Many of the smaller lakes in our area should be completely free of ice sometime this week. The larger lakes will follow a short time later.
A lake is considered to be ice free (ice out), when you can travel with a boat on open water from one shoreline across the lake to another.
Ice out on our area lakes typically occurs around April 13. On Howard Lake, the earliest recorded ice out date was March 15, 2000.
With ice out just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about getting the boat ready for the spring crappie bite.
Good crappie fishing occurs right after ice out in shallow bays and muddy bottom areas of lakes where the water warms faster.
Look for solid action on Pelican near Monticello, Waconia, Dutch, Emma, Swan near the city of Silver Lake, and Sarah.
After a long, hard winter, an early ice out is much better then a typical one.
Moving on, reports from the Dakotas indicate that there are some pheasants left after the winter, but it is wet, wet, and wet.
In the southeastern North Dakota area where I spend a lot of time hunting in the fall, many of the gravel roads are under water, and several have massive gullies or wash outs.
Every pothole is filled and many fields are covered in water.
Spring planting will most likely be delayed, meaning a late harvest this fall.
Because of the high water levels, duck numbers this fall should be great.
Those same reports noted large numbers of ducks and geese in the Dakotas last week.
Hog roast in Winsted April 10
The Winsted Sportsmen’s Club will host its annual hog roast at the Winsted Legion Club Saturday, April 10 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Advanced tickets are $8 with the cost being $9 at the door.
There will also be a membership drive and a meat raffle taking place.
To purchase advanced tickets, go to Winsted Farmers Co-op, Winsted Floral, Keg’s Bar, or any member of the Winsted Sportsmen’s Club.
The Delano Sportsmen’s Club is hosting a Minnesota bowhunter education seminar in April.
The two-day class is Wednesday, April 21, from 7-9 p.m., and Saturday, April 26, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The seminar will cover bowhunter responsibilities, equipment safety and game laws, techniques, game recovery and care, wildlife conservation, and survival and first aid.
Participants must be 12 years old or older, and students 12-18 years old must have a firearms safety certificate.
The cost is $5. Lunch will be available at an extra cost.
Register by calling Mike Speckel at (763) 477-3619.
The class is limited to the first 25 people registered.
McLeod County PF banquet April 10
The annual banquet for McLeod County Pheasants Forever will be Saturday, April 10 at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.
Social hour begins at 4 p.m., with dinner at 6 p.m., and some special events at 7 p.m.
The event will take place at the commercial building exhibit hall on the fairgrounds.
The cost is $50 for a single, $65 for a couple, and $75 for a package purchase.
For tickets or additional information, call (320) 587-0052.
Wright County PF banquet tonight (Mon)
Wright County Pheasants Forever will host their annual fundraising banquet Monday, March 29, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Buffalo Civic Center.
Funds raised at the chapter event are used to promote wildlife habitat restoration, purchase land for public access, and youth conservation education in Wright County and greater Minnesota.
If you would like to attend this event, contact Walt Barlow at (320) 543-3660.
Ducks Unlimited banquet in Winsted April 13
The 30th annual Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited Banquet will be Tuesday, April 13 at the Blue Note in Winsted.
The doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the dinner starting at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $50 for a single, $75 for a couple, and $35 for youths.
Your ticket includes Ducks Unlimited membership, dinner, and the opportunity to participate in the auction, silent auction, and numerous drawings.
To purchase tickets, contact Bonnie Durdahl (320) 543-3372; Ken Durdahl (612) 790-0227; or April Debner (320) 543-2903.
Firearms safety training at LP
DNR firearms safety class at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club will begin Monday, April 5 and run through Tuesday, May 4.
The class will be Monday and Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 p.m.
To register, contact Gary Godel at (320) 395-2561 or email@example.com.
Firearms safety training in Delano
The Delano Sportsman’s Club is hosting a 10-day firearms safety training course this spring.
The registration date is tonight (Monday) from 7-8 p.m. at the Delano Sportsman’s Club.
The course is for students 11 years old and older. A parent is required to register minors. Adults are welcome and encouraged to take the course. The cost is $8 per person.
