Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

June 2, 2003

The spawn is on

Big males are guarding the beds and hitting hard. The fishing is in shallow water and easy, and the bite is fast.

This week, anglers will probably experience the peak of the sunfish spawn on lakes in our area.

The spawn started just over a week ago when sunfish moved into shallow water and began the process of creating their saucer shaped beds in gravel or sandy bottoms.

Soon after the beds are created, the females are done doing their thing and the males move in. That's when the fishing gets really good.

The males, especially bluegills, are colorful and very aggressive during the spawning period. They are the sunfish that put up the big fight and spin circle-after-circle when hooked.

The bluegills are also usually the biggest of the sunfish.

The best part about fishing during the spawn is just the ease of catching fish. The sunnies will bite on just about anything, including bare hooks.

They are in shallow water and the action is fast. All this boils up to a great time to take kids fishing, and a great time to have a family fish fry.

The effort starts like this ­ get in your boat and slowly cruise the shoreline of your favorite area lake. While you're cruising, look hard in the shallow water for the saucer-shaped spawning beds.

The beds are usually in sand or gravel, in as little as a foot of water, and are about the size of a dinner plate.

When you find the beds, you will find the sunfish. If your timing is right the big males will be sitting on the beds and you will have super fishing.

For me, I like to skip the boat and wade into these areas with my fly rod in hand. A yellow or black popper seems to work the best, and when the big sunnies are hitting, there is nothing more fun then catching them on a fly rod.

The north shorelines of Howard Lake and Lake Mary are great places to fly cast for sunnies. The fish aren't huge, but the action is great.

If your timing is off a bit and the big males aren't on the beds and are in deeper water, try trolling with light rigs and small leeches in six to eight feet of water in the area just off the spawning beds. When you find the fish trolling, then still fish the area.

No matter how you prefer to fish for sunnies, right now is the best time of year to catch them.

Take a kid fishing

The annual "Take a Kid Fishing Day" sponsored by the Winsted Sportsmen's Club is set for Sunday, June 8.

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 by Thursday, June 5 is recommended.

To register, or for more information contact Tom Kieser at (952) 955-1704.

Durdahl elected DU Regional VP

Ken Durdahl of Howard Lake was elected as Ducks Unlimited Regional Vice President for the Northeast Great Plains Region serving Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

His responsibilities include providing guidance and direction to the state organizations of Ducks Unlimited in the three states, leading the organized fundraising efforts to secure significant contributions from individuals and corporations and supporting all of the volunteers in all that they do.

Durdahl will also serve as a member of the Board of Directors and attend their meetings throughout the year.

In February, 1992, Durdahl received the Thomas O. Nelson Award in recognition of his outstanding efforts in new chapter development furthering the cause of wetlands conservation through Ducks Unlimited singleness of purpose.

In February, 2002, he received the Jimmy Robinson Appreciation Award for outstanding contributions to further the purpose of waterfowl conservation.

Durdahl and his wife, Bonnie, have been involved in Ducks Unlimited since 1981.

State positions held: Crow River Chapter Chairman, Zone Chairman, District Chairman, Regional Vice Chairman, State Chairman, and currently State Council Chairman.

DNR announces dates for 2003 bear hunting clinics

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering a number of bear hunting clinics designed to provide hunters with an in-depth look at the Minnesota black bear.

Hunters and bear enthusiasts will learn from fellow bear hunters and research personnel what to look for when scouting for bear, selecting bait sites, and baiting bear based on the principle of timing and quality. An up-to-date black bear handbook will be given to all participants.

The clinics also include information about the latest regulations and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Last year almost 2,000 people attended a bear hunting clinic. Clinics are not mandatory but are strongly recommended. There is no age restriction for attending a clinic.

After attending one of these clinics, hunters should have a better understanding of the behavior of black bear and their habitat needs. Hunters will learn techniques that will eliminate protective surveillance, old bait burnout, and cut down on nocturnal bears.

These techniques will increase hunters' enjoyment and success. According to the DNR, 35 percent of Minnesota bear hunters harvest a bear.

Advanced Hunter Education certification can also be earned through a format of individual clinics.

