The 2008 fishing openers are right around the corner

April 7, 2008

by Chris Schultz

It may be hard to imagine right now, but spring has arrived, and with it, fishing openers are right around the corner.

The opening dates for the 2008 fishing season for most inland waters in Minnesota are as follows:

• Trout in streams: April 12
• Trout in lakes: May 10
• Walleye, sauger, northern pike: May 10
• Bass: May 24
• Muskie: June 7
• The fishing season for crappies, sunnies, perch, and catfish is continuous.

Winsted firearms safety training classes

The Winsted Sportsmen Club is offering firearms safety training classes starting Tuesday, April 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sign up at the first class.

Classes will be at Dr. Thoennes’s Community Room in the basement of the dentist office.

To sign up, you must be 12 years old by Sept. 1, 2008. Adults are also welcome.

The cost is $10, with checks made out to the Winsted’s Sportsmen Club.

If you have any additional questions, contact Steve Fiecke at (320) 485-2434 after 4 p.m.
Class dates are April 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and May 1.

Watertown to offer firearms training classes

The Watertown Rod and Gun Club will be hosting a firearms safety training class that starts Thursday, May 1, and runs through the month of May. Classes are Tuesday and Thursday nights.

For additional information, contact Patrick Cole at (952) 955-2911 or Tom Radde at (952) 446-1471.

Pheasants Forever banquet April 12

The McLeod County chapter of Pheasants Forever will host its 22nd annual spring banquet Saturday, April 12 at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

For additional information on the banquet or to register, call 888-462-6806 or (320) 587-0052.

Ducks Unlimited banquet April 8 at Blue Note

Ducks Unlimited will be hosting their 28th annual banquet and Crow River dinner Tuesday, April 8 at the Blue Note in Winsted.

For additional information on the banquet, call (612) 308-5275.

MN conservation officer tales – April
From the DNR

• All of 90 at least

Conservation Officer (CO) Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls) came across a snowmobiler who was doing some “testing” after installing new parts on his motor.

When stopped for excessive speed, the snowmobiler was asked, “How fast do you think you were going?” He replied, “All of 90 at least.”

Woinarowicz showed him the radar gun with a reading of 96 mph and then issued him a citation.

The rider appeared satisfied by the performance of his new motor parts.

• They seemed too happy to see me

During a routine license inspection, a pair of anglers appeared to be almost too happy to see CO Randy Hanzal (Brookston).

After a short investigation, a small amount of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia was seized.

• TIP leads to father and son

CO Phil George (Mantorville) received an anonymous call about two deer hanging in a shed.

The officer located the property owner and found the deer. Neither deer was tagged or registered.

Both deer appeared to have been there for some time.

The homeowner’s son, while coyote hunting, shot one deer with a small caliber rifle.

The father and son face big game violations that include fines, restitution, loss of hunting privileges, and loss of a firearm.

• Despicable act

CO Greg Oldakowski (Wadena) assisted a neighboring officer in attempting to track down a snowmobiler who ran over a fox several times in the middle of a lake.

• A dead what?

CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) responded to a call of a dead “wildebeest” in a local Scientific and Natural Area. Upon further inspection, it turned out to be a dead deer.

• Pretend fishing

CO Aaron Kahre (Minnetonka) was working Lake Minnetonka in the Excelsior area when he approached a portable fish house where a hand auger lying beside the door.

Two men inside were sitting on buckets with a fish locator and a jiggle stick in front of them.
Kahre asked why they didn’t have any holes to fish through.

They got tired after about five inches of drilling with the hand auger and decided to just pretend fish before heading home.

• A long way from home

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) ran a license check on what appeared to be an abandoned fish house on a northern Minnesota lake.

The check showed that the fish house, which belonged to a 92-year-old man, may have been stolen more than 20 years ago from southern Minnesota.

• Muskrat ramble

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) received a complaint of a muskrat trying to get into a convenience store in Moose Lake.

Apparently the young rodent hung out in the car wash for a few days and then moved to the front of the store where it attempted to go inside when customers opened the door.

