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Statewide bass season opens Sat., May 24

May 19, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Anglers can catch and keep bass starting Saturday, May 24.

Anglers can generally keep six largemouth and smallmouth bass combined.

A guide to telling the difference between the two can be found on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at www.mndnr.gov/fish/bass.

Some bodies of water have special regulations for bass.

To find special regulations, use the DNR LakeFinder function at the Fish Minnesota site, www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.

To buy a fishing license, visit any DNR license agent, buy online via mobile or desktop at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or call 888-665-4236.

After the bass opener, next up for anglers is the muskie opener on Saturday, June 7.

Lake Ann Carp Slam Saturday, May 31

The third annual Lake Ann Carp Slam will take place Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Lake Ann.

All participants should meet at the public water access on the west side of the lake, with a maximum of three people to a boat or team.

No boats may leave the dock prior to the shotgun start, and all Minnesota DNR rules must be followed at all times.

Call (320) 296-3078 with questions.

The cost is $15 per person, and there will be a hot dog lunch provided.

Prize money for the top three finishers and biggest carp.

Ladies night offered Tuesdays at Waverly Gun Club

Waverly Gun Club will be offering ladies only nights the second Tuesday of the month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The events will take place May 13, June 10, July 8, Aug. 12, Sept. 9, and Oct. 14.

No membership is required. Instruction will be available upon request. A National Rifle Association certified range safety officer will be present on the shooting line. Participants will shoot from the comfort of a shelter.

Targets, rifles, and .22-caliber pistols will be provided for no charge by the Waverly Gun Club.

The Waverly Gun Club is located north of Waverly just off of Co. Rd. 9.

For more information, call Al Moy at (612) 889-4423, Ken Reinert at (612) 308-9259, or Russ Johnson at (763) 218-7376.

Apply now to hunt elk in Minnesota
From the DNR

Hunters have until Friday, June 13, to apply for one of nine elk licenses offered this year by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Hunters interested in applying for a license can find maps of the two hunting zones and other pertinent information on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/elk.

Elk licenses will be available in Kittson County’s central and northeast zones, while the Grygla area will be closed to enable that area’s elk population to rebuild to goal levels.

“The number of hunting licenses available reflects the goals of the state’s elk management plan,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “That plan aims to balance the interest of hunters, landowners and others.”

The DNR has initiated a public process to revisit the elk management plan with the intent to implement any revisions by 2016.

Goals in the current plan were established for the period from 2009 to 2015.

As a result of lower elk numbers, fewer licenses will be offered and this year’s hunt will be restricted to two early seasons.

The first season, which will be held in both zones, runs from Saturday, Sept. 13 to Sunday, Sept. 21 (Season A).

Four bulls-only licenses will be available in Zone 20 and two bulls-only licenses will be available in Zone 30 during Season A.

The second season (Season B) will be held only in Zone 20 and will run from Saturday, Sept. 27 to Sunday, Oct. 5.

Three bulls-only licenses will be available during Season B.

McInenly said aerial surveys conducted this winter in the Grygla area (Zone 10) identified 20 elk, which is below the pre-calving goal range of 30 to 38 animals.

This is the second year in a row that the herd has been below goal.

The aerial survey conducted in the Kittson County Central Zone (Zone 20) also indicated a population decline, with 37 elk observed this year.

While the herd has declined in size, it is still above the established population goal of 20 to 30 animals.

Elk within the Kittson County North Central Zone (Zone 30) spend a portion of the year in Manitoba, Canada.

A short-term population goal of 150-200 elk has been collaboratively established for this international herd which consists of an estimated 100 elk.

Apply at any DNR license agent, the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul, www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by telephone at 888-665-4236.

Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two.

There is a non-refundable application fee of $4 per hunter. License cost is $287.

One landowner license will be available during Season A in the Kittson County Central Elk Zone.

BOW program celebrates 20 years of connecting women to the outdoors
From the DNR

Learn how to hunt deer. Tie a fly and catch trout. Call a turkey. Go kayaking.

Women and families all over Minnesota are learning these and more skills through the Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota offers more BOW programs than any other state in the nation, with more than 100 family and women-specific offerings.

In early May, DNR staff honored volunteers and celebrated two decades of BOW.

“The program wouldn’t exist without volunteers and their commitment, knowledge and passion,” said Linda Bylander, BOW coordinator with the DNR. “These women share their skills and help each other connect with nature in a supportive environment. And exploring the outdoors is simply more fun with friends.”

Classes taught in a noncompetitive environment cover a range of outdoors skills, from Fishing 101 to guided sturgeon fishing adventure trips, from firearms safety classes to mentored archery deer hunts.

For a list of upcoming BOW classes and events, see www.mndnr.gov/education/bow/calendar.

