The ice cover officially was 100 percent off Lake Mary April 23, and there were six entries that correctly picked that date as the ice out date.
Three of those six were randomly drawn for first, second, and third in the Lake Mary ice out contest for 2008.
Lester Prairie’s Joe Detlefsen took home first place honors $100. Mayer’s Larry Burns was second ($50), and Winsted’s Jared Gailey was third ($25).
One hundred percent of the proceeds from this yearly contest are used for the sole purpose of stocking Lake Mary (biannually) with 6-inch fingerling walleye.
Thus far, with the combined efforts of the Winsted Sportsman’s Club, the Watertown Rod and Gun Club, and the Lake Mary Association, 10,000 walleye have been introduced into Lake Mary since 1999.
Waverly Gun Club upcoming events
The Waverly Gun Club has a number of events coming up. They include:
• 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 to the web site www.waverlygunclub.org.
Watertown Lions BBQ
From Gary Harding, Watertown Lions
The Watertown Lions started the Crow River BBQ Challenge in 2006 and we were the second of only two sanctioned Kansas City Barbeque Society contests in Minnesota, the first being in May, in Austin.
Now, just three short years later, there are a total of five sanctioned contests in Minnesota. Evidence to the rapidly growing phenomena of BBQ in the state.
We last spoke about the four types of meat that a sanctioned contest requires as well as the low and slow method of true BBQ.
The next important aspect of great BBQ is getting the right piece of meat to start with.
In order to understand what to look for we must discuss flavors and how a pitmaster introduces flavor to meat.
Many of you have heard of dry rub or marinade, and anyone who watches the Food Channel with any regularity has heard the term “fat is flavor.” But what does it all mean?
Fat is flavor in and of itself, but not enough to win any contests.
The BBQ Pitmaster uses various concoctions of rub and marinade to carry flavor into the meat, and the favorite highways into the meat is through fat and something called osmosis and diffusion. I know enough with the science just to tell you how to do it!
Hey, it’s important. And here is why.
Diffusion is the process by which meat accepts salts and sugars and osmosis and diffusion are always trying to meet equilibrium.
If you go to the meat counter and buy any meat that has been injected with anything, this process has already started and robs you of your opportunity to flavor your meat as you wish.
The always tender ribs, the solution-added chickens, pork roasts not more than a certain solution added are all great things for the average cook in the kitchen just trying to get a meal done fast.
However, they are the BBQ Pitmasters’ greatest enemy. So you need to learn to read labels, remember brands, and find trusted butchers if you’re going to master the art of flavor in BBQ.
Did you know that you do not have to cook all four meat categories to compete in BBQ challenges?
You just won’t be able to acquire enough points to win the grand prizes.
Area lakes fishing reports
From the DNR, Hutch fisheries
This year’s opener for walleye, northern pike, and sauger, was Saturday.
The season for largemouth and smallmouth bass begins Saturday, May 24, for most of the state.
The season for muskellunge begins Saturday, June 7.
Angling for crappies, bluegills, sunfish, rock bass, white bass, catfish, perch, bullheads, and carp is open on a continuous basis.
Anglers are reminded that all resident anglers (age 16 and older) must have an angling license.
Exceptions are that mothers on Take-A-Mom Fishing Weekend (May 9-11), and adults accompanying children under age 16, on Take-A-Kid Fishing Weekend (June 6-8) and Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend (February 14-16, 2009) may fish without a license on those dates.
Safety while on the water is always a concern. Boaters are reminded that all watercraft, regardless of length, will need to carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved, wearable life preserver for each person on board.
In addition, state law requires that all children, less than 10 years old, wear a life jacket while in a boat that is underway.
Boats 16 feet and longer, in addition to having a life jacket for each person, must also carry at least one USCG approved throwable device.
Persons less than 12 years of age can operate boat motors that are 25 hp or less without restriction.
Between 25 hp and 75 hp, children less than 12 years old need to have someone at least 21 year old on board and within reach of the controls.
A child less than 12 years old cannot operate a boat motor greater than 75hp.
Persons 12-17 years of age can operate boat motors that are 25 hp or less without restriction.
Persons between 12-17 that are operating a boat motor greater than 25 hp are required either to have a watercraft operator’s permit or have someone at least 21 years of age is on board and in reach of the controls.
Operation of a boat while intoxicated is illegal and dangerous. The DNR points out that about one-half of fatal boating accidents in the U.S. are alcohol related.
• Invasive vegetation
Boaters are reminded to clean off all vegetation from their boats, motors, and trailers.
The purpose is to prevent the spread of exotic plant species such as Eurasian watermilfoil.
Area lakes that are already on the list of Eurasian watermilfoil lakes include: Washington, Stella, Manuella, Ripley, and Big Wolf Lake.
• New regulations
When anglers are going through the new fishing regulations, they should note a few changes.
Anglers should check the 2008 Regulations for other changes, but here are just a few to be aware of.
