Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

April 26, 2004

Renting boats and fishing piers

In last week’s column I wrote about digging worms, what it was like when I was kid, and how much fun digging worms can still be for kids today.

I received numerous comments about the column, and heard from many others who also had fond memories of digging worms.

Many of those comments, and memories of digging worms, lead to the subject of renting boats.

Renting a boat to go fishing isn’t much of a thing today. But, for many, it was how you went fishing.

Worms got dug, the car got loaded, and off you went to a local resort, on a local lake, to rent a boat for a day of fishing.

If you were lucky, you had an outboard motor in the trunk of the car, or enough dollars to rent a motor along with the boat.

I had some of those same experiences. My dad didn’t buy a boat until I was about 13. It was a 14-foot Low Line that I still have it today.

But, we did have a classic, 1950-something Johnson five-and-a-half horsepower outboard.

At some point in time, that motor was probably the most popular outboard on the face of the earth. It ran like a charm, always started, and usually got tuned up every spring with help of a barrel filled with water.

Without a boat, we would load up the car, including worms, and throw the motor and gas tank in the trunk, and head to a local lake to rent a 14-foot boat.

At that time, about the mid '70s, boat rentals were available on just about every lake in the area.

Like digging worms, renting a boat was a part of fishing in Minnesota.

Today, although boat rentals are still available on some lakes in the area, renting a boat to go fishing for a day is almost a thing of the past.

It has been replaced by boat ownership, and a relatively new and great fishing opportunity, especially for kids, called fishing piers.

Many lakes in our area, including Big Waverly, Howard, Winsted, Waconia, Swan, and others all have DNR fishing piers.

The piers are open to the public, and often provide great fishing opportunities for pan fish. For the most part, they are a great place to take a kid fishing.

Oddly enough, the best bait to use when fishing from a fishing pier is a worm.

With that in mind, take a kid out to dig a few worms, and then keep your boat and fancy gear at home, and head to DNR fishing pier.

Make sure to have a kid friendly lunch packed, and if the fish aren’t biting, skipping a few rocks on the lake can be great fun for any kid.

For more info on DNR fishing piers and private boat rentals head to the DNR’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Birds keep flying into windows

From the DNR

Every spring, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) receives hundreds of reports of birds being killed by flying into windows, or that robins and cardinals repeatedly attack windows. These activities happen for a couple of reasons.

Migrating birds often mistake large picture windows or glass doors for open space and attempt to fly through them.

“During the spring, territorial male robins and cardinals sometimes thrash against windows and other reflective surfaces in an attempt to defend their turf against their mirror image,” said Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor. Birds have even been seen fighting their own reflection in auto hubcaps and rear-view mirrors.

Eliminating all window strikes is not possible, but a few precautions can help reduce the number of casualties.

The use of a falcon silhouette placed at a diving angle on the upper corner of a window can be effective in discouraging birds. Birds at feeders may fly into windows after being frightened.

You can move attractants such as feeders and birdbaths at least 20 to 25 feet away from windows, or move feeders within three feet of windows. If feeders are within three feet, birds won’t have enough momentum to hurt themselves if they do hit the window.

Windows that mirror the landscape in front of them need to be changed from the outside. As a fast temporary fix, the outside of the window can be rubbed with soap or wax to break up the reflection.

Other effective methods are ribbons, colored strings, or mobiles hung in front of the window. To be most effective, these objects should be placed about four inches apart.

Anything you do to eliminate the mirror-like quality will help prevent accidents.

Sometimes the solution is as simple as closing the drapes or turning off the lights in a room at night. Remember to place indoor attractants, such as houseplants, away from windows so they won’t confuse passing birds.

For more information or help concerning birds, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 in the Twin Cities area or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Fishing seminar

You can get a head start on the fishing season by attending a fishing seminar at Lake Maria State Park Saturday, May 8, beginning at 10 a.m.

Conductin the seminar will be DNR fisheries professionals from the Montrose Fisheries Area (most of Wrigth County and the southern half of Stearns County).

The seminar will be held at the park’s boat access in the picnic area. In case of rain, it will be moved to the interpretive center. Live fish from Maria Lake will be on display, and there will be a drawing for fishing equipment.

“Fishing enthusiasts of all ages and skills are invited to attend,” said Mark Crawford, park manager. “Fish that inhabit the lake will be indentified, and you’ll learn when, and how they spawn, and how they feed. Information about other area lakes will be availlable. Plus, there will be plenty of time for questions.”

Other topics include fish habitat, especially how vegetation in Maria Lake benefits fish, and how it protects the shoreline; what types of bait and lures are more apt to catch fish in the lake; and how the DNR manages fish populations in Maria Lake and state wide.

A large variety of fish species live in Maria Lake, including northern pike, walleyed pike, crappies, bluegills, small and largemouth bass, bullhead, carp, dogfish, and buffalohead.

The seminar is free, but there is a $7 vehicle permit fee.

Lake Maria State Park is located approximately seven miles northwest of Monticello, or 10 miles northeast of Annandale on Wright County Highway 111. Call the park at (763) 878-2325 for more information and directions.

Outdoor notes

• Due to some heavy spring rains, water levels in our area are on the rise.

Although water levels are on the way up, most lakes are still more than a few feet below normal.

• The Waverly Gun Club has several events on the schedule for this spring and summer.

Registration for the youth trap league is set for May 4.

The pistol league begins May 5, and the Erv Adickes Memorial Shoot is set for June 23.

• Several readers in the past weeks again noted the lack of wood ducks in our area.

A reader from just south of Howard Lake noted that a few wood ducks did use a hollow tree on their property for a short time, but the ducks did not stay.

• I thought I was in South Dakota last week during a drive from Howard Lake to Cologne. I saw 27 pheasant roosters, including several hens.

The grass was wet, and the birds were heading out of cover.

I simply could not believe the number of pheasants that are in our area this spring.

The birds seem to have made it through the winter in great shape, and if spring nesting conditions are good, and habitat efforts continue, the local pheasant population could really take a step in the right direction.

• The 2004 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 15.

• The application deadline for the 2004 Minnesota black bear hunt is Friday, May 7.

• This week in the outdoors my daughters and I started creating a worm bed, planted some grass, and spent an evening skipping rocks and rock hunting at a local pond.

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