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Pheasants Forever is staying busy

January 18, 2010

by Chris Schultz

Pheasants Forever is keeping themselves busy this month, as both the Carver and Wright County chapters have events taking place this month.

Check out each of those events below.

Carver County PF annual banquet

The annual Carver County chapter of Pheasants Forever will be Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Hamburg Community Hall.

Social hour starts at 5 p.m., with the dinner to follow at 7 p.m.

Ticket information can be obtained by contacting Randy Wendland at (612) 270-8583.

Information also can be obtained by viewing the chapter’s web site at http://carvercounty.pheasantsforever.org/.

Wright County PF corn giveaway Jan. 23

The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will have a corn giveaway for pheasants and wildlife Saturday, Jan. 23, 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, call (320) 274-CORN (2676).

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

Kingston Lion’s fishing contest Feb. 6

The Kingston Lions are hosting their 22nd annual fishing contest Saturday, Feb. 6 from 1 to 3 p.m. on the northwest side of Lake Francis.

The cost is $4 per person to fish, and there will be several prizes given out.

First place will win $100, second will win $50, and third will win $30.

There will also be prizes awarded for the biggest walleye, northern, and bass caught, plus $25 prizes for the largest crappie and sunfish.

Participants will automatically be entered to win an assortment of door prizes, and can also purchase raffle drawings for a chance to win an 8-inch ice auger or $250, two $100 drawings, and two $50 drawings.

The cost per raffle ticket is $1, or 25 for $15.

Concessions will also be provided by the Kingston Lions Club.

Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club ice fishing contest

The Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club is hosting its annual ice fishing contest Sunday, Feb. 14 on Brooks Lake in Cokato.

It runs from 2 to 4 p.m. and is free to all.

Raffle tickets are $1 each for cash and merchandise prizes.

Minnows and hole drilling are free.

There will be a lunch wagon on site for food and beverages.

For additional information, contact Tim (320) 980-0460 or Dave (612) 670-1916.

Da Shiver ice fishing tourney Feb. 6

The Da Shiver Ice Fishing Tournament is back again to raise money for the Crow River Youth Hockey Association.

The day, which includes the ice fishing tournament, games, giveaways and more, is Saturday, Feb. 6, from noon to 3 p.m. on the west end of Lake Sarah.

The earlybird cost for ice fishing is $35 until Jan. 23. After Jan. 23, the cost is $40.

The day’s activities include a bonfire, ice skating, and games, such as minnow races, musical buckets, and a hole-drilling race.

The prize list includes a Polaris Sportsman 500, a portable fishhouse, ice auger, ice rod combos, gift certificates, hockey gear, clothing, a signed Gophers jersey, Minnesota Timberwolves tickets, YakTrak, fishing gear, hunting gear, cash, hats, a Mr. Heater, and more. Music will be provided by Dean-o-mite Entertainment.

There will also be a raffle drawing for an Ice Castle fishhouse. Go to www.crtiger.com for raffle tickets.

For more information on Da Shiver, contact Doug Lawman at dashiver@yahoo.com or by phone at (763) 479-1206 or (612) 991-5159.

64th annual HL Fishing Derby is Feb. 13

The 64th annual fishing derby on Howard Lake is set for Saturday, Feb. 13 from 1 to 3 p.m.

There are plenty of chances to win cash and prizes.

In addition to cash awards for the biggest northern, walleye, bass, and panfish; other awards include the grand prize of an Ice Castle fishhouse (6-1/2 foot by 12 foot V front, on wheels), first prize of a FL-8 Vexilar Depth Finder, and framed prints for second and third prizes.

Raffle tickets are $2 each, and can be purchased at Joe’s Sport Shop or The Country Store in Howard Lake.

Tickets are now available by Ducks Unlimited Crow River Chapter for their pre-event ice fishing raffle.

Drawing to take place Saturday, Feb. 13, 3 p.m. on Howard Lake. Tickets are $10 a chance, with only 200 chances sold. Contact Ken Durdahl (320) 543-3372.

Tickets for the Sportsman’s Fishing Derby raffles are $2 each, and can be purchased at Joe’s Sport Shop or The Country Store.

DNR encourages snowmobile operators to drive safely
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages snowmobile operators to drive safely and drive smart this winter.

Drivers should also be aware of potential hazards and use good judgment.

Snowmobile operators should also make sure they complete a snowmobile safety course.

To legally ride a snowmobile in Minnesota, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate.

There are two ways to earn a certificate:

• At a traditional classroom course taught in local communities by volunteers, available to anyone 11 or older; course dates and locations are available on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov or by calling 800-366-8917.

• From a DNR Adult or Youth Snowmobile Safety CD-ROM (for PC and MAC), available for those 16 or older by calling (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367), or by e-mailing info@dnr.state.mn.us.

