Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

June 11, 2007

The sunfish are biting

Without question, right now is the best time of year to go fishing.

Largemouth bass are active and biting, northern pike, and walleye are still roaming shallow water areas and are easy to find, the muskie season is open, the spring crappie bite is still on and most importantly, the sunfish are in shallow water and spawning.

Like clockwork, every June, the sunfish move into shallow water, and create saucer shaped impressions in the lake bottom and spawn.

During the spawn, the fish school up in the shallows and become very aggressive, in turn, they bite like crazy offering anglers the best pan fish action of the year.

In our area the bite is definitely on; Lakes Henry, Ramsey, Waconia, Howard, and Granite have all been producing good numbers of decent sized sunfish.

Good reports have also come from Big Waverly, Clearwater and Dog Lake.

Moving on, if you ever wanted to take a kid or get a kid out fishing, now and within the next two weeks is the time to do it.

The rules are simple – keep it simple – rod, reel, bobber, hook and wax worms or angle worms and a good spot on the shoreline or DNR fishing pier is all that’s needed.

Here are a few good shoreline spots to try in our area: DNR fishing piers on Howard, Big Waverly, Waconia, Sarah and Winsted Lake are great spots to catch sunfish.

The north shore of Howard is another good choice where access is easy and finally, the dock at the boat landing on Lake Ida has always produced great sunfish action for kids, and I’m sure it will again this year.

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

Howard Lake GND Fishing contest June 23

The annual Good Neighbor Day’s fishing contest on Howard Lake is set for Saturday, June 23.

To register, stop at Joe’s Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake, or contact Denny Decker at (320) 543-2992.

‘Ladies Only’ shooting to begin in Waverly

“Ladies Only,” shooting practice will begin in June, taking place once a month, on the second Tuesday of every month, sponsored by the Waverly Gun Club.

The program runs from June to October with the first practice taking place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 12 at the Waverly Gun Club shooting range.

Those interested may bring their own gun and ammo, or it will be provided for them. A league is being set up as well. Those with questions may call Allan Moy at (763) 658-4636.

Dassel Rod and Gun Club to meet Thursday

The Dassel Rod and Gun Club will meet Thursday, June 14 at the club house. Business will include the 357 report, opener breakfast, patio update, steak fry and mowing.

Fishing clinic for children June 16 in Buffalo

Can your child tell a largemouth bass from a walleye?

Have they ever learned how to handle a minnow so that it is still alive when using it as bait?

These are just two items children will learn about at the 10th annual Buffalo Days Fishing Klinic for Kids, which will be Saturday, June 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Sturges Park in Buffalo.

The children will learn from more than 25 hands-on exhibits and seminars. They can then apply their knowledge while fishing off the docks on Buffalo Lake.

Participants may bring their own poles, or use one of the 100-plus fishing outfits provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources MinnAqua program.

New this year are “trading cards,” which will be given out by each exhibitor.

These cards will feature different fish and their statistics (i.e., did you know the record walleye caught in Minnesota was 17 pounds 8 ounces?). Children will be given an 18-card plastic sleeve card saver at registration to help in their collection.

Also new this year will be seminars by three professional fisherpeople, Mike Tengwall, Eric Guddal, and Libby Hoene.

These pros will give a formal fishing presentation on the “main stage” at the Klinic and then some lucky children will get to fish with the pros on Buffalo Lake.

In recent years, this event has drawn more than 1,000 children and their parents each year.

There is no cost for attending this event, and nearly $10,000 worth of equipment will be given away. Besides trading cards, the first 800 children attending will receive a fishing organizer.

Keg’s Bar fishing league

• Week 3 Standings

1) Troy Gille and Scott, 33 points

1) Mike Moy and Kimberly Moy, 33 points.

3) Jason Kieser and Mark Kieser, 30 points.

4) Tim Thul and Russ Chapek, 22 points.

5) Woody Langenfeld and Dave Fiecke, 21 points.

6) Tom Schoenfeld and Tonia Radtke, 20 points.

7) Cory Zitzloff and Marcus Halverson, 14 points.

8) Mike Rathmaner, 12 points.

8) Jon Lambrecht and Brian H., 12 points.

10) Gus Schoenfeld, 11 points.

10) Justin Johnson, 11 points.

12) Bill Fiske and Tom Schlafer, 2 points.

Conservation officer tales – June
From the DNR

• The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

While checking a boat, CO Mike Lee (Isle) asked if they had kept any fish.

A very excited female party in the back of the boat stated, “Yeah, you gotta see!”

