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The Super Seven for the fishing opener

May 4, 2009

by Chris Schultz

If you read last week’s column you probably remember the long list of things I still had to do to get ready for this year’s fishing opener which is set for Sat., May 9.

I’m sure you still had to complete many of the same fishing related items.

Hopefully, you’re done and ready to go.

Needless to say, the items on my list haven’t been touched yet.

That’s right, even the boat is still in storage, and on a Saturday morning exactly one week before the opener, I’m writing this column instead of changing line on my reels and repairing the lights on my boat trailer.

Also, on this same morning, I had to stop my truck in the middle of small town street to let a hen mallard get out of the way.

She seemed content strolling down the middle of Pine Street until she hit 1st Ave. North and took off like 747 on a long, tar runway.

With that said, a lot of work to do and very little fanfare, so here is my “Super 7” local lakes for the 2009 Minnesota fishing opener.

1) Buffalo; this lake has been producing pan fish this spring and has been a traditional hot spot on the opener.
Fish shallow and get out early to beat the crowds.

2) Washington; probably the top walleye producer in our area and always on this list, it is a great bet for the opener.
The trick on Washington is to fish very slow and follow the crowds.

3) Pelican; south of Monticello, more of a slough then a lake has been producing panfish like crazy since last winter.
You may not catch a walleye, but the crappie action in the cattails could be great on the opener.

4) Howard; this lake has been quiet the last few years, but Judd’s bar, the rock pile, and the high banks on the northeast side could be sleepers for this years opener.

5) Erie; a small lake in Meeker County just a few miles south of Washington is a great place to take kids and troll for northern pike.
Catching fish is almost certain and few walleye mixed in could be a bonus.

6) Ann; just south of Howard Lake is due for good fishing this year.
Fish the windy shoreline and lunkers can be had.

7) Lake John; pleasant memories of catching fish on the opener.
I’ve had many good openers on John and it’s always a good choice for the opener.
If the walleyes don’t bite, hook on a sucker minnow and still fish for northern pike.

Yield to hen mallards, get the stuff done on your’ fishing list, and good luck on the opener.

Ladies only nights at the Waverly Gun Club

The Waverly Gun Club will once again be offering ladies only nights at the club starting Tuesday, May 12 and running through October.

The nights will take place the second Tuesday of the month (May 12, June 9, July 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 8, and Oct. 13).

Rifles, .22 cal. pistols, targets, and ammunition will be provided by the club.

You may bring your own centerfire handgun and ammunition, if you prefer.

Range officer will be present on the shooting line for instruction – available upon request.

Shoot from the comfort of a shelter – handguns: 7- or 25-yard range; rifles: 25- or 50-yard range. Offhand or from a bench rest.

The club is located north of Waverly just off Wright County Road 9.

For more information, contact Al Moy (612) 889-4423 or Russ Johnson (763) 675-3527.

Shooting hours are 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Walleye season opens; few reg. changes
From the DNR

When Minnesota’s walleye and northern pike season opens Saturday, May 9, fishing regulations will be largely the same as last year.

The one change that applies to walleye and northern pike is a new regulation that states the “one over” limit now apply to both possession and daily limits.

Previously, the “one over” regulation applied to the daily limit only.

“One over” applies when regulations protect fish of a designated size range on particular waters.

Anglers are allowed to keep fish smaller than the size range and can keep one larger than the size range.

The “one over” limit applies to the larger fish an angler can keep.

Other changes include:

• New experimental or special regulations on the St. Croix River, Inguadona and Rice lakes in Cass County, Coon Lake in Anoka County, Sylvia lake (East and West) in Wright County, Pearl Lake in Stearns County, and Red Lake in Beltrami County.

Details are on pages 25-26 in the Department of Natural Resources fishing regulation booklet.

• Anglers may possess fish packaged by a licensed fish packer on waters with fish-size restrictions if the packaged fish will be used for a meal.

• Anglers who catch an asian carp must report the catch within seven days.

A number of lakes have been added to the infested waters list because they now contain invasive species.

