Enjoy the rest of summer; there is plenty left of it

Published 12:35 am Friday, July 10, 2009

It’s hard to believe that we seem to have flown right past the longest day of the year, also known as the summer solstice. We anxiously anticipate spring and the next thing you know the days are getting shorter and we’re scratching our heads wondering where the heck did summer go. Well I’m here to tell you that it’s far from over and the best is yet to come.

Now is the time to get out and take advantage of the many parks and lakes we have in our area. We are lucky to have so many nice parks close by. Frank Hall Park is a great place to spend an afternoon with a boat ramp, plenty of shore fishing, horseshoe pits, picnic area and access to the Blazing Star Trail. Long considered the main recreational park of the area, Edgewater has a lot to offer with its numerous barbecue grills, play equipment, pavilions and fishing pier. There is also Pioneer Park, which will surprise you if you haven’t visited it for a while. The city does a nice job of maintaining these parks for our enjoyment.

Don’t forget about scenic Pickeral Lake Park on Highway 69 south. If you want to venture a little further south you can enjoy the facilities at White’s Woods, which is just past Twin Lakes on 69. There are also many picnic and recreation areas within a few miles. Beaver Lake has a boat ramp, fishing pier, a picnic area and for years has been know for its swimming beach which still has a lifeguard on duty certain hours of the summer.

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St. Olaf Lake has a very nice picnic area complete with a large pavilion to go with its swimming beach, fishing pier and boat ramp.

With so many options now is a great time to pack a picnic lunch, grab the Frisbee or ball and glove and head to a park. Don’t forget that there are fish to be caught at almost all of these parks.

Summer time is a great time for family and what better way to spend family time than going to a local park and enjoying the outdoors.

Youth deer hunts offer exciting opportunities for new hunters

More than 500 young hunters will have access to high-quality deer hunting this fall at six state parks, one state recreation area, two military reservations, two refuges and a nature preserve.

“Special youth hunts are a great way to provide a safe, structured and fun opportunity for a youngster and their parent or guardian to spend some quality time outdoors,” said Mike Kurre, mentor program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR is offering 13 special youth deer hunts in 2009 at locations with high deer populations that need to be managed. Last year, the DNR offered 11 special youth deer hunts.

Applications for the special youth deer hunts will be accepted beginning July 1 at any DNR Electronic License System (ELS) vendor or at the DNR License Center in St. Paul. The deadline for applications is Friday, Aug. 14. Successful applicants will be notified in early September.

There is no fee to apply, although successful applicants will have to purchase the appropriate deer-hunting license prior to their hunt. The youth individual firearms and youth individual archery licenses cost $13 each and are available to residents ages 12 to 17.

The DNR will offer five archery and eight firearms special youth hunts in October. Eligible youth may apply for one archery hunt and one firearms hunt, Youths ages 12 to 15 are eligible for both hunts; archery hunts are extended to include those ages 15-17.

Youths who applied unsuccessfully in previous years will have preference. There is a mandatory orientation session for each hunt, and hunters must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or an adult authorized by the parent. All youth hunters must possess a valid Firearms Safety certificate.

Camp Ripley and The Nature Conservancy will host archery hunts in Morrison County Oct. 9-11. The Arden Hills Army Training Site will host two bow hunts during the Education Minnesota school break on Oct. 15-16 and Oct. 17-18. The Minnesota State Archery Association and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association help sponsor the hunts.

The Whitewater Wildlife Management Area Refuge and Greenleaf State Recreation Area will allow youth to hunt deer during the entire Education Minnesota school break, Oct. 15-18. Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, Itasca State Park, Lake Bemidji State Park and Tettegouche State Park will host youth deer hunts Oct. 17-18. Buffalo River State Park, Savanna Portage State Park and St. Croix State Park will host youth hunts Oct. 24-25. The Bluffland Whitetails Association and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association are sponsoring the hunts.

More information and specific details about the special youth deer hunts is available at “http://mndnr.gov/youthhunts”.

A few fishing reports from around the area.

FAIRMONT — Look for crappies in 15 to 18 feet on Budd Lake, Hall Lake, Lake George, and Lake Sissiton. The shorelines of Sissiton also are producing bluegills. Shad Raps are turning walleyes on Hall Lake in 18 to 20 feet and on Lake Imogene in 6 feet. Large chubs or crankbaits are triggering muskies on Fox Lake and numbers of pike on the weedlines of Sissiton and Hall.

FARIBAULT — The shallow weeds on Roberds Lake are holding sunfish. Look to the docks for catfish and the weedlines for northern pike on Roberds as well. Small walleyes continue to bite on Fox Lake, while the weedlines of Lake Mazaska are kicking out a bit of everything, including sunfish, bass, and pike.

MANKATO — Work the log jams and deep holes of the Minnesota River for flathead and channel catfish. The 8-to 12-foot weeds on Madison Lake and Lake Washington are holding panfish. Trolling crankbaits on the weedlines of these lakes during the evening hours also has provided some decent walleye catches.

WATERVILLE — Rigs and leeches are turning walleyes on the south shore of Lake Tetonka in 15 feet. Look for sunfish in five to seven feet on Lake Sakatah, while Tetonka is producing perch and sunfish in six feet. The weedlines on Lake Francis started producing crappies, while Cedar Lake and Tetonka are safe bets for bass.

A few fishing reports from around the state.

ALEXANDRIA — Lake Miltona is producing walleyes in 20 to 40 feet during the day via leeches or crawlers and there is an evening bite with crankbaits along the weedlines. On Lake Reno, spinners and crawlers are triggering walleyes in 12 to 20 feet. Panfish action is slow, but the weedlines of Lake Le Homme Dieu, Lake Carlos, and Lake Darling are producing bass.

BRAINERD/NISSWA — Lindy Rigs tipped with redtails or leeches are producing walleyes in 16 to 20 feet on Gull Lake and North Long Lake. The 6-to 10-foot weedlines of most lakes are holding bass and sucker minnows are producing northern pike on the deep weeds of Gull, North Long, and Round Lake. Panfish action remains best in the mid-depth weeds.

REMER — Sunfish have moved from the shallows and are now relating to the first weedline on Boy Lake and Sugar Lake. Largemouth bass are hitting on most lakes, while the shallow rocks and weedlines of Thunder Lake are worth noting for smallmouth bass. You’ll find numbers of small pike on most lakes in 8 to 12 feet.

RED LAKE — Limits of walleyes can be had with leeches and spinner rigs on the south shore in five to nine feet of water. Crappie action has slowed, but a few are being caught along with the walleyes. The bigger pike have become more active. Work the east shore with crankbaits and spoons in 7 to 9 feet.

CRANE LAKE — Summer patterns are taking shape with most walleyes now hitting leeches or crawlers on the 15-to 20-foot sunken islands and reefs. Smallmouth bass are hitting topwater baits and shallow-running crankbaits during low-light periods in 10 to 12 feet. Crappie action has dropped significantly now that they’re out of the shallows.

BATTLE LAKE — Walleyes are hitting leeches or small sucker minnows in 16 to 24 feet on West Battle Lake. Crawlers are working best in 16 to 22 feet on Otter Tail Lake, while leeches are the best option in 16 to 20 feet on lakes such as Big Pine, Little Pine, Rush, East Battle, and Ten Mile. Sunfish have moved to 7 to 12 feet on lakes Dead, Deer, Stalker, Silver, and Blanche. CowGirls have raised some muskies on the deep weeds of West Battle and bass remain active on all lakes.

Take some time to explore our area parks and enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors — while you’re at it — let’s do a little fish’n.

Remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers throughout the year.