The Super ‘7’ lakes for the fishing opener

May 5, 2008

by Chris Schultz

Get your long johns out, heavy boots, parka, and just about any other piece of clothing that will keep you warm – the 2008 Minnesota fishing opener is only a week away and it looks and feels like it could be a awful cold one.

We all know the weather can change around here in a big hurry at this time of year, but according to most reports many lakes in far northern Minnesota (it sounds like from Walker and north) may still have ice on them when opening day gets here Saturday, May 10.

That won’t be the case in our neck of the woods, most of the ice left our area lakes the week of April 20, but the weather and the water temps will most likely be much cooler than on normal years.

With that said, here are a few items to peek your fishing interest:

• Minnesota is first in the nation in fishing license sales per capita.

• Minnesota has 158 different species of fish to catch and 5,493 fishable lakes providing 3,800,000 acres of water to catch them on.

• In 2002, an estimated 1,168,388 Minnesota fishing licenses were purchased.

The next part of this column seems to get harder every year, because I get less time to fish. Besides, I think it’s been quite some time since a new fishing lake has popped up in our area. Anyway, here we go with seven good lakes to try on the opener:

• 1 and 2. Washington and Collinwood:

There isn’t a lot to be said about these two lakes near Dassel and Cokato anymore other than they are two of the top opening day walleye producers in our area.

You can pretty much be sure that both of them will be on my list every year.

They are shallow, fertile, and warm up fast in the spring and, for the most part, fishing them is simple – stay shallow, use live bait, and follow the crowds. Lunkers are possible.

• 3. Howard Lake next to the city of the same name:

This year Howard could be the sleeper on the opener especially if a moderate south wind is blowing.

Usually, the lake doesn’t get going until early June, but the lake is due to produce some dandy fish.

Troll or drift along the high bank in the northeast corner with live bait.

• 4. French Lake north of Cokato:

I haven’t fished French for quite a few years. However, some very good reports did come from the lake last fall.

It’s one of those smaller shallow lakes that warms up fast and could be a good bet for the opener.

Although I don’t have lot of knowledge to share with you about this body of water, remember fishing is supposed to be an adventure.

• 5. Lake Ann:

Ann, just south of Howard Lake, has had its share of bad luck in the past several years, but this lake is another one of those that is shallow and warms up fast.

At times, it can be a big walleye producer especially for the few anglers that really know how to fish it.

Troll the northeast shore line and/or find the rock pile near the middle of the lake.

Casting crankbaits along the shoreline on the windy side of the lake can also be a good bet on Ann.

• 6. Lake John near Annandale:

John has always been one of my favorites.

If the walleyes don’t bite the northern pike usually do.

Still, fishing in shallow water with small sucker minnows or fatheads can produce both.

Try fishing the point on the northwest part of the lake.

• 7. Bass Lake near Annandale:

Bass isn’t much of a walleye lake but is small, clear, and a lot fun to fish.

The northern pike action can be great and many times you watch them lurking in shallow water near your boat.

Troll along the shoreline on the south end of the lake.

Good luck fishing and don’t hesitate to try one or more of the super 7 listed above. They area all good bets for some opening day fishing.

Waverly Gun Club upcoming events

The Waverly Gun Club has a number of events coming up. They are as follows:

• Hand gun league starts Tuesday, May 6 and will take place every Tuesday in May.

• The summer trap league started Thursday, May 1. Individuals and teams are welcome.

• Open range shooting and site in begins Saturday, May 17 and will then be monthly.

• The ladies only shoot will start Tuesday, June 10, then will be monthly.

For more information and updates go the web site www.waverlygunclub.org.

Dassel Rod & Gun Club meeting Thursday

The Dassel Rod & Gun Club will have a meeting Thursday, May 8 at 7 p.m.

The fishing opener breakfast will be the main topic of discussion, but other items will also be brought up.

Watertown Lions BBQ
From Gary Harding, Watertown Lions

The Watertown Lion’s sponsor the Crow River BBQ Challenge each year in July.

This year we start off Friday night the 18 of July with the Chili contest.

Chili cookers from several states come to prove they have the best chili recipe around.

The Lions want you to be the judge. For just three dollars you can buy a judges ballot and vote for your favorite chili team.

To learn more go to www.crowriverbbqchallenge.org.

So the snow is off the cooker and you have mastered holding a 220 degree temperature. Now what do you cook?

While there are many meats and produces that can be smoke cooked I will start with the big “four.”

That is the four meat categories required by the Kansas City Barbecue Society for a sanctioned competition.

They are chicken of any cut, pork ribs of any cut, pork defined as Boston butt, picnic or whole shoulder and beef brisket.

You will note that the meat cuts are not the tenderest cuts your butcher offers.

The history of modern barbecue is rooted in the south and the poor who could not afford the finest cuts of meat.

Until the recent surge in barbecues popularity ribs and brisket were throw away cuts of meat because they were so tough and stringy.

They are however loaded with flavor and the low and slow process breaks down the tough and stringy part to deliver a moist tender meat.

I recommend your first adventure be with chicken thighs or perhaps ribs.