These water bodies are identified in the fishing regulation booklet.

Anglers collecting new walleye stamp
From the DNR

More than 1,000 fishing enthusiasts have purchased Minnesota’s new walleye stamp that went on sale March 1.

The stamp, though not required to catch and keep walleye, is available now at all fishing license outlets.

Proceeds will support walleye stocking.

The stamp validation is $5. For $2 more, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will mail the actual artistic collector’s stamp to your home.

“This is an ideal year to start a walleye stamp art collection for you or your children,” said Steve Michaels of the DNR’s License Center. “With a single purchase you support walleye stocking, acquire a piece of history and can begin a low-cost, life-long hobby.”

No change in Mille Lacs regulations
From the DNR

Anglers who fish Lake Mille Lacs will see the same regulations as last fishing season.

Anglers are required to release immediately all walleye 18-to 28-inches in length.

The possession limit is four, with only one longer than 28 inches allowed.

Similarly, anglers will be required to immediately release all northern pike 24-to 36-inches in length.

The possession limit is three, with only one northern longer than 36 inches allowed

Anglers must release all smallmouth bass shorter than 21 inches (the possession limit is one) and release all muskellunge shorter than 48 inches. The muskellunge limit is one.

Lake Mille Lacs will have a night closure again this year. No one may fish for any fish species or possess fishing gear on the lake from 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. starting at 10 p.m. Monday, May 11 and ending at 12:01 a.m. Monday, June 8.

The walleye and northern pike seasons open Saturday, May 9.

Turn-In-Poachers invaluable to conservation officers
From the DNR

For more than 25 years, TIP’s tips have helped state conservation officers apprehend thousands of violators while protecting and preserving Minnesota’s natural resources.

TIP is Turn-In-Poachers, which was formed in September 1981 by a group of concerned citizens and conservationist to initially curb the illegal harvest of game and fish in Minnesota.

Today’s calls also reference wetlands, all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile violations.

“Everyone assumes we are part of the DNR or we receive state funding, but that’ s not the case,” said Al Thomas, executive director of TIP, Inc. “As a non-profit, we ask volunteers to help us raise funds through banquets and ask the outdoor community to join TIP with a membership. That’ s how we carry out our programs and supply conservation officers with more eyes and ears in the field.”

From 1981-2008, 28,500 TIP calls have been referred to state conservation officers, leading to nearly 8,200 arrests.

TIP rewards paid out since inception total nearly $338,000.

These are amazing numbers for an organization staffed by a 20-person volunteer board of directors and 10 TIP chapters around the state.

Here are some hard results:

• The information received in a late 2008 TIP call resulted in two Ohio anglers paying fines and restitution of $2,600 for taking 99 sunfish over the legal limit.

• A TIP call resulted in the “big fish” being respectively 257 sunfish and 79 bass over the limit. Fine and restitution for the fish totaled $6,000.

• Calls from concerned anglers led conservation officers to two residents who were 314 crappies over the limit. Fine and restitution totaled $8,000.

“Cases such as these go to show how invaluable TIP is for us and the importance of the program to law-abiding outdoorsmen and women willing to make the calls,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement chief.
TIP, Inc. is a non-profit, privately funded 501©3 organization.

Law-abiding outdoor enthusiasts report violations anonymously by calling the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-652-9093 or #TIP on their cell phone.

Callers providing information leading to an arrest are given cash rewards ranging from $25 to $1,000.

TIP officials say that nearly half of the rewards offered are turned down.

DNR lists top 10 fishing violations
From the DNR

The latest list of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) “Top Ten Fishing Violations” is a reminder to anglers to follow the rules and refer to the 2009 Minnesota Fishing Regulations handbook as the state’s fishing season gets underway Saturday, May 9.

Conservation officers issued 3,115 citations and 4,727 warnings to resident and non-resident anglers last year, which is comparable to past fishing seasons.

Topping the list of the most-frequent violation is not having a fishing license in possession.

This violation resulted in conservation officers issuing 2,259 warnings or 240 citations last year to resident and non-resident anglers.