Staples and a Moose Lake police officer caught the animal and transported it to a remote swamp area.

• Bite your tongue

An angler became disgusted with his dog while conversing and commending CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) for the work he does.

As the dog owner was producing his license, the dog did what dogs sometimes do on a brand new canvas house.

• Remedial math and remedial ethics

CO Mike Martin (St. Cloud) checked the license of a father and daughter angling on an area lake.

The father said he had a license, but not with him. The daughter said she was 15 so she didn’t need a license.

When Martin asked the girl for her birth year she told him 1990.

She tried to change her story, but the date she gave still made her 16 and in need of a license. A summons was issued.

• That got my goat

An individual called CO Corey Wiebusch (Mankato) to report his dogs had taken down a small deer that had passed through his yard.

Upon further investigation it was discovered that a neighborhood goat was the unfortunate victim.

• Fire, beer, and boom

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls) noticed a large cloud of dark black smoke rising from a distant farmyard.

Fearing a structure fire, he investigated, finding a Winnebago type RV fully engulfed in fire and three people standing around the blaze drinking beer.

They later admitted to lighting the RV on fire to salvage the scrap metal from the shell and frame.

While Woinarowicz was obtaining their information for a court summons, the gas tank on the RV exploded, sending a fireball 50 feet into the air.

The local fire department put out the blaze.

• A change in attitude

CO Bob Gorecki (Baudette) found a fish house on Red Lake after the removal deadline, which had melted approximately two feet into the ice.

The owner of the house and Gorecki chipped the ice away from the house and eventually got it off the ice.

The owner was very grateful and said he had never met a kinder and more helpful game warden.

However, the man’s attitude changed when Gorecki arrested him for several outstanding warrants.

• That’s how we do it in Texas

CO Stacey Sharp (Bemidji) along with CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) responded to a Turn In Poacher call of a person shooting at a deer with an arrow from the box of a truck.

The suspect and his mother were located. They said that was how they hunted in Texas. The pair said they shot at a rabbit, not a deer. Enforcement action was taken.

• Another episode of ‘Dirty Jobs’

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) and CO Joe Stattelman (Detroit Lakes) assisted the Becker County Sheriff’s Department with lake security during the taping of an episode of the television show “Dirty Jobs.”

The episode involved the removal of a vehicle that had fallen through the ice. The next day a vehicle went through the ice on Little Pine Lake.

All four people got out safely before the pickup sank in approximately 50 feet of water.

The ice was only 4 inches thick because the Ottertail River flows through the lake.

• Woman run over by her own car

CO Todd Langevin (Center City) responded to an accident where a woman had been run over by her own car.

The woman pulled into a parking lot and placed her car in park. As she exited her car, it started rolling backwards and knocked the woman down.

The woman’s leg was pinned under the front wheel of the car.

As bystanders held the car from rolling back further, fire rescuers lifted the vehicle off the woman’s leg and transported her to the local hospital.

• Report of ‘Wolverine’ in a tree

CO Jason Peterson (Hastings) responded to a call of a “wolverine” in a tree.

Upon arrival he saw a fisher sitting near the top of a small tree in an urban neighborhood.

The fisher left the tree the same night and has not been seen since.

• Up in smoke

CO Ed Picht (Montevideo) saw a vehicle parked in a strange location at a public access.

As Picht approached the vehicle the driver opened the door and a plume of marijuana smoke rolled out the door.

When asked what was going on the driver said, “I think you know.” The driver and passenger were cited for possession of marijuana.

• Trapper snares himself

CO Chris Howe (St. Peter) reported that a person who was attempting to snare coyotes turned himself in after snaring a deer, which died.

Trapping education resources will be provided.

DNR urges safety first for all ATV operators
From the DNR

With five fatalities reported so far this year, state conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) remind both adult and youth all-terrain vehicle (ATV) operators to apply safety first when operating their machines.

