The fishing opener was here

May 17, 2010

by Chris Schultz

On the day before the opener, I asked a local gentlemen what lake he was heading to for the opening day of fishing, and he answered, “I don’t fish on the opener; there isn’t room for one more idiot on the water or at the landing.”

I responded with, “you consider yourself to be an idiot too?”

He finished with, “When it comes to fishing, we’re all idiots.”

That may be the case, but in a good way.

The passion and desire to get on the water and fish does lead many of us to make some poor decisions at times, especially when it comes to priority-setting.

It’s not uncommon for things like work, repair projects, and certain family matters to slide down the list when the fishing season starts.

At least Mother’s Day was a week ahead of the opener this year.

In next week’s column, I’ll have a complete report on the opener and more info on Pelican Lake.

The Ugly Fish Contest

The Howard Lake Watershed Alliance is sponsoring The Ugly Fish Contest (carp) Saturday, June 5 from 12:01 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There is no entry fee. It starts at Lion’s Park, and all fishing must be done on Howard Lake.

Prizes will be paid per pound, up to 300 pounds. Example, if first place is 150 pounds, then the top prize is $150.

Example, if first place is 500 pounds, top prize is $300. Same for the rest of the prizes.

All contestants must register as a one-person or two-person team by phone at (612) 867-1985 or (763) 291-0546, or at Lion’s Park the day of the contest.

All contestants must fish Howard Lake and abide by fishing laws concerning rough fish, as printed on pages 59 and 60 of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations 2010.

All carp (if contestants do not want them) will be disposed of at the Lion’s Park landing by the tournament sponsor.

Waverly Gun Club to host several events

Summer trapshooting league for individuals or teams started Thursday, May 6 (6:30 p.m.) and goes all summer long.

Ladies Only Night is set for the second Tuesday each month May through October, 6:30 to 9 p.m., beginning Tuesday, May 11 (not May 13).

The club will provide 22-caliber guns, pistols, and rifles, targets and ammunition. Participants may bring their own. A certified safety officer will be present and instruction available upon request. Funds are available through a NRA grant.

For more information, call Al Moy at (612) 889-4423, Ken Reinert at (612) 308-9259, or Russ Johnson (763) 675-3527.

The handgun league started Wednesday, May 5, and will go for four sessions, May 5, 12, 19 and 26. It usually starts at 6:30 p.m.

For additional information about the gun club, go online to www.waverlygunclub.com. The club is also on Facebook.

What’s all the fuss over those shoreline weeds?
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) growing emphasis on maintaining and improving fish habitat provides a broad framework to guide policies and practices.

But where the rubber really meets the road is where the water meets the land – and most of that is private property.

That means much of the responsibility for maintaining healthy fisheries falls to lakeshore owners and the guidance of the DNR’s Aquatic Plant Management program (APM).

The APM program sets standards for the management of aquatic vegetation and establishes permit requirements for removing plants growing below the ordinary high water line.

It works to strike a balance between preserving aquatic vegetation and allowing lakeshore property owners reasonable access to and use of the water.

“Some folks wonder what’s the fuss over all those weeds along their shoreline,” said Sean Sisler, DNR metro area APM specialist. “But a weed to one person is, to a fish, a home, a nursery and a grocery store. Get rid of all the ‘weeds’ and you’re also eliminating what the fish need to survive and thrive.”

Many of Minnesota’s most sought-after fish species depend heavily on aquatic vegetation throughout their life histories.

Yellow perch, northern pike, muskellunge, panfish, and bass all depend on aquatic vegetation to provide food, spawning habitat, and nursery areas.

Juvenile fish of most species feed on small crustaceans and insects that are abundant in stands of aquatic vegetation.

Waterfowl, frogs, muskrats and numerous other critters also rely on shoreline plants for habitat.

But the value of healthy aquatic vegetation extends beyond fish and wildlife.

Aquatic plants help reduce erosion from wind and waves. Their roots stabilize shoreline.

They improve water quality by preventing the re-suspension of lake sediment and by taking up nutrients that can cause algae blooms.

Because of their value to a lake’s ecosystem, aquatic plants growing in public waters are considered state property under Minnesota law, and their removal is regulated.

Lakeshore property owners generally may clear up to 2,500 square feet of submerged vegetation (e.g. coontail and elodea) to allow for boat docking or a swimming area, provided the area cleared extends no more than 50 feet along the shoreline, or one-half the shoreline, whichever is less.

A boat channel 15 feet wide may be cleared through floating leaf vegetation (e.g. waterlilies) to allow boaters to reach open water.

Any removal of emergent vegetation, such as cattails or bulrushes, requires a permit, as does the application of any chemical herbicide or the use of an automated mechanical plant control device, such as a weedroller.

Keep in mind, too, that the aquatic plant regulations cover anything growing below the ordinary high water line, even if, as is now the case in some areas, water levels are low and shoreline is exposed.

More information is available at www.mndnr.gov.

“The littoral zone, or area where plants grow, can be a small part of some lakes, but it’s critical to the health of all lakes,” Sisler said. “Lakeshore owners who care about clean water and good fishing should try to work with nature, rather than against it.”

