Spearing restrictions lifted on Sugar Lake in Wright County

December 16, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Sugar Lake in Wright County will be open to darkhouse spearing this winter for the first time in more than 40 years. Sugar is one of 12 lakes on which spearing bans were lifted this year.

“During the sixties and seventies, it was common to ban spearing on lakes managed for muskies,” said Joe Stewig, Department of Natural Resources Montrose area fisheries supervisor. “Sugar Lake was designated for muskie management in 1967, and up until now, darkhouse spearing has been prohibited.”

Spearing of muskellunge is still illegal in Minnesota waters.

Those participating in spearing activities are responsible for properly identifying fish before spearing them.

Anglers planning to spear on Sugar Lake should note that there also is a 24- to 36- inch protected slot for northern pike.

The harvest of any fish within the slot is prohibited, regardless of the method used to take fish.

All other regulations related to spearing, angling and shelters still apply on this water.

Northern pike historically have been abundant and small in Sugar Lake.

Recent DNR gill net data show 13 northern pike per gill net, with an average size of 20 inches and two pounds.

When compared to the northern pike abundance in similar waters, Sugar Lake is considered high.

Preliminary 2013 firearms deer harvest numbers released
From the DNR

Minnesota hunters harvested 164,550 deer during the 2013 firearms season, according to preliminary numbers announced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Excluding the late season in southeastern Minnesota, hunters harvested 144,000 deer, a 6 percent drop from the 153,000 harvested in 2012.

Preliminary numbers for the late season in southeastern Minnesota show hunters harvested 4,400 deer, down from the 5,000 harvested in 2012.

The statewide muzzleloader season remains open through Sunday, Dec. 15. The archery season closes on Tuesday, Dec. 31.

Deer harvest numbers are calculated using data provided by hunters when they register a deer.

A final report, which includes more detailed harvest information, will be released at the end of January.

DNR suggests 10 ways to connect someone to the outdoors in 2014
From the DNR

The holiday season is a great time to introduce a child or someone else to the physical and emotional benefits of the outdoors, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

A Minnesota state parks gift card offers an opportunity to inspire a love for the outdoors.

The cards can be redeemed for vehicle permits, campsites, camper cabins, and rental equipment, such as snowshoes.

They also can be redeemed for the apparel, outdoor-related books and other items sold at Minnesota state parks.

To personalize the gift, here are some suggestions from the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division:

• Browse the online calendar at www.mndnr.gov or the new programs and special events brochure to find a winter program, such as a digital photography workshop or a snowshoe hike.

• Pick a First Day Hike to take part in on Jan. 1 and resolve to get outdoors more in 2014.

• Experience the outdoors in a whole new light at one of this year’s candlelight ski, snowshoe or hike events.

• Make reservations at a camper cabin, and explore a new state park.

• Join the Hiking Club and arrange a time to hike a nearby trail together.

• Offer to rent a canoe or kayak and go paddling together this summer or fall.

• Go on a treasure hunt to find one of the geocaches hidden at Minnesota state parks as part of the Avian Adventure.

• Sign up for an overnight I Can Camp! program and master camping skills.

• Attend other skill-building programs, such as I Can Paddle! I Can Climb!, I Can Fish! or Archery in the Parks.

• Take advantage of the free fishing equipment for loan at many state parks, and wet a line together from a fishing pier.
Gift cards are available at any park office that sells merchandise. Gift cards also can be purchased:

• In person at DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

• Online at www.mndnr.gov/reservations.

• Over the phone at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 (weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

Minnesota state parks gift cards feature a photo of the state’s highest waterfall and come packaged in a folder with a full-color guide to Minnesota state parks and trails, a 2013-14 winter programs and special events brochure and other helpful trip-planning information.

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or (651) 296-6157 (Twin Cities) or toll-free at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Not every bird species migrates from Minnesota to warmer climates down south before winter sets in - some stay behind.

Is there anything that can be done to help these brave birds survive winter?

A: An easy plan for winter bird feeding is to provide three main choices of food – large seeds, small seeds, and suet.

Black-oil sunflower seeds and cardinal mixes have the greatest appeal to the broadest variety of winter birds and contain a high-energy content.

Water is a critical ingredient of a winter-feeding program.

There are excellent birdbaths with heating elements and thermostats available from bird feeding supply stores.

The heated water is primarily for drinking.

Don’t worry about birds freezing if they bathe on a cold winter day because native song birds seem smart enough not to bathe when the wind chill is 40 below.

For more information on winter bird feeding, check out the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/birdfeeding/winter.

CO weekly reportrs
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers last week.
CO Mies also spent time checking sleds in Stearns county.
CO Mies gave a law talk at the Cokato snowmobile class, along with working on several nuisance animal calls.
CO Mies received several calls on the opening of spearing this year on Sugar Lake.
The northern slot limit of 24 to 36 inch must be released is still in effect for Sugar Lake.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) followed up on deer hunting complaints and met with the county attorney on a case.
CO Reller also checked snowmobilers and muzzleloader hunters. 
Youth Snowmobile class presentations were given in Rockford and Maple Lake.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked fishermen on area lakes.
He continued working with county attorneys on a number of big game violations.
He assisted with a snowmobile safety law presentation.
He checked a number of muzzleloader hunters in the Sand Dune State Forest.
He took enforcement action on a number of snowmobile violations.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked fishing activity on experimental lakes and the Minnesota River. 
Some nice walleyes were seen. He checked coyote hunters having good success with the fresh snow. 
He also handled several injured animal calls and patrolled for snowmobile activity on the Luce Line State Trail.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) checked ice anglers though out the week.
She also investigated a possible baited area for deer hunting and spoke at a youth snowmobile safety class in Hutchinson.
Mueller also attended a range safety class at Camp Ripley.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) focused on snowmobile enforcement and predator hunting.
Snowmobilers were reminded about proper ditch operation as well as registration issues.
Oberg also took time to check muzzleloader hunters but very few were found out and about.
A good walleye bite was also worked on an area duck lake, with some limits were checked.