1. Fishing licenses are now valid for 14 months (March April 30, 2009).
2. Elimination of fish house licenses if a house will not be left unattended overnight.
3. A DNR permit is required for any fishing contest when entry fees exceed $25, prizes exceed $25,000, or when the number of participants exceed 30 for open water and 150 for ice fishing.
This past winter would have to be considered a more normal winter in terms of winterkill of fish in area lakes.
We have had quite mild winters the last 7-8 years, so there had not been much winterkill taking place.
This winter, however, oxygen levels were quite low in many lakes.
Our DNR office in Hutchinson actually posted 17 area lakes to unlimited fishing.
Just because a lake is posted to unlimited fishing does not necessarily mean that it killed.
What posting does mean is that oxygen levels are low enough that there was a potential for loosing fish due to low oxygen.
For example, Hoff Lake was posted to unlimited fishing. However, when we netted the lake this spring, we found there were still lots of fish left in the lake.
The crappie numbers were actually very good with some white crappies in the 12-13 inch range.
One lake that did have low oxygen levels but was not posted to unlimited fishing was Lake Allie in Renville County.
We thought the lake might make it through the winter, but spring netting indicated that the lake did take a pretty significant winterkill.
Lake Allie will be stocked with walleye, northern pike, yellow perch and bluegills this spring. We need to point out that winterkills are not always bad in lakes.
Winterkill is nature’s way of managing fish populations, and in many cases undesirable fish species are thinned out to the point where competition is reduced and gamefish have a better chance at survival.
Cokato Lake Fishing preview
From the DNR
Anglers can expect good fishing for several species on Cokato Lake during 2008. That statement is based on test netting done by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) during the summer of 2007.
A primary management species for Cokato Lake is smallmouth bass.
The population is excellent with a wide range of sizes available to anglers including fish up to 20 inches.
Even though electrofishing catches were light, Cokato Lake has been well known for its smallmouth bass fishing, one of the few lakes in the area where smallmouth are locally abundant.
Channel catfish are increasingly abundant. Anglers have an excellent opportunity to catch fish that average three pounds in size.
Crappies are more abundant than bluegill in Cokato Lake, which is somewhat atypical. The average size of the crappies was eight inches; and for bluegill it was about five inches. Crappies up to 12 inches were captured and the largest bluegill was 7.5 inches.
Northern pike catches were low compared to most lakes in the area where catches are almost too high.
Anglers have a good opportunity to catch a nice size northern pike as the average size in the survey was over three pounds.
An angler reported catching a 42- inch northern pike in 2006.
Because of the low northern pike numbers, yellow perch were fairly abundant and prospects for walleye management are good.
If future walleye fry stockings are as successful as the initial stocking in 2006, walleye fishing can be expected to improve.
Other species in the fish community include black and brown bullhead, carp, largemouth bass, white sucker, and white crappie.
Late arrival of spring affecting migrating birds
From the DNR
Spring is an exciting time to see wildlife in Minnesota. Birds are returning from their winter homes, but this winter has been too long for many species, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Many bird species are back to Minnesota to nest, but they’re dying of starvation.
Insect-eating birds are not finding enough food and the late snowfalls have had a harsh effect on many species.
Over the last week, DNR managers and officers have received reports throughout the state of dead swallows, bluebirds, kinglets, sparrows, robins and warblers.
All of these species are insect eaters, according to Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor.
In Brainerd, 19 dead swallows were found in nine different nest boxes. At Crow Wing State Park, 27 swallows and two bluebirds were found dead in nest boxes.
“Though birds are dying in other places, people with nest boxes should check them for dead or dying birds and report any banded birds found,” Henderson said.
“Citizens can help by putting out meal worms for blue birds and other worm-eating birds. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything we can do for the swallows, who rely on flying insects for their main food source,” Henderson said. “Temperatures above 60 for a period of two to three days should produce enough insects to revive birds currently in peril.”
“Migrating birds are always pushing the snowline” said Conrad Christiansen, retired DNR biologist. “Birds such as woodcock return about mid March. If we experience a heavy, late snowfall, some birds will suffer.”
A similar situation occurred in 1969, when there was a late April snowfall in Minnesota.
Mentors introduce 237 youth to turkey hunting
From the DNR
This spring 237 youth were introduced to turkey hunting as part of a unique partnership among the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and families.
Ninety-four of the participants bagged a bird. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s turkey population continues to expand, creating opportunities for hunters of all ages.
“Our youth turkey hunt program continues to grow and that’s great,” said Jay Johnson, DNR hunting recruitment and retention coordinator. “We had more youth hunters than ever, with a 39-percent success rate for harvesting a bird. Adult mentors did an excellent job of making the hunt meaningful, memorable and safe.”
Minnesota’s youth turkey hunt requires a parent or guardian to accompany the guide and youth on the hunt.
This allows the youth and guardian to build a mentoring relationship that often means in the youth stays interested in hunting.
Only the youth is allowed to harvest a bearded turkey during the youth hunt.
NWTF representatives recruit volunteer hunting guides from local chapters.
Those guides secure permission to take youths ages 12-17 hunting on private land.
Each youth must attend a wild turkey hunting clinic that focuses on topics and tips for youth hunters.
