Right now, and continuing the next two weeks, is without question the best time of year to hit our area lakes in search of sunfish.
Several reports indicated that on many of our smaller lakes, the sunfish moved onto spawning beds in shallow water late last week and the good fishing is just getting started.
On many of the larger lakes, the action should take off sometime this week.
The process is simple, cruise the shallow water along the shorelines looking for saucer-shaped holes with gravel bottoms. When you find them, you will also find all kinds of hungry, aggressive, spawning sunfish. The action can be fast and furious and an absolute blast for kids.
Good lakes for decent-size sunfish in our area include, Mud, Clearwater, Mary, Waconia, Sarah, the western bay of Lake Minnetonka, Granite, and Ramsey.
Top baits include angleworms, small leaches and waxworms.
Finally, many anglers believe keeping the big, aggressive males and throwing the females back is a positive for the sunfish population.
The reality is that the big males are actually more important in the reproduction process and growing of big sunfish than the females are.
The best rule of thumb to protect and improve the population of large sunfish on our area lakes is to throw all the big sunfish back, especially the aggressive males, and keep the medium-sized and small fish for eating.
With the sunfish spawn on take a kid fishing. He or she will have fun, and so will you.
Other fishing reports from the past week include Jon Schmidt of New Germany landing a 7-plus pound largemouth bass on an area lake, and a 10-plus pound catfish coming off Winsted Lake.
Howard Lake GND fishing contest Saturday
The Howard Lake Good Neighbor Days fishing contest is scheduled for Saturday, June 21 on Howard Lake.
Registration on the day of the event will take place from 7 to 8 a.m. at Howard Lake Lions Park, with a limit of 200. Everyone must register at Lion’s Park.
The cost of the event is $30 for those that register by Saturday, June 14. The cost goes up to $40 for those who register after June 14. You can also register the day of the event if there are spaces available.
The fishing contest begins with an 8 a.m. shotgun start, and will wrap up at noon.
Registration forms are available at Joe’s Sports Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake, or will be available at the event.
For additional information contact Denny Decker at (320) 543-2992.
Ladies only night at Waverly Gun Club
The Waverly Gun Club will be hosting a ladies only night the second Tuesday of every month.
There will be open line shooting from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and no membership is required.
There is also ladies league information available if interested.
There will be .22 pistols, riffles, targets, and ammunition provided, or you may bring your own centerfire handgun and ammunition if you prefer.
A range officer will be present on the shooting line, and instruction will be available upon request.
Shoot from the comfort of a shelter:
• Handguns on a 25-yard range
• Rifles on a 25- or 50-yard range
• Offhand or from a bench rest.
The Waverly Gun Club is located north of Waverly just off Co. Rd. 9.
For more information, contact Al Moy (612) 889-4423 or Russ Johnson (763) 675-3527.
Dates changed for 2008 Camp Ripley archery hunts
From the DNR
Hunters planning to apply for the 2008 Camp Ripley archery hunt should note the dates have been changed, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The new dates will be Oct. 19-20 for the first season, and Oct. 26-27 for the second season, both Sunday-Monday hunts.
DNR will begin accepting applications for this year’s events on July 1, with an Aug. 15 deadline.
The DNR will issue another news release in late June outlining application procedures.
Since the early 1990s, the standard opening dates for the annual hunts have been the two-day periods beginning the third Thursday and last Saturday in October, respectively.
However, on May 22 the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs informed the DNR of the need to change the dates due to upcoming military training needs.
The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.
DNR reminds state forest visitors to check for road, trail closures
From the DNR
Due to recent heavy rains, and road and bridge construction, many roads and trails in Minnesota’s state forests are temporarily closed to vehicle use, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
These temporary travel restrictions will remain in effect until conditions improve.
“Closures can be unpredictable, and may vary in duration from one location to another, so it is important to always check with the DNR first,” said Mary Broten of the DNR Trails and Waterways Division.
Current information about temporary road and trail closures is available on the DNR’s Web site at www.mndnr.gov or at www.findthetrails.com. Click on “trail closures” and on “temporary state forest road closures” for a current listing of road and trail conditions all across Minnesota.
Travel conditions are updated online by 2 p.m. each Thursday.
There are individual state forest links that show which roads and trails are “closed” and which might remain “open” and available to ride.
Information about county and federal road and trail travel restrictions is available from the county or national forest office nearest the trail in question.
For more information, or for trail and state forest brochures, contact the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367) from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
DNR reports increase in nuisance bear complaints
From the DNR
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife managers have reported an increase in nuisance bear complaints in recent weeks.
Most bear sightings are in rural northern Minnesota, but bears have also been spotted in the Brainerd area and Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs.
“This is a tough time of year for bears,” said Mark Spoden, DNR assistant area wildlife manager in Grand Rapids. “After hibernation, they are hungry. When berries and vegetation are scarce, bears are often tempted by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, barbecues, compost or garbage.”
In addition, female bears are chasing away last year’s offspring.
These young bears are inexperienced at finding food and searching for territories of their own.
They are the most likely to show up in places where they aren’t welcome.
Now is a good time for residents who live close to bear habitat to check their property for food sources that could attract bears, Spoden added.
When human-related food is easy to find, bears stop seeking their natural foods.
Research and experience show that removing the food that attracts bears resolves bear problems much more effectively than attempting to trap and destroy the bear.
”If a bear enters your yard, don’t panic and don’t approach the bear,” said Spoden. “Always leave the bear an escape route. Everyone should leave the area and go inside until the bear leaves. A treed bear should be left alone as well. It will leave once the area is quiet.”
Bears are normally shy and usually flee when encountered, but they may defend an area if they are feeding or are with their young. They are unpredictable wild animals.
Although they rarely injure people, they are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed.
The DNR offers these tips for avoiding bear conflicts around the yard:
• do not approach or try to pet a bear
• do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight; coolers are not bear-proof
• eliminate birdfeeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees; use a rope-and-pulley system to refill feeders and clean up spilled feed
• where bears are a nuisance, birdfeeders should be taken down between April 1 and Dec. 1
• replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which also attract hummingbirds
• store pet food should inside and feed pets inside; if pets must feed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat
• clean and store barbeque grills after each use; put them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors
• pick fruit from trees as soon as it ripens and collect fallen fruit immediately
• limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly; adding lime can reduce smells and help decomposition
• do not add food scraps to compost piles; kitchen scraps can be composted indoors in a worm box with minimum odor
• harvest garden produce as it matures; locate gardens away from forests and shrubs that bears may use for cover
• use native plants in landscaping whenever possible; clover and dandelions attract bears
• anyone who keeps bees should elevate the hives on bear-proof platforms, or erect properly designed electric fences
• do not put out feed for wildlife (corn, oats, pellets, three-way, molasses blocks)
Tips for avoiding bear conflicts around garbage:
• store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters; rubber or plastic garbage cans are not bear-proof
• keep garbage inside a secure building until the morning of pickup
• store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, inside; the sweet smells attract bears
• store especially smelly garbage, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site.
People who have persistent bear problems after cleaning up food sources that attract bears should contact a DNR area wildlife office for assistance.
For the name of a local wildlife manager, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).
The DNR brochure "Learning To Live with Bears" is available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q: I’d like to get a burning permit and I heard I can apply for it on the DNR Web site. Is that true, and what do I need to do?
A. The DNR Web site can direct you where you need to go to get your permit.
Some counties also have permits available online; be prepared to pay a $5 annual fee for online permits.
Otherwise permits can be obtained from state forestry offices or fire wardens.
If you live in a municipality there may be other regulations regarding permits, check with your city offices.
For more information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/foresty/fire.