Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

Jan. 23, 2006

Ice fishing activity picks up - so do break-ins

Although ice conditions have basically been miserable and anglers aren’t driving vehicles on our area lakes the fish have been biting and ice fishing activity has picked up some steam in the last week.

Actually, the bite on many lakes in the area has probably picked up because more anglers have been out and there aren’t cars and trucks cruising all over the lakes. On a typical year, fishing activity and the bite, especially for walleye has already slowed up for the season.

The hot lakes aren’t hot anymore and traffic on the lakes where the fish were biting has transitioned from a furious pace to a slower pace. This year, probably because of the ice conditions, that pattern may be different and the best fishing of the year may still be ahead of us.

Reports last week included, good crappie, sunfish and northern pike action coming from Dog lake. A few big crappies still being caught on Round lake, Cedar lake producing sunfish, Washington producing a few walleyes and Silvia giving up good numbers of sunfish.

With fishing activity picking up and more houses making it out on to the lakes incidents of fish house vandalism and break ins has also picked up. Recently Lakes Washington, Waconia, and Ann have been targets for fish house vandalism or break ins.

60th annual Howard Lake fishing derby coming

The Howard Lake Sportsmen’s Club 60th annual fishing derby is set for Saturday, Feb. 11 on Howard Lake, starting at 2 p.m. and running to 4 p.m.

The grand prize is a deluxe fish house on wheels; first prize is a gas ice auger; with second and third place prizes being framed prints.

Prior to the start of the fishing derby, there will be a chili feed from 10 a.m. to noon at the Country Store in Howard Lake, while supplies last.

Second annual Montrose-Waverly ice festival and fishing derby set

The second annual Montrose-Waverly Chamber of Commerce ice festival and ice fishing derby is set to take place this Saturday, Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the American Legion Waterfront Park on Big Waverly Lake.

Food and beverages will be served by the Waverly Lions, along with coffee, hot chocolate, and donuts that will be served by the Montrose/Waverly Ambassadors.

A general raffle, featuring $100 in Montrose Waverly Community Bucks and more than 100 donated prizes by area businesses, will also take place at the event.

Sleigh rides, sled dog rides sponsored by the Waverly Lake Association, a Wright County Water Rescue presentation, games, and a $50 medallion hunt sponsored by the Waverly and Montrose Booster Clubs are also set to take place.

A new event in 2006 will be bowling on ice, sponsored by Montrose Lions. Golf on the ice will also be taking place, along with a bonfire sponsored by Waverly and Montrose fire departments.

Weather permitting, ice skatingwill be part of the fun, sponsored by City of Waverly. The KRWC Road Show will broadcast live from the event, which will also feature the new “Money hole.”

For more information, contact Kent Houston at (763) 658-4417 ext. 35, or Jim Tourville at (763) 675-3121, or visit online www.montrosewaverlychamber.com.

Kingston Lions fishing contest

The Kingston Lions’ fishing contest is Saturday, Feb. 4 on Lake Francis from 1 to 3 p.m.

Comment wanted on DNR duck recovery plan
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public comment on its newly-released draft plan to recover the state’s breeding and migrating duck populations.

Building on the 2001 plan to Restore Minnesota’s Wetland and Waterfowl Hunting Heritage, the draft plan outlines ambitious new goals to restore and protect prairie wetland and grassland habitat, accelerate shallow lake management and improve statewide waterfowl habitat.

“This is an opportunity for hunters, landowners, conservationists and other concerned citizens to help shape this plan,” said Ray Norrgard, DNR wetland waterfowl program leader. “We are particularly interested in suggestions on the appropriateness of our goals, strategies and timelines.”

Under the draft plan, 200,000 acres of wetland and 400,000 acres of grasslands need to be protected by 2025. Longer term, the plan calls for restoration and protection of a total of 2 million acres of habitat and 1,800 shallow lakes.

Major objectives in the plan include:

- boosting the average breeding duck population from 636,000 to 1 million birds, producing a fall flight of 1.4 million birds from Minnesota

- restoring hunting opportunities at levels that existed during the 1970s

- maintaining an average of 140,000 hunters with high satisfaction rates.

Part of the challenge to restore and protect habitat could be met through the purchase of additional wildlife management areas as outlined in a Citizens Advisory Committee proposal. In addition, federal farm program easements and acquisitions and easements secured by the U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service could add wetland and grassland acreage.