Free road signs available to rurals residents
From the DNR

Rural residents can show their concern for wildlife by displaying a “Roadsides for Wildlife” sign available from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regional office in New Ulm.

Roadsides provide valuable wildlife nesting habitat, especially during the peak nesting season of May, June and July.

Rural residents are urged to delay mowing and other disturbance along roadside ditch bottoms and backslopes until after Aug. 1.

Road authorities mow the first eight feet for safety reasons.

Signs will be distributed free while supplies last.

They are to be placed on private property along grass roadside cover managed for wildlife.

Signs are to be mounted on a post or private fence.

They are not to be within any portion of the road right-of-way including the roadside ditch or on any fence owned by the road authority.

The sign notifies passersby that the roadside is left undisturbed for nesting wildlife such as pheasant, gray partridge, waterfowl and grassland songbirds.

The aluminum, yellow signs are 10.5 inches by 13.5 inches with black letters.

They depict a meadowlark, prairie grasses and wildflowers with the message “Roadsides for Wildlife – No Unauthorized Mowing, Spraying, Haying, ATV Operation or Wildflower Collection.”

Landowners are responsible for mounting the signs on a post or private fence.

A second sign is available to landowners who have native prairie growing in their roadsides.

Native prairie remnants along roadsides are becoming quite rare in Minnesota.

These signs are similar in size and format but say “Native Prairie” along the top.

A third sign is available for people who have planted native prairie plants in their roadsides and want the new plantings protected. These signs say “Prairie Planting.”

All three signs list the Minnesota statutes that apply.

Contact Larinda.Burg@dnr.state.mn.us or (507) 359-6035 for signs, or contact the DNR Regional Office at 261 Highway 15 South, New Ulm, MN 56073-8915.

Roadsides for Wildlife poster contest winners announced
From the DNR

Seventh- and eighth-grade students from Shoreview, Andover and Granada were the top winners in the 26th annual Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ‘Roadsides Are For The Birds’ poster contest.

Veronica Rasmussen of St. Odilia School, Krista Rhein of Pact Charter School and MacKenzie Scheff of Granada Huntley East Chain School were selected as first prize winners.

Students from 24 schools entered works in this year’s contest.

“The purpose of the contest,” said Carmelita Nelson, DNR Roadsides for Wildlife coordinator, “is to help increase awareness of the growing importance of roadsides for wildlife, particularly for ground nesting birds. As wildlife habitat continues to disappear, roadsides nesting habitat is becoming more critical.”

Roadsides can provide bird-nesting habitat if mowing and other disturbances of roadsides are delayed until after the nesting season, usually around Aug. 1.

In addition to the first-prize winners, special recognition awards in the contest went to:

• MacKenzie Scheff of Granada Huntley East Chain School in Granada for biological accuracy.

• Morgan Berg of Dassel-Cokato Middle School in Cokato for expression of theme.

• Toua Lee of Community of Peace Academy in St Paul for best use of pen/pencil.

• Veronica Rasmussen of St Odilia School in Shoreview for creative use of material.

• Kayla Blowers of Lynd Public School in Lynd for humor.

• Staff’s Choice Award went to MacKenzie Scheff.

Prizes and contributions for the contest were donated by: Wildlife Heritage Association; Minnesota Pheasants, Inc.-Steele County; Pheasants Forever; New Ulm Chapter of the Izaak Walton League; Minnesota Waterfowl Association; National Camera Exchange, Golden Valley; and the DNR Roadsides Program. Ross Frame Shop and Universal Framing, both of Minneapolis and The Frame Gallery of New Ulm, donated framing of the posters.

The three first prize winners will also have their work displayed during the 2010 Minnesota State Fair in the DNR building.

Works of the top 40 prize winners will be displayed at the Minnesota Deer Classic and Sports Show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, March 11-13, 2011.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Safety is always a concern when out on the water fishing or just enjoying one of Minnesota’s thousands of lakes and rivers.

With the 2010 fishing season upon us, what do boaters need to remember about early season boating?

A: When getting ready for opener, many people give more thought to what kind of sandwiches they should pack for lunch than they do about boating safety.

It is important for people to remember that early in the season, although the air temperature may be 70 degrees, most of the bodies of water are still in the 50s.

Even the strongest swimmer can be overcome by the gasp reflex caused by sudden immersion in cold water and drown.

This means it is especially important to make sure everyone not only has a lifejacket but wears one.

Make sure navigation lights are all in proper working order, and be sure to use them between sunset and sunrise.

Also, be sure the boat registration decal is current and check air pressure on trailer tires, pack a spare and make sure the axle bearings are freshly greased.

Finally, it is a good idea to leave the alcohol at home.

Too many of the boating accidents that result in injury (or worse) are caused by intoxicated boaters.

Outdoor notes

• The morel mushroom hunt is still on.

• We can all expect a good crop of mosquitos to be out very soon.

• The best fishing for walleye on many of our area lakes is at night.

When you hear those stories of die hard anglers catching their limit of walleye on a local lake, you can expect most of them were caught at night.

• The sunfish spawn will most likely be a week or two earlier then normal.

• Take a kid fishing; he or she will have fun, and so will you.