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64th annual HL Fishing Derby is Saturday

February 8, 2010

by Chris Schultz

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.

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.

February Sweethearts dinner at the Dodge House in LP

Prairie Archers will be hosting a February Sweethearts Dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, Feb. 13 from 4 to 8 p.m.

The cost of the prime rib dinner with all the fixings is $16, and the prime rib will be prepared by Garbers’ Meats.

Reserve early, prior to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11. The number of meals is limited. No walk-ins allowed.

To reserve a dinner, call either (320) 395-2721 or (320) 395-2877.

Mlynar honored with NWTF Award
From the DNR

Conservation Officer Robert Mlynar of Aitkin, son of Ed Mlynar of Lester Prairie, with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, will be honored by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) for his efforts in conserving America’s wildlife.

Mlynar will be recognized as the NWTF’s Minnesota Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year during its 34th annual National Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by MidwayUSA, to take place Thursday, Feb. 18 to Sunday, Feb. 21 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.

The NWTF initiated the State Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award in 2000 to acknowledge top officers such as Mlynar across North America.

“Robert’s optimistic demeanor and ability to create a successful approach to complex cases has established him as a leader among his peers. He has an exemplary work history and deserves this recognition,” said Marlo Sloan, NWTF Minnesota State Chapter president.

By earning the State Wildlife Officer of the Year award, Mlynar and other state winners are eligible for the NWTF’s National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award, which will be presented during the NWTF’s Awards Banquet Saturday, Feb. 20, during the convention.

The NWTF is a national nonprofit conservation organization that is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.

Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore wild turkey populations across the country, raised and spent more than $306 million, and conserved nearly 14 million acres of habitat for all types of wildlife.

2010 safe harvest quotas set for Mille Lacs Lake
From the DNR

The 2010 Mille Lacs Lake safe harvest level for walleye will be up slightly from 2009, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Members of the 1837 Treaty Fisheries Committee recently recommended the safe harvest level for walleye at 544,000 pounds, up from 541,000 pounds in 2009.

The committee also recommended the yellow perch harvest level at 270,000 pounds and the northern pike harvest level at 25,000 pounds, both the same as last year.

Safe harvest levels are recommended annually by the 1837 Treaty Fisheries Committee to ensure Mille Lacs’ fish populations remain healthy.

The committee consists of representatives from the DNR as well as the eight Chippewa Bands that have 1837 Treaty fishing rights.

DNR staff will meet with the Mille Lacs Fisheries Input Group in late February to discuss the state of the fishery and other issues. Currently anglers can keep four walleye up to 18 inches in length.

All walleye between 18-and 28-inches must be immediately released.

An angler can keep one walleye longer than 28 inches.

This regulation is similar to regulations on most other large walleye lakes and supports the goal of maintaining a consistent regulation from year to year.

Last year, walleye angling harvest plus hooking mortality was 141,000 pounds.

The state’s 2009 walleye allocation was 414,500 pounds.

Several strong year classes of walleye up to 18 inches should provide for better fishing in 2010.

In 2009, the allocation for the Chippewa bands governed by the 1837 Treaty was 126,500 pounds. Their total harvest was 101,220 pounds.

For 2010, planned allocations for angling regulated by the DNR were set at 411,500 pounds for walleye, 135,000 pounds for yellow perch and 12,500 pounds for northern pike.

The allocation levels include angling harvest and hooking mortality.

In addition, a maximum overage of 30 percent is allowed for walleye because 2009 fall population assessments indicate that the walleye population is in good condition on Mille Lacs.

The Chippewa bands established their walleye allocation at 132,500 pounds for 2010, an increase of 6,000 pounds from 2009.

Ice anglers: Have fun, follow rules
From the DNR

With a month of ice fishing patrols behind them, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers have seen some violation patterns and offer a few tips to anglers for staying citation-free.

Officers say that the three most common violations are too many lines, no fishing license in possession and overlimit.