Before Lee could advise her that she only needed to open the livewell cover, she reached in and held up a very nice walleye that was flopping and wiggling in her hands.

Before her husband or the officer could tell her to put the fish back in the livewell it flopped out of her hands, onto the top of the outboard motor, and, well, you all know where the walleye went from there.

At that point, her husband expressed how, let’s just say, unhappy he was with the situation.

• CO and skunk retreat unharmed

CO Neil Freborg (Lake George) received several calls about a skunk with its head stuck in a tin can.

He located the skunk and debated on how to handle the situation.

“With a good 20 mph wind at my back, I got a hand on the can and pulled, dragging the skunk with me, but the can was on much tighter than I thought,” Freborg said. “I let go of the can and quickly retreated as the skunk spun around and sprayed the area. I waited about ten minutes and quietly approached the skunk. This time when I took hold of the can I gave it a good quick jerk, a definite “pop” followed freeing the skunk. We both retreated, unharmed.”

• Hunter finds lost firearm

CO Dan Book (Rushford) spoke to a turkey hunter who told the following story.

He and a friend had hunted a parcel of state land without success and left the area in mid-morning.

The hunter returned to the area in mid-afternoon to take advantage of the recent law change that allows turkey hunting all day.

Upon driving into the empty parking area, he said he couldn’t believe his good fortune when he saw a shotgun lying in the gravel.

Upon closer examination, he realized it was his own firearm.

Apparently he had set the gun down while loading his other gear.

While lost in conversation with his friend had forgotten it when he drove away!

• He can see cleary now.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) reported a man living next to a state park logged off two acres of timber to get better satellite reception and to make the area look better.

• Feeling guilty about their actions.

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) was trying to stop two ATVs in Aurora when both took off at a high rate of speed and a short chase ensued.

With help from eyewitnesses, the two juveniles were later identified.

They called in a short time later after thinking about their actions and knowing they would be found.

Both face felony fleeing charges and both ATVs impounded and subject to forfeiture.

• Wake up call from conservation officer.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) found an angler had not checked his line on the dock for 12 hours. In the meantime, a 21-inch walleye was caught and eviscerated by turtles.

When awakened by the officer, the angler was shown the walleye.

The CO seized the rod and cited the man for leaving an unattended line.

• A perfect match.

Upon checking a group of campers and asking them where they had thrown their cleaned walleye entrails, CO Tom Sutherland (Hill City) walked with one individual to the waters edge where he could see many walleye remains floating out in deep water.

A boat was used to gather the remains and to Sutherland’s surprise there were three walleyes from within the protected slot, including a 23-inch walleye that was cut into three pieces to make it look like it was a smaller fish.

The remains were perfectly matched up and presented to the group of campers.

The campers admitted to keeping the protected fish and were issued citations.

• Grandson busts grandpa

CO Nikki Shoutz (Pine River) reported a grandpa was “busted” by his young grandson when the boy told Shoutz that grandpa’s big fish were “over there” in the nearby weeds.

The boy said, “Grandpa said that he could get in trouble if he put them in his bucket since they were largemouth bass.”

A citation was issued for taking bass in closed season.

• You’ll remember next time.

CO Paul Kuske (Pierz) found an unlicensed angler hiding two preseason walleyes that he had “forgot” about.

• Ducklings rescued by true outdoorsmen.

CO Alex Gutierrez (Metro Rec Specialist) reported rescuing 10 mallard ducklings with the assistance of the local police and fire departments.

The ducklings had fallen into a storm drain and were unable to get out.

They were spotted when a true outdoorsman saw the hen mallard not leaving the area of the storm drain and heard the ducklings chirping .

• Impaired operator stopped on Old Whiskey Road.

CO Cary Shoutz (Crosslake) reported a reckless ATV operator was stopped and cited for no valid driver’s license.

During the stop, alcohol was detected and subsequent testing revealed the operator was just over the legal limit of .08.

The ironic thing is the road he was operating on was named Old Whiskey Road.

• Angler ‘bummed out’ to be spending summer in jail.

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) arrested one angler for two outstanding warrants and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The angler stated he was really “bummed out” because he would be spending his summer in jail.

The surprising part was the angler did have a valid fishing license.

• No fear.

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reported a group of anglers reported stopping at an access for lunch and letting their dog run loose.
They were startled by a yelp from their dog and noticed the dog running with a timber wolf in hot pursuit.

The dog made it to the owners safely and the wolf ran off. The dog was missing a little hair on its hind leg, but was no worse for the wear.