Number two on the list is having no fishing license at all. Conservation officers issued 925 citations and 399 warnings last year.

Some other ranked categories that made the list of frequent fishing violations include:

• Improperly/not marked fish house

• Fishing with an extra line

• Overlimit

• Unattended line

• Exceed length limit

• Fish house left on ice after deadline

• Closed season

• Under length limit

“There is still a need for education since these seem to be the most common violations encountered by conservation officers year after year,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement chief. “Sometimes the excitement of ‘wetting a line’ causes anglers to be forgetful or take shortcuts.”

An annual Minnesota resident fishing license costs $17; a non-resident license $39.50.

Want to fish? Nothing to it
From the DNR

Once upon a time, all that was needed to go fishing was a cane pole and can of worms.

A boat and motor was almost considered an extravagance.

Those days are long gone. Or are they?

Contrary to the perception one might get from TV, magazines or a visit to a sporting goods store, fishing need not be expensive or complicated.

“Fishing can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it,” said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “All it takes is some basic knowledge and equipment to have a fun, relaxing fishing experience. And it’ s even more enjoyable when you take a youngster or two along.”

In today’s hectic world, many youth don’t get an opportunity to enjoy fishing because they don’t have an adult in their life to take them.

And one reason some adults don’t take those youngsters is because they themselves have not learned how to fish.

“People see the advertisements and the TV fishing shows with all the high-tech, fancy equipment, the big boats, and the overwhelming selection of lures, bait, and accessories and they don’t know where to start,” Kurre said. “And so too often they don’t start, not realizing how simple it can really be.”

Kurre suggests that novice anglers start with a visit to a local bait shop or sporting goods store.

“Don’t be intimidated by all the equipment and accessories you see. All you really need are the basics. Store employees will steer you in the right direction because they would like to see you become a regular angler and customer.”

For the beginner, just a few essentials are needed: rod and reel, tackle, bait (and bait bucket for minnows), life jacket, and fishing license.

Beyond that, most of what you might want to take along can be found at home, such as a cooler, pliers, sun screen, bug lotion, chair or cushion.

Kurre offers the following quick-list for the beginning angler:

Rod and reel: A simple rod and reel can be purchased for as little as a meal at a fine dining establishment. For simplicity, start with a spin casting reel.

Tackle: Tackle includes such things as bobbers and sinkers, hooks, and artificial lures. When starting out, avoid artificial lures. Store employees will help set you up with the basics.

Bait: The kind of bait you’ll put on the hook will depend on the species of fish you are after. Worms, minnows and leeches are popular live bait for numerous fish species. Panfish such as crappies and sunfish are usually easier to fish for and catch than species such as walleye, northern pike or bass. A worm on a small hook will usually do the trick.

PFD: A coast guard approved personal flotation device such as a life jacket is required while in a boat on water. It’s also a good thing to have when fishing from shore or a dock. Safety first!

Where to go: Minnesota is fortunate to have numerous lakes, rivers and streams that offer excellent fishing opportunities. Many of those waters have locations where you can fish from shore or from a fishing pier. In addition to the DNR, many counties and communities also provide places to fish. Ask around. Or, explore the DNR web site at www.mndnr.gov/fishing.

Practice: Once you have your equipment you need, practice casting by attaching a sinker weight to the end of the fishing line. You can do this in your backyard. You also will want to practice tying different knots to your tackle. Search for ‘fishing line knots’ on the Internet and you’ll find all the help you need to tie a basic knot. It’s easy.

Cleaning fish: If you have never cleaned fish, you’ll want to find someone to teach you. Or, simply practice “catch and release.” Use pliers to remove the hook from the mouth of the fish and then let it go. For young people especially, happiness is simply feeling a fish on the end of the line and reeling it in.

Fishing: A popular pastime that’s a backyard boom for MN
From the DNR

Just how big is fishing in Minnesota? Big enough that it contributes $4.7 billion to the state’s economy every year and attracts 1.4 million licensed anglers to Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes.

