It’s April and no foolin’ the ice is almost gone

Published 8:57 am Thursday, April 7, 2011

Column: Woods & Water

The season opener for game fish is a little over a month away but fishing for crappies and perch should be good as soon as the lakes are free of ice. Look to shallow bays and lagoons for spawning crappies. Although I haven’t fished them for a few years, the lagoons on Lake Tetonka in Waterville were usually pretty good for early spring crappie fishing.

Now is the time of year when I begin to feel that urge to jump in the truck and head to Cabela’s in search of some fishing tackle. It’s not that I like to spend my money out of town but it is just a fact that it is where you can go to find the largest assortment of much needed and very necessary fishing lures and tackle. If you venture to Owatonna it is always worthwhile to visit Mills Fleet Farm and check out their large assortment of tackle because the prices are usually pretty reasonable.

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Although I have enough fishing tackle — according to the wife — I always seem inclined to think it is not enough. Lately I’ve tried to limit my purchases to the necessities such as jigs and plastic bodies. Inevitably I am destined to spend some time in the lure section of a sporting goods store, and a lot of those lures are designed to catch the biggest of fish (me) that can’t resist them. I always end up being lured to the section where the muskie lures lay in wait for an unsuspecting fisherman. I can usually recall seeing most of those lures on a sports channel being used by various muskie experts who are cranking fish in left and right. The more honest hosts will actually tell you how long it took them to boat two or three fish and will also seem to be excited by a follow.

I have watched a lot of those fishing shows over the years, and I can sometimes feel their excitement when one of those guys ties into a fish. I don’t remember which particular show it was but they were two seemingly average guys fishing in Wisconsin where they caught three muskies in two days and also had numerous follows. They called this trip a success and, to be honest, if you are fishing for the toothed one and get one on your line then you can consider it a successful trip. These fish are often called the “fish of 10,000 casts” and believe me it does take a lot of time and patience to be a successful muskie fisherman.

I do not consider myself a muskie fisherman because I just don’t spend enough time doing it. I like to fish for them but usually only have a limited window of opportunity to do so. It’s pretty hard to fish muskies when you have grandkids in the boat and feel the need to be catching fish on a more consistent basis. I’ve had my best luck when fishing with one or two other folks in the boat.

I don’t mind fishing alone and have from time to time been fortunate enough to have some descent muskies on and have even boated a couple while fishing alone. Although I like fishing with others there is always something peaceful about fishing alone. My favorite time to be on the water is early morning when the sun has just started thinking about making an appearance in the eastern sky and everything seems to be starting fresh.

The one thing that early morning fishing gives me is that feeling of anticipation kind of like that of a little kid. There’s a certain feeling of mystery and suspense that early morning fishing gives me. It seems like you can catch almost any type of fish at that time of day. I’ve caught walleyes in places where I usually catch bass or pike, and I’ve caught some dandy smallmouth in my favorite walleye haunts. There is a certain feeling of serenity I get from being on the water early with a light haze hovering over the water and the sound of fish jumping around you. If you’ve ever been there you know what I’m talking about, to me it’s what fishing is all about, just enjoying nature and the outdoors.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has decided to postpone indefinitely the stocking of muskies in Lake Tetonka in the Waterville area pending the resolution of local issues. The DNR will collect additional information on recreation use and user attitudes in the Lake Tetonka area and expand its public outreach efforts before re-considering stocking muskie in Tetonka.

Bill not being used how it was intended to be

Once again our legislators are trying to play politics with the Lessard SAMS Bill that we voted on and passed in 2008. It appears that a bill has been introduced that would do away with the 12 member citizens council and replace them with an all legislative (can you say politics) panel. I know that I voted for that bill with the understanding that there would be a panel made up of citizens that would sift through applications and make recommendations to the legislature. This bill which is Bill No. HF1073 was introduced by Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL, So. St. Paul. It’s also seems that once again the politicians are trying to use these funds to subsidize funding already in place instead of using it to enhance like it was intended. They are also determined to only acquire land if land that is already owned by the DNR is sold off. Make sense? Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of the bill we voted for in the first place? I guess there will always be politicians trying to figure out a way to use our money for things other than what it was intended. If this concerns you, you can do what I did and contact your legislator to voice your opinion and find out how he or she stands on Bill No: HF 1073.

Until next time, think spring, camping and fishing and enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors!

Remember our brothers and sisters who are proudly serving our country so that we can keep enjoying the freedoms that we have today.

Dick Herfindahl’s outdoors column usually runs every Sunday in the Tribune.