A copy of DNR’s 2009-2010 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook is available by calling the above phone numbers or on the DNR’s Web site at www.mndnr.gov and click on “Education/safety.”

More than 1,800 volunteer instructors teach DNR snowmobile safety courses across the state.

DNR offers pheasant feeding do’s and don’ts
From the DNR

Recent snowfalls have resulted in a deep blanket of crusty snow that is significantly limiting pheasants’ access to waste grain throughout much of their range in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Providing feed for pheasants during such conditions can increase their chances of survival.

Pheasants can survive as long as two weeks without food, but they become more vulnerable to predators and adverse weather conditions when they are forced to spend time and energy in the open looking for food.

The DNR offers the following tips for feeding pheasants:

• Do not place feeders near a road. Attracting pheasants (and deer) to roadsides can be dangerous to motorists as well as wildlife.

• Feeders should be placed within 150 yards of good winter cover. This allows the birds to feed and then return quickly to cover. The most important reason for feeding pheasants is to keep them in areas of good winter cover, such as large cattail marshes, shrub swamps, or shelterbelts with at least four rows of evergreens where they stand a much greater chance of surviving winter.

• Place food where birds have been seen feeding in an open, windswept area near thick cover. A high spot with a southern exposure is best.

• Simple feeder cribs can be constructed of hardware cloth that is 3 to 4 feet wide (1/2” mesh) and is double-wrapped and hog-ringed together to form a cylinder. Wire the feeder to a steel post or another object to keep it erect. Designs for constructing barrel feeders can be found on the DNR Web site at http://bit.ly/6IuPCJ.

• Once feeding is begun, don’t stop until there are large, snow-free areas in fields. Pheasants become dependent on feeders. One of the biggest mistakes is to stop feeding before waste grain becomes available.

Now is also a good time to work with local clubs or wildlife managers to assess local habitat needs and plan improvements for next year, such as food plots near winter cover.

For additional information on pheasant feeding, contact a local DNR wildlife office.

DNR to make changes to trout program
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is making changes to the way it raises, stocks and manages trout under its statewide trout program.

The changes will have minimal effect on anglers but will result in an immediate savings of about $70,000 in electrical and feed expenses, and up to $200,000 annually when changes are fully implemented.

Effective this year, the DNR will close a portion of its French River Hatchery near Duluth, shift trout production among various hatcheries, and reduce or eliminate stocking in 60 lakes and streams.

This will take place in areas where results have not met expectations or where self-sustaining trout populations have been established.

The new approach follows an in-depth assessment by DNR staff and implements various aspects of the DNR’s Lake Superior and southeast Minnesota trout plans.

Last year, the DNR stocked 2.2 million trout at a cost of $2.4 million.

In recent years the DNR’s trout program has included 615 designated trout streams, 163 designated trout lakes, 112 inland lake trout lakes, 2 two-story trout-and-warm water fishing lakes, and the 1.4 million-acre Lake Superior.

“We are reducing operating costs where they are high, and stocking efforts where the return on investment is low,” said Dirk Peterson, acting DNR fisheries chief. “We are doing this in a way that will minimize any effects on the majority of anglers.”

Anglers will not be significantly affected because stocking reductions will be in only those waters where fishing pressure was low, trout survival and growth was poor, or the stocking has resulted in a self-sustaining fishery that is no longer dependent upon stocking, Peterson added.

The upcoming changes are the result of a lengthy internal review of the DNR’s trout program.

Managers revised traditional stocking recommendations based on angler use, the number of fish caught by anglers, and whether stocking still made sense based on competing warm water fish populations or other factors.

This field assessment included reviewing the Lake Superior and southeast Minnesota trout plans.

Similarly, DNR staff took a hard look at the French River Hatchery, which is the agency’s most expensive hatchery to operate and the most susceptible to biosecurity issues because of its connection to Lake Superior and the entire Great Lakes system, which contains a growing number of invasive exotic species and fish diseases.

To address these concerns, the agency will shift part of the French River Hatchery production to the DNR hatchery near Remer.

Specifics of the new trout plan include:

• The Spire Valley Hatchery near Remer will produce 80,000 yearling rainbow trout Kamloops to be stocked in the Lester, Talmadge and French rivers. Previously, these fish had been reared at the French River Hatchery.

• The French River Hatchery will produce up to 12,000 fingerlings and 25,000 yearling rainbow trout Kamloops in addition to 550,000 steelhead fry and 55,000 frylings for stocking in Lake Superior.

All brook trout production will be shifted from Spire Valley in central Minnesota to the Crystal Springs hatchery in southeastern Minnesota.

