Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

May 24, 2004

Fishing season off to slow start

Although the morning weather was beautiful, with sunshine and calm winds, cold temps kept fish in the water, and it seemed many anglers at home on the opening day of the 2004 Minnesota fishing season.

Lakes like Mary, Winsted, Howard and Ann, had very few anglers on them on opening day, at least in the morning, and activity remained calm in our area for much of the weekend.

My fishing on the opener was limited to a few casts on Winsted Lake early in the morning, then a little time on the Crow River later in the day.

On Winsted, anglers were picking up a few northern pike, with one shore angler nabbing a dandy eight-pounder, and a couple five-pound northern pike.

The angler was proud of his catch until his stringer swam away on him.

On the south fork of the Crow, action was very slow, and the water clarity, due to recent rains, was muddier than usual.

On Sunday, my boat did make it on to the water of Lake Mary. With the kids in the boat, the weather cold, and this kind of being a test run, we didn’t get much fishing done.

However, other boats on the lake were picking up crappies, and a few northern pike.

The pike were hitting sucker minnows, and spinner rigs being trolled near the weed lines on the northwest corner of the lake.

Joe’s Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported: The fishing on opening day was excellent, it was just the catching that was kind of slow.

The best lakes in the area seemed to be Collinwood and Granite, with a few good reports coming from Buffalo.

Anglers have been picking up small sunfish on Howard, Crappies on Winsted Lake and opening day walleye anglers ran into a lot of large mouth bass on Lake Ann.

The guys and gals at Joe’s also noted that as the air and water temps rise, the fishing should pick up.

Other reports from the opener noted a fair share of activity on Washington and Stella, some decent fishing for walleye and crappie on Big and Little Waverly, and a much better than expected opener in the Annandale area.

On Lake Ann, several area anglers reported that the weed lines this year are very well defined.

When that’s the case on Ann, the fishing is usually very good.

Troll or cast live bait as close to the outside edge of the weed lines as you can get, and you’ll catch fish.

The best opening day report I got came from Spencer Radtke of Lester Prairie.

Spencer, I believe a second grader, nabbed a few walleyes, including a four pound lunker, on Diamond Lake.

Bass season opens Saturday

The 2004 Minnesota bass fishing season opens Saturday, May 29, and several lakes in our area can provide some top notch bass action.

Actually, most of the lakes in our area provide good large mouth bass fishing.

The best always seem to be Mary, Marion, Clearwater and the western bays of Lake Minnetonka.

Plastic worm rigs, floating plugs, and spinner baits will all catch fish.

However, the real trick on the opener is an early start and calm waters.

If you can get out early, around sunrise, and the waters are calm, almost still, the bass action can be super.

Minnesota’s state record, largemouth bass, is an 8 pound, 12.75 ounce fish, caught on Tetonka Lake in LeSueur County in 1994.

Take a kid fishing

The Winsted Sportsmen club is hosting its annual ‘take a kid fishing’ event Sunday, June 13.

To register, or for more information, call Tom Kieser at (952) 955-1704.

The preregistration is Tuesday, June 8.

The event, held on Lake Mary, begins at 1 p.m. with registration, fishing from 2 to 4 p.m., and meal and prizes from 4 to 5 p.m.

Dove season to start this fall

From the DNR

Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed legislation May 19 that will clear the way for Minnesota’s first mourning dove season this fall in nearly 60 years.

The season will provide additional opportunities for an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Minnesota hunters with no adverse effect on the bird’s population, according Ed Boggess, assistant chief of the DNR Wildlife Division.

The mourning dove is the most abundant migratory game bird in the United States, with an estimated fall population of 400 million birds.

Minnesota has a fall population of approximately 10 million to 12 million birds.

Mourning doves are most commonly hunted in or near open fields, along tree lines and near watering areas.

“Mourning doves are found in diverse habitats ranging from deserts to pine forests throughout the 48 contiguous states,” Boggess said. “Years of population monitoring and study have shown that regulated hunting does not harm dove populations. We support a season so Minnesota hunters can utilize the resource.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has regulatory authority for migratory game birds, authorizes states to set seasons between Sept. 1 and Jan. 15.

Seasons may be open for 60 days with a daily bag limit of 15 birds, or up to 70 days with a daily bag limit of 12.