“The public’s perception is that most ATV fatalities and accidents involve youths, but that’s really not the case,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator. “Recent DNR statistics show a decline in youth-involved incidents, largely due to safety training requirements for those age 16 and under. It’s the adults, those who have not completed DNR ATV safety training, who are most at risk.”

The most recent fatality, which occurred March 25, involved a 94-year-old man who was riding an ATV when he collided with a vehicle while crossing a Beltrami County highway in northern Minnesota.

The ages of the other four fatalities so far this year were 21, 33, 37 and 56.

Fourteen people, ranging from ages 7 to 76, were killed in ATV accidents last year in Minnesota.

Hammer said most ATV incidents occur in the road right-of-way where a valid driver’s license is required, or in ditch rollover accidents.

According to a recent DNR survey, the typical Minnesota ATV rider is a Caucasian male in his mid-40s with some college or technical training. He is most often employed full time, with an income more than $50,000 and an average family size of 2.8.

It’s almost assured he has not completed a DNR ATV safety course.

“Because most adults are experienced automobile drivers, they think they possess the skills to handle a powerful, 600-pound ATV,” Hammer said. “But an ATV handles differently from other vehicles. A rollover can occur quickly, even during routine maneuvers such as turning and driving on hills and over obstacles, if a driver fails to take proper precautions.”

Hammer said adults are less likely to wear a helmet that could prevent head injuries, which are very common in ATV accidents.

He recommends all adults complete the ATV safety training independent study course and wear a helmet.

Anyone born after July 1, 1987, who operates an ATV on public lands in Minnesota, must successfully complete the independent study ATV Safety Training CD course.

Youth ages 11-15 must complete the ATV CD Course and riding component before riding on public lands.

The ATV Training CDs are available by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

“ATVs may look like a fun toy, but they aren’t,” Hammer said. “Too many times adults and youths don’t understand the safety rules and regulations that govern their use.”

Hammer said safety training is a must for anyone who rides an ATV. “Understanding a few simple safety rules and knowledge of the regulations prevents accidents and reduces damage to trails.”

“ATVs are dangerous if you don’t respect them,” Hammer said. “You have to be trained. You have to know what you’re doing.”

Early Canada-Minnesota lake sturgeon harvest season opens April 24
From the DNR

With spring lake sturgeon season almost here, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds sturgeon anglers to purchase a lake sturgeon tag.

The $5 harvest tags, which can be purchased at any DNR Electronic Licensing System agent, are used to collect information on the statewide lake sturgeon harvest, which runs April 24 to May 7.

Anglers who practice catch-and-release do not need a tag.

The following requirements apply to lake sturgeon angling in 2008:
• the possession limit is one sturgeon per license year
• fish must be between 45-50 inches long, or more than 75 inches long
• lake sturgeon may not be kept or transported without a tag
• anglers must validate and attach the tag immediately upon possessing the fish
• tags must be attached to the narrow portion of the body in front of the tail fin
• tags must be attached so they cannot be easily removed
• tags are not transferable and no duplicate tags will be issued
• registration cards, which are provided when a harvest tag is purchased, must be completed and mailed within 48 hours after harvesting a fish
• lake sturgeon must be transported intact (gills and internal organs may be removed)
• members of a fishing party may not take sturgeon for other anglers’ limits.

Visit www.mndnr.gov to learn more about lake sturgeon or to download a copy of 2008 Minnesota Fishing Regulations.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: How important are the snowmelt and spring rains to Minnesota’s ground water supply?

A: Snowmelt and rainfall during the spring months are the primary sources of replenishment for the ground water system in Minnesota.

While a great deal of the melted snow and spring rain will run off into lakes and rivers, some of it infiltrates to the ground water system as soon as frost leaves the soil.

Water stored as ground water gradually flows into rivers and lakes through springs and seeps, helping to maintain river and lake levels.

Most of the summer precipitation is taken up by growing vegetation or is evaporated.

As plants go dormant at the end of growing season, a portion of fall rains can infiltrate the subsurface and also replenish ground water.

Ground water supplies 75 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water and nearly 90 percent of the water used for agricultural irrigation.