63rd annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby this Sat.

February 9, 2009

by Chris Schultz

The 63rd annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby will take place Saturday, Feb. 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Howard Lake.

Prior to the derby, stop by The Country Store in Howard Lake for a University of Minnesota Raptor Center presentation from 10 to 11 a.m., followed by a Minnesota cultivated wild rice recipe tasting from 11 a.m. to noon.

There will also be store door prize drawings at 11:30 a.m. at The Country Store (must be present to win).

For additional information on the derby, contact Denny Decker at (320) 543-2992.

Area lakes fishing report

It’s been a tough winter for shallow lakes in our area.

Early ice over and heavy snow cover are creating a significant oxygen depletion in many of those lakes, adding up to a large winter kill of fish as the season drags on.

The DNR has already opened up several lakes across the state for liberalized fishing, including Silver Lake and Wolf Lake in our area.

In the next few weeks we can expect many more shallow lakes to be opened up for liberalized fishing.

In the past, Silver Lake has provided some quality fishing for small walleye during these times, and Wolf may provide some good crappie action.

Sorry to say, when oxygen levels fall it’s the quality game fish like crappie, sunfish, bass, and walleye that suffer the most.

Low oxygen levels on these lakes can also provide the opportunity to scoop up good-eating bullheads from larger holes cut in the ice.

I’ve seen hundreds of bullheads school up to a 2’ x 2’ hole in the ice and in turn, watched anglers scoop them up by the dozens.

Moving on, Lake John near Annandale and Lake Ann are proving good action on sunfish.

There are quite a few fishing contests and banquets coming up in the area, and those lucky enough to get drawn for a 2009 spring turkey hunting permit were notified last week.

Prairie Archers dinner at the Dodge House

Prairie Archers will be hosting its February “Sweetheart” dinner Saturday, Feb. 14 at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie.
The prime rib dinner, which is $16, runs from 4 to 8 p.m.

To reserve your spot, call (320) 395-2877 or (320) 395-2721.

Reserve early (before 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12) as the number of meals available is limited. No walk-ins allowed.

Prime rib provided by Garbers’ Meats. For non-prime rib lovers, a butterfly pork chop will be available for $10.

Watertown Rod & Gun Club to host annual sportsman banquet

The Watertown Rod & Gun Club will be hosting its 13th annual Family Sportsman Banquet Saturday, March 7.

Tickets for the event may be purchased by calling Gary Kubasch at (952) 807-2372. A limited number of tickets are available.

The banquet will take place at the Watertown Civic Center.

Snowmobile safety class in Carver County

Carver County Sheriff ‘Bud’ Olson and sheriff’s office personnel will be conducting a youth snowmobile safety class in March.

The youth class includes nine hours of classroom instruction, followed by one hour of practical (hands-on) operation.

Youth must be 12 years of age by April 31 to attend, and do not need their own snowmobile.

The cost of the youth class is $5, and pre-registration is required by calling (952) 361-1898.

The classes will take place at the Carver County Public Works Headquarters in Cologne.

Classes will be Tuesday, March 17 and Thursday, March 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. each night.

The final class will take place Saturday, March 21 from 8 a.m. to noon, and will include classroom, test, and practical operation.

Adults that are in need of a snowmobile safety certificate should contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at 1-888-646-6367 for an independent study CD.

Upon successful completion of the class, the student will be certified by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for operation of a snowmobile in the state of Minnesota.

The DNR web site also has information about other classes locally and throughout Minnesota – www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Cokato ice fishing contest Feb. 21

An ice fishing contest, hosted by Chartered Ice Fishing and Kirk’s Travel Plaza in Cokato, is set for Saturday, Feb. 21 at Cokato Lake from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

A $200 prize will be awarded for the biggest walleye, and the biggest northern caught during the competition.

A $100 prize will also be awarded for the biggest pan fish.

There will also be prizes for second-biggest walleye and northern, and several drawings for door prizes.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Kirk’s Travel Plaza, but if you bring in a food-shelf donation, you receive a $5 discount, and a Godfather’s Pizza lunch during the contest. Kids 12 and under are free.

For more information, call Chartered Ice Fishing at 320-310-9089, or Kirk’s Travel Plaza at (320) 286-0009.

Wright County corn giveaway Feb. 14

The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will have a corn giveaway for pheasants and wildlife Saturday, Feb. 14, from 8 to 11 a.m. at Lampi’s Auction located at Hwy. 55 and Wright Cty. Rd. 6.

Please bring your own containers. Quantities may be limited due to demand.

For additional information, please call (320) 274-CORN (2676).

If you would like to volunteer to assist with this event or any other events, please contact Bruce Bartl at (763) 682-0653.

It’s been a busy year
From the CROW

CROW has two MPCA 319 grants being implemented within the Crow River Basin.

The Working Together to Improve Water Quality Project provides financial incentives to landowners for the implementation of best management practices that will improve water quality within the Buffalo Creek Area.