Let’s fillet those numbers into more digestible morsels:

• If every licensed angler ventured out at the same time, each of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes would have to accommodate 118 anglers.

• One out of every five Minnesotans fish, meaning that 1.1 million of Minnesota’s 5.2 million residents pick up a fishing pole at least once during the year … and that’s not counting youth.

• Minnesota ranks fourth among states with the highest number of anglers. The top three states are Florida, Texas and California. Wisconsin is fifth, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

• As a percentage of population among those states, Minnesota boasts the largest number of resident anglers at 28 percent and is tied nationally with Alaska for the largest participation of resident anglers.

• Anglers spend $2.8 billion on fishing each year in Minnesota, according to the American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) Sportfishing in America survey.

• Dollars directly spent on fishing in Minnesota create an additional $1.9 billion in economic activity, boosting angling’s total statewide economic impact to $4.7 billion, according to the ASA’s Sportfishing in America survey.

• Equipment (rods, reels, line, boats, trailers, etc.) accounted for $1.2 billion of the $2.8 billion spent. Trip-related expenses accounted for $860 million. Other expenses such as bait and equipment rental accounted for $646 million, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

• Salaries, wages and business earnings directly related to fishing in Minnesota total $1.3 billion, according to the ASA’s Sportfishing in America survey.

• Fishing creates Minnesota 43,812 jobs, according to the ASA’s Sportfishing in America survey.

• Minnesota angling generates $350 million in federal tax revenues and $342 million in state and local tax revenues, according to the ASA’s Sportfishing in America survey.

• In 2008, Minnesota fishing license sales generated $19 million in revenue.

Just who are these anglers and where are they from:

• Most resident anglers – 755,000 of them in fact – are from the seven-county metropolitan area. The remaining 388,000 resident anglers live outside the Twin Cities, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

• Men account for 69 percent of resident anglers. Women account for 31 percent, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

• The highest percentage of participation comes in the 35-44 year old age group. Most of the remaining participants come from the 45-64 year old age group, with those 16-24 years old accounting for only 12 percent of the people who fish, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

• An estimated 40 percent of Minnesota anglers have household incomes of $50,000-$100,000. Households that make less than $50,000 annually account for 27 percent of Minnesota anglers, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS .

• An estimated 388,000 children ages 6-15 go fishing each year, with Twin Cities-area youth accounting for 76 percent of the total. More girls (52 percent) went fishing than boys (48 percent). Participation among age groups (6-8 years, 9-11 years and 12-15 years) remained fairly constant, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

Finally, here’s a look at where these resident anglers go and what they’re trying to hook:

• Significantly more time is spent fishing on lakes rather than rivers and streams, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

• The average Minnesota angler spends 20 days fishing each year, wit h 86 percent of resident anglers never fishing anywhere else but Minnesota, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

• Only 3 percent of Minnesota anglers try their luck on Lake Superior, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

• The most sought-after fish species, in order of preference, are walleye, bluegill, northern pike, crappie and bass, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

Most resident anglers spend nearly half their time fishing for walleye and bluegill, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by USFWS.

Fishing terms, A to Z
From the DNR

Words familiar to us can be foreign to others.

As an example, take fishing. If you are an avid angler, terms such as jig, structure, back-trolling and crank baits are common.

For the novice or casual angler, however, they might make no sense.

For those new to fishing, here are some basic terms that might be helpful to know.

Angler/angling: An angler is a person who fishes; angling is another word for fishing.

Backlash: Tangled line on a bait casting reel. Tangled fishing line is also referred to as a bird’s nest.

Back-trolling: Technique in which the boat motor is put in reverse, allowing the boat operator to make sharper turns to follow changes in lake bottom structure.

Bait: Usually refers to live bait put on a hook (worms, minnows, insects, crabs, etc.)

Bait casting: Fishing with a revolving spool reel and bait casting rod; the reel is mounted on the topside of the rod.

Bobber: Also called a ‘float,’ they come in various shapes and sizes. They float on top of the water to keep the bait off the lake bottom and signal a fish bite by “bobbing” on the water.