Although no final decision has been made, Boggess said Minnesota will probably open the season on or near Sept. 1 with a daily bag limit of 15.

“Mourning doves are early migrants, beginning in late August,” Boggess said. “Most of the birds will have moved out of the state by late September.”

Hunters legally licensed to take small game will be able to hunt mourning doves with no additional stamp or license requirement.

Because mourning doves are migratory birds, hunters also need to be certified in the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP).

To be HIP certified, hunters must identify themselves as migratory bird hunters when they purchase a small game license or sports license. HIP certification is free.

Currently mourning dove hunting is legal in 40 of the 48 contiguous states.

Approximately 25 million doves are harvested annually nationwide.

The Fish and Wildlife Service coordinates an annual mourning dove call-count in cooperation with state agencies nationwide.

Breeding populations have been monitored since 1966.

“Aside from additional hunting opportunity, a mourning dove season would also generate significant economic benefits in rural Minnesota, particularly in southern and western counties of the state,” Boggess said. “Dove hunting is also an excellent way to introduce new hunters to wing shooting.”

Minnesota upland game bird hunters spend more than $62 million in retail sales each year, according to the International Association of Fish and Wildlife.

Minnesota moose season application deadline is June 18

From the DNR

The application deadline for the 2004 Minnesota moose hunt is Friday, June 18.

Applications may be made from any of the 1,800 statewide Electronic Licensing System vendors, or from the DNR license center, at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

This year, a total of 246 permits are available in 30 zones in the northeastern part of the state.

There is no hunting season in northwestern Minnesota. The season dates are October 2-17.

Moose hunters must apply in parties from two to four individuals.

An application fee of $3 per individual must be included with the application.

Only Minnesota residents, at least sixteen years of age, are eligible for the moose hunt.

Permits are issued through a random drawing, except that applicants who have been unsuccessful at least 10 times since 1985, will be placed in a separate drawing for up to 20 percent of the available licenses.

A person, who is still unsuccessful in this separate selection, will also be included in the regular drawing.

Because the moose hunt became a once-in-a-lifetime hunt in 1991, hunters who received permits for moose hunts for the 1991 hunt and later are not eligible to apply for the 2004 drawing.

The bag limit is one moose of any age or either sex per party.

The license fee is $310 per party. There will be mandatory orientation sessions required for all hunters chosen for moose licenses.

In 2003, 2,328 parties applied for the 224 available state permits. State licensed hunters killed 127 bulls and 17 cows, for a party success rate of 64 percent.

Outdoor notes

• The muskie fishing season in Minnesota opens Saturday, June 5.

• The great morel hunt is on. With wet damp weather, and now hopefully a big warm up, morels should be out.

I have yet to go hunting for them, but if anyone out there has a few to share I would sure appreciate some.

• June 11 – 13 is Take a Kid Fishing Weekend in Minnesota.

Adults fishing with a kid 16 or under are not required to have a fishing license on that weekend.

• Green night crawlers, available at most bait shops, have been my live bait of choice lately. They just seem to be the hot thing right now.

• The sunfish spawn will be here very soon, usually early June.

When the sunnies move into the shallows it’s the best fishing of the year.

• Goslings hatched about two weeks ago and are growing fast.

• Above average spring rains have raised water levels on many of our area lakes.

However, water levels on many area lakes were so low it may take years to get them back up to normal levels.

• Green, green, and more green. Those same spring rains have also created a lush and beautiful landscape, with thick green lawns and the trees filling out in a big hurry.

On Friday, the seed pods, or little helicopters, popped out on the big soft maple tree in my back yard.

• Last week in the outdoors, my girls and I did a little fishing from our boat and from shore, mowed lawn, watched several goslings do their thing with mom and dad, and finally got to see some robin eggs hatch.

A park we visit has a robin nest about six feet from the ground and we’ve been watching the eggs for a few weeks now, and last week they finally hatched.

• Today, May 24, the sun will rise at 5:35 a.m. and set at 8:52 p.m.

• Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted fourth graders will be on Minnesota Bound.

A group of HLWW fourth graders again enjoyed a day of fishing and learning about lakes on Joe Woitalla Day, a day set aside to honor the Waverly native with a passion for fishing, who died of a heart attack in 1996.

This year a camera crew from Minnesota Bound filmed the event and it will be air some time in the future.

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