By completing a bear clinic, hunters will be a step closer to earning their Advanced Hunter Education certification. Part of the certification involves attending five approved single topic clinics, one of which must include a shooting activity.

Also, a take home, open book examination must be completed. In addition to this clinic, hunters can choose topics including whitetailed deer, waterfowl, bear, planning a hunt, survival in the outdoors, map and compass, gun safety in the home and more.

Seminars for Advanced Hunter Education and Minnesota Bow-Hunter Education programs are listed on a telephone recording and the Internet.

Call (651) 296-5015 or visit www.dnr.state.mn.us. The listing is updated every two weeks. For a recording of Twin City area firearm safety classes, call (651) 296-4819 or toll free 1-800-366-8917.

New regulation guides available for Minnesota boaters

From the DNR

Minnesota boaters and anglers will find a few changes this year when they venture out on the waterways, said Kim Elverum, boat and water safety coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. There are two major changes.

The minimum property damage level for reporting a boating accident has been raised to match the U.S. Coast Guard's reporting threshold of $2,000 in total damage. Boaters must now report any accident where there is either combined property damage exceeding $2,000, personal injury beyond first aid, or a fatality.

Prior to this year, the property damage level had been $500. Minnesota law requires boaters to report the accident directly to the county sheriff in the county where the accident occurred.

Boaters on some Minnesota lakes will notice a change in the shoreward obstruction or point buoy which, under the old aids to navigation system, had vertical red-and-white stripes.

With the advent of the Coast Guard's U.S. Aids to Navigation System, the shoreward obstruction buoy now has black-and-white vertical stripes.

Under the new system, the red-and-white vertically striped buoy (with a round red topmark) is now used to mark the center of a channel.

The shoreward obstruction marker is used in Minnesota on Lake Minnetonka and Sarah Lake in Hennepin County, Prior Lake in Scott County, Gull Lake in Cass and Crow Wing counties, and Cass, Leech and Woman lakes in Cass County.

All of these lakes should be using the new black-and-white vertically striped buoys this year. A notice of these upcoming changes has been in the Minnesota Boating Guide for the last four years.

"Boaters can read about both changes in the 2003 Minnesota Boating Guide, which also has color drawings of all of the buoys used in the state, including the new ones for 2003," Elverum said.

"They can also request a free buoy identification sticker that can be placed on their boat for easy reference."

Both items are available free by:

· calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 888-646-6367.

· e-mailing info@dnr.state. mn.us.

· checking out the DNR web page at www.dnr.state.mn.us/boating.

Boating guides are also available at any deputy registrar of motor vehicles and many sheriffs' offices.

Outdoor notes

­ I would to thank the three Herald Journal readers who were gracious enough to give some morel mushrooms. They all tasted great.

A special note of appreciation goes to Charlotte Ehrke, who also shared one of her mushroom hunting locations.

­ The muskie fishing season in Minnesota opens Saturday, June 7.

­ Several reports indicate that the fishing in our area last week was super. The panfish action on many lakes has been good.

The bass opener provided very good fishing on lakes like Mary and Marion, and the walleye bite, especially at night, has been very good.

­ Morel mushroom hunting may be pretty much over for the year. Right now, the best places to look are those cool, dark, wet areas in the middle of a thick woods.

­ The gosslings have hatched. Last week I saw my first gosslings of the season.

Sorry to say, the mosquitoes have also hatched. I received my first mosquito bite of the year Tuesday evening May 27, and the little devils were out in big numbers.

­ Make sure your dog gets checked for heartworm and put on a heartworm preventative medication.

­ The Winsted Sportsmen's Club will meet Tuesday, June 3 at 7 p.m. at the Lake Mary Club House. Final arrangements for the clubs Take a Kid Fishing event will be discussed at the meeting.

­ The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will meet tonight, Monday, June 2, at 7 p.m., at the club house southwest of Lester Prairie on McLeod County Road 1.

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

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

­ A special congratulations to Ken Durdahl on his recent election as the regional vice president to Ducks Unlimited. Without people like Ken and Bonnie Durdahl and their involvement in organizations like DU, our great outdoors would not be so great.

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