The officer also encountered five timber wolves during the week with only two showing any real fear of humans.

• We haven’t heard back from our ‘fishing expert.’

CO Corey Wiebusch (Mankato) reported a largemouth bass was seized when it was discovered in a bucket while checking a boat that had expired registration.

The individuals stated they had a call into the “fishing expert” in the family to see if they could keep it but hadn’t heard back from him yet.

• Fawn rescued.

While CO Mike Hruza (Bemidji) was checking anglers, a fisherman pointed toward the shoreline where a dog was carrying a fawn by the neck.

The officer and angler were able to get the fawn away from the dog.

The bleating fawn was taken to shore and released.

After a short time the doe came to the fawn and herded it into the woods. The dog owner could not be located.

• Give him the boot.

After seizing a walleye that was clearly under the 15-inch minimum size limit for the St Louis River, CO Randy Hanzal (Brookston) asked the angler what he used to measure the fish.

The angler showed the officer his size 14 boot and stated he stepped on the fish and could see walleye sticking out from each end of his boot so he figured it must have been at least 15 inches.

• No, we’ll call for a ride.

While watching shore anglers along the Mississippi River over Memorial Day weekend, CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) saw a couple people drinking beer and throwing their cans in the rocks along the river.

This went on for some time. When the anglers packed up to leave, Kuske met them in the parking lot to issue them tickets for littering.

To Kuske’s complete surprise, the anglers had picked up all their cans and more.

Kuske then gave them the option of having someone give them a ride home or a DWI. They immediately called for a ride.

• You kept the wrong fish.

CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) encountered a person with two smallmouth bass on his stringer.

The suspect didn’t know it, but Sladek had been watching him for some time.

He then approached the individual and said he would need to measure the fish.

When Sladek returned with the tape measure there was only one bass on the stringer.

The individual was adamant he had only one bass.

Sladek then advised the violator he had left the legal fish go and kept the illegal bass. Enforcement action was taken.

Funding available for shoreland vegetation projects
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is making more than $300,000 available for grant proposals for restoring native shoreline vegetation across the state.

Individual grant requests can range from $10,000 - $75,000.

This program provides cost share grants to counties, cities, watershed districts, other local units of government, conservation groups and lake associations to conduct shoreline restoration projects with native plants to improve fish and wildlife habitat.

Projects on private properties will have at least 75 percent of the frontage restored with an adjacent buffer zone that is at least 25 feet wide.

The focus of these projects must be on re-establishing vegetation for fish and wildlife habitat.

Funds cannot be used for rock riprap stabilization or permanent wave breaks.

Grants recipients will be reimbursed for a maximum of 75 percent of the total project costs.

Applicants must be able to fund at least 25 percent of the total project costs from nonstate sources.

Matching funds may be cash, volunteer labor, in-kind contributions of materials, equipment, and services.

“This is an opportunity for lake associations, local communities and conservation organizations to help enhance native shoreline vegetation and fish habitat in their local lakes, streams and rivers,” said John Hiebert, DNR shoreland habitat coordinator. “Last year, 27 projects were funded for $315,000.”

Applications are available on the DNR Web site at or by calling the DNR at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Completed applications are due Sept. 17.

Successful applicants will be notified in February. Their funds will be made available after July 1, 2008.

The grants are funded from state lottery proceeds deposited in the Heritage Enhancement Account.

Grants, administered through the DNR Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, are selected and designed with guidance from local DNR fisheries managers.

Apply now for Minnesota elk hunt
From the DNR

Hunters have until Friday, July 13, to apply for one of six antlerless elk permits offered this year by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The hunt is being held to reduce the elk population, located in a zone around Grygla in northwestern Minnesota, from the present level of 55 animals.

There will be no bull permits offered this year as six bull elk mortalities were documented in 2006.

Two were legally taken during the 2006 season, one was taken mistakenly during the antlerless season, one died presumably of brain worm, and the remaining two were found dead from unknown causes.

“While we are mandated to keep elk populations low, we believe the bull population is low enough and should not be hunted this year,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator.

Applications may be made at any of the 1,800 statewide locations where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Applications are also available from the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul. Paper applications will not be accepted. Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two.

There is a non-refundable application fee of $10 per hunter. Successful applicants will be notified by mail, and must purchase an elk license for $250. Each party will be authorized to harvest one elk.

One of the six licenses will be issued to a qualified landowner in the elk zone in a preferential drawing.

