Pickeral Lake needs to start over after freeze out

Published 6:00 am Sunday, June 29, 2014

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

Some folks like me have been curious as to the fate of Pickeral Lake over the winter. I have been in contact with Matthew Mork, who is the Fisheries Specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in the Waterville Area Fisheries office. He confirmed that after placing several traps in various areas of the lake this spring there was a total freeze out of the gamefish in the lake. In May, the DNR stocked 150,000 northern pike and 310 lbs. of yellow perch in the lake. The plan is to stock another 200 pounds of bluegills this summer and fall. Because the lake is prone to winter kill, it is managed as a boom and bust fishery with northern pike and yellow perch because those two species are more tolerant of low oxygen conditions. Mork said the fish that are stocked in the lake should grow extremely fast and create a quality fishery in a short period of time.

I have no way of knowing if it is true or not, but I had heard that after the last re-stocking of the lake someone introduced other species of fish into the lake. I feel that the DNR has fishery specialists who know what type of fish will work in certain lakes, and that folks should just let that play out and not mess with it. That’s just my opinion. It’s always hard to think of starting over again, especially after this lake had just come into its own as a viable fishing lake.

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Once we have reached the longest day of the year, summer seems to go by way too fast. I usually don’t get too excited about the summer solstice, but the thought of the days getting shorter is always somewhere in the back of my mind. As a kid, I usually went along doing kid stuff until it was fair time. But once the fair was done, I knew that my days of freedom as I knew it would soon be over. I’m not saying that I didn’t look forward to the upcoming school year, but I didn’t really relish the thought of all things structured.

This meant that my days of roaming the slough or hanging out at the crick for a big chunk of the day would soon be finished for another season. It seemed as if the post-fair days went by all too fast, and before I knew it I’d be back in school with homework and… a schedule! I actually looked forward to my days at Hammer School because the familiar faces that you would see on the first day were mostly those of the same kids that you spent a big part of the summer hanging out with. Yes, there was a lot to be said for a country school where everyone seemed to get along, and even if there was a disagreement it was more of a sibling-type spat that usually ended with a mutual agreement.

The water in our lakes and streams is subsiding, and if we don’t get any more cloudbursts things may actually be getting back to normal. I’ve heard that the fishing has been pretty good on Fountain Lake, so now would be the perfect time to wet a line. In my past experiences, shore fishing can be very rewarding, and it’s also a fairly inexpensive way to introduce the whole family to the great sport of fishing. You can buy an inexpensive fishing pole with a few accessories like bobbers, hooks and sinkers at a very reasonable price. This is a sport that anyone can enjoy, and our area has the resources to accommodate almost any type of fishing you may want to do.

There has been an increased interest in bowfishing in our area over the past few years. I can personally attest to that because I have grandsons who have been doing it for a few years. With the high water we have in the area, there should be rough fish in a lot of our area streams. When the boys first started to hunt carp with bow and arrow, I tried to coax them to stay old school by using the hook, line and sinker method. This pretty much fell on deaf ears, and now they have even fine-tuned their sport. I am still holding out because I believe that it is hard to beat the fight of a big carp on the end of a line in a swift moving current. It’s not necessarily about the type of fish you are seeking but more about the thrill of the fight that it can put up. In defense of the bow hunters, I can see how the challenge of seeking out those big fish can be a lot of fun.


DNR reminds those bowfishing for carp to plan for carcass disposal

With bowfishing for rough fish such as carp growing in popularity, the DNR reminded anglers that they need a plan for what to do with any fish harvested, a plan that doesn’t entail disposing of the carcasses in a ditch or at a public access.

“We’re seeing a few too many cases where people are just dumping the fish,” said Capt. Greg Salo, DNR central region enforcement supervisor. “Not only is that pretty disgusting, it’s littering, a misdemeanor that carries a $150 fine.”

Curt Cich, president of the Land of Lakes Bowfishing Association, said the practice also gives bowfishing and the people who enjoy it a bad image.

“These activities by a few people don’t reflect the practices of the majority of bowfishers, who practice their sport ethically and responsibly,” Cich said.

Cich recommended that all bowfishers have a disposal plan before practicing the activity.

Appropriate disposal techniques for carp include donating to mink or hog farms, composting and burying the carcasses on private land with the permission of the owner.

Because bowfishing often is practiced at night in shallow, near-shore waters using bright lights powered by generators, misunderstandings between the anglers and lakeshore owners can arise. The practice is legal, Salo noted, if the noise generated between sunset and sunrise does not exceed 65 decibels, and no arrows are discharged within 150 feet of an occupied structure, or within 300 feet of a campsite. Lakeshore residents should not harass anglers who are legally bowfishing.

Until next time, enjoy the great outdoors and take some time to introduce a kid to fishing. Play safe and enjoy our areas resources.

Please take a little time to remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

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