Each class is from 7-9 p.m. each night, starting Thursday, April 1. A parent or guardian is requested to attend the April 1 class. The course will end Saturday, May 1, with a field/range day, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The training course will cover hunter responsibility, firearms handling, archery, marksmanship, wildlife identification, game management and care, survival, water safety, and first aid.
Questions, call John McClay at (763) 675-2397 after 6 p.m.
The course dates
Thursday, April 1
Tuesday, April 6
Thursday, April 8
Tuesday, April 13
Thursday, April 15
Monday, April 19
Thursday, April 22
Monday, April 26
Thursday, April 29
Sat., May 1 field/range day.
Spring melt: DNR urges caution on Minnesota rivers
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is advising boaters and anglers to be aware of flooding and hazardous debris including ice chunks on the Mississippi, Minnesota, Lower St. Croix rivers and other canoe and boating routes throughout the state.
“Flooding inundates the river banks, resulting in hazardous debris in the water,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “This includes both natural and man-made objects that have been swept into the river by high water.”
Smalley noted debris often floats just at or below the surface of the water, which means boaters may not be able to see the obstruction until it is too late.
Because the water is still frigid, boaters could be subject to hypothermia and cold water shock if they take a spill.
“Current is another threat,” Smalley added. “There is a lot of water flowing through river systems now. This increases both the speed of the river and strength of the current, which makes it more difficult for even an experienced swimmer to stay afloat. This means it is important to wear your lifejacket at all times, now and throughout the year.”
Smalley also suggested that boaters let people know where they are going and when they expect to return from their trip.
River level reports for Minnesota rivers are updated weekly from April through October, and are available on the DNR’s Web site.
The reports are based on automated river level gauges and gauge readings recorded by volunteers.
The DNR cautioned boaters that river levels could change dramatically over a short period of time due to inclement weather conditions.
Information on the state’s 31 water trails, including the North Shore of Lake Superior, totaling more than 4,000 miles of managed canoeing and kayaking routes, is available on the DNR’s Web site.
Archery Venture Crew open house
An Archery Venture Crew open house will take place Wednesday, April 17 from 3:30 to 6 p.m.
The open house will be at the Dassel Rod and Gun Club fieldhouse at Lake Washington, one mile west of Dassel, south of Hwy. 12.
There will be pizza, pop, and archery at the open house.
There is also an archery club for teens (guys and girls) ages 14 to 20 every Wednesday after school from 3 to 5:30 p.m.
There will be outdoor archery training and practice, and the club will provide equipment or you are welcome to bring your own.
Instruction will come from William Bull, a Level II NAA instructor and a member of the National Archery Association.
Other adult archers with many years of experience will also be on hand to help.
Annual membership fee of $20 is required.
Low water levels are exposing lake beds
From the DNR
Even though spring snow melt has caused some Minnesota rivers and streams to flood, many lakes are still experiencing low water levels due to drought conditions from last year.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds shoreline owners that permits are required for control of aquatic vegetation on dry lake beds.
This includes cutting, chemical treatment, or other disruption.
Removal of emergent aquatic plants without a permit is a misdemeanor and can result in a fine and restoration order.
Aquatic plants growing in lake beds are property of the state of Minnesota, even if the lake bed is dry due to drought or temporary drawdown.
Emergent aquatic plants are extremely valuable to the lake, fish, and wildlife.
Emergent aquatic plants protect shorelines from erosion and wave action, stabilize bottom sediments, improve water quality by intercepting phosphorus before it reaches the water, and provides valuable habitat to fish and wildlife.
Fluctuating water levels are a natural and important part of lake ecology and emergent aquatic plants, such as bulrush, rely on periods of low water to germinate and re-establish depleted stands.
Removal of emergent vegetation destroys valuable habitat and can have negative effects on fish, wildlife, and the lake.
For more information, contact Steve Enger, Aquatic Plant Management Program, (651) 259-5092, or your nearest regional fisheries office.
Phone numbers are also available by calling (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).