The weather was great, the fishing wasn’t

May 24, 2010

by Chris Schultz

An angler who catches fish can be more tight-lipped than a trophy walleye during the dog days of August.

While I managed to catch a few walleyes on the Crow River during the first week of fishing, all the anglers I have spoken with said action, especially for walleye on our local lakes, has been poor.

Most mentioned even northern pike fishing was slow.

Anglers blamed cool water temperatures and too much activity for the poor fishing.

Again, most anglers don’t like to talk when they catch fish and when they do, you can’t be sure if the waters are clear or muddy.

The best reports from this year’s first week of fishing came from Jenny near Dassel, where anglers started reeling in fair numbers of walleye after opening weekend activity settled down; Belle, near Hutchinson, had a few anglers report good catches of small walleye, and Pelican along with Halstead’s Bay on Minnetonka, where anglers who punted on northern and walleye fishing caught limits of good-sized sunfish.

Anglers also reported largemouth bass were still on spawning beds, and sunfish are just starting to spawn.

The fishing wasn’t great, but when it comes to opening week weather, it was about as good as it gets.

Good luck fishing; expect the action to pick up as the water warms up, and stick close to the edges of defined weed lines.

Right now, many of the lakes in our area have dense and easy-to-find weed lines.

Pelican Lake

At this time, I don’t have any new information to share on Pelican Lake near Buffalo and the proposed Pelican Lake Wetland Restoration Project.

A meeting with some of the decision makers I had scheduled for last week was postponed for good reasons and will hopefully be rescheduled for sometime in June.

I did have a chance to fish the lake and talk to other Pelican Lake anglers last week.

They are all concerned about the project, the future of the lake as a fishery, and are having a hard time understanding why anyone would want to change the lake at all.

In fairness, as one angler noted his distaste for the DNR and the draw-down of water, a group of about 30 mallards flew over our head.

For me, especially after experiencing the lake again this spring, the lake is a clash of wetland interests and angler interests.

The landscape is definitely that of a large wetland, and not a fishing lake.

However, as those thoughts rolled through my head and geese flew over it, from shore I reeled in a dozen dandy sunfish.

About 10 other shoreline anglers were reeling in fish, too.

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.

DNR lifts all burning restrictions
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced that effective Friday, May 14, seasonal burning restrictions will be lifted in all counties and burning permits for vegetative matter will once again be available.

Heavy rains drenched northeastern Minnesota, dramatically decreasing the threat of wildfires.

Likewise, the restrictions placed on campfires and fireworks in northeastern Minnesota are also lifted.

Campfires may once again be enjoyed throughout the state; just in time for the fishing opener.

While the entire state now returns to normal fire restrictions, the DNR would like to remind everyone that burning permits are required anytime vegetation is burned during the snow-free season.

Permits are available through state and federal forestry offices, township fire wardens, and online for a $5 annual fee.

In addition, residents are reminded that municipalities may have stricter regulations regarding the burning of vegetation.

Check with local authorities and obtain the proper permits prior to lighting a fire.

The DNR encourages everyone to be safe when burning.

Have a source of water available, stay with the fire until it is dead out, and check the fire after you think it is out to make sure all embers have cooled.

DNR offers 28 parcels of land for sale
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will offer 28 parcels of land for sale at public auction scheduled for June 22 at 11 a.m., with registration beginning at 10:45 a.m.

The parcels will be offered at an oral auction at the DNR Northeast Regional Office, 1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744.

A variety of parcels are being offered including residential, recreational, lakeshore, and parcels with development potential in the Twin Cities metro area.

Additional information regarding the land sales and terms and conditions can be found online.

New program series – Outdoors Extra!
From the DNR

A new program series known as “Outdoors EXTRA!” will provide a lengthy list of things to see and do at Minnesota state parks, trails, and recreation areas this summer.

More than 50 events, between June 6 and Sept. 5, will feature known entertainers, musicians, storytellers and outdoor skill-building experts.

“It is no exaggeration to say that everyone can find something enjoyable in this special program series,” said Eric Pelto, interpretive naturalist and program coordinator. “We especially hope that people who haven’t been to Minnesota state parks or trails before, or those who haven’t visited in a while, will find new reasons to check them out.”

In its pilot year, the new program is offering a wide variety of opportunities for all ages. Examples include:

• For adventure seekers - sea kayaking, fly fishing, or rock climbing.

• For animal lovers - the chance to see live elk, eagles, owls, and reptiles.

• For creative types - live music under the open sky, or workshops on nature photography and poetry.

• For history buffs - dramatic stories about the legends of Minnesota and much more.

All of the events are free, but a vehicle permit is necessary to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

Permits ($5 for one day or $25 for year-round) can be purchased at the parks.

