Open water fishing is approaching fast

Published 4:17 pm Saturday, March 2, 2013

This is a great time of the year to replenish those tackle boxes and put new line on the reels in anticipation of the upcoming open-water fishing season. By doing this, you will not only be ready for the upcoming season, but you will be getting some temporary relief from the desire to cast a line to open water.

For those folks who can’t wait and want to try their hand at trout fishing, the winter stream trout season is open in the southeastern part of the state until March 31st (catch and release only). The spring season for catch and release opens on April 1 and runs until April 12. On April 13, the regular season opens and continues until Sept. 14.

This could just be the open water fix that you are seeking. If not, there are still fish being caught through the ice on Fountain and Albert Lea Lakes. This year, Fountain seems to be the hot lake for the winter with some nice crappie, perch and bluegill being caught; throw in a few bass, walleye with an occasional pike, and you can say it has been a pretty good season for ice fishing.

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The permanent houses needed to be off the lakes by March 4, but you can still fish for perch and panfish right up until ice out using a portable or just drill a hole, pull up a bucket and drop in a line. No portables may be left unattended overnight. Use caution while fishing on the ice, and keep your distance from the aerators. Be aware of ice conditions. As the weather warms, ice is always unpredictable.

I can always find a way to fish open water by just closing my eyes and going to one of my favorite lakes. I’d have to say that a little daydreaming can sometimes be a good thing, but I probably wouldn’t try the eye-closing thing while driving. It’s kind of like sitting in my favorite chair on a cold winters’ night with snow flurries whisking past the window and imagining myself in a cabin deep in the woods of northern Minnesota. I guess I could actually live that dream, if I ventured north for a few days during the winter months. I’ve not yet visited the cabin in the dead of winter, but it is on my list of future things to do.

I had really planned on making a trip up to the cabin sometime in early March, but with the amount of snow in that area I think it will be a little later. When I do go, it will probably not be so much for the fishing, as it will be to check things out and see if everything is still in one piece. There have been many years where the drive-in has been blocked with fallen trees, and that calls for a saw, a sharp axe and a little back work. It’s all fun and just a part of being in the north woods. Although I usually wear a flannel shirt, I have never fancied myself as a lumberjack. I’ll leave that for the Paul Bunyan types in the family.

Most of my tree-cutting experiences have occurred when I have been at the cabin alone. It actually gives me a feeling of satisfaction when I have to clear the trail, so to speak. At the time, having a large fallen pine tree staring at me doesn’t bring about that feel-good experience until much later when the job is done. It is still all good no matter how you slice it (or chop it), because I am spending time at one of my favorite places and enjoying the outdoors experience.

The 2013 spring light goose season is now open. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds interested participants that the spring conservation action on light geese (snow geese, blue-phased snow geese, and the smaller Ross’ goose) opened on Friday and will run through April 30 again this spring.

The action is allowed under a federal conservation order, which permits the take of light geese during the spring. The conservation order season is in place to try to reduce the population of snow geese, and Ross’ geese that breed in the arctic coastal areas and around Hudson Bay. High populations of these birds have caused considerable habitat damage to these fragile ecosystems.

A spring light goose permit is required and may be obtained through any DNR license agent, via telephone at 888-665-4236, or online at The $3.50 application fee covers the cost to issue the permit. No other license, stamp or permit is required.

Customers who use the phone to apply will receive a temporary authorization number in lieu of the permit, until it is mailed to the applicant. People who use the Internet to apply can print their own permit when completing the transaction and will not receive a permit by mail.

Most regulations in place during fall waterfowl season will also apply during the spring season, including nontoxic shot requirements and federal baiting regulations. In addition, all refuges closed to either duck or goose hunting during fall seasons will remain closed during the spring season. Shooting hours are one half-hour before sunrise until one half-hour after sunset. No daily or possession limits apply. Electronic calls and unplugged shotguns are allowed.

Until next time get outside and take in a little fishing, skating or just take a winter walk in the good old Minnesota outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.


Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.