Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

July 9, 2007

Facts about the history of Lake Ann

Without question, Lake Ann is an interesting place that many people are connected to, and, every time I dive a little farther into the subject, more interesting information and relationships come to the surface.

This week, Paul Diedrich, Area Fisheries Supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, provided us with this historical information on Lake Ann:

1912: The first fish stocking records for Lake Ann include “cans” of pike, crappie, sunfish and bass.

1949: Two cottages with five boats were present. The first fisheries lake survey notes: “The lake can probably best be managed as a crappie and bullhead lake with the northern pike or largemouth bass as the predator species.”

1957: The first lake map was drawn based on fieldwork and sounding done this summer. The lake area was shown to be 378 acres. The maximum depth was 17 feet.

1974: The current lake map was drawn based on fieldwork and sounding done this summer. The lake area was shown to be 386 acres. The maximum depth was 18.5 feet.

1975: Management by stocking walleye fry begins and leads to the successful establishment of a fishable walleye population.

1990: The catch of walleye reached a historical high in 1990 (15.8/lift), a significant increase from 1985 (4.8/lift).

1991: Several years of tampering with the outlet of Lake Ann resulted in a letter from Area Hydrologist Dale Homuth to the Lake Association. Water levels were high on Lake Ann during the 1980’s and low during the drought of 1989-90

1992: Management of Lake Ann was transferred to Montrose from Hutchinson.

1995: During and including the years 1990-95, 50,500 pounds of carp and 40,300 pounds of black bullheads were removed from Lake Ann.

That amounts to 131 and 104 pounds per acre per species, respectively.
1996: The watershed is large, 21,000 acres. The land to water ratio is 46:1, considered high. Land uses were found to be: forest 3.4%, cultivated 78.0%, pasture 11.0%, water and marsh 7.4%, and residential 0.2%.

2002: Flooding occurs in late June, when 14 inches of rain falls on the watershed over a period of one week. Homes flood, fish die and calls for change in the way we manage our land and waters occur.

2005: After several walleye stockings, reports are that fishing has returned to normal.

2006: A lake survey reveals a walleye gill net catch of 5.7/lift. Curled pondweed grows to the surface on 22% of the lakes surface.

Approximately 1,000 cormorants are counted on the lake in the summer.

Apply now for prairie chicken, fall turkey hunts
From the DNR

Hunters who wish to apply for one of 182 permits for the 2007 Minnesota prairie chicken season or for one of 4,490 permits for the fall turkey hunt must do so by July 27.

Applications are available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

• Prairie chicken season

The five-day prairie chicken season, which will begin on Oct. 20, is open to Minnesota residents only.

Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $20.

The hunt will be held in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between Warren to the north and Breckenridge to the south.

Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied.

The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter.

Licensed prairie chicken hunters will also be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens.

Sharptails and prairie chickens are similar looking species and the general closure on taking sharp-tailed grouse by small game hunters in this area is to protect prairie chickens.

Licensed prairie chicken hunters who wish to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse.

Minnesota’s prairie chicken population has increased substantially and now stands at more than 1,760 adult males.

The DNR expects more than four times that number of birds in the fall population.

Prairie restoration and protection programs have helped stabilize the bird’s population in recent years.

The restoration of a regulated prairie chicken hunting season has helped build awareness and support for protecting and enhancing prairie and grassland habitats, according to the DNR.

• Fall turkey season

Applications for this year’s fall turkey hunt are also being accepted at ELS vendors across Minnesota.

Fall turkey hunters may apply for one of 4,490 permits to hunt in one of 33 permit areas from Oct. 17-21 or Oct. 24-28.

The application fee is $3. The license costs $18 for residents and $73 for nonresidents.

A $5 stamp validation is also required for turkey hunters 18 years of age or older.

The deadline for applications for both the prairie chicken and fall turkey hunts is July 27.

Application worksheets and maps of permit areas for both hunts are available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Successful applicants will be notified by mail and must purchase their permit at an ELS vendor.

