Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

June 14, 2004

Rain, rain, and even more rain

About a month ago I was writing about low lake levels and, in general, how dry our landscape was. Needless to say, that has changed a bit.

If you’re one of those people that doesn’t spend much time in the outdoors, you may not have noticed, or realized, that it has rained 30 out of the last 37 days, and our landscape is basically swamped in water.

The rain has been so constant that mowing lawn, or getting out on the lake to fish, has been difficult.

Usually, by this time of year, my daughters and I have gotten several campfires in. This year we have only been able to manage one, and that was on a windy and raining Memorial Day.

Every other attempt at having a campfire has been rained out.

Also, lake levels that were three to four feet low a month ago are now two to three feet above normal, and docks at many landings that were set to accommodate low water levels are now underwater.

Here are a few more things that will be affected by heavy spring rains and high water levels:

– The sunfish spawn, which is on right now, has been slowed by the rain and run off.

Poor fishing conditions have kept anglers at home.

The rains change shoreline structure, and often provide sunfish with ample sources of food.

Water clarity is also reduced from run off which also hampers the chase for spawning sunfish.

– Weed growth in lakes will be on the upswing this summer due to nutrient filled run off that has entered our lakes.

If the weather gets hot in July, look for a big algae bloom and lots of green slime.

– The mosquito population will boom as soon has it gets warm.

Look for the numbers to be huge and make sure you’re well prepared for them when you head outdoors, especially in the early evening.

– Lawns and other vegetation have benefited from the rain, creating a thick green landscape.

If you’re a pheasant hunter, look for upland cover and cattail sloughs to be extra thick this fall.

– Sticking with pheasants, the population and hunting prospects for this fall may have went from boom to bust.

The pheasant population in our area and in southern and western portions of Minnesota came out the winter in super shape.

However, pheasants need warm, dry nesting conditions in the spring to really do well.

This spring, conditions for nesting pheasants have been horrible, almost as bad as you could imagine.

Look for August roadside count numbers to be down, and without a late hatch, hunting success this fall also to be down.

Southwest Minnesota was probably hit the hardest.

In that neck of the woods a majority of available nesting cover for pheasants is on low ground, and at this time, much of that low ground is under water.

Young pheasant chicks are hampered, and often die from wet, cool conditions.

If there is a good late hatch, at least those birds will have plenty of mosquitoes to munch on.

– Usually, what is bad for the pheasants is good for the ducks.

However, this seasons rains came a bit to late to improve nesting conditions for ducks.

– Angler attitudes, with a few warm dry days, can only improve.

Outdoor notes

• Although the weather has been poor for fishing, the sunfish spawn is in full swing.

Anglers are nabbing dandy sunfish on lakes like Granite, Parley, Clearwater, and the hottest lake of late, Minnetonka.

Last week I saw a limit of sunfish that came from the western bays of Lake Minnetonka and they were dandies.

Other reports indicate that with warmer water temps, walleye action has been good on lakes Washington, Howard, and Belle.

• When the bugs hit, pay a little extra attention to your pets.

There are some great products on the market that can help protect your pets from fleas, ticks and other insects, just give your vet a call.

• It seems the morel mushroom hunting this season was very poor. I gave it one good shot and was blanked again.

• If you have been one of the lucky anglers to nab a nice bunch of sunfish, try frying the fillets with a little hot sauce. It’s better than buffalo wings.

• Drumming counts taken recently for ruffed grouse indicate a drop in the population in the northern regions of the state.

Although the 10-year cycle of the grouse population is supposed to be on the upswing, and the drop was a surprise to biologists, because of poor conditions for nesting this spring the decline was not that big of a surprise.

• Over 420 species of birds have been identified in Minnesota at one time or another. About 300 of those species are common in Minnesota.

• If you plan on taking a kid fishing, remember to keep the trip short.

You don’t want to spoil a kids’ fun time, or desire to fish, by making them spend an entire day at it.

• Remember to clean all vegetation from your boat and equipment every time you leave a lake.

It’s the key to stopping the spread of Eurasion Watermilfoil, and other harmful exotic species.

• Today, June 14, the sun will rise at 5:26 a.m. and set at 9:01 p.m.

The longest day of the year is Monday, June 21, the start of summer. After that the days will start getting shorter again.

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