There is no charge to use Minnesota state trails.

More information about Outdoors EXTRA! and other special events and programs at Minnesota state parks and trails is available by contacting the DNR Information Center, info.dnr@state.mn.us, (651) 296-6157 (Twin Cities) or 888-646-6367 (toll-free).

Father and daughter’s first turkey hunt a success thanks to DNR
From the DNR

It was raining the morning of April 15 when David Tietz woke his 16-year-old daughter Mattie to do some turkey hunting on a farm south of their home in New Prague.

“It was 4:30 a.m., it was raining, and I asked her if she’d like to go the next day,” her father said. “But she’s a real trooper and said, ‘No, let’s do it.’”

The family has a tradition of hunting with Mattie and her older sister tagging along with dad before they could legally hunt.
Both girls have hunted waterfowl and took antlerless deer last fall.

This would be the first time that Mattie and her father have hunted turkeys.

“We don’t have any boys in the family so my sister and I went with dad because we love him so much, but we both discovered we loved hunting too,” said Mattie.

An hour after leaving the warmth of their home, father and daughter were tucked into a ground blind overlooking a hen decoy 30-yards from their position.

In camouflage from head to toe, the two sat in silence listening to the avian symphony unfolding around them as the moon waned and the day slowly brightened.

“Hearing all the sounds of nature early in the morning is so cool,” Mattie said. “There’s nothing like it.”

It wasn’t long before they also heard the gobbling of turkeys off in the distance.

Using a box caller, David softly yelped and clucked to the turkeys.

A few minutes later, six hens flew within 150 yards of the Tietz’ blind, followed shortly by six strutting toms. But there was a problem.

“They were all behind,” Mattie said, Dad, you set up the blind in the wrong direction!’ I couldn’t get my gun around to take a shot.”

David had told his daughter that turkey hunting requires a lot of patience. That’s a tall order for most teenagers.

“It’s hard for me not to talk, so I had to contain myself and stay still, but it was good advice,” Mattie said. Luckily, several of the turkeys strayed from the group, more interested in the decoy than finding breakfast.

“I had my gun ready when they approached, but one of the hens moved right in front of me,” Mattie said. “She was so close I could have reached out and touched her.”

The hen eventually moved, closely followed by a large tom. The New Prague High School sophomore’s mind went blank.

“In the excitement I forgot which turkey to shoot. My dad said, ‘Mattie, shoot the big guy with the long red beard!’”

The teen sighted her prey, checked beyond the target like she learned in her Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) firearms safety training, and pulled the trigger.

“Because of the latest movement of the turkeys I wasn’t positioned quite right so I bumped my nose when the shotgun recoiled,” Mattie said. “I thought it’s all over, I had missed the turkey and given myself a bloody nose!” Sheepishly peering out of the blind she saw the turkey lying motionless on the ground.

“I looked at my dad and he looked at me and we both started screaming with joy,” she said. The gobbler weighed 23 pounds and sported a 9 1⁄2 inch beard and 3/4 inch spurs.

The Tietz’ said their successful first time turkey hunt was made possible by a DNR initiative this year that allowed all youth age 17 and younger by April 14 to purchase a youth turkey license over the counter from a DNR license vendor.

“The DNR’s offer of teens Mattie’s age being able to simply buy a turkey license instead of drawing one was great and goes a long way toward introducing more young people to the outdoors and turkey hunting in particular,” said David. He also praised the timing of the event stating more youths are likely to try hunting in mid-April when temperatures are moderate than when it’s cold and snow is on the ground.

The event made a lasting impression on Mattie and introduced another young person to the thrills of turkey hunting.

“She carries around pictures of the turkey like ones of her family and friends,” David said. “She has a real sense of accomplishment. When I think of our experience as father and daughter I get goose bumps. Anytime you can introduce a young person to the outdoors is awesome.”Mattie said “When I told all the guys in my grade that I shot a 23-pound turkey, no one believed me until I pulled out the pictures, then it was, ‘wow.’ No one thinks of me as a hunter, but I think every kid, even if you are a 16-year-old girl, should try it.”

And how did the self-proclaimed “girlie girl” celebrate when she got home? “I guess it was like hens trying to attract toms, I curled my hair and put on a dress.”

Outdoor notes

• The morel mushroom hunting was good last week. Several people told me the hunt was near the end, but the picking was good.

• A big thank you to all the volunteer DNR Firearms Safety Training instructors from our area.
My 12-year-old daughter completed the course in Lester Prairie this spring, and had a tremendous experience. In her class, the girls outnumbered the boys.

• The bass fishing season on our area lakes opens Saturday, May 29. Good lakes in our area include Howard, Mary, Minnetonka, Clearwater, Marion and Earie.

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