Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

June 23, 2003

Are we going too far?

Catch and release, more restrictive bag and size limits, banning lead sinkers ­ when it comes to fishing, are we going too far?

I'm not talking about water quality, habitat restoration and conservation, or simply planting a tree. All those are significantly important. In this matter, I'm just talking about plain old fishing.

In many cases, it seems that catch and release may have gone too far, with a growing number of anglers not keeping any fish at all, and sneering at those who do keep some.

Realistically, not every fish caught can or should be released. A fair share are injured to a point during the catch that they will not live after being released.

Also, any given lake or body of water can only sustain so many fish, and in that respect the process of catch and keep is a conservation tool.

I'm to the point where I think we have gone too far with catch and release. Those anglers that basically release all of the fish they catch need to understand that some, if not many, of the fish that are caught by sport anglers are more responsibly handled by being kept to eat instead of being released.

Some fish should be kept to eat, and the fact that keeping and eating fish within the bounds of the law is responsible and ethical should not be pushed to the wayside by catch and release advocates.

Anglers to swap out lead tackle this summer

From the DNR

The Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance (OEA) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are partnering with retailers, conservation, and outdoors groups to offer lead tackle exchanges across the state this summer.

Over 17 lead tackle exchange events are scheduled, beginning this month. Anglers can bring lead sinkers and jigs to the event to trade for non-lead ones.

"We want to offer anglers throughout Minnesota the chance to try out and compare non-lead tackle made from metals such as bitsmuth, tin, and stainless steel," said Kevin McDonald, coordinator of the OEA's non-lead tackle program.

Lead is a toxic metal that has adverse effects on the nervous and reproductive systems of mammals and birds.

Found in most fishing jigs and sinkers, this metal is poisoning wildlife, such as loons and eagles.

Carrol Henderson, supervisor of the DNR's Nongame Wildlife Program, is enthusiastic about the lead exchange program.

"This is an excellent opportunity for people who care about wildlife to cooperate with the fishing tackle industry and reduce the amount of lead being deposited in Minnesota's lakes," Henderson said.

Environmental quality incentives program sign-up in progress

From the National Resources Conservation Service

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

It supports agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Structural, vegetative, and management practices focusing on resource conservation may be eligible to receive funding. Natural resource concerns related to soil erosion, water quality, air quality, and wildlife habitat concerns are priorities for EQIP.

William Hunt, USDA-NRCS State Conservationist, announced, "USDA-NRCS has allocated $14.5 million to Minnesota's agricultural producers to implement natural resources conservation practices through EQIP."

Hunt further stated, "This is a significant increase in funding and is a product of the 2002 federal farm bill."

Eligible practices may include the following: residue management, conversion to organic crop rotation, cover crop, filter strips, grassed waterways, fish stream improvement, grade stabilization structures, streambank and shoreline stabilization, nutrient and pest management, well sealing, prescribed burning, organic and non-organic prescribed grazing systems, wastewater and feedlot runoff control, windbreaks, and many more practices are available.

Producers who are interested in receiving cost-share or incentive payments should visit the USDA Service Center in Buffalo to apply for EQIP.

Applications for EQIP will be accepted through the close of business Friday, Aug. 1. All applications received by Friday, Aug. 15 will be considered in the initial 2003 scoring period.

It is anticipated that the entire EQIP allocation will be obligated during this initial period, therefore, signup now if you are interested in using EQIP to help with the conservation effort on your farm.

If you would like to call and setup an appointment to apply for EQIP or have questions regarding what EQIP can do for your farm, please contact NRCS at (763) 682-1933, ext. 3.

Outdoor notes

­ The Lake Association of Howard Lake is looking for shoreline photos of Howard Lake.

If you have photos you would like to share, please call Curt Forst at (320) 543-3736.

­ Lakes in our area have become filled with weeds this year. Right now, the north end of lakes Howard and Mary are filled with thick mats of weeds.

Some experts suggest that the dense weed beds have formed from a combination of last year's flooding, which washed high levels of nutrients into the lakes, and little snowfall this winter, which allowed more sunlight to reach the plants during the winter.

­ The crow hunting season in Minnesota opens Tuesday, July 15.

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

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