DNR announces 2007 deer season changes
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is changing the all-season deer license to reduce the harvest of antlerless deer in certain areas of the state.

Other changes for the upcoming season include simplification of deer bag limits, expanded early antlerless deer hunting, a bovine tuberculosis (TB) disease management area in the northwest, some permit area boundary changes, an opportunity to purchase leftover lottery permits, and expanded archery and muzzleloader seasons in the Arrowhead region.

For the first time, all-season license holders hunting in lottery areas during the late muzzleloader season will need antlerless permits to take antlerless deer.

In 2006, more than 75,000 Minnesota deer hunters purchased an all-season deer license, which allows hunters to take up to three deer during the archery, regular firearms, and muzzleloader seasons.

The rapid increase in popularity of the all-season license and its use during the muzzleloader season has led to tremendous increases in unregulated antlerless deer harvest.

In lottery areas where antlerless deer harvest must be closely managed, this additional unregulated antlerless harvest is pushing populations below goal levels.

“While deer populations throughout much of Minnesota are at historic highs, we are seeing declines in some farmland areas despite the lottery system and reductions in firearm either-sex permits,” said Lou Cornicelli, big game program coordinator. “As an agency, we’ve promoted the all-season license and fully support the flexibility it gives our hunters. However, in some areas of the state we are seeing harvest rates on antlerless deer that just can’t be sustained.”

Consequently, the DNR will adopt regulations that limit the number and type of deer all-season license holders can take. Cornicelli added,
“The alternative in lottery areas would have been bucks only for all hunters and given our emphasis on youth recruitment, we are trying to avoid that situation.”

A bucks-only regulation would curtail all antlerless harvest for everyone hunting in the area, including youth.

Bringing the bulk of the antlerless deer harvest back under the control of a lottery permitting system is also a less restrictive way to accomplish management goals than bucks-only hunting.

This year, all-season license holders who hunt in lottery areas during either the regular firearms or the muzzleloader season must apply for an either-sex permit by Sept. 6 if they wish to harvest an antlerless deer in either season.

Successful applicants can use the permit to take an antlerless deer during any of the open seasons.

Unsuccessful all-season license holder applicants and those who purchase their all-season license after the application deadline will be restricted to bucks only during the firearm and muzzleloader seasons within lottery areas.

Hunters who purchase the regular muzzleloader season license (license code 212-ML) can still take a deer of either-sex without participating in the lottery. Cornicelli added, “regular muzzleloader hunters account for a very small percentage of overall antlerless harvest and at this time do not need to be included in the lottery. However, we will be closely monitoring all antlerless harvest and may need to impose further restrictions in lottery areas in the future if these measures are unsuccessful.”

The regulation should result in improved management of antlerless deer taken in lottery areas and lead to increases in the deer population in those areas.

All-season hunters can still take an antlerless deer during the archery season without applying; however, the total bag limit is one deer per year in lottery areas.

The following additional changes begin to take effect with the Sept. 15 opening of archery deer hunting.

Firearms deer hunting begins statewide on Nov. 3 and the muzzleloader season starts Nov. 24.

• Bag limits

Minnesota has three tiers for managing deer areas: lottery, managed, and intensive.

This year, the bag limits have been simplified and there will be no deviations based on license types.

In lottery areas, the bag limit will be one deer per year, managed areas will have a bag limit of two, and intensive areas will have a bag limit of five.

These bag limits are the total allowed per individual hunter per year, and apply regardless of the season or method of take - whether by regular firearms, muzzleloader or archery.

• Muzzleloader season

All-season license holders will need to apply by Sept. 6 if they wish to take an antlerless deer during the muzzleloader season.

However, regular muzzleloader hunters (license code 212-ML) will not need to apply because their license will remain either sex.

The two license types are being differentiated because hunters licensed for just the muzzleloader season kill only one-tenth of the deer that are taken by all-season hunters in the muzzleloader season.

Limiting the type of deer that could be taken by regular muzzleloader license holders would not result in significantly decreased antlerless deer harvest rates, so they will not be included in the lottery process at this time.

