Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

February 5, 2007

Ice fishing season finally takes off

After a slow start, cold temperatures, improved ice conditions and good fishing have led to a significant increase in ice fishing activity in the past few weeks.

A Howard Lake angler I spoke with late last week was smiling from ear-to-ear. He finally had gotten his large 6’ x 12’ fish house out on the ice.

Although he picked one of the coldest days of the year to do it and the frost on his mustache matched his smile, his day couldn’t have been better.

He reported 19 inches of good solid ice near Judd’ bar on Howard and finished the evening with nine dandy crappies and four small walleye.

Ice conditions have improved greatly across our area lakes, however, anglers should still pay attention to areas of certain lakes where there was still open water as little as two weeks ago, and lakes that have aeration systems in operation.

Other reports from the area have Waconia producing the best sunfish bite in years on that lake. The best action has been in the bay on the west side of Waconia.

Lake Mary, just north of Winsted, is giving up small crappies and some decent-sized walleye.

Collinwood is producing good-sized northern pike.

Tiny, Round Lake is giving up big crappies at night.

Walleye are playing the hit and miss game with anglers on Washington. And finally, Big Waverly.

According to several reports, the fishing on Big Waverly was super last week, with the walleye and crappie bite really turning on at dusk.

In general, anglers that have been willing to bear the cold temperatures have been catching fish.

In closing, look for anglers on Howard Lake during the annual Howard Lake Sportsmen’s Club Fishing Derby to nab a lot good-sized fish.

Some years, the derby produces a lot of big fish, and just because of recent conditions, I’m betting this year will be one of them.

61st annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby Feb. 10

The 61st annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 to 4 p.m. on Howard Lake.

The grand prize this year will be a 6.5’ by 12’ King Crow fish house on wheels.

First prize is a FL8 Vexilar depth finder; second and third prizes are framed prints; and there will be a number of other prizes given away.

Before the derby, The Country Store in Howard Lake will be serving lunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There will be a limited supply of fried fish, potato salad, beans, and dinner rolls, which will be served until they are gone.

The lunch is open to the public; all you need is a raffle ticket, which will be available at the event. Children are guests.

Gun safety training coming to Cokato

Gun safety training classes will take place at Cokato City Hall, with one field day being scheduled later in the spring.

Class fee is $15, and parents must accompany students the first day of class.

Participants must be 12 years old by Nov. 1, 2007.

These classes are sponsored by the Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club.

Classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays all through February, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Registrations cannot be accepted at Community Education, and preregistration is required.

To register, contact Bill Josephson at (320) 286-5109.

Gun safety training coming to Mayer

Training for Firearms Safety is coming to the Mayer Community Center.

Registration is Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at the community center.
Classes will be Feb. 22, 27; March 8, 15, 22, and 29, at 9 p.m. each night.

Class is open to age 11 and older, with a cost of $10.

For additional information, contact Beth Heldt during the day at (952) 442-4443, or Doug Ernst during the evenings at (952) 442-4838.

Watertown Rod & Gun Firearms safety training

The Watertown Rod and Gun Club will be having Firearms Safety Training class this spring.

The class will be Tuesday and Thursday nights, with registration Tuesday, March 6 at 6 p.m.

Classes begin March 6, and will run through Saturday, March 31, which will be a field day.

The cost is $10, and a parent or guardian must sign for students under 18 years of age.

Classes will be at the Watertown Rod and Gun Club, located .5 miles south of Watertown on State hwy 25, then west on County Rd. 122 one mile – club on north side.

Classes will begin at 6:30 p.m. and students must attend every class, with class running to 9 p.m.

No firearms or ammunition may be brought to class.

For additional information, contact Tom Radde at (952) 446-1471.

Prairie Archers to have archery training

Prairie Archers in Lester Prairie will be having an archer training and instruction class starting Sunday, Feb. 11.

The class will be at Prairie Archers, which is located in downtown Lester Prairie, above Angvall Hardware.

There will be three classes, starting Feb. 11, then Feb. 18, and wrapping up Feb. 25.

The cost is $30 per person, with a total of six hours of instruction.

2007 spring light goose hunting begins March 1
From the DNR

In Minnesota the harvest of snow geese, including blue-phased and the smaller Ross’ geese will be allowed under a federal conservation order this spring.

Since 2000, when Minnesota began participating in the conservation order, the state harvest of light geese has varied dramatically from a few hundred to 6,000 depending on weather conditions. Hunting this year will be open from March 1 to April 30.

