Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

July 14, 2003

Will bigger and newer be better?

I finally did something, or was able to do something, I have been wanting to do for the past 10 or more years.

I bought a new boat, one that has the electronics, fancy seats, live well, trolling motor, and the other stuff that as Minnesota anglers we think we need.

The boat, a Crestliner from Crystal Pierz Marine, is really nothing special compared to today's average fishing boat. However, it's a heck of a lot more boat than what I'm used to, and what my dad took me fishing in.

The evening I brought the new boat home turned into an event filled with irony, and distant, but good memories. I'll get back to this part of the story a little later.

My fishing career started on the banks of the South Fork of the Crow River, it moved on to a few local gravel pits and ponds, and then to a rented 14-foot fishing boat with my dad's 1950s five and one-half horsepower Johnson outboard.

My dad would throw the motor in the trunk, load up the car with four, five, or more of us, and we would head to just about any local lake that had a resort that rented boats. We were on a dairy farm, so to hit the lake in June when the fish were really biting was a big treat.

Then, when I was 12 or 13, my dad retired from dairy farming and purchased his retirement ­ a 14-foot Lowe Line fishing boat with trailer, and a 15-horse Chrysler outboard.

The old Johnson was now the back up motor, because the 15-horse made it seem like you were flying across the water. With the boat, we fished and fished more, oftentimes with five or more people in the 14-footer.

My twin sister, and a whole bunch of our relatives and friends loved it. Lastly, and more often then not, we had a good time and caught fish.

Through the course of time, the old Johnson and the Chrysler gave way and the boat became powered by a newer Johnson five and one-half horse.

Although my dad passed away six months ago, the boat was still a fixture in our family, and it was still my boat to fish out of, at least until Thursday, when I brought the new boat home.

When I got home with the new boat, the kids seemed more excited then I was, and things were pretty darn good until I looked at the good, old, dependable, full of memories 14-foot Lowe Line in the garage.

The new boat towered over the old one, and when I realized that I didn't have enough room in the garage, or at home for both boats, my mind set of excitement and new fun began to change.

I started to ask myself "Will this new, bigger boat be better than the old one, and will the dollars I spent on it be worth it?"

In next week's column, I'll finish the story and I guess only time will tell if bigger and newer will be better.

New registration procedures in place

From the DNR

Beginning July 1, the exemption for OHM's used on private land and those used exclusively in organized track racing events has been rescinded.

In the past, OHM's did not need to be registered if they were to be used on private land or used exclusively in organized track racing. OHM dealers will now be required to register these vehicles for the customers, as they would for public use of OHMs.

Also, the new legal description of an ATV now includes vehicles weighing up to 900 lbs. The previous description only included ATVs weighing up to 800 lbs.

The Minnesota legislature approved these changes this spring as part of the recent legislative session.

Boaters asked to slow down and use caution during high water

From the DNR

High water levels on many lakes and rivers in Minnesota are expected to remain for several weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Recreational boaters and anglers, canoeists, and kayakers who are heading out this weekend, should be aware of high water conditions on many lakes and rivers and take precautions.

This is especially the case across the central part of the state from the Twin Cities north through the Brainerd Lakes area. This region received a large amount of rain the past few weeks.

"High water has made certain shoreline areas extremely vulnerable to erosion from boat wakes," said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. "It's amazing how much erosion can happen as a result of boat wakes. Foundations of homes, trees, and the shore are all subject to washout."

It is strongly recommended that boaters not exceed a slow-no wake (5 mph) speed on the lakes where high water exists, especially near shore, and be aware of the damage that wakes can cause to shoreline property.

Boaters are responsible for any damage caused by their wakes.

The safety issue comes from debris that is washed into the water by rain and higher lake levels. The debris includes tree branches and man-made items that have been swept in by the high water.

Since some of the debris floats at or just below the surface, a boat that is moving fast may not see it in time to avoid a collision ­ resulting in a broken propeller, capsizing, or damaged lower unit on the motor or worse.

"Boaters need to keep careful lookout to avoid floating logs and other debris (whether they are on rivers or lakes) and wear their life jackets at all times," he advised.

Funding available for wildlife projects

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is making $600,000 available to local conservation organizations interested in working on wildlife habitat improvement projects on wildlife management areas throughout the state.

The funds, available through the DNR Wildlife Grants Program, will allow outdoor clubs to work on projects such as grassland plantings, brushland shearing, wetland restoration, and forest stand improvement.

"These grant dollars are available for large and small projects, so we're encouraging proposals from all size organizations," said Leslie Tannahill, a grants specialist for the DNR Division of Wildlife.

"The main requirement is that the funds are used by outdoors clubs for habitat work on state wildlife management areas."

The Heritage Enhancement Grants to Local Outdoors Clubs program provides reimbursements funding to local conservation organizations to work on state wildlife management areas.

The grants are funded from state lottery proceeds deposited in the Heritage Enhancements account within the Game and Fish Fund.

Grants are administered through the DNR Division of Wildlife and designed with guidance from local DNR wildlife managers.

Grant applications and information packages will be available in mid-July by calling Leslie Tannahill at (651) 284-0584, or via e-mail at leslie.tannahill@dnr.state.mn.us.

Information will also be available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us. Completed grant applications are due Monday, October 6, 2003. Work covered under these grants must be completed by June 30, 2006.

Outdoor notes

­ Cooler weather has held off the dog days of summer for a while, making the fishing on many of our area lakes still pretty good.

­ Mosquitos are out in full-force. Until last week, they really weren't that bad.

­ Look for wood and deer ticks, and make sure you check all parts of your body for them after every outdoor adventure.

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

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

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