Buzz bait: A large bait with propeller-type blades that churn when retrieved on top of the water.

Catch and release: The act of catching and immediately releasing a fish as a way to conserve the resource.

Crank bait: Minnow-like lure with a lip that causes the lure to dive under water during the retrieve; usually made from plastic or balsa wood.

Drifting: A method of fishing where the angler allows the boat to drift in the wind. Usually involves using live bait.

Flies: Lures made from fur, hair, feathers or synthetics tied to hooks; intended to resemble insects, larvae or minnows.

Fly-fishing: A preferred trout-fishing method using a special fly rod with either live or imitation flies tied to a hook.

Jerk bait: A soft or hard plastic bait resembling a small fish, usually fished by using quick jerks or yanking it to resemble a bait fish.

Jigs/jigging: Jigs are lures with a weighted head and a fixed hook often dressed with fur, feathers, or a plastic body/tail. Live bait can be added to the hook. Jigging is a technique in which the jig is moved up and down frequently.

Leader: Length of monofilament, wire or other stranded material tied between the end of the line and the lure or hook. Provides extra strength and guards against abrasion from sharp teeth or rough mouths of fish.

Livewell: Compartment in a boat that holds water in which to keep caught fish alive.

Lures: Artificial bait made to resemble live bait.

PFD: Personal Flotation Device, such as a life jacket or floating cushion.

Plugs: Type of lure made of wood, plastic or rubber and designed to imitate small minnows, fish, frogs, bugs, etc. Can be either floating or sinking.

Reel: Mechanical device that holds the fishing line. There are various types of reels, most notably spin-casting, spinning, bait-casting and fly-casting. Beginners are better off with a spin-casting reel.

Rod: The fishing pole, usually made of fiberglass, graphite or composite materials. Rods come in various lengths and strengths. Rods are available for fly fishing, spinning, spin casting, and bait casting.

Sinker: Weight used to sink lures in the water. Sinkers come in different weights, shapes, and types.

Slip-sinker: A sinker that slides up and down on the line rather than being locked in place.

Snap/snap swivel/swivel: A snap is a hook-shaped piece of wire with a clasp that is tied to a fishing line. A lure is attached to the snap. Snap swivels are the same concept but also help prevent line twisting.

Split-shot sinker: For the novice angler, this is the preferred sinker. These are very small round weights with a slit for the line. The slit in the weight is pinched together to hold the sinker in place.

Strike: A “hit” from a fish attempting to take a lure or bait.

Trolling: Fishing from a boat with the motor kept in forward gear at a slow speed. Live or crank baits are preferred for this type of fishing.

Zebra Mussels: Zebra mussels are an invasive species that foul beaches, interfere with food webs, smother native mussels, clog water intakes and are linked to fish and wildlife die-offs. Mussels attach to boat hulls, fishing equipment, nets and boat lifts. They can be transported on those materials or aquatic plants that remain on marine equipment and fishing tackle. Microscopic larvae may be carried in the water of undrained bait buckets or livewells. It is illegal to import, possess, transport and/or introduce zebra mussels into the wild.

Questions of the week
From the DNR

Q: Minnesota derives great benefit from having healthy, productive forests.

What role does logging play in maintaining or improving forest health?

A: Minnesota’s forests are a renewable resource. And the timber industry plays a key role in maintaining and improving forest health.

Generally, loggers harvest mature or over-mature trees, which often with age become increasingly susceptible to a host of insect and disease problems.

Loggers also harvest areas that suffer catastrophic affects from wind, fire, or outbreaks of deadly diseases or insects thereby protecting adjacent forests from the spread of insects and diseases.

By harvesting older and damaged stands, the carbon tied up in the trees will be locked up for long periods of time in wood products we use everyday.

Without logging, decaying dead trees contribute to atmospheric carbon.

Logged areas are regenerated and the young, more vigorously growing trees also help reduce atmospheric carbon, provide habitat for animals that depend on early successional forests, and provide forests for future generations to use and enjoy.