Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

April 11, 2005

Open water has returned once again

Joe’s Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported the ice officially left Howard Lake the morning of Thursday, April 7.

“It was just about gone Wednesday evening, but the north end of the lake was still covered with some ice,” noted Joe Drusch. “By Thursday morning it was all gone.”

Many consider official ice off to occur when you can travel by boat over open water across the entire lake from one shoreline to the opposite shoreline.

Several of the smaller lakes in our area opened up and became completely ice free a few days sooner and, according to a few other reports, all of the lakes in our area were completely ice free by the end of the day Thursday, April 6.

On Howard Lake, the earliest ice out date that I have on file was recorded March 15, 1999.

The latest ice out date was recorded May 2, 1950.

The average ice out date on Howard Lake is about April 15.

With the ice gone, the spring crappie action has already started.

I’ve noticed anglers on Winsted and Waconia so far.

Last year, the spring crappie bite on several lakes in our area was excellent. Winsted, Swan, Parley, Henry, Waconia, Mud and a few more all provided super fishing.

This year, Big Waverly may be the hot spot, with one angler already reporting great crappie action on Waverly Saturday, April 9.

The fish were hitting a tube jig tipped with a minnow and most were caught in about eight feet of water.

If you’re heading out, use live bait with a slow presentation, drifting across shallow flats works well, and as the weather and water warm head for shallow water near cattail filled shorelines.

Also, don’t forget to buy your new 2005 angling license, your 2004 license has expired.

Good luck fishing, and three cheers for open water. The ice won’t be back until sometime in late November.

Crow River committee meetings

The Crow River Organization of Water is holding a meeting Thursday, April 14 at the Hutchinson Event Center. The meeting will run from 9 a.m. to noon.

Ten free shade trees

Ten free shade trees will be given to each person who joins The National Arbor Day Foundation during April 2005 as part of the nonprofit foundation’s Trees for America campaign.

The 10 shade trees are Red Oak, Sugar Maple, Weeping Willow, Green Ash, Thornless Honeylocust, Pine Oak, River Birch, Tuliptree, Silver Maple, and Red Maple.

“These trees were selected to provide shade and beauty, and a variety of forms, leaf shapes, and beautiful fall colors,” John Rosenow, the foundation’s president, said.

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting in April or May with enclosed planting instructions.

The six-to-12 inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge.

To become a member of the foundation and receive the free trees, send a $10 contribution to Ten Free Shade Trees, National Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410, by April 30, 2005. Or go online to arborday.org.

25th Anniversary of Crow River Ducks Unlimited

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the chapter’s annual banquet Tuesday, April 12.

For more information call Ken Durdahl at (320) 543-3372.

Deer hunting show planned in Silver Lake

Attend free seminars, visit unique exhibitors, and find out about national and local hunting or fishing organizations at the Big Little Deer Hunting Expo and Auction Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Silver Lake City Auditorium on Main Street.

The expo is free and an event for the entire family. Children may experience minnow races and everyone will have a chance to win a door prize every hour.

The event will conclude with an auction from 7 to 8 p.m.

For more information, visit online at www.christiandeerhunters.org or call Gerald or Thelma at (320) 587-2866, or Tom at (320) 327-2266.

Organizers declare rally for ducks, wetlands, and clean water a success

Nearly 5,000 Minnesotans of various political, outdoor and environmental stripes -- and from as far away as Bemidji, Marshall and Albert Lea -- converged on the state Capitol last Saturday, April 2 at the Rally for Ducks, Wetlands and Clean Water.

Sponsored by a unique coalition of more than 40 sportsmen and environmental groups, the rally was organized to spur action on a number of fronts to reverse the long-term decline in the state’s duck populations, wetland habitats and waterways.

Rally organizers called the event a success, emphasizing the turnout, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson’s (DFL-Willmar) commitments to dedicated funding for natural resources and passing clean water legacy legislation, and the governor’s support for a Missouri-style citizen commission to manage natural resources, plan strategy and allocate funding.

Progress was made on some of the coalition’s goals in the week leading up to the rally.

Gov. Pawlenty and bipartisan legislative leaders announced substantive agreement on a bonding bill that included funding for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and land acquisition for Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), both key short-term objectives of rally organizers.

Gov. Pawlenty addressed the 5,000 rally attendees, “I’ve given a lot of speeches in the last five or seven years where I stand up and say, ‘You know, we’ve got to pass that 3/16ths’ and everybody’s head nods, another year goes by and it never passes,” he said. “And so a lot of people will tell you, ‘We support that’ -- but it’s one thing to support it, it’s another thing to get it done. So let’s get it done.”

Sen. Dean Johnson stated in his speech that, “I will pledge to you today as one of your state senators, as majority leader of the state Senate, that we are actively working to find ways in which we can clean up our lakes, our streams, increase wildlife habitat and make available a dedicated and stable funding source for our natural resources.”

Johnson added that a bill had been introduced in the Senate for a constitutional amendment to dedicate 1/8 percent of the state’s general fund dollars to hunting and fishing initiatives, and cleaning up lakes and other resources.

Former Vikings coach Bud Grant received a big cheer when he told the crowd, “In this session, we want to see some action. It’s more important than any stadium they could ever build in this state.”

“Securing dedicated long-term funding for wildlife and habitat is a key objective for the rally organizers,” said David Zentner of Duluth, coordinator of the rally. “We were thrilled to hear both Gov. Pawlenty and Sen. Johnson express their support for getting a bill passed this session to put a constitutional amendment for dedicated funding on the ballot in 2006.”

Rally attendees also heard Gov. Pawlenty state his support for another one of the rally organizers’ key objectives: overhauling the way natural resources and their funding are managed in the state.

