Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake Herald, Minn.

December 22, 1997

Area lakes fishing report

Hole drillers and pail flippers should have a very merry Christmas on our area lakes this holiday season.

The ice fishing action is picking up as the holidays get closer, and with only six to eight inches of ice being reported on lakes in the area, driving on the ice will be limited to only those who are goofy or extremely daring.

Typically, ice fishing, especially in shallow water, is better when there is less activity and anglers aren't driving out on the ice.

Also, anglers tend to come out in droves in between Christmas and New Year's, turning good fishing lakes into bastions of social activity, with footballs flying, kids skating, cards being dealt, and grills smoking.

Even if the fish aren't biting, it's a pail full of fun to be out on the lake.

The entire affair of ice fishing over the holidays is kind of special to me, because I have a long standing tradition of going fishing on Christmas Eve day.

When I was just a little tyke, my dad would always take my twin sister and I out to the fish house on Christmas Eve day.

The day of fishing was done at my mom's request. She needed us, probably Dad too, out of her hair to get ready for Christmas.

So every year on Christmas Eve day, off we would go to the fish house to eat Christmas goodies, roast hot dogs on the fishhouse stove, and even catch a few fish.

It was great, and needless to say, myself, a few other family members, and maybe even my dad and my twin sister will be out fishing on Christmas Eve day this season. For me, and many others, ice fishing is a special part of the holiday season.

With that in mind, the fishing on our area lakes has picked up a bit, and most patient anglers haven't been going home empty handed.

Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake reported: Northern are hitting at a pretty good pace on Howard. Anglers looking for sunfish are finding decent action in shallow water on Howard's south end and Lake Ann is giving up a few good sized perch.

The ice is reported to be seven to nine inches thick on Howard and a few anglers have been driving out across shallow water areas, but are staying away from the middle of the lake.

Radtke's Bait and Tackle near Winsted reported: Lake Ida is producing small sunfish. Anglers heading to Lake Jennie are nabbing small walleyes. Winsted Lake is seeing quite a bit of activity. Anglers heading to Pleasant Lake near Annandale are finding sunfish and Dog Lake is giving up crappies to anglers fishing in the early morning hours.

Other reports from the area say Phelps Bay on Minnetonka has been hot for sunnies and Waconia has been the place to be for good walleye action.

Anglers also reported that ice conditions on Waconia and Minnetonka are varied with eight inches of ice in some areas and only two to four inches of ice in others.

Good luck fishing and have a Merry Christmas.

Minnesota firearms deer harvest drops in '97

From the DNR

Results from the 1997 firearms deer season show that Minnesota hunters harvested 128,000 deer, an 8 percent decline from 1996 and the lowest harvest since 1982, the Department of Natural Resources reported.

The lower harvest was anticipated as a result of lower deer numbers in much of the north due to two consecutive severe winters, and because of a statewide decrease in antlerless permits, especially in western portions of the state that were hard hit by last winter's blizzards.

Wildlife managers and conservation officers also observed fewer hunters in the field in many areas, although license sales figures will not be available for several months.

The largest drops in harvest were in the northwest (22 percent decline from 1996) where many areas were restricted to bucks-only hunting for the first time, and in the west and southwest (10 percent decline) where a series of winter storms reduced deer numbers and fawn production.

Harvest also declined in northeastern forest areas, although harvest in some southern portions of that forest area actually saw some recovery from 1996 levels. The northeast region's harvest was down 9 percent from last year. Harvest increased 3 percent in east-central Minnesota. Metro and southeast regions also reported increases of 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Some archery and muzzleloader seasons are still underway in the state. Final harvest figures for these seasons should be available after the first of the year.

Outdoor notes

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