“The BOW program has long been the gold standard in providing ways for adult women and families to learn outdoor skills,” said Jay Johnson, DNR hunting recruitment and retention supervisor. “Often they learn these skills through multi-session classes that move participants from low to high skill levels.”

Besides helping to recruit new hunters, BOW fosters a social support system for women looking to make friends through outdoor sports and hone newly learned skills, said Johnson.

“A great example of this is the Women’s Hunting Archery Series. It’s a collaboration between BOW and the North Country Bowhunters Chapter of Safari Club International. With each class, women have a chance to better their skills and share in each other’s success,” Johnson said.

To read more about the history and download the BOW catalog, see www.mndnr.gov/education/bow.

DNR partnership expands invasive carp monitoring and detection
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), will begin comprehensive monitoring and detection of bighead, black, grass, and silver carp in Minnesota waters in 2014.

Currently, small numbers of bighead, grass, and silver carp are present in Minnesota.

The goal of monitoring is to better understand the current status of invasive carp in the waters of Minnesota where habitat may allow them to establish self-sustaining populations.

Detecting invasive carp in Minnesota waters is challenging because their numbers are low and they are difficult to catch using traditional sampling equipment.

The DNR employs a variety of techniques to gather data about invasive carp, including: commercial fishing contracts, targeted field sampling, eDNA (genetic surveillance), and telemetry.

Detecting individual fish and observing changes in overall population, helps inform management efforts and identify ways to prevent the spread of invasive carp.

“These efforts are an important element of the Minnesota invasive carp action plan, because invasive carp species are not yet established in Minnesota,” said Nick Frohnauer, DNR invasive fish coordinator. “Expanding our knowledge of their presence and population dynamics is important to establish timelines and direct deterrence measures.”

Previous monitoring efforts for these invasive carp were focused on the Mississippi River from Hastings to Coon Rapids, St. Croix River to Taylor’s Falls, and the mouth of the Minnesota River.

These efforts, combined with additional data from Iowa and Illinois, indicate that for the Mississippi River, the leading edge of established populations of bighead and silver carp is in northern Iowa.

As a result, the DNR and partner agencies plan to:

• Expand sampling into Mississippi River Pools 5a, 6, and 8 (in southeastern Minnesota).

• Conduct detection surveys of invasive carp on the Minnesota River while also gathering baseline data on native aquatic communities.

• Maintain sampling stations established on southwestern Minnesota rivers and streams to detect if invasive carp expand into Minnesota via the Missouri River.

• Continue collaborating with MAISRC on collecting water samples from Lock and Dam 1, Lock and Dam 5, and Taylor’s Falls for future analysis.

The DNR is also working on or supporting additional projects to deter the expansion of invasive carp into Minnesota, including: St. Anthony Falls, Lock and Dam 1, Mississippi River Lock and Dams 2, 5, and 8 (MAISRC research locations), and southwestern Minnesota.

For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/AIS.

DNR rolls out new online water permit application
From the DNR

A newly designed web-based system that simplifies the steps to getting water permits and paying for them online is being rolled out by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The new MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System (MPARS) is part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s initiative to streamline state government services.

The new application at www.mndnr.gov/mpars will save an anticipated $255,000 annually and allows DNR employees to devote more time to technical assistance and field work.

“DNR employees will have 5,000 more hours every year to protect and improve our environment, thanks to this ‘Unsession’ reform,” Dayton said. “I thank Commissioner Tom Landwehr and his staff for making these commonsense changes that will dramatically reduce the time to process more than 10,000 water permit applications each year.”

The old paper application process was time consuming and inefficient with department staff spending hours hand-sorting applications and on manual data entry.

“We’ve tried to make it as easy and as pain-free as possible for water users while giving us a way to more precisely manage and conserve a precious natural resource,” said Landwehr. “We’ll be able to better track our water use, identify permit violations and increase compliance.”

The department processes more than 10,000 permit applications and transactions each year, including reports on annual water use.

Cities, farmers, businesses and landowners that use 1 million gallons of water each year, or more than 10,000 gallons a day, or work in public waters are required to get a water use permit or permit to work in public waters.

Applicants now have access to maps and can track the progress of their applications online.

They are also automatically alerted if they don’t need a DNR water permit.

Under the new electronic system, customers find out if their application is complete within 15 days of applying.

Final decisions are made within five months.

On average, permits are issued or denied a month faster than under the manually-intensive, former way of doing business.

The system also improves inter-agency cooperation on permitting.

When applicants enter their information into the MPARS system a report is generated and can be easily forwarded to other permitting agencies.

Inga Foster, environmental project manager for St. Louis County in Duluth, is using the system to apply for permits to work in public waters for culvert and bridge replacement projects.