The project includes portions of Carver, Kandiyohi, McLeod, Renville, and Sibley Counties.

Through this grant, in 2008 the CROW worked with local partners and landowners to get 42.8 acres of land enrolled in the CRP Program by providing a one time $100 per acre signing bonus.

They also replaced 16 open tile intakes with rock intakes, completed a Lake Allie Sediment Basin, upgraded an Ag Waste System in Renville County, and installed a Streambank erosion control project in McLeod County.

The other 319 project, the Rural Water Quality Improvement Project focuses on implementation and education projects in the western portion of the watershed.

Portions of McLeod, Meeker, Renville, Stearns, Kandiyohi, and Wright Counties are included in this project area.

The majority of the funding for this project focuses on implementation projects.

In addition, $770,000 in low interest loan dollars are available in Kandiyohi, Renville, and McLeod Counties for septic system upgrades. This project started in late 2008.

Volunteer Monitoring – In 2008 the CROW continued its partnership with the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District and Minnesota Waters to host 2 Volunteer Monitoring Training Sessions and a Data Management Training Session.

They also added the opportunity for on-line data entry via the CROW and the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District’s websites.

Volunteers are given an ID and a password and are then able to enter the data through the website.

Data is stored in a shared database, and allows staff to regularly check and compare data as it is entered.

2008 was the second year in a two year project funded through the Clean Water Legacy Program.

In addition to the Volunteer Monitoring Grant, the CROW continued is successful Citizen Stream Monitoring Program (CSMP) in 2008.

This program offers an opportunity for volunteers from around the watershed to monitor the transparency of a local stream or river.

Volunteers enrolled in the CROW program are also part of the MPCA’s statewide CSMP program.

The CROW uses the volunteer data to assess which streams are in need of further assessment.

In 2008, 29 volunteers monitored 39 stream and river sites in the Crow River Watershed.

DNR sends reminder to dog owners
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds dog owners that it is illegal to allow their pets to harass deer and other big game.

Every winter, conservation officers receive reports from throughout the state of dogs chasing and sometimes killing deer or other big game.

Wildlife regulations hold dog owners accountable for dogs chasing big game and conservation officers are authorized to put down dogs that do so.

Dog owners would also be subject to a civil penalty.

Capt. Ken Soring, acting DNR enforcement chief, advises dog owners to be aware of the possibility that their dogs may be chasing big game and to take steps to prevent them from doing so.

“Deer are particularly vulnerable at this time of year because they are expending every bit of energy to stay alive, and the additional stress of being chased can affect their winter survival,” Soring said.

The Minnesota Game and Fish Laws handbook reads that a person who observes a dog wounding, killing, or pursuing in a manner that endangers big game may kill the dog without liability:

• At any time, if the person is a peace officer or conservation officer; or

• Between Jan. 1 and July 14, if the person is not a peace officer or conservation officer and the discharge of firearms is allowed.

MN adults fish free with kids during holiday weekend
From the DNR

Adult Minnesotans (18 and older) can try ice fishing without purchasing a license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing during Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend, Feb. 14-16.

“This is an opportunity to get outdoors and connect with nature,” said Mike Kurre, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) mentoring program coordinator. “You’ve got the chance to try something new and you just might find something for the frying pan.”

Unlike summertime shore fishing, ice fishing presents some unique challenges.

Here are key tips from the DNR’s MinnAqua program http://mndnr.gov/minnaqua/icefishing, which are designed to teach angling recreation and stewardship as well as the ecology and conservation of aquatic habitats.

• Dressing in layers is the best way to deal with winter’s icy chill.

Layers keep you warm in even the coldest conditions by creating pockets of warm air and helping moisture evaporate.

• Follow your mom’s advice and wear a hat. Almost 90 percent of your heat escapes through your head.

• Plopping an ice shelter down in the middle of ice shack city on a nearby lake doesn’t guarantee success.

Noise and traffic often spook fish, so find a private hole off by yourself.

If that’s not an option, keep to the outside ring of these “cities on ice.”

• The only rule of how to fish is that there are no rules.

Be willing to try different options.

If a slow, methodical jigging motion isn’t working, try an aggressive one – or try a lift-and-drop technique.

The MinnAqua program also works with the “Ice Team”, a group of manufactures who help educate anglers by providing expert volunteers, hands-on activities and providing equipment for schools, events and mentoring organizations.

They also provide ice fishing tips, helpful links, basic ice safety information and fun stuff for kids to keep them busy on the ice.

“There’s no better time to introduce somebody to the world of ice fishing than the long holiday weekend,” Kurre said. “Help a youngster enjoy the beauty of a Minnesota winter and make a lasting memory.”

Lake Mille Lacs safe harvest levels set
From the DNR

Safe fish harvest levels have been set at Lake Mille Lacs for the 2009 fishing season.