Also, the DNR with its with many partners will continue to support a 10-year advance on duck stamp funding through proposed Wetland Loan Act legislation, Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s efforts to coordinate land management practices through the Working Lands Initiative, federal farm bill conservation provisions and local initiatives to protect wetlands.

“These goals are ambitious and require a significant commitment of resources over a long period of time,” said DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam. “This situation was not created overnight - it developed over decades - and we cannot fix it overnight. The magnitude of the challenge requires aggressive strategies and ambitious goals. This will not be a quick fix and the DNR cannot do it alone. Success depends on many pieces and from many partners, public and private.”

The plan is available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us

Comments will be accepted via e-mail or in writing through March 1.

The plan will be finalized before the April 22 duck rally. Copies of the plan are available by calling toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Online comments may be e-mailed to waterfoul@dnr.state.mn.us.

Written comments may be mailed to: DNR Waterfowl Plan Comments, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4002.

Help wildlife by ordering treees and shrubs
From the DNR

Trees and shrubs, which benefit Minnesota’s wildlife, are available from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), according to Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor.

The DNR Division of Forestry provides a variety of native trees and shrubs that can benefit songbirds as well as ruffed grouse and wild turkeys.

Among the choices available to Minnesotans is a “Four-Season Shrub Packet” that includes wild plum, chokecherry, red osier and grey dogwood and highbush cranberryin a total of 500 plants. There are 50 of these wildlife packets remaining for sale at $280 for healthy bare-root stock. There is also a hardwood tree packet available for $280 that includes 500 bare-root oak, maple, birch, ash and black cherry trees.

Pin cherry, wild plum, red osier dogwood and grey dogwood are available in 100-plant increments for $56 per hundred. Black walnut is also available for $62 per 100-plant increment, with a minimum order of 500 plants. Orders for trees and shrubs can be mixed in 100-plant units to reach the 500 plant minimum.

Trees can be picked up at the state forest nurseries at Willow River, (218) 372-3182, or Badoura, (218) 652-2385, or they can be shipped by a common carrier to a street address.

Shipping charges apply unless trees are picked up.

More information on how to attract wildlife to property is available in the DNR “Landscaping for Wildlife” book. The book, which costs $10.95 plus tax and shipping, is available at Minnesota’s Bookstore by calling (651) 297-3000 or toll free 1-800-657-3757.

Additional information is available from the DNR Division of Forestry by calling (218) 372-3183 or visiting the DNR web site.

Snowmobile conditions prime in much of Minn.
From the DNR

Now is a good time to snowmobile over much of North and West Central Minnesota, according to trail condition reports from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Much of northern Minnesota has eight or more inches of snow, resulting in good to excellent snowmobile conditions.

Trails are in good shape in the Tower area, said Steve Hennessy, DNR Tower area trails specialist. “We have many miles of riding opportunities and plenty of snow for great riding. There are a few short sections that cross wetlands and are rough because we cannot get the groomers across them. But, the rough spots are marked and the trails are all passable. The vast majority are in good condition.”

In the Itasca County area, snowmobile clubs have been busy grooming, said Bob Moore, Trails supervisor, Grand Rapids. “The Taconite Trail is in good condition, and Itasca County’s 600 miles of trail offer lots of snowmobiling opportunities. We encourage people to come and ride the Itasca trails.”

In the Northwest, trails are in really good shape, according to Mary Broten, trails supervisor, Thief River Falls. “The snowmobile clubs have groomed the trails and are anxious to have people come and use them. Trails are groomed from the Canadian border down into Minnesota, including the Northwest Angle. The northern connection trail from Baudette to International Falls is open. It took some time to remove blowdown, but now the trail is in great condition.”

The Big Bog trails are in good condition. There is some logging occurring on state trails, but those areas are open and marked ‘Trucks Hauling’. Broten said, “we have plenty of snow on the trails, although we lost some snow cover in open areas during the recent warm weather.”

Lake and Cook counties along Lake Superior’s North Shore have had lots of snow this winter, so trails there provide a great snowmobiling experience, especially the further north people go.

Most of the counties in Northeast, Northwest, and West Central Minnesota have more than eight inches of snow. The DNR Climatology Office updates snow depth information each Thursday on the web at www.dnr.state.mn.us/current/conditions.

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