Unsuccessful landowner applications will then be added to the general drawing, from which five more applicants will be selected.

Alternates will be selected in case successful parties opt not to purchase a permit.

If no qualified landowners apply, all six licenses will be drawn from the general pool of applicants.

Although the hunt is antlerless only, it is still once in a lifetime, which means parties that choose to purchase their license will not be eligible to apply for future elk hunts.

The antlerless elk hunt seasons are Sept. 15-23 and Dec. 1-9.

Applicants interested in the early hunt should select area 10, while applicants for the late hunt should select area 20.

“The early hunt will be a good opportunity to try calling a bull then taking a cow from the harem,” Cornicelli said. “During the late season, elk should be congregated in larger groups with snow on the ground, making tracking and trailing easier.”

All successful applicants will be required to attend an orientation session at Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area headquarters prior to the hunt, and will be required to register any elk harvested at this location.

Some biological information relative to elk physical condition will be collected at the check station and elk will be tested for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis as part of Minnesota’s wild cervid surveillance program.

Sticks, boomerangs, and dirty lakes
From the DNR

What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t work?

A stick.

Old joke, yes, but one with a moral: word definitions can be complex and have emotional colorations that go beyond the dictionary definition.

Take the word weeds. Most of us refer to plants that grow in water with the all-encompassing word weeds.

I did until I went to work for the DNR. Instead of weeds, we refer to these plants as aquatic vegetation.

Not a term that exactly jumps off the page but it at least steers us away from the inaccurate word.

Weeds is a word that grows more negative as we grow up. What little kid does not love to pick dandelions and proudly bring mom a bouquet of them?

But then one day the little kid watches dad out killing those pretty dandelions and an interpretation of weeds begins to form. Weeds are bad, even if they are pretty.

Weeds, in fact, are bad even when they aren’t weeds. If we don’t know what it is, it’s a weed.

And admit it, many of us can’t tell a weed from a turnip.

Which may be part of the reason why we have such an obsession with getting rid of weeds in and along our lakes.

Little do we realize, apparently, that most of those plants are not weeds at all and by killing them off we are contributing to the very demise of the lake itself.

There are regulations concerning what we can do in terms of removing aquatic vegetation from in front of our shoreline property. Basically, removal is allowed to facilitate access to the lake or river.

That allowance, however, is obviously not satisfactory to some.

As development around lakes in southern Minnesota continues at a furious pace, aquatic vegetation is disappearing. And too often it is being cut, pulled or poisoned illegally.

In the year 2007, it might be a stretch to believe that a sizable portion of our citizenry still does not realize that those weeds help keep the water clean and provide the habitat that fish and wildlife depend on for survival.

Aren’t those the very qualities that persuade us to purchase lakeshore property in the first place? Why destroy it?

Maybe for the same reason that some lakeshore property owners insist on cutting down trees and other growth on their land and mowing the grass right to the water’s edge.

They want a better view of the lake. And they want their property to look nice and neat. Every bit of it. In the end, they aim to improve nature by making it unnatural.

Manicured lake property lawns that allow toxins to enter the water and illicit aquatic plant removal are slowly but surely ruining our lakes.

Drive by some of these lakes in the summer and take a close look at the water.

It is no mystery how they have reached such a state. The mystery is how to convince more local regulatory authorities and lakeshore property owners that it is in their own best interest to preserve lake weeds and shoreline vegetation.

There is another word that is apropos in this matter. The word increment is defined, in part, in the American Heritage Dictionary as a small positive or negative change in a variable.

Lakes become degraded in increments, not overnight.

They become degraded when incremental changes are made in the watershed that contributes to the runoff of contaminants into the lake.

Just as every litter bit hurts, every little change around a lake, good or bad, makes a difference. Not overnight. Incrementally. And before you know it, pretty soon the boomerang has become just an old stick.

Outdoor notes

• The pheasant hatch is now in full swing. Soon we should be seeing small pheasant chicks moving off nests and along roadsides.

• Anyone that would like to share some information on Lake Ann please give me a call at (320) 485-2535.

• Make sure your dog in on a heartworm preventative medication.

• Look for those wonderful mosquitos to be out in big numbers very soon.

• The largemouth bass fishing has been super on many of the lakes in our area.

Anglers have been reporting great fishing early in the morning on Lakes like Howard, Mary, and Stella.

• Try digging worms. If you know some kids that love to fish or just play in the dirt, find a good spot in heavy soil and tell them to dig a few angleworms.

They’ll have a great time and angle worms are still a great choice for catching sunfish.

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