Dick Herfindahl: Youth taking advantage of local resources

Published 10:14 pm Friday, September 6, 2019

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


As I look back and reflect on what the Governor’s Fishing Opener has meant to our community, I am glad to have been a part of it. This past summer, you could drive around Fountain Lake at any given time and see folks fishing from shore or on the water. I don’t believe there has ever been this much interest in fishing by the youth of the area. I really do believe the many positive comments by media has had, and will continue to have, an impact on our community in the years to come.

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A few years ago I was asked by Julia Thompson, who was instrumental in forming the Albert Lea Anglers high school fishing club, what I thought about her forming a club. I thought it was a unique and very good idea. She had done her research and noted that there were already quite a few of those clubs in Minnesota. This has turned out to be a great undertaking and with the help of many volunteer adult fishermen who serve as mentors to these youth it has grown from a dream to reality.

The club has been involved in many activities that revolve around fishing our area lakes. They were a big part of the Governor’s Opener and they have been great ambassadors for fishing and our community.

The youth of our area seem to be more excited about the sport of fishing than ever before. I like nothing better than to take a drive around the lake and see kids fishing from shore. There is an old saying “teach kids to fish and they’ll be hooked for life”.

Kids don’t care what they are catching as long as they are catching fish. I have made this statement many times over the years. If a kid catches a carp, it’s a trophy to them and they will be proud to show off their catch. Today’s youth are the future of this great sport and they are the ones who will help keep the sport alive.

Pheasant hunting season will begin Oct. 12 and run until Jan. 1. With the pheasant hunting opener only a little over a month away, the community of Austin is set to be the host for this year’s Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. I am sure they will do their community proud just like Albert Lea did.

When the Minnesota pheasant season opens on Oct. 12, hunters are likely to find some areas with plenty of pheasants and other areas where the birds will be tougher to find judging by the results of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources annual roadside pheasant survey.

The roadside pheasant survey showed a 17% decrease in the overall pheasant index this year from 2018. The 2019 index was 11% below the 10-year average, and 60% below the long-term average. This year’s statewide pheasant index was 37.4 birds per 100 miles of roads driven.

“Though some regional and statewide pheasant indices declined, there is still reason to be optimistic,” said Tim Lyons, upland game research scientist. “Birds are still abundant in some areas. But after a prolonged winter and wet spring, hunters may need to be choosier about where they go.”

Looking at the survey results, the pheasant index decreased throughout much of the pheasant range, except in the south-central and east-central regions. There, the index grew by 24% and 13%, respectively, from 2018. The highest pheasant indexes were in the west-central and south-central regions where observers reported 43 to 49 birds per 100 miles driven. Hunting opportunities will also be good in the southwest and central regions.

Just like fishing, it still depends partly on luck but the bottom line is location, location, location. I feel safe in saying there will be ample land for folks to hunt on this Governor’s Opener.

With many of the smaller family farms being bought up by larger farmers, it is getting harder to get permission to hunt some of the land. This is where WMA’s (Wildlife Management Areas) play such an increasingly important role in the sport of hunting. Mower County, like Freeborn County, has eleven WMA’s available for public use.

You can locate any of these management areas on the DNR website by going to www.dnr.state.mn.us/wmas/index.html.

Until next time, it’s getting to be the time of year when the big fish will be fattening up for winter. It still might be a little too early, but this is still prime time to be on the lake or wetting a line from shore.

Please remember to keep our troops in your prayers. We must not let ourselves forget those who are still putting themselves in harm’s way so we can enjoy all of the wonderful freedoms we have today.