Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

Dec. 5, 2005

Ice not ready yet

It’s been cold and windy. We have a light covering of snow on the ground and it sure feels like winter is here and here to stay.

However, and to the dismay of a growing group of would be ice anglers, the ice on our local lakes isn’t quit ready for travel by foot or ice fishing yet.

Actually it’s been a poor start to the season. The weather has only been moderately cold and has been accompanied by heavy winds.

Snow, and at time rains, have hampered the ice making process and have probably impacted the quality of the ice we do have and, in general, we’re off to a late start.

In far northern Minnesota, anglers have been on lakes for a couple weeks. In other areas like Detroit Lakes, reports indicate a late start to the season and varied and changing ice conditions.

Locally, Howard Lake officially froze over on the evening of Nov. 30, bigger lakes in the area still have a few open holes near the middle, and most of the smaller lakes are covered with a thin layer of ice that isn’t ready for fishing yet.

With a few good cold nights and an extended period of cold weather, the ice could be in good shape for fishing very soon.

Remember it takes two inches of good, clear, solid ice to support a person, four-to-six inches for ATV or snowmobile travel, and eight-to-10 inches for cars and trucks.

At this time of year anglers also have to understand that ice conditions can vary greatly from lake to lake, and from one spot on a lake to the next.

If you do plan on heading out, know the lake, wear a life jacket, and always test the ice with a chisel.

The best bet is to just wait a few more days and spend that time tinkering with your gear.

Thin ice and open water on Winsted Lake beginning Dec. 15

An aeration system, creating open water and thin ice, will begin operation on Winsted Lake, McLeod County, Township 117N, Range 27W, Section 2, 11, and 12 beginning Thursday, Dec. 15, under permit DNR F0564071.

Weather conditions may cause the area of thin ice and open water to fluctuate greatly.

Stay clear of the marked area.

Motorized vehicles on aerated lakes are restricted inside the zone marked “thin ice.”

For more information regarding this warning, call Brent Mareck, City of Winsted administrator, at (320) 485-2366.

Corn giveaway

The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will have a corn giveaway for pheasants and wildlife Saturday, Dec. 10th, from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. at Lampi’s Auction located at Hwy. 55 and Wright Cty. #6.
Please bring your own containers. Quantities may be limited due to demand.

For additional information please call (320) 274-CORN (2676).

If you would like to volunteer to assist with this event or any other events please contact Bruce Bartl at 763-682-0653.

New law requires a sticker to ride snowmobile trails
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds people that a Minnesota snowmobile state trail sticker is now required for all snowmobiles operated on any state or grant-in-aid snowmobile trail in Minnesota.

A new law requiring the sticker was enacted during the 2005 legislative session. It took effect Oct. 1.

The state trail sticker costs $16 for an annual permit and $31 for a three-year sticker, which may only be purchased during snowmobile registration.

The permit will only be valid from Nov. 1 through Apr. 30 of each year.

Tom Danger of the DNR’s Trails and Waterways Division said operators of snowmobiles caught on a state or grant-in-aid trail without a valid trail sticker will be required to purchase an annual permit at the price of the three-year permit, $31.

Annual stickers can be purchased from a deputy registrar or any of the 1,800 electronic licensing agents throughout Minnesota, by telephone at 1-888-665-4236, or on the DNR Web site at

The three-year sticker is available at a deputy registrar office; through the mail to the DNR at 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155; or with an online renewal at

A $3.50 convenience fee will be added to stickers purchased by telephone or online.

More information about the state trail sticker, including proper placement, can be found in the 2005-2006 Minnesota Snowmobile Regulations handbook.

Minnesota has 20,385 total miles of snowmobile trails, with more than 18,000 miles managed and maintained by local snowmobile clubs through the grant-in-aid program.

DNR suggests giving the gift of hunting, fishing for the holidays
From the DNR

Lifetime licenses provide a perfect opportunity for adults to pass family hunting and fishing traditions to youngsters.

Buying a youngster a lifetime license also creates an incentive for them to stay involved in the outdoors.

With a lifetime license, hunters and anglers simply need to authorize their participation by obtaining an annual license at no charge.

Residents and nonresidents may purchase lifetime licenses as gifts for children or adults of any age.

“It’s a great way to get kids involved in hunting and fishing at an early age and it keeps them involved as they become adults,” said Pete Skwira, administrative services manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “I think of it as an investment in the future of conservation.”

Lifetime fees are based on age at the time of purchase. Fee schedules are available on the DNR Web site and in the hunting and fishing regulations books.

Purchasing a lifetime license as a gift requires a copy of the recipient’s birth certificate or driver’s license at the time of purchase.

Lifetime hunting licenses may be purchased as a gift without providing proof of completion of a hunter education course at the time of purchase, but the licensee must provide proof of hunter education before the license can be issued.

For more information about how to purchase a lifetime license, visit the DNR Web site or call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

DNR question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Is there a specific date by which Minnesota lakes are typically froze over to allow for safe recreation?

A: It is not a good idea for anglers or anyone to rely on the calendar to determine whether or not a frozen lake is safe. In years past, ice may have been passable by Dec. 1, but a warm start to another Minnesota winter makes it difficult to determine just when a lake or pond will freeze thick enough to allow recreation.

Even once this finally happens, it is important realize that ice is never 100 percent safe.

The DNR recommends the following ice thickness for these intended uses: a minimum of four inches of new, clear ice for foot traffic; five inches for ATVs and snowmobiles; and a minimum of eight to 12 inches for cars or small trucks.

Local resorts and bait shops can often provide information about ice thickness and point out dangerous areas.

Also, anglers and others who venture out on the ice should take ice picks with them and wear a life jacket as a precaution.

Outdoor notes

• Pheasant hunting across Minnesota’s range, and in many parts of the Dakota’s, continues to be excellent.
With snow on the ground the hunting usually gets better. Expect the birds to be spooky, in larger groups, and deep in the cattails.

• Remember to wear blaze orange when in your in the outdoors. The muzzleloader deer hunting season is still open.

• Take the time to write down your 2005 hunting adventures in an outdoor journal.

• Feeding pheasant and other wildlife is a season long commitment. If you start now please understand that you need to maintain your feeding program through out the winter.

• Make sure your dog and other outside pets have fresh water every day.

• As of Friday, Dec. 2, the Crow River was still open. Several anglers have reported that the river has provided some pretty good walleye fishing in the last few weeks.

• The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club will meet tonight, at 7:30 p.m., at the club house.

• The Winsted Lake Watershed Association will meet tonight, at 7 p.m., at Winsted City Offices.

• Take a kid hunting or fishing he or she will have fun and so will you.

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