Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

June 30, 2003

Fishing contest a big hit

GND Fishing Derby

The day started out sunny with blue skies, and the smell of pancakes and sausages filled the air as the Howard Lake Lions were cooking their breakfast by the lake. They served 100 breakfasts to hungry fisherman and the public.

One hundred twenty six fishing contestants tried their hooks for four hours to catch the biggest fish the lake would give up.

The following fishing persons took home the prizes this year:

Northerns ­ Dale Decker, first place, 7.30; Erin Mapes, second place, 4.57; Brian Barth, third place, 3.95.

Walleyes ­ Ryan Barth, first place, 3.76; Aaron Noelder, second place, 2.87; Lonnie Lachermeier, third place, 2.13.

Bass ­ Tom Bobrowske, first place, 2.74; Steve Bobrowske, second place, 2.66; James Borgardt, third place, 2.49.

Pan fish ­ Monica Boedigheimer, first place, .500; Michael Dudek, second place, .410.

The Howard Lake Good Neighbor Days fishing committee would like express its appreciation to the contestants and volunteer workers for their donated time to make the contest a great success again this year.

Also, appreciation goes out to all of the Howard Lake Lions members who worked the pancake and sausage breakfast.

Water safety

With the Fourth of July upon us and people of all ages eagerly awaiting the opportunity to head to the lake and hit the water, here are a few common sense water safety tips.

Although the topic may seem pretty dry, many of us are so accustomed to water recreation that we tend to forget about safety and how dangerous the water can be.

1. Take swimming lessons. Many local communities offer lessons.

For opportunities and more information, try calling the City of Lester Prairie, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Community Education, or Watertown Community Education.

2. Wear a life jacket when boating. Most boating-related drownings happen to people who have some swimming ability, but aren't wearing life jackets at the time of the accident.

It's also a good idea for small children to wear life jackets when they are on docks or near the water.

3. Avoid alcohol when engaging in water activities. Many drownings are related to drinking.

4. Swim with a buddy; if no one is there to help, drowning can be the outcome.

5. Watch children at the beach or anytime they are near water. Children can slip away without notice. Don't let a moment's carelessness lead to a lifetime of regret.

6. When children are near the water, you should be near your child.

7. Know how to rescue a drowning person without putting yourself at risk. Throw a floating object or extend a stick, towel, or other item to a victim, so if they start to pull you in, you can release the item and try another form of rescue. Swim out only if you are properly trained in life saving techniques.

8. Call 911.

9. If a person has been totally submerged in water and then recovered, insist they seek medical attention. A small amount of inhaled impure water can cause lung infestations and even death if untreated.

10. Don't overdo it. The combination of heat, sun and water can exhaust a person very fast. That exhaustion combined with fatigue and muscle cramps can be dangerous in or out of the water.

For more information on boating and water safety call the DNR at 888-MINN-DNR.

Spring duck populations decline in Minnesota

From the DNR

Breeding duck populations declined while Canada goose populations were similar to last year, according to results from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource's annual waterfowl surveys.

"Numbers were lower than last year for most duck species in the state, in part due to the early spring this year," said Jeff Lawrence, DNR Wetland Wildlife Populations and Research Group leader. "Last year, there were many ducks counted in Minnesota that were still moving north during our May survey. The late spring had delayed the migration."

Each year in May, a DNR waterfowl biologist and conservation officer pilot use a low-flying airplane to count waterfowl and wetlands along set routes. To correct for birds missed by the air crew, a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service ground crew counts waterfowl along a portion of the routes. The survey was designed to estimate breeding duck numbers in the 40 percent of Minnesota that includes much of the best duck breeding habitat.

The mallard breeding population in Minnesota this spring was estimated at 281,000, which is 23 percent less than last year.

"This was the first year since 1991 that mallard populations in Minnesota have been below 300,000, but populations remain 29 percent above the average since the current waterfowl survey began in 1968," Lawrence said.

May pond numbers were down 4 percent from last year and down 12 percent from the 10-year average.

"Overall, while we expected lower duck populations this year, the magnitude of the decline was greater than expected, especially given that pond counts were similar to the previous year," Lawrence said.

Blue-winged teal numbers decreased 55 percent from last year's near-record high numbers and were 15 percent below the long-term average.

"The decline to 193,000 was not unexpected," Lawrence said. "We knew that many of the blue-winged teal in the state last year were also late migrants."

However, this year's count was higher than the five years prior to last year's high count.

Combined populations of other ducks, such as wood ducks and ring-necked ducks, decreased 34 percent to 248,000, but remained 44 percent above the long-term average.

Canada geese

This was the third year that the DNR conducted a helicopter survey of nesting Canada geese in April and early May. The estimate of 304,000 geese was slightly lower than last year's 335,000, but still exceeded statewide population objectives, according to Steve Maxson, Minnesota DNR goose specialist.

"Conditions were dry throughout most of the state during late April and early May when we flew the survey, and geese were shifting to the better habitats," noted Maxson.

A DNR biologist and helicopter pilot count Canada geese on 150 quarter-section (160-acre) plots randomly located in Minnesota's three broad ecoregions: Prairie, Transition and Forest.