The dashboard view gives her a quick way to check on the status for many different permits. “I like how transparent it is,” she said. Now when project managers come to her and ask where their permit is in the process, she can quickly tell them.

She’s received 30 permits through MPARS so far and has 30 applications in the works.

“It’s difficult when you have 60 different balls in the air to capture what is happening with all those applications at any one moment,” Foster said. “MPARS does that for me.”

The mapping tool enables staff to quickly view 60 different data layers, for trout streams, endangered species and infested waters, to name a few, to determine if a project location is near sensitive natural resources.

Catch a tagged fish on Mille Lacs: get a free lure or find out more
From the DNR

Depending on the kind of tagged fish anglers catch on Mille Lacs Lake, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will send either a free lure or the story of the fish caught.

Anglers who catch a walleye with an orange tag will receive a free lure.

Those who catch a walleye or northern pike with a yellow tag will receive information about the known history of the tagged fish they caught.

The tagging and return effort is part of a broad effort to better understand the lake’s walleye and northern pike populations.

Orange tags are labeled “REWARD.” Anglers who catch a walleye with such a tag should remove it from the fish, even if the fish is released. Tags should be returned to DNR Fisheries, 1200 Minnesota Ave. S., Aitkin, MN 56431. Include the date of the catch and the length of the fish. A fishing lure will be mailed in return.

Tag return boxes also will be available at several businesses around the lake, or anglers can simply mail them to the address above, which is also posted at the boat accesses.

“Anglers who return their tags are doing all Mille Lacs anglers a favor,” said Rick Bruesewitz, DNR’s Aitkin area fisheries supervisor. “The higher the tag returns the higher the data reliability...and that’s what you want when managing an asset as valuable as Mille Lacs.”

When anglers return information from a walleye or northern with a yellow tag, they’ll receive information about when the fish was tagged, where the fish was when it was captured for tagging and how big the fish was at tagging. Yellow tags should remain on the fish if it is released.

“Some of the larger, older fish with yellow tags can have a pretty interesting history,” Bruesewitz said. “Some of these fish will have been caught six to eight times and we’ve recorded information about that fish each time it’s been captured.”

More information about reporting a tagged fish is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/taggedfish.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: What is the difference between a steelhead and a rainbow trout?

A: Steelhead are a migratory form of rainbow trout that spend part of their lives in the ocean or Great Lakes and return to spawn in freshwater streams and rivers.

Steelhead, first introduced to Lake Superior in 1895, occur naturally along the Pacific Coast.

They have become naturalized along Minnesota’s North Shore; the population relies mainly on natural reproduction rather than stocking.

Spring spawning runs in Minnesota have been delayed this year by our long, cold winter, but steelhead are expected to arrive in streams up and down the North Shore by early to mid-May if the weather cooperates.

CO weekly report
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers all week working on tip calls.
CO Mies gave a law talk at the Annandale firearms safety class.
CO Mies gave fur/trapping talks at Ney park field day in Maple Lake.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big lake) worked fishermen on area lakes and rivers where he issued summonses and written warnings for over limits of crappies, taking bass out of season angling w/o fishing license, angling w/o fishing license in possession, no fire extinguisher, no life jacket and throw cushion.
CO Sladek took enforcement action on an illegal burn and also followed up on a number of animals calls.
Officer Sladek assisted Wright County with a fur talk at Ney Park where 300-400 5th graders attended from area schools.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) found the fishing opener to be very good for anglers targeting northern pike and crappies, but slow for the walleyes anglers in the area.
Most said they were still happy to be out on the open water.
Time was spent helping out at the academy with the new recruits.
Enforcement action was taken for taking on an over limit of crappies, taking bass out of season, possession of drug paraphernalia and no life jacket on board watercraft.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked the fishing opener on Carver County lakes finding good success on pan fish but not so good on walleye.
Turkey hunters were checked still finding birds responding to calls.
Boaters were checked for safety equipment, transporting invasive species and drain plug removal.
Enforcement action was taken for leaving hunting blinds on WMAs, failure to display watercraft registration, operate unregistered watercraft, fishing license violations, no personal flotation device, angling with extra lines and take bass during closed season.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) checked anglers and boaters during the fishing opener.
She received a TIP on a couple who kept a large mouth bass out of season.
They were located and still in possession of the bass.
An unattended fire with prohibited materials burning is still being investigated.
She, along with another officer, checked an OHM and an ATV driver during the weekend operating on a county road.
Mueller saw 100 percent compliance on AIS enforcement during the opener weekend.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked a spotty fishing opener.
While most anglers enjoyed the weather, fish were few and far between.
Oberg also worked AIS enforcement with excellent overall compliance.
Time was also spent working recreational vehicle enforcement in the area.