From outdoor viewpoint, it was a memorable year

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 2, 2005

By Dick Herfindahl

As I look back over the last year it has been quite eventful if you are talking outdoors.

It pretty much started with the freeze-out of part of Albert Lea Lake. The little village we have become accustomed to seeing on the channel by Frank Hall Park was in place as usual but then the unthinkable happened &045; the fish started dying off. Once the DNR became involved it was discovered that the oxygen level had depleted to the point that it could no longer supply enough oxygen to sustain fish life.

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This led to the channel being open to promiscuous fishing and eventually many large fish from walleye to bass and northern were taken from the lake.

This spring the DNR stocked the lake with walleye fingerling and a plan for the prevention of a future kill was discussed.

As the summer turned to fall the fishermen started showing up at the channel after not frequenting the water for most of the summer. Because the lake did not totally freeze out we still had a population of surviving fish.

Some ice fishermen first returned to the channel with portable houses and now the larger ice houses that we have become accustomed to are once again starting to appear.

If things go well Albert Lea Lake should once again have a healthy fish population in the near future.

Some other noteworthy events of the past year:

Duck hunting in the state overall was one of the poorest in recent history. There are many theories as to why this turn of events has taken place. The weather has been mentioned as one factor – with the warm fall the ducks were not about to leave their present summer haunts and head south. This directly affects the timing of their migration through our state. One of the greatest concerns voiced by both the DNR and members of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association is that they have to take a look at two key issues: Regulations and Habitat.

Without wetlands there is nothing to draw the birds to the state, without the wetlands the ducks find no food source and no suitable habitat for nesting. Restoring our depleted wetlands will take a lot of time and hard work from various outdoors minded individuals and organizations along with the Minnesota DNR.

The deer hunting season in some parts of the state was a little down from last year but in the northeastern part of the state hunting was some of the best reported in recent years. There were also some mighty fine bucks reported in this area and all around the state. The largest one was a 23-point buck that was bagged near Lake Lillian by Brad Karl of Hutchinson.

Another noteworthy event of 2004 was the 16-pound walleye caught and released by Al Zwach fishing in the Minnesota River by New Ulm. This is another late fall trophy and just shows that if you’re looking for that trophy fish, late fall is the time.

On a sadder note the senseless shootings of six hunters in northern Wisconsin has stirred some controversy but mostly had raised the one question &045; Why? This is certainly not an event that we want to remember the 2004 outdoors season for but it is one that will be in the back of a lot of our minds for some time to come.

On a more personal note I will remember the year for many little milestones. It was the year two of my grandsons, Taylor and Dylan caught their first northern. We also cleared land and started building a cabin in northern Minnesota. I spent a lot of time with family working on the cabin and fishing various lakes in the area (It can’t be all work and no play).

The fishing overall was pretty good and we all got to enjoy a few meals of fresh fish.

This was also the year that I had all four grandsons playing hockey, two of them for the first time.

These are just some of the events that I felt were worth remembering from an outdoors


Overall it was a very memorable year.

Until next time play safe and enjoy the outdoors.

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