You will learn that these cuts of meat although cooked low and slow are still much faster than big cuts like pork butt or brisket.

Did you know? The competitors at the Crow River BBQ Challenge are vying for $7,500 in prize money and the Grand Champion gets $2,000 of that.

While the money helps defray the cost of competing, more important to them are the points they receive.

The competitors who go from state to state are trying to build points in order to win a place in the national standings.

Winter-injured pines turn red in the spring
From the DNR

Although the rains last fall and the snow cover this past winter helped to protect pines from winter injury, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials say many pines, especially along roads, have red needles this spring. DNR forest health specialist Mike Albers in Grand Rapids said most of these trees are alive and healthy.

“Although the needles are red and might look dead on these pines, the buds, twigs and trees are probably live and healthy,” Albers said.

He urges people to resist the urge to prune or remove discolored trees too soon.

“If you look closely at winter-injured pines, the tips of the needles are red or brown, but the base of the needles is usually still green,” Albers noted. “If you break open a bud with your thumbnail, it likely is still green and moist.”

Buds are well protected during the winter and are seldom killed by winter injury, he noted.

The healthy buds will grow in the spring producing a new shoot and green needles on the ends of the branches.

Winter injury to pines occurs when needle temperature rises above freezing during sunny winter days, resulting in the needles losing moisture.

When the water stored in the needles, twigs and stems is gone and can’t be replaced because the ground is frozen, needle tissues dry out and die.

Bright sunny days, strong dry winds and low relative humidity all contribute to winter drying injury.

Needle injury is often more severe on trees along roads where de-icing salts have been used, Albers said. High levels of salt in the soil also stress and damage trees.

White and red pines, Norway and Colorado blue spruce are very susceptible to salt spray damage.

Scots pine, white spruce, juniper and eastern red cedar are moderately susceptible.

Jack pine, Austrian pine, larch and black spruce are tolerant of salt spray.

Normally, snow cover prevents winter injury of young conifers by providing shelter from drying winds and from the glare of the sun.

Some years, many young conifers have a strong line of demarcation separating the brown desiccated tops that were exposed to wind and sun from the healthy green bottom branches that were covered and protected by snow.

“Don’t be too quick to prune or remove your trees just because of winter injury,” Albers said. “Most of them will survive and have new growth. The red damaged needles will not green up, but after a year or two, they will be hidden by the new green growth.”

If by mid-June it is evident the trees died over the winter, they should be removed and disposed of as soon as possible.

Bark beetles are attracted to recently killed pines and can spread to nearby healthy trees.

“If pines suffer severe winter injury every year, people should consider removing them and planting trees more suitable to the site,” Albers said.

Albers offers these suggestions to help prevent winter injury:

• when selecting trees, choose species adapted to local growing conditions and soils

• avoid planting salt-susceptible trees within 150 feet of a highway

• erect screens using plywood, snow fences or plastic fences to slow down drying winds and reduce salt spray drift

• wrap small trees in burlap to reduce exposure

• reduce or eliminate the use of de-icing salts, if possible

• consider replacing trees that have severe winter injury year after year

• keep conifers properly watered until the ground freezes, but don’t flood them

• if soils are dry in the spring, begin to water trees as soon as the frost leaves the ground mulch the root system with 2 to 4 inches of wood chips to help maintain soil moisture and reduce the frost depth, but keep mulch 4 to 5 inches away from the stem.

Free admission to all MN state parks June 1
From the DNR

Minnesotans can make a free visit to any state park or recreation area June 1 during the annual State Parks Open House, which is being called a “Great Minnesota Picnic” this year.

“Each year the public is invited to visit state parks for free on the first Sunday in June,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the Parks and Recreation Division for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“This year, to commemorate the state’s Sesquicentennial, we are highlighting one of the activities that historically has been a park favorite over the years, the family picnic,” Nelson said. “On June 1, we invite everyone to bring a picnic lunch and come to any state park or recreation area to enjoy a day of old-fashioned fun.”

Nelson also encourages visitors to discover the multiple charms of Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas that were created for public access and enjoyment.

“We hope that visitors will take this opportunity to visit a different park, try a new activity, hike a special trail or find out something new about their favorite park,” said Nelson. “Thanks to the visionaries throughout Minnesota’s history who worked to save these beautiful places for public use, we have this legacy to enjoy now and for future generations.”

Many of the parks host special events, programs and refreshments during open house. More event news and details will be posted in mid May on the DNR’s state parks Web site at www.mnstateparks.info.

Although no vehicle permit is necessary during the State Parks Open House, fees will be charged for tours of Mystery Cave at Forestville, Soudan Underground Mine, and Hill Annex Mine.

The usual camping, lodging and watercraft fees apply during the Open House.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: There is a robin banging on my basement window every morning. I heard that is common behavior for the males during mating season. Is that true?

A: Yes, it is true. In fact, we had one flying into our DNR building a few years back. Male robins are extremely territorial.

He sees his reflection in the window and thinks it is another male in “his” territory, so he is trying to defend it.

The behavior should cease after mating season (in three to four weeks).

In the meantime, to discourage the bird use paper, cloth or something else to cover the outside of the window, so the robin can’t see his reflection anymore.