The number of breeding waterfowl in Minnesota is estimated each year as part of an annual inventory of North American breeding waterfowl.

"Data on breeding duck populations from Canada and other states is not yet available, but preliminary reports suggest generally good conditions in the Dakotas, and much better conditions and duck numbers in prairie Canada than we have seen in the past few years," Lawrence said.

Mallard population estimates from Minnesota will be combined with estimates from other North American breeding areas, along with a measure of habitat conditions, to determine the duck season length and bag limit for this fall.

Apply now for prairie chicken, fall turkey hunts

From the DNR

Hunters who wish to apply for one of 100 permits for the 2003 Minnesota prairie chicken season or for the fall turkey hunt may pick up applications at more than 1,800 electronic licensing system terminals starting June 27.

The five-day prairie chicken season, the first in Minnesota since 1942, will begin on Oct. 18. It is open to Minnesota residents only. Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four.

The hunt will be held in seven prairie chicken quota areas between Crookston in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied.

Minnesota's prairie chicken population now stands at about 3,000 breeding birds in the spring and 6,000 birds in the fall. Historically, prairie chickens were numerous in Minnesota. DNR records show that in 1923, hunters killed 300,000 prairie chickens. By 1942, when the state's last prairie chicken hunt was held, the harvest had fallen to 58,000 birds.

Prairie restoration and protection programs have helped stabilize the bird's population in recent years. DNR managers hope the hunting season will help build support for protecting and enhancing the bird's habitat.

Fall turkey hunt

Applications for this year's fall turkey hunt are being accepted at ELS vendors across Minnesota. Fall turkey hunters may apply to hunt in one of 23 permit areas from Oct. 15-19 or Oct. 22-26. There are 3,870 fall turkey hunting permits available.

The application fee is $3. The license costs $18 for residents at $73 for nonresidents. A $5 stamp validation is also required for turkey hunters 18 years of age or older.

Applications for both the prairie chicken and fall turkey hunts are due by Friday, July 25. Application worksheets and maps of permit areas for both hunts are available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us. Successful applicants will be notified by mail and must purchase their permit at an electronic licensing system vendor.

ATV, RV registration and titling increase July 1

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and other recreational vehicle owners that an increase in the registration fee for an ATV and increased filing fees for most recreational vehicles (except snowmobiles) will occur on July 1.

The three-year ATV registration fee will increase from $19 to $23 on July 1.

In addition, the filing fees received for handling recreational vehicle or watercraft titles also will increase on July 1. Depending on the type of transaction, fees will increase between $2 and $4.50.

The Minnesota Legislature approved these increases during the 2003 session.

Outdoor notes

­ The recent severe weather and heavy rains in our area and across the midwest may have severely hampered the nesting success of pheasants. Young pheasant chicks are very susceptible to cool wet weather.

­ During Tuesday evening's storms, the temperature took a significant and quick drop.

Around 8 p.m., the thermometer in my truck read in the high 80s; 10 to 15 minutes later it read 73 degrees. That's a big drop in a short amount of time.

­ Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported the rumor of a 3 pound 6 ounce crappie being caught recently on Howard Lake.

­ The sunfish have moved into deeper water. A great way to find them now is by trolling or drifting across submerged weedlines with small leeches and light spinner rigs.

­ The heavy weed beds on many of our area lakes have dissipated. Pond weed typically does this after its growing cycle.

For the time being, you may see large amount of floating and drifting pond weed and the dead plants may create a larger than usual late summer algae bloom in our local lakes.

The dying of the weeds also creates less defined weed lines and disperses fish, which in turn makes the fishing more difficult.

­ Look out for mosquitoes, bugs, and ticks. Tick season is here and you should check for deer and wood ticks on a regular basis if you have been in the outdoors.

­ I typically end this column with the phrase ­ Take a kid fishing ­ he or she will have fun and so will you.

Here are a few pointers to help you along the next time you a take a kid fishing:

· Do use live bait to increase the chances of catching a fish. While catching a fish does not make the difference between a fun or lousy time, the thrill of feeling a fish on the line will just about guarantee that your little angler will want to come back for more.

For safety's sake, the grownups should handle putting the worms and minnows on sharp hooks.

Incidentally, HOFI records show that worms and minnows catch 80 percent of the fish at the Wal-Mart Kids All American Fishing Derbies.

· Don't ever forget to bring lots of delicious snacks. As you probably know, a hungry tummy trumps just about everything. Keep wet wipes on hand for use before and after snacks.

· Do give the child his own fishing outfit, a gesture that will make this day even more memorable for the adults and child. There is a practical aspect to this, too. For short anglers, short rods are easier to handle.

· Do bring a camera and shoot lots of pictures. This day will live in the memory for a long time but the details will come flooding back, even a generation later, when you haul out the family photo album.

· Also, do bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and first aid basics.

· Don't drive too far. The object is to minimize the times back seat auto passengers ask the front seat, "Are we there yet?"

· Don't fish too long. Leave a little fishing desire in the bank for the next fishing trip.

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