With the 2008 Minnesota fishing opener set for Saturday, May 10 and only two weeks away, this typically would be the week I’d be getting the boat out, and all the gear tuned up and ready to go, but, as I’m writing this column (Sat., April 26) it’s snowing, the northwest wind is blowing, the snow plows are out and I’m lacking any sense of motivation to get my stuff ready for a new season of open water fishing.
The good news is the ice officially left Howard Lake and many other lakes in our area Wednesday, April 23, and the weather around here in the spring can change dramatically in less than a day.
Next week, we could be crappie fishing in sunny 70 degree weather and the opener could be a beautiful day for fishing.
With that said, it’s time to get ready for the 2008 Minnesota fishing opener and season. Here are few things not to forget about:
• Get a new 2008 angling license well before opening day.
• Make sure your boat has a current 2008 sticker and license.
• Check your PFDs and make sure the straps and connections are working and are in good shape. Make sure you have a throwable PFD.
• Inspect your boat trailer and trailer lighting, repack the wheel bearings on the trailer, put new bulbs in the trailer lamps, and clean all the connections.
Another item to inspect is the strapping that holds the boat down to the trailer.
• Read and review the 2008 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook and note new regulations, which are listed on page 4.
• Review any special regulations on lakes you typically fish or intend to fish.
• Put new line on your reels. This simple task can really add more fun to your fishing, especially if you’re fishing with kids.
Untangling a knotted mess of fishing line is no fun for anyone.
• Check all the ropes in your boat and make sure knots are tight and portions of the rope are not torn or rotted.
• Practice backing up your boat and trailer before you get to the landing. You will be happier and so will everyone else.
Those are just a few of the basics. Start getting your gear ready and in next week’s column look for my super seven area lakes for the up coming opener, and remember although it’s been snowing the opener is only two weeks away.
Waverly Gun Club upcoming events
The Waverly Gun Club has a number of events coming up. They are as follows:
• Hand gun league starts Tuesday, May 6 and will take place every Tuesday in May.
• The summer trap league starts Thursday, May 1. Individuals and teams are welcome.
• Open range shooting and site in begins Saturday, May 17 and will then be monthly.
• The ladies only shoot will start Tuesday, June 10, then will be monthly.
For more information and updates go the web site www.waverlygunclub.org.
LP sportsmen’s club Lewis Class starts Wednesday
The Lester Prairie sportsmen’s club 16-yard individual Lewis Class starts Wednesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Watertown to offer firearms training classes
The Watertown Rod and Gun Club will be hosting a firearms safety training class that starts Thursday, May 1, and runs through the month of May. Classes are Tuesday and Thursday nights.
For additional information, contact Patrick Cole at (952) 955-2911 or Tom Radde at (952) 446-1471.
Winsted lakeshore clean-up this Saturday
Winsted Lake Watershed Association will organize a clean-up of Winsted Lake Saturday, May 3 beginning at 9 a.m., rain or shine.
Help from youth groups and the public is welcome. Dress appropriately including sturdy shoes and gloves. Trash bags will be supplied.
Picnic lunch will be provided following the clean-up.
Watertown Lions BBQ
From Gary Harding, Watertown Lions
Welcome to the second in a series of BBQ articles brought to you by the Crow River BBQ Contest organizers.
Remember to mark your calendars for July 18 and 19 as we look forward to seeing everyone at Highland Park in July.
Last time we got started by defining what BBQ is. But just exactly what is happening when you BBQ?
If you cook too hot you’re grilling. If you cook to low your smoke preserving. But if you’re cooking just right your “barbecuing.”
When you are barbecuing you are actually involved in a very scientific process.
The meat is made up primarily of protein muscle fibers held together with collagen strands and some fat.
When you cook low and slow you cause the collagen to liquefy and turn into gelatin. This is a very slow process and can not be rushed.
As you cook low and slow the protein muscle fibers start to relax and the juices are absorbed rather than squeezed out. Resulting in tender, succulent treats for your friends and neighbors.
Ok that’s enough for you techy types. For the rest of us just remember to learn and follow the rules of BBQ and the science stuff just happens for you.
For those of you who are new to BBQ and have been to the Crow River BBQ Challenge you may have seen all that high tech iron the big time competitors use and be thinking you could never do that on your patio.
Well I want to tell you, I have tasted great true BBQ made on the simplest of equipment. Things you probably already have on the deck.
A kettle grill, a gas grill, small pipe smokers even a card board box will do the job once you know how to control your fire. Just remember that indirect heat will produce the best results.
As the snow melts off whatever you have in the back yard I recommend getting a good thermometer and practice maintaining a temperature of 220 degrees consistently.
Did you know that competitors come from as far away as Missouri and Tennessee to challenge others to be the best in BBQ in Watertown?
While we have had three teams from Watertown and Delano place third place or better.
Proving that BBQ is for everyone not just the Deep South.
A thank you to volunteers
From the CROW
The reason someone decides to become a volunteer monitor varies from person to person.
However, the underlying importance of their work is constant.
Minnesota is a state of abundant surface water, and we as Minnesotans take pride in our lakes and rivers.
Volunteers monitors are in the unique position to combine their local perspectives on a water body in combination with technical data.
That’s something that state and local organizations can’t often provide.
The CROW, the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District, and Minnesota Waters would like to extend a sincere thank you to the citizens of our watershed, who donate their time and energy to this program.
The CROW and the MFCRWD would also like to extend our thanks to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for funding this project through the Clean Water Legacy Program.
Loon nest building plans
The Winsted Lake Watershed Association is discussing the construction of artificial loon nests on Winsted Lake.
Here is some more info on loon’s nests.