• Leftover lottery permits

In some areas there are leftover lottery permits after the drawing.

This year, remaining permits will be available for purchase at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 15 to all hunters.

The permits will be available on a first come, first served basis. Hunters will need to have a valid license or purchase one at the time.

• New bovine TB area, season, and anterless permit

For 2007, a new deer area (area 101) has been created in northwest Minnesota based on the proximity of deer identified with bovine TB.

The boundary is defined by roads and inclusive of all bovine TB positive animals identified to date.

The area will be in the Zone 1 season framework (16 days) and will also be included in the two day early antlerless season.

A special antlerless permit, valid in the bovine TB area, will also be available.

This disease management permit will be antlerless only and available for the cost of issuance ($2.50).

An unlimited number of deer can be taken in this area but hunters are limited to the statewide regulation of one buck per year.

All deer taken in the area must be registered prior to leaving the area.

Additional information will be in the 2007 hunting synopsis and a map will be posted on the DNR Web site.

• Deer area boundary changes

Boundaries of some deer areas in northwestern Minnesota have been changed.

The change does not affect hunting opportunity because all the areas will remain in Zone 2.

These changes were made to better align the areas with habitat type and deer management objectives.

The changed areas have been renumbered so prior to buying a license, hunters are advised to consult the map so they know which number to indicate.

• Early anterless firearm deer season

This year, the early antlerless season has been expanded to include 22 deer areas (up from eight).

The two-day October antlerless only firearms hunt will be open in deer areas 101 (except Hayes Lake State Park), 105, 157, 184 (except the Bemidji State Game Refuge), 209, 210, 214, 221, 222, 225, 227, 236, 241 243, 244, 256, 257, 260, 261, 265, 346, 349, and 601. The hunt will be held Oct. 13-14.

Hunters need a valid firearms license for the zone and may purchase up to two early antlerless deer permits for use only during the special antlerless season.

Two deer may be taken in the special antlerless season and are in addition to the statewide bag limit of five.

The price of the early antlerless permit is $6.50 (plus a $1 issuing fee).

Last year, 6,300 hunters harvested 2,300 antlerless deer in eight early antlerless deer areas.

• Metro deer zone

Deer areas 228 and 337 have been combined and renumbered as deer area 601, also known as the Metro Deer Zone.

Like last year, any deer license is valid in this area. Hunters who typically purchase a Zone 2 license for deer area 228 should continue to buy a Zone 2 license.

They would simply indicate 601 as the permit area hunted most often.

Similarly, hunters who traditionally purchased either a Zone 3A or 3B license to hunt area 337 should continue to purchase their traditional license and indicate 601 as their primary deer area.

• Arrowhead deer hunting

This year, deer areas 116, 126, and 127 will be open to late season archery and muzzleloader hunting.

Previously, these areas have been closed before the end of the statewide seasons to protect wintering deer.

The results of DNR’s deer population goal setting project indicated an interest in reducing these deer populations below current levels.

DNR will continue to use hunting as the primary tool to manage deer populations within goal ranges.

Putting these areas into the statewide archery and muzzleloader season framework should result in additional deer harvest and increases in local hunting opportunity.

This year’s deer regulation changes, which primarily affect hunters whose licenses allow the most hunting opportunity, are part of an effort to manage deer within goal population levels that have been established through an extensive public process.

Long-term, the DNR aims to simplify deer hunting regulations.

This year’s bag limit change is an example of simplifying regulations based on the type of deer management area.

“For hunters, this year’s changes mean more opportunity to harvest antlerless deer in some areas, such as the early antlerless hunting season, and some restrictions on antlerless harvest in other areas, such as lottery areas,” Cornicelli said. “Across Minnesota, hunting is the primary tool for managing deer population. Regulation changes and refinements allow for varying hunting opportunities and sustainable deer populations.”

All of the changes will be in the 2007 hunting synopsis, which will be available at all 1,800 businesses that sell hunting and fishing licenses across Minnesota.