The safe harvest of walleye has been set at 541,000 pounds, up from 430,000 pounds last fishing season.

The state’s allocation is 414,500 pounds, up from 307,500 pounds last year.

Indian bands that signed the 1837 Treaty will be allocated 126,500 pounds of walleye this fishing season, up from 122,500 pounds last year.

The state’s 2009 walleye harvest may include an overage allowance of up to 5 percent.

The yellow perch and northern pike safe harvest levels are the same as last year.

The yellow perch level is 270,000 pounds; the northern pike level is 25,000 pounds.

The state’s allocation is 135,000 pounds of yellow perch and 12,500 pounds of northern pike.

Due to low abundance and low incidental harvest in both the tribal and angling fisheries, quotas will not be set for tullibee and burbot.

Instead, these species will be monitored, and safe harvest levels will be discussed in the future if abundance, harvest, and fishing interest increase.

Every year fisheries experts from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)and the eight Chippewa bands meet in January to share information and determine safe harvest levels.

“Now that we know what the State’s walleye quota is for 2009, we can evaluate where the winter fishery stands and can evaluate if our current regulation will keep us within our allocation,” said Ron Payer, Minnesota DNR fisheries chief. “And once we have done that, we will meet with the Mille Lacs Fisheries Input Group.”

The current Mille Lacs regulation allows anglers to keep four walleye up to 18 inches, which may include one trophy over 28 inches.

Anglers are required to release all walleye from 18 to 28 inches.

Total walleye angling harvest was 76,000 pounds in 2008.

The safe harvest level was increased from last year due to low total harvest in 2008.

DNR seeks watercraft inspector applicants
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking watercraft inspector interns for the upcoming boating season.

The inspectors are stationed at public accesses on lakes and rivers infested with invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels.

“We’re looking for enthusiastic young adults interested in doing important environmental conservation work,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR watercraft inspection program coordinator. Watercraft inspectors inform and educate the public about aquatic invasive species and the threat they pose to Minnesota waters.

Other duties may include assisting with access posting, conducting invasive species plant removal and other natural resource projects.

These are full-time, temporary internships that start in late April and run through the middle of October, with flexibility for students still in school.

Positions are available throughout the state including the seven-county metro area; Wright and Chisago counties; Cook County; Hubbard, Itasca, and Beltrami counties; Wabasha and Winona counties; Otter Tail and Becker counties; locations along the Mississippi River, as well as Duluth, Brainerd, Rainy Lake, Lake of the Woods and the Spicer/Willmar area.

Applicants must have a valid Minnesota driver’s license, be enrolled in a natural resources or related program and be eligible to receive school credit for the position.

The deadline for applications is March 13.

To view a complete job description or apply online go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/jobs/watercraft/index.html or contact Heidi Wolf at (651) 259-5152 or heidi.wolf@dnr.state.mn.us with questions.

DNR publishes online reference guide to rare species
From the DNR

Information about Minnesota’s endangered, threatened, and special-concern plant and animal species is now available in a new online reference tool from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The Rare Species Guide replaces the 1988 DNR book, “Minnesota’s Endangered Flora and Fauna,” and is available at www.mndnr.gov/rsg.

“Minnesota citizens, land managers and others can use this interactive, easy to use reference for information about the state’s rarest species,” said DNR project manager, Sarah Wren.

The comprehensive web resource combines knowledge from years of scientific study and management experience by DNR biologists and external experts.

It includes a collection of profiles of more than 400 rare species.

Each profile features life history, habitat, and conservation information, as well as Minnesota and North American range maps and species photographs and/or illustrations.

The guide allows users to search for species profiles based on common or scientific name; state and federal endangerment status; broad taxonomic group (such as mammals or birds); habitat; location (including counties, watersheds, and ecological classification system subsections); and/or keyword.

In addition to the species profiles, the Rare Species Guide also includes information on Minnesota’s endangered species law and permits, why species become rare, and much more.

Question of the Week
From the DNR

Q: The DNR oversees wildlife management areas (WMAs) throughout the state as well as AMAs. What are AMAs?

A: Aquatic Management Areas (AMAs) are similar to Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). AMAs are acquired and managed by DNR Fisheries to conserve, protect and enhance Minnesota’s aquatic and riparian habitats.

There are three types of AMAs: “easement AMAs” allow anglers to access trout stream corridors via permanent easements granted by landowners; “general use AMAs” allow angling, hunting, trapping and other light-use activities; “restricted use AMAs” do not allow hunting or trapping but do allow angling and other light-use activities.

The DNR currently administers 620 miles of trout stream easement AMAs and 220 miles of lake and warm-water stream shoreline as general and restricted use AMA’s.

Public Recreation Information Maps (PRIM) maps will soon include all three types of AMAs.

Maps showing access to trout streams via easement AMA’s can now be found at http://mndnr.gov/fishing/trout_streams/index.html.