Loons are the bird most synonymous with the beauty of nature. Their sleek appearance and haunting call defines the Canadian wilderness.
While loon populations in Canada are doing quite well, they sometimes have a problem nesting in areas with fluctuating water levels.
Since in several areas, this fluctuation of water level is man made, it is up to us to resolve the problem for the loon.
A simple resolution, that anyone can do, it to build a loon nest.
An artificial nest has other advantages as well. If properly located, it reduces the chances of animal predation on the eggs (ie. eating the eggs).
It often provides us with a better view of a nesting loon, a wonderful sight. And when the loon isn’t using the nest, it becomes a sun deck for turtles.
Although loons don’t necessarily mate for life, once a nesting pair finds your nest, they will come back year after year to make use of it.
With proper maintenance, the loon nest will last for several years.
For complete loon nesting building information go to the web site www.rideau-info.com/local/loon-nest.html.
MN moose season application deadline May 2
From the DNR
The application deadline for the 2008 bull-only moose hunt is Friday, May 2, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
A total of 247 bull permits are available in 30 zones in northeastern Minnesota for this year’s hunt, which runs Oct. 4-19, and winners are selected by drawing.
Because the moose hunt became a once-in-a-lifetime hunt in 1991, hunters who received permits for moose hunts for the 1991 hunt and later are not eligible to apply for the 2008 drawing.
Moose hunters must apply in parties of from two to four and only Minnesota residents at least 16 years old are eligible for the hunt.
Hunters must include a $3 application fee for each individual in a moose party.
Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator, said wildlife biologists conduct an annual aerial survey of moose populations and permits are allocated so that harvest will not exceed five percent of the total population.
“By restricting our harvest to five percent of the population, we are maintaining sufficient bulls for breeding while protecting the reproductive portion on the herd,” Cornicelli said.
He added that the DNR is developing a long-term moose management strategy as part of its efforts to retain a viable moose population in northern Minnesota.
In 2007, the DNR issued 233 bull moose permits. State-licensed hunters harvested 115 moose for a party success rate of about 50 percent.
Hunters who have been unsuccessful in winning a permit at least 10 times since 1985 will be placed in a separate drawing for up to 20 percent of the available licenses.
Anyone who is still unsuccessful in this separate selection will be included in the regular drawing that follows.
Hunters chosen for moose permits must pay a license fee of $310 per party and attend a mandatory orientation session. The bag limit is one antlered moose per party.
Application may be made at any of the nearly 1,800 statewide electronic license vendors and from the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.
For additional hunt information, including an interactive map that details boundaries, physical fitness requirements and general ATV regulations for each zone, go to mndnr.gov/hunting/moose.
MN bear hunt application deadline is May 2
From the DNR
The application deadline for the 2008 black bear hunt is Friday, May 2, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
This fall’s black bear hunt will be Sept. 1 through Oct. 12 and the DNR is offering 11,850 licenses spread across 11 permit areas.
Hunters also can apply for “preference only” by applying in permit area 99.
Licenses for the no-quota area, which is the area outside of the 11 permit areas, can be purchased directly at ELS beginning July 1.
No previous application is necessary to buy a no-quota area license.
Bear licenses cost $39 for residents and $196 for nonresidents.
The bag limit will remain at two bears in the no-quota area and one bear in all quota permit areas.
Individuals must apply for a license at one of the nearly 1,800 Electronic License System (ELS) vendors throughout the state or the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.
Applications also can be made by calling 1-888-MNLicense or via the Internet at mndnr.gov/licenses/hunting.
“We have had a growing interest from hunters who want to build preference before they actually come and hunt,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. “This will allow a hunter to be unsuccessful in the drawing, yet accrue a preference point for a future permit.”
In 2007, there were 16,345 applicants for the available 13,200 permit area licenses.
Three of the 11 permit areas were under-subscribed.
Hunters harvested a total of 3,172 bears, 2,625 in the permit areas and 547 in the no-quota area.
Applicants can find bear hunting information on the DNR Web site at mndnr.gov/hunting/bear.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q: National Volunteer Week is April 27-May 3.
Each year thousands of people volunteer their time to help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and other organizations, with a variety of projects.
What sort of volunteer opportunities does the DNR have to offer?
A: Volunteer opportunities vary across the state from assisting with wildlife research to cleaning rivers to playing Smokey Bear at the State Fair just to name a few.
Right now the DNR is looking for volunteers to help count loons, search for rare wildflowers, catch and identify dragonflies, conduct nighttime listening surveys of frogs and toads, monitor bluebird trails and plant trees at selected State Parks, cut back brush on state trails, spread mulch and plant native vegetation as part of a shoreland restoration project, and help high school students build wood duck and kestrel nest boxes.
All volunteer positions can be found on the DNR web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us by clicking on the word “Volunteering” or by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).
Children under 16 years of age must have adult supervision to volunteer. Opportunities are changed on a seasonal basis.
• Cold, early spring weather has been very hard on nesting songbirds and waterfowl. Canada goose nesting could also be severely impacted.
• A few lakes, like Swan near the City of Silver Lake and Lake Rebecca provided good crappie action just after ice out last week.
Look for action on lakes like Big Waverly, Waconia, Dutch, and Winsted to be good as soon as we get some nice weather.
• Congratulations to all the kids and adults who will have completed DNR Certified Firearms Safety Training Programs in our area this spring.
• Local wild turkey hunters have found great action this spring.
In fact, most local hunters that I’ve spoken to this spring bagged a bird.
• Be prepared for soft, muddy, and rough gravel roads in our area this spring.
• The largemouth bass opener is set for Saturday, May 24 and the Muskellunge opener is set for Saturday, June 7.
• Take a kid fishing; he or she will have fun, and so will you.