New regulation will reduce walleye harvest at Lake Mille Lacs
From the DNR

Due to better-than-expected walleye fishing on Lake Mille Lacs, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will implement a new regulation to limit harvest so that the total walleye kill, including hooking mortality, stays within the allowable safe harvest level.

Effective today (July 9), anglers who fish Lake Mille Lacs will be able to keep only walleye that are at least 14 inches and no more than 16 inches in length, plus one walleye 28 inches or larger.

The four-fish bag limit will remain the same. The regulations are slated to be relaxed on Dec. 1.

“The hot bite has been great,” said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten, “but unprecedented fishing pressure, higher than anticipated catch rates and higher-than-normal hooking mortality due to unusually warm water temperatures compel us to take this conservation action.”

Lake Mille Lacs is managed differently than any other lake in Minnesota.

Its safe harvest level is set following meetings between the DNR and Chippewa Indian bands that signed the 1837 Treaty.

Fisheries biologists have estimated that 549,000 pounds of walleye can be safely harvested from Mille Lacs this year.

The eight bands set their harvest at 100,000 pounds, leaving 449,000 pounds for nonband anglers.

As of June 30, the nonband walleye kill is estimated at 384,000 pounds.

This number is based on daytime creel surveys. It includes the number of fish that angler’s keep plus those estimated to die after being released.

Night harvest, which started June 11, and winter and summer tournament mortality are estimated separately.

They add an estimated 50,000 pounds to that total. That puts the total kill at about 434,000 pounds, which is within 15,000 pounds of the nonband anglers’ 449,000-pound allocation.

“We hoped the hot bite would cool a bit but that hasn’t happened,” said Holsten. “In fact, fishing pressure in the last half of June was at 372,000 angler-hours, the highest level ever recorded for that period.”

He said the agency considered many different regulation options before settling on the 14- to 16-inch harvest slot.

“Our options were limited,” said Holsten. “We are only 15,000 pounds below our allocation and 114,000 pounds below an agreed upon maximum allowable kill that would close walleye fishing. As such, we need to stretch the harvest out over the next five months of open water fishing or risk closing the fishery.”

Though Mille Lacs walleye fishing has never been closed due to high harvest, the DNR did make a similar mid-season regulation change in 2001 to avoid such a drastic action.

The current regulation, which ends this Sunday at midnight, allows anglers to keep four walleye up to 20 inches in length, with not more than one over 28 inches.

Ron Payer, DNR fisheries chief, said a lot of what the DNR is seeing this year has never been seen before.

Boat traffic and launch fishing pressure are about double the norm.

Near shore water temperatures averaged 72 degrees in the last half of June, which is exceptionally warm.

“Water temperature is meaningful because higher temps translate into higher mortality, especially when fish are caught in deeper water,” said Payer. “We’ve had about 90,000 pounds of hooking mortality this year and most of those pounds came from fish between 20 and 28 inches in length.”

Payer encouraged Mille Lacs anglers to exercise voluntary restraint, noting that even catch-and-release fishing has consequences to the fish numbers and regulations.

He also encouraged anglers to take steps that help fish survive. These include setting the hook quickly, releasing fish quickly and cutting the line on deep-hooked fish.

“This is a good news, bad news story,” said Payer. “The good news is that fishing is great. The bad news is it’s too good.” Payer said he expects the fishing to continue to be good and encouraged anglers to keep Mille Lacs in their fishing plans. “Mille Lacs is a great destination regardless of the regulation,” he said. “In addition to walleye, it offers top-notch muskie, northern pike and smallmouth bass fishing.”

Statewide, walleye fishing has been good this year.

Anglers have been doing well on big walleye lakes - Lake of the Woods, Cass, Winnibigoshish, Vermillion and Red, for example - though fishing pressure has been down in some places, especially Red Lake due to high winds and large waves.

There is some speculation that higher gas prices have prompted Twin Cities anglers to fish closer to home, thereby favoring Mille Lacs over more distant walleye waters.

As required by state rule, the DNR will post the new Mille Lacs regulation on its Web site. It will become effective at 12:01 a.m., July 9.

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