“The real message is that good fishing is still happening around the state,” said CO Jeff Birchem of Baudette. “So get out there and enjoy the great resources that Minnesota has to offer, follow the rules, and be safe!”

• Minnesota, anglers are allowed to use two lines in the winter, except on trout lakes where only one line is allowed.

• Anglers must have a valid Minnesota fishing license in their possession while fishing.

• Anglers should take a little extra time to familiarize themselves with the regulations that are relevant to the lake you’re fishing.

• Fish with statewide length limits, such as muskie, sturgeon, catfish, salmon, splake, brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout, must be transported with head and tail intact so the fish can be measured.

Northern pike and walleye are exempt from this rule.

Sauger that are dressed or filleted will be counted as walleye.

• Likewise, when on or fishing experimental, special, border or other waters with size restrictions different from statewide regulations, all fish for which the size restriction applies must have their heads, tails, fins, and skin intact and be measurable.

The exception is fillets, which may be possessed if the person is preparing a meal, or if the fillets have been packaged by a licensed fish packer.

Minnesotans age 16 or older fish free with kids Feb. 13-15
From the DNR

Minnesotans age 16 or older can try ice fishing without purchasing an angling license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing during Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend on Saturday, Feb. 13, through Monday, Feb. 15.

“This is an opportunity to get outdoors with friends and family and connect with nature,” said Mike Kurre, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) mentoring program coordinator. “And there are a number of opportunities for people to learn how.”

Several Minnesota state parks are offering Take-A-Kid Ice fishing clinics during this special weekend.

The clinics offer an indoor presentation on ice fishing safety, gear and techniques.

But participants should dress for the weather because ice fishing will be part of the fun at most clinics.

Kids also will make their own jiggle sticks, which they can take home with them.

Clinics are being offered Saturday, Feb. 13, at Lake Bronson near Hallock, Lake Carlos near Alexandria and Bear Head Lake near Ely.

Lake Bemidji State Park offers a Berrrmidji Kids’ Ice Fishing event Sunday, Feb. 14.

Kids ages 8-15 can join the Lake Bemidji State Park naturalist for an afternoon of perch fishing on Lake Bemidji.

Fort Snelling State Park in the metro area offers a Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend warm up with a hands-on Parent/Child Ice Fishing Clinic Saturday, Feb. 6.

Hayes Lake State Park near Warroad offers its Ice Fishing Clinic Saturday, Feb. 27.

Participants must register for events by contacting the appropriate state park.

A daily or annual vehicle permit is required to enter state parks.

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

Here are key ice fishing tips from the DNR’s MinnAqua program, which is 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.

• 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.”

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

More tips are available online at mndnr.gov/minnaqua.

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 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.”

Kurre and Mike “Smitty” Smith from the “Ice Team” share insights and information about kids, mentoring and ice fishing in an online podcast audio program available on the DNR website at www.iles.dnr.state.mn.us/news/podcasts/KidsAndIceFishing.mp3.

Additional Resources:

• Ice Fishing Tips: www.mndnr.gov/minnaqua/icefishiing.

• Kids & Ice Angling Podcast: www.files.dnr.state.mn.us/news/podcasts/KidsAndIceFishing.mp3.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: With discussions about the 2012 farm bill coming up soon, what are some of the issues the DNR is interested in seeing Congress tackle?

A: The Federal Farm Bill is very important to the DNR as it relates to conservation programs that impact fish, wildlife, water, forestry and other natural resource issues.

Specific private land conservation programs that will be followed closely by DNR for potential reauthorization include the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

These conservation programs, along with a few others, can have a tremendous impact on the agricultural landscape and how successful the DNR can be when we attempt to implement our conservation goals at the local level. 

The level of funding from the USDA agencies usually far exceeds the level of funding from state agencies.

So it is imperative that, whenever possible, we leverage the federal funds with state resources to maximize conservation outcomes. 

The DNR will also be working with our conservation partners and especially the farming community to explore changes in the next farm bill that make sense for farmers while also helping the state achieve conservation priorities.