“This hunt is a perfect example of the creative way the DNR is partnering with stakeholder groups to accomplish the common goal of developing the next generation of hunters and conservationists,” Johnson said.
DNR’s efforts to increase Minnesota’s wild turkey population and expand the bird’s range are fueled by NWTF volunteers, and funds and revenue generated by turkey stamp sales.
A new study by Minnesota State University, Mankato graduate student Jennifer R. Snyders at the DNR’s Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Center in Madelia shows that the pre-settlement wild turkey range in Minnesota likely ran from Pipestone County to Goodhue County.
The DNR first held an authorized turkey hunt in 1978 when there were about 1,000 birds in Minnesota. All of these were in far southeastern Minnesota, according to Richard Kimmel, DNR farmland wildlife population and research group leader. Today there are an estimated 65,000 wild turkeys in Minnesota.
Wildlife managers, with assistance from NWTF and other volunteer groups, began annual trap-and-transplant programs in which birds are trapped in one area and moved to a new area.
Flocks form and wild turkeys begin to increase their population and expand their range naturally.
Since 1976, about 5,200 turkeys have been trapped, primarily in Goodhue, Houston, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties, said Gary Nelson, Winona area wildlife manager.
Those birds as well as turkeys brought in from Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have been released in 292 places in 70 of Minnesota’s 87 counties.
“The result of those efforts has been a phenomenal increase in wild turkey population and range,” said Dennis Simon, DNR Wildlife Section chief. “There now are literally thousands of birds across most of the southern two-thirds of Minnesota, providing an opportunity for nearly 38,000 hunters to harvest a turkey this spring.”
Youth completed their turkey season April 20, Minnesota’s spring wild turkey season runs through May 29.
“The birds are out there,” Simon said. “The most important thing for camouflaged-clad hunters to remember is to be absolutely sure they have a clear, safe shot at a wild turkey before they ever take the safety off.”
DNR warns early season anglers about danger of cold-water shock
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds early-season anglers about the danger of cold-water shock and the importance of wearing a life jacket, especially in May and early June.
“The shock of a fall into cold water is certainly one of the biggest hazards for early season anglers,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. “The gasp caused by sudden immersion in icy
water can cause the victim to inhale water and drown if they aren’t wearing a life vest.”It was once thought that good swimmers who drowned after falling overboard into cold water were succumbing to heart attacks, Smalley said.
While that may have happened to some victims, researchers find that most drown due to the torso reflex rather than a cardiac episode.
“The torso reflex is the gasp that happens when your face and chest suddenly enters cold water,” Smalley said. “The gasp is automatic and nearly impossible to stop. If your face is underwater when it happens, it’s often fatal, unless of course you’re wearing a life vest.”
Boats must have one U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable personal flotation device (life jacket) of the proper size for each person readily accessible on board.
Boats 16 feet and longer also must carry a U.S. Coast Guard approved type IV throwable seat cushion or ring buoy on board.
The DNR recommends that everyone wear life jackets.
“While the emphasis tends to be on children wearing life jackets, it’s the adults who die most often in boating accidents,” Smalley said. “There have been a fair number of cases in Minnesota where an adult has drowned in a boat accident, but the child who was wearing a life jacket was just fine.”
More boating safety information and the “Minnesota Boating Guide” can be obtained free by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).
Information can be downloaded from the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/boating.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q: How does the late ice-out on Minnesota’s lakes impact boating safety during this year’s fishing opener?
A: Below normal water temperatures cause “cold water shock” when someone falls overboard or a boat capsizes in an icy lake or river.
Cold water shock causes an involuntary gasp as the victim’s head is plunged underwater, so the victim inhales water instead of air.
Unless the person is wearing a life vest, drowning is a probable outcome.
• Look for a complete report on the first week of the 2008 Minnesota fishing season in next week’s column.
• Anglers have been reporting good crappie action on Big Waverly, Waconia, and Belle Lake. Look for great spring crappie action to continue for a few more weeks.
• Get ready for the morel mushroom hunt. With a few days of warm to hot weather, it could be a banner season for morels.
Cool, wet weather patterns followed by a streak of hot spring days are perfect conditions for morels.
Personally, I’m on a long cold snap for finding morels, about 0 for the last five years. If anyone out there finds a bunch this year, I’d be happy to share.
• Remember to always be cautious and courteous rather than competitive when you’re on the lake this season. You will have more fun and so will everyone else.
• Spring is finally happening and it’s coming fast. In the past week, lawns in the area greened up, and farmers started getting more of the crop planted and fields tilled.
Trees and shrubs started to bud or blossom and a few varieties of flowers are blooming.
Soon the trees will be full of leaves and all the bugs will be out.
• Most reports indicate that local turkey hunting has been excellent so far this season.
Exceptionally good reports have come from the Lester Prairie area along the south fork of the Crow River.
• Get involved in trapshooting this spring and summer. Many clubs in the area, have league and practice opportunities available.
For more info, go to herald-journal.com, keyword search trapshooting.
• Take a kid fishing; he or she will have fun, and so will you.