“Minnesota is at the extreme eastern edge of the spring migration through the Midwest,” according to Ray Norrgard, Wetland Wildlife Program leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “March weather, particularly snow and ice conditions, can have a tremendous effect on the migration routes of light geese.”

A Spring Light Goose Permit is required and may be obtained after Feb. 18 at any of the 1,800 Electronic License System agents statewide.

Spring light goose permits will also be available by telephone at 1-888-665-4236 or online after March 1 at

No other license, stamp or permit is required to participate.

Although the permits are free, there is a $3.50 application fee to cover the cost of issuing the permit.

Nontoxic shot requirements and federal baiting regulations as well as most regulations that apply to fall goose-hunting seasons will also apply during the spring light goose conservation action.

Electronic calls and unplugged shotguns are allowed.

Refuges closed to either duck or goose hunting during fall seasons are also closed during the spring conservation action.

Shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset each day. No daily or possession limits apply.

The conservation order is part of an international effort to reduce by 50 percent populations of lesser snow geese that breed in Arctic coastal areas and the Hudson Bay area.

High populations of the birds cause habitat damage on the breeding grounds.

A summary of regulations will be available from license vendors, DNR wildlife offices, or by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

2006 Minnesota deer harvest is the second highest on record
From the DNR

Minnesota hunters harvested nearly 270,000 deer during 2006, the second highest deer harvest ever recorded, according to a final numbers announced today by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

With nearly 500,000 deer hunters enjoying long seasons and liberal bag limits, DNR officials anticipated a strong 2006 deer harvest.

In total, firearms hunters harvested 229,000 deer while archery and muzzleloader hunters harvested 25,000 and 13,500 deer, respectively.

Hunters who participated in the early antlerless season tagged 2,300 deer.

Overall, the statewide firearm harvest was up six percent, archers enjoyed another record season and increased eight percent, while muzzleloader harvest decreased four percent from their record 2005 harvest.

“Once again, Minnesota deer hunters enjoyed another great deer season,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator.

Prior to 2003, Minnesota hunters had never killed 250,000 deer in any one season. Over the four years, total deer harvest exceeded 250,000 each year.

“The last four years have yielded the top four harvests ever recorded, which not only indicates an abundant deer population, but also shows the great flexibility our seasons offer,” Cornicelli said.

The all-season license, which allows people to hunt during the archery, firearm and muzzleloader season, has been increasing dramatically since 2002.

In 2006, 75,000 people purchased the license, which likely contributed to the record archery and continued high muzzleloader harvest.

“We continue to see dramatic increases in muzzleloader hunters,” Cornicelli said. “I think people are really grabbing on to the fact that they can extend their time in the field by getting into muzzleloader hunting, which overall isn’t very expensive.”

The final deer harvest number is computed using information provided by hunters when they register their deer.

A final report, which includes more detailed harvest information, will be available online at in the coming weeks.

For the 2007 season, the deadline for the either-sex permit application is Sept. 6. Archery deer hunting will begin Sept. 15.

The early antlerless deer season will be the weekend of Oct. 13-14.

The statewide firearms deer-hunting season will open on Nov. 3.

The muzzleloader season will open Nov. 24.

Outdoor notes

• This is a critical legislative year for our natural resources and especially for the Conservation Reserve Program.

In Washington and in St. Paul, there is a lot on the conservation table, and if you’re wondering what you can do to have a positive impact, I have a simple answer, become a member of a conservation organization like Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, or the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be running a directory of local chapters with contact information.

• The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club will be opening the 2007 trapshooting season in April with new trap houses and new automatic traps.

• Young or old, take a DNR-certified firearms safety training class this year. The class covers much more then firearms safety. Local sportsmens clubs from across the area sponsor and conduct classes.

• The walleye, sauger, bass, muskie, and northern pike fishing season closes Feb. 25.

• Although winter and cold weather has finally arrived, most of our wildlife populations like ringnecked pheasants went into winter in great shape and should move into spring with great carryover numbers.

• Will spring come early? According to the ground hog it should. On Ground Hog Day there was no shadow to be seen, meaning an early end to winter.

• The Dassel Rod and Gun Club have no plans to continue with the “Tip Up.”

Instead, the Dassel Rod and Gun Club will have a winter event Sunday, Feb. 11 which includes some of the fun, family things that use to take place at the “Tip Up” and fall outings.

The event begins at noon and will include bingo, food, and kids activities – along with much more.

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

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