The ice left many of the smaller lakes and bodies of water in our area more than a week ago.
Sometime early this week the larger lakes in our area should also become ice-free, officially marking ice out for 2009.
Official ice out occurs on a lake when you can get in a boat and travel on open water from one shoreline to the other.
As of Friday, the southwestern bay of Howard Lake was open, and the bays on Lake Waconia were open.
The earliest ice out date recorded on Howard Lake is March 15 in 2000, and latest ice out date occurred in 1950 on May 2.
The average ice out date on Howard, using records from 1950 to 2008, is April 14.
Moving on, the spring crappie bite will be upon us soon and like most years, some good crappie lakes will produce, some won’t, and a lake or two that you thought didn’t even have a crappie in it will be the hottest around.
Actually, the good fishing should start in less than a week.
Look for good fishing on Winsted, Big and Little Waverly, Swan, near the City of Silver Lake; Pelican, which was hot this winter; Collinwood, and Dutch.
Those are just a few good crappie lakes to choose from and it’s a safe bet one of those lakes will provide tremendous action this spring.
Trapshooting is coming up in area
Several clubs around the area will be kicking off their trapshooting season very soon.
The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club is currently looking for interested teams for the 2009 league season, which runs Wednesday nights, April 22 through Aug. 19.
The club opens Wednesday, April 15 for practice shooting.
Shooting hours are from 6 to 9:30 p.m. For information, or to enter a team, call (320) 395-2258 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
McLeod County PF banquet April 18
The McLeod County Pheasants Forever banquet will take place Saturday, April 18 at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.
For more information on the banquet and other events, call Mark and Sue Reinert at (320) 864-6325.
Crow River DU to have raffle April 14
Crow River Ducks Unlimited will conduct a dinner raffle at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted Tuesday, April 14.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the dinner starting at 7:30 p.m.
For additional information, call (320) 543-3372.
Fishing regulation changes open for comment to May 29
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is inviting public comments and suggestions about changes being considered to the recreational and commercial fishing regulations.
Public comments will be considered for inclusion in a package of rules that will be drafted after the May 29 comment deadline.
The final rules package will be made available for public review and comment through the State Register.
“This is the start of the process we use to clarify and change specific portions of our fishing regulations,” said Linda Erickson-Eastwood, DNR fisheries program manager. “We will take into account any suggestions the public may have on rules that are under consideration.”
A complete listing of the proposed changes under consideration can be found in the March 30, edition of the State Register at http://www.comm.media.state.mn.us or on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/rules/fisheries.
Among the recreational fishing changes to be considered are:
• Eliminating the aggregate limits for brook, brown and rainbow trout in Lake Superior and Lake Superior tributary streams.
• Amending the Lake trout season to include the first full weekend of October.
• Closing the Lester River from 100 feet lake-ward from the Superior Street Bridge to protect spawning fish that attempt to ascend the falls, making themselves vulnerable to angler harvest.
• Removing the seasonal closures on the Little Knife River (St. Louis County) and the Knife River above Co Road 9 (St. Louis and Lake counties).
• Adding Knife River Marina and McQuade Road Public Access to the designation list for posting seasonal closures to fishing.
• Clarifying the use of spawn bags to be used as bait for angling.
• Opening additional border waters and river systems to night bow fishing.
• Changing yellow perch bag limits to 10 daily and 40 in possession on Minnesota-South Dakota border waters.
Among the commercial fishing changes to be considered for Lake Superior are:
• Requiring white fish to be harvested under a special permit.
• Adding safety requirements for commercial nets being used in Lake Superior.
• Reducing the amount of gill net that can be set for chubs (both total footage and individual license footage) and setting limitations on gear and number of licensed operators in the rainbow smelt fishery.
• Implementing special permit conditions and additional reporting requirements for the commercial taking of lake trout, cisco and whitefish.
• Proposing modifications to rules that determine where commercial nets can be set in Lake Superior, especially those that are set in proximity to marinas and public access areas.
Comments may be submitted through May 29 in writing to Linda Erickson-Eastwood, Box 20, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4020.
Comments will be accepted by telephone at (651) 259-5200 or toll free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).
Comments can be sent electronically via e-mail to Linda.Erickson-Eastwood@dnr.state.mn.us or by visiting the DNR’s online fishing rules page at http://mndnr.gov/input/rules/fisheries.
Canoe and kayak trip-planning tips on podcasts from DNR
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering a series of new podcasts for this paddling season.
The new audio features are hosted by Lynne and Bob Diebel, co-authors of Paddling Northern Minnesota and Paddling Southern Minnesota.
Avid paddlers since they were kids, the Diebels paddled almost 3,000 miles on 58 rivers in the three years they spent researching their paddling guides.
These podcasts and will provide helpful trip-planning tips as wells as stories about the Diebels’ favorite routes.
To subscribe, visit www.mndnr.gov. Two new podcasts will be posted each week throughout the spring and summer.
There are more than 4,000 miles of canoe, kayak, and boating routs on 30 rivers, and Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior provided by the DNR.
These “water trails” are located throughout the state, within about an hour or two of most homes in Minnesota.
Check out the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/watertrails.
Questions of the week
From the DNR
Q: As the snow melts in the spring, and during lengthy periods without rainfall, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issues fire restrictions.
Is there a difference between a restriction and burning ban?
A: Burning restrictions involve the issuing of burning permits.
Burning permits are required for running fires, such as a grassy ditch or field, or piled vegetative debris.
When restrictions are in place, permits are only issued for management or prescribed burns, or special burns such as construction companies burning trees and brush cleared from roads.
Burning bans, which are issued by the DNR commissioner, prohibit other types of fires.
For example, bans may disallow campfires completely or restrict them certain hours of the day.
They may also restrict any fire outdoors, including smoking and barbeque grills.
Bans are only imposed when extreme fire conditions have existed for a long period of time.
• Remember to buy your new 2009 Minnesota fishing license.
Also, check the license on your boat and trailer and grease and repack the wheel bearings.
• Look for geese nesting in our local sloughs and ponds; goslings will be out sooner then you think.
• The wood ducks are back and last week, I saw several varieties of diver ducks in our area including, bluebill, golden eyes, and buffalohead.
• Look for bald eagles migrating through our area.
Eagles like to follow the ice out line on their way to nesting grounds farther north.
• I’ve noticed low to very low water levels on many of the sloughs and ponds in our area.
Typically, those sloughs are relatively full of water at this time of year.