The Peterson Fish Hatchery in southeastern Minnesota will continue to produce lake trout fingerlings and yearlings and rainbow trout yearlings.

For information on streams and lakes where stocking will be increased, reduced or eliminated visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/trout/coldwater.html.

DNR considering five new muskie waters
From the DNR

In response to growing interest in muskellunge fishing, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering the stocking of muskie in five new waters starting in the fall of 2011.

Proposed for muskie management are Roosevelt Lake in Cass and Crow Wing counties; Upper South Long Lake and Lower South Long Lake in Crow Wing County; Tetonka Lake in Le Sueur County; and the Sauk River Chain in Stearns County.

“All of these waters meet or exceed the biological and physical criteria for muskie management,” said Dirk Peterson, DNR acting fisheries chief.

He said there are eight key biological considerations, including:

• Proposed muskie waters must be greater than 500 acres.

• Waters must contain adequate numbers and species of prey fish.

• Water clarity must be moderate to clear.

• Gillnet catches for northern pike must be three or less.

• Waters must have the potential to produce a trophy fish.

“All five proposals are consistent with our management approach,” said Peterson. “Also they have been selected in part because of their geographic location. These lakes represent a strategic approach to provide muskie fishing where opportunity is limited.”

The muskie is one of Minnesota’s largest fish, growing to more than 50 pounds and more than 50 inches in length.

Anglers have become increasingly interested in the so-called “fish of 10,000 casts” now that 50-plus inch fish can be caught in Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Vermillion, and other waters that have been stocked since the 1980s.

“As muskie grew in size and abundance, so did interest catching them,” said Peterson, noting that muskie anglers are the fastest-growing segment of Minnesota’s fishing population.

He said the DNR is addressing the trend of increasing interest in muskie through a long-range northern pike and muskie plan that was developed with stakeholder input.

That plan calls for adding up to eight new muskie waters by 2020.

Today’s announcement of the five waters under consideration marks the beginning of a lengthy process to determine if the lakes will eventually become muskie waters.

The DNR will post information on the proposed stocking at boat landings at the five lakes this spring, conduct public input meetings this summer and fall, and accept public comments until early next winter.

If the DNR decides to move forward with the proposals, stocking would start in 2011.

It would be 12 to 15 years after that before the fish reach 48-inches, the minimum size at which a muskie can be kept.

“Our process will be very transparent,” said Peterson, who noted the agency recognizes the muskie’s mystique appeals to a certain segment of anglers and generates the opposite reaction in others.

The proposal will be discussed at the upcoming DNR stakeholder roundtable and later by a citizen advisory committee that is focusing on northern pike and muskie management.

Currently, muskies are found in 116 Minnesota water bodies.

Of these, 64 are waters that have been stocked by the DNR.

Carver SWCD announces Reinvest in MN (RIM) program
From the DNR

The state of Minnesota is looking for a few good acres.

Under a new buffer easement program, lands directly adjacent to protected waters are eligible to receive payments ranging from $4,395 per acre to $7418 per acre in Carver County.

Other counties payment rates may vary and you will need to contact that county’s Soil and Water Conservation District to receive eligibility and payment information.

The intent of this buffer program is to establish native buffer strips along public waters. By installing buffer strips we can allow surface water runoff to be absorbed and filtered before it enters these water bodies, as well as provide essential habitat for local wildlife.

The RIM Buffer Program involves the State of Minnesota purchasing a perpetual easement on land directly adjacent to DNR protected waters.

As landowner, you still retain ownership rights of the land.

Eligible land for this program must be within a minimum of 50 feet up to a maximum of 100 feet from the top of the ditch or stream bank.

It also must consume a minimum of three acres of land, at least 50 percent of that being cropland.

New enrollments in the program will receive an annual CRP payment in addition to the easement payment, and existing CRP buffers are also eligible to be enrolled.

Not every ditch or stream is eligible, it must be listed on the DNR Protected Waters Inventory map that your local SWCD will have.

If you have any questions about this program, other programs, eligibility or payment rates please contact your local SWCD office.

Landowners in Carver County can call (952) 466-5230, or review our website for more information www.co.carver.mn.us/departments/LWS/swcd.asp.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Given the harsh conditions this winter in some areas of Minnesota – lots of snow and bitterly cold temperatures – what is the outlook for pheasant survival?

A: Much of Minnesota’s pheasant range is covered with deep snow, limiting access to waste grain in crop fields, a primary food source for pheasants in winter.

In addition, blowing and drifting snow is gradually filling in patches of winter cover.

Although pheasants are hardy birds and can survive as long as two weeks without feeding, pheasant survival will be reduced if harsh weather conditions persist.

The number of birds surviving will be determined by the duration of deep snow.