Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

July 7, 2003

Fishing has been good

The weather has been great for fishing, and finally people are flocking to our area lakes again in big numbers. Thankfully, the fish have responded.

Several lakes in the area are providing great action on pan fish. The bass fishing on others has been tremendous, while northern pike are aggressive and hitting spoons and crankbaits, and even the walleye bite on a few select lakes has been better then average.

Dave Groff of Lil' Angie's Bait and Tackle at the Porthole in downtown Lester Prairie told me last week that the sunfish action on Lake Ripley near Litchfield had been super, and that the bite was still on.

Groff noted it was the best sunfish action he has had in several years. At this time, other lakes like Mud near Cokato, Parely, and Waconia have been providing fast action on sunnies.

Joe's Sportshop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported that the weather has been great and so has the fishing. A lot of anglers have been on the lakes, and it seems like most are catching fish.

Joe's also noted that two monster 14-plus ounce sunfish came off Collinwood Lake last week. Anglers fishing Collinwood have also been picking a few walleyes at night.

On a less positive note regarding local fishing, high water and big changes in water levels throughout this spring and summer has made the Crow River almost impossible to fish. Right now, because of heavy rains in Kandiyohi and Renville counties, the South Fork of the Crow River is very high.

One final tidbit of fishing information ­ because of cooler weather this spring, look for the good fishing to hang around a little longer this season, and actually extend well into July. The dog days of summer fishing will probably get here just a little later this year.

Cleaning for the birds

From the DNR

Moldy birdseed and unclean bird feeders can cause birds to become sick. In hot humid weather, it is common for mold to form on wet birdseed.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the mold can cause a fatal avian disease called aspergillosis, which affects the birds' respiratory systems.

Carrol Henderson, supervisor of the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program, urges people to rake or sweep up fallen seeds and seed hulls under feeders to prevent moldy conditions from occurring on the ground.

"Seeds can also attract meadow voles, house mice, or other rodents," Henderson said. "The growth inhibitor in sunflower hulls can inhibit grass or flower growth near feeders."

Salmonella is another disease that affects birds and is associated with unclean feeders.

"It is extremely important to keep a bird feeder clean to minimize the threat of disease," Henderson said.

To clean a feeder, use a solution of two ounces of bleach with one gallon of water. Scrub or brush the entire surface. Allow the cleaned feeder to dry out in the sun, because sunlight will help kill bacteria on the feeder.

Hummingbird feeders should also be cleaned about every week to 10 days during the summer to keep the sugar water from producing mold in the solution.

Henderson suggests keeping feed dry by using a hopper-type feeder or fly-through feeder, and scrapping out old seed that accumulates in the corners. Tray feeders with a screen bottom allow seeds to dry out from above and below after rainfall.

He advises that people do not put out too much seed at once, because seeds several inches thick can become moldy in the center.

Other problems exist in northern Minnesota, where black bears can be a major nuisance at bird feeders during the summer and early fall. Henderson advises people to bring feeders inside each evening or suspend feeders on a pulley system so the feeder is at least 12 feet above the ground and eight feet from poles or tree trunks.

A rope on the pulley system will allow easy feeder refilling. Henderson also suggests using bird baths, fountains, dusting sites, and nest structures as alternative attractions for birds in bear country.

To learn more about bird feeding and Minnesota wildlife, read DNR Nongame Wildlife Program books, including "Wild about Birds: The DNR Bird Feeding Guide" and "Landscaping for Wildlife," available from Minnesota's Bookstore by calling (651) 297-3000 or toll-free at 800-657-3757.

The production of these books was funded primarily through donations to the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff on state income and property tax forms.

Outdoor notes

­ The DNR has established the presence of milfoil in Howard Lake, which has been growing undetected for several years.

­ Applicants who were successful in the drawing for 2003 bear licenses are being sent bear hunt booklets this week, notifying them of their success and instructing them how to purchase a license.

­ The heavy and dense weedlines on our area lakes have thinned. Less defined weedlines does make fishing a bit tougher. The dislodged weeds may also add to algae bloom this summer.

­ Look for big mosquito hatches very soon, and also be aware of wood and deer ticks. Now is the season.

­ Be easy on your dogs in the heat. Work dogs in the early morning or early evening when the temperatures are cooler.

­ Rubber worms are the hot bait for bass. Try a scented Power Slug or a Twister Tail on a Texas Rig.

­ Don't forget about the new pan fish limits ­ 20 for sunfish and 10 for crappies.

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

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