout their life. Fishing is a safe activity that provides strong social bonding opportunities for families. Research indicates that family connections are the most prevalent motivation for anglers to go fishing.

Connecting kids to nature, particularly aquatic ecosystems, through fishing increases their awareness of the natural world and makes them better stewards of the environment.

Take a Kid Fishing day is Saturday, June 7. There will be events throughout the state to introduce kids to fishing.

From Tuesday, June 6 to Thursday, June 8, adults who take a kid fishing are not required to purchase a license.

A recent survey showed that 88 percent of anglers and 65 percent of non-anglers said they would go fishing if a child asked them. So, take a kid fishing. You'll both have fun.

DNR launches OHV education campaign

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has launched a major spring education campaign to promote the responsible use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs). Publicity efforts include billboards and radio public service announcements. The campaign is centered around the theme "Protect Your Privilege to Ride."

Ron Potter, head of the DNR's OHV program, said the campaign is aimed primarily at those riders who don't always show the proper respect for the environment or other forms of outdoor recreation.

"We are committed to providing opportunities for OHV use on public lands," Potter said. "It is a legitimate form of recreation, but some riders haven't gotten the message that they could lose that privilege if they don't exercise it responsibly."

The DNR shares the concern of many Minnesotans about the impacts of OHV use. Registered OHVs now number more than 200,000 in the state. That number is increasing by tens of thousands of new machines each year.

Billboards appearing throughout much of the state carry the message ­ "Protect your privilege to ride," along with one of several specific messages, including "Stay on the trail," "Avoid wetlands," "Respect wildlife," "Keep your noise down," "Share the trail," and "Know the rules." A smaller billboard campaign was launched last fall.

The same messages are featured in a new four-part series of radio public service announcements.

Those PSAs will appear in coming weeks on WCCO, KQRS, the WMNN Radio News Network, and other stations around Minnesota.

The airtime is a combination of paid and donated spots. The PSAs use a humorous storyline to remind OHV users to ride responsibly. They portray a young teenager complaining to his friend about the misdeeds of his father.

"Our goal is to change behavior," said Dennis Asmussen, the director of DNR Trails and Waterways. "Stepped up enforcement is part of the solution, along with a better system of designated trails. Ultimately OHV users need to take responsibility for their actions. We are reminding them to do that in a way that we hope will be well-received and therefore effective."

All four of the PSAs are available for download on the DNR Web site at: psas/index.html.

The education campaign is funded by a $150,000 appropriation requested by OHV user groups on behalf of the DNR. It comes from a dedicated account made up of OHV license fees.

Outdoor notes

­ Don't forget about the new limits for panfish. The new limit for crappies is now 10 and for sunfish is 20.

­ Please put safety first when you're on the lake, and make sure you have the appropriate type and number of personal flotation devices in your boat.

Better yet, make sure you and everyone else on board are wearing them. It's also a good idea to have young children wear a PFD when fishing from shore or a dock.

­ The best time to catch walleye is at night. When you hear the stories of anglers nabbing limits of walleye and you can only manage to catch one or two, those limits are most often caught by those anglers fish at night. Walleyes are sensitive to light, and are more active at night.

­ The best bite of the year for sunfish may be on very soon. As the temps warm and the sunfish move in the shallows to spawn, look for the action to pick up.

­ Now is the time to get your dog checked for heartworm and on a heartworm preventative medication.

­ Today, May 19 the sun will rise at 5:45 a.m. and set at 8:38 p.m.

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

­ Memorial Day is Monday, May 26. Instead of fishing that morning, head to the Memorial Day program in any one of our communities.

If you do, I guarantee, your next fishing experience will be that much better.

Even if you don't catch fish, you will appreciate the opportunity that you had to go fishing.

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