“We need to move towards a Missouri model for how we manage our resources in Minnesota,” Pawlenty said. “We shouldn’t be thinking about what’s good for a particular legislative district for the next six months. We should be thinking about what’s good for conservation and resource management for the next 50 years.”

Pawlenty proposed a reform of the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR), turning it into a citizen commission that manages natural resources, plans strategy and allocates funding on a depoliticized basis.

He called this citizen commission, “a good start towards the Missouri model.”

The rally culminated months of planning by organizers, who intend to continue their efforts

“As we’ve said before, this rally is only the beginning,” said Zentner. “We’ll work over the coming weeks to encourage our legislators and governor to deliver on dedicated funding and some form of citizen oversight this session, and to plan for the future of this coalition. We’re pleased that so many people came out to show their support, and we’ll work to keep them involved in this effort.”

ATV operators cautioned about riding in road ditches
From the DNR

Operators of all-terrain vehicles are encouraged to familiarize themselves with laws regarding driving their machines along or on public roads, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) advises.

Capt. Randy Evans, DNR Southern Region Enforcement Supervisor at New Ulm, said his office has been receiving numerous complaints about illegal ATV operation this spring.

“The legislature has passed laws that are very clear on this,” Evans stated, “and violating them can result in a ticket.”

It is illegal to operate an ATV along or on the roadway, shoulder or inside bank or slope of a public road right-of-way.

Also, between April 1 and August 1, ATVs cannot be operated within the right-of-way of a trunk, county or county state-aid highway in the agricultural zone of Minnesota.

“Basically, during these four months, you need to stay out of the road ditches completely,” Evans said. “This is nesting season for wildlife and those road ditches provide some of the best nesting habitat available in many places.”

The only exception is if the ATV is being used exclusively as transportation to and from work on agricultural lands.

Evans said that in addition to damage done to wildlife, ATVs in road ditches can cause erosion problems and even, in some cases, damage the roadbed itself.

Partnership launches Pelican Lake restoration effort
From the DNR

A few old-timers still talk about the wing-filled skies over Pelican Lake every fall 30 or 40 years ago, before rising waters killed off the sago pondweed and other vegetation beloved of ducks, before bullheads found their way into this Wright County basin and muddied its waters.

Now a partnership of local, state and national interests is meeting to find ways of bringing back Pelican’s glory days.

Speaking at the Ducks Unlimited banquet in Buffalo Saturday, April 9, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Central Region wildlife supervisor Tim Bremicker announced the formation of a working group charged with identifying options for cleaning up Pelican Lake’s waters and restoring its value as habitat for hundreds of species of migratory waterfowl and other wildlife.

“Pelican Lake is one of Minnesota’s wildlife treasures, but it has problems, and we need to address those problems if we want to be the stewards we claim to be,” Bremicker said. “We don’t know if Pelican will ever be the way it was, but by working together we can certainly make this troubled treasure a lot healthier than it is, for both humans and wildlife.”

Gov. Tim Pawlenty praised the partnership. “Minnesotans care deeply about the quality and the future of their lakes, streams and rivers,” Pawlenty said. “Our greatest natural resource is being strained by over-development, flooding, stormwater runoff and other problems. The time for action is now. We can make great strides when we work through partnerships like this.”

The Pelican Lake working group will include local landowners, and city and county officials, as well as local legislators and representatives of the DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District, and private conservation groups such as Ducks Unlimited, the Minnesota Waterfowl Association and Wright County Pheasants Forever.

DNR and Ducks Unlimited are planning a cooperative engineering study to determine the feasibility of creating a controlled outlet for actively managing the lake’s water levels in a way that would improve water quality and habitat values.

“As the only designated ‘wildlife lake’ in Wright County and one of the largest designated wildlife lakes in the state, Pelican is a very important part of our new Living Lakes Initiative,” said Jon Schneider, Ducks Unlimited Manager of Conservation Programs in Minnesota.

“Key to improving shallow lakes is the ability to temporarily lower water levels in order to reduce undesirable fish and rejuvenate aquatic plants. For the sake of ducks and people alike, it’s imperative that we fully evaluate all options for improving Pelican Lake’s water quality.”

The working group is expected to hold its first meeting sometime in late April or early May, said DNR area wildlife manager Fred Bengtson, who will be coordinating the effort.

For more information, contact the Sauk Rapids DNR area wildlife office at (320) 255-4279, ext. 224.

Outdoor notes

• Take the time to get your boat and trailer ready to go for the season.
Check the lights, tires, wheel bearings, and hitch on your trailer.
On your boat and motor; give the motor a complete run through, especially if you didn’t go through a winter storage process.
In the boat, clear all the line with clean water, charge up your batteries, and make sure your life jackets are in good shape.
• The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s club is looking for volunteers to help with DNR certified firearms safety training.
For more information contact Doug Minnick at (320) 395-2143.
• The trap shooting season at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club is about to start.
For more information or to enter a team, call Ed at (320) 395-2258.
• The regular stream trout fishing season in Minnesota opens on Saturday, April 16.
• The spring wild turkey hunting season in Minnesota begins Wednesday, and consists of six five-day and two seven-day seasons ending May 26. Good luck to all turkey hunters.
• Don’t forget about Eurasian watermilfoil and other exotic plants and animals while you’re on the water this season.
Remember to keep your boat and equipment clean.
• The morel mushroom hunt will be on soon. The best mushroom hunting usually occurs when the lilacs are blooming.
• Get your dog checked for heartworm and on a heartworm preventative medication before the mosquito season starts.
• Kermit Terlinden of Glencoe has been named 2004 Firearms Safety Hunter Education Instructor of the Year by the DNR.
Terlinden has been an active instructor since 1974. That’s 31 years of teaching.
• Take a kid fishing, he or she will have fun and so will you.

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