Minnesota Department of Natural Resources header

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #35                                                                                May 8, 2013

IN THIS ISSUE
Give a Mother’s Day gift by wearing a life jacket
Be different, fish metro
Minnesota River provides a unique and relaxing fishing experience
State parks and water trails in Park Rapids area offer scenic spots
  
to wet lines and paddles


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Give a Mother’s Day gift by wearing a life jacket

As thousands of anglers plan to hit the water for this weekend’s fishing opener, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds everyone to be safe and responsible every time they step into a boat.

Lack of life jacket use is the number one contributing factor to boating deaths in Minnesota. Since 2010, 43 people have died in boating accidents, 35 of those victims were not wearing life jackets.

“The message is simple – life jackets save lives,” said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist.

Life jackets today with inflatable, belt-pack inflatable and inflatable fishing vest options are comfortable, lightweight and don’t get in the way while an angler casts a line.

“The walleye opener typically falls on Mother’s Day weekend,” Owens said. “Give your mom, sister, wife, kids, dad, or brother – anyone – a gift every day by wearing a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket while boating.

With the late thaw, ice or ice chunks could also be an issue on several lakes. Water temperatures are dangerous this time of year, Owens added. Falling into cold water can cause an immediate involuntary gasp for air and the shock of the icy water can also cause cardiac arrest, even for people in good health.

The DNR has a few tips for safe and responsible boating:

  • State law requires a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket for each person on board all watercraft.
  • All children under 10-years-old are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while a boat is underway.
  • Alcohol and boating don’t mix.
  • Keep an eye on the weather.
  • If a watercraft becomes swamped or capsized, try to reboard or stay with the craft.
  • Take a boater course and receive a boat education certificate.

For information on boating courses and other boating safety information visit, www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater.
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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              May 8, 2013

Big rivers, big fish
Be different, fish metro

By Harland Hiemstra, DNR information officer

Go ahead, Metropolitans, dare to be different.

Instead of joining the bumper-to-bumper exodus of cars, trucks and boats headed out of town for the fishing opener, stick around home. Dare to dream of the big ones. You might catch some nearby.

The fact is, 12 state record fish have come from waters in the seven-county metro region. The second biggest fish caught anywhere in Minnesota was a state-record 70-pound flathead catfish hauled in from Washington County’s St. Croix River in 1970 (the biggest: a lake sturgeon weighing 94 pounds, four ounces, caught in the Kettle River in Pine County). The state record channel catfish also comes from the metro, a 38-pounder caught in 1975 in the Hennepin County portion of the Mississippi River.

With three big rivers flowing together – the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix – the metro region is a great place for anyone interested in chasing cats. The DNR continues to beef up management efforts around the species, which grows in popularity among anglers. Catfish are stocked in a number of metro lakes, too.

Another monster of the deep also grows large in metro waters. lakes Minnetonka and Waconia, White Bear, Bald Eagle and Forest lakes (among others) are managed for muskie, Minnesota’s biggest predator fish, known to snatch an occasional duck from calm waters for lunch. The 34-pound and 12-ounce state record tiger muskie -- a sterile hybrid of northern pike and muskellunge – was pulled from Lake Elmo in 1999. The previous state-record tiger muskie, another 30-plus pounder, came out of Lake Calhoun. Muskie season opens June 1.

Mr. Muskie’s cousin, the northern pike, also can be found in good numbers and sizes around the Twin Cities. While the state record pike was taken long ago from some northern lake hours from civilization and good coffee, northerns more than 20 pounds have been documented in Square Lake in Washington County, and a 42-incher was sampled a few years ago in Big Carnelian. Big Carnelian has special regulations aimed at quality pike management, as do Ann and Steiger lakes in the west metro.

When it comes to bass, the Twin Cities region has some of the best angling opportunities anywhere. The state record largemouth was reeled in from Carver County’s Auburn Lake in 2005 – a 23.5-inch lunker that weighed one ounce shy of nine pounds. Five-pounders are not uncommon in Forest Lake, Big Marine, White Bear, Bald Eagle, and Coon lakes in Anoka County. Bass season opens May 25, two weeks after the walleye opener.

And as far as big ’eyes go, the metro region is no sleepy backwater, either. While you won’t run much risk of rivaling the state record 17.5-pound walleye hoisted from the Seagull River in Cook County (1979), there are big ones to be found. Last spring in ice-out sampling on Bald Eagle Lake, 80 percent of the walleye were over 20 inches, and the biggest was 33 inches – over 10 pounds.

On Owasso last year, more than half the walleye sampled exceeded 20 inches, with the biggest measuring two-feet-two. Pool 2 of the Mississippi River (between the Ford and Hastings dams), has gained notoriety as a top-notch catch-and-release walleye factory, open year-round. In the west metro area, the Minnesota River also has good potential for sizeable walleye, as well as Lake Waconia and the upper lake basins of Minnetonka.

What of the other metro state records? They’re lesser known species such as gar (both long-nose and short-nose), dogfish, eel and river carpsucker. Not necessarily something you’d want to see on the end of your line or brag about in polite company, but records nonetheless.

So there you have it, Twin Citians – an alternative opener experience to go with the rest of your alternative lifestyle. Many of the metro’s best fisheries have excellent shore-fishing opportunities, and are accessible by public transit. Instead of blowing a wad of cash for gas to get to some remote northern destination, think globally but fish locally.

You might even catch some big ones. 
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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                May 8, 2013

Minnesota River provides a unique and relaxing fishing experience

Anglers looking for a unique and relaxing fishing experience will be rewarded with the time they spend on the Minnesota River, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“This river supports a large and diverse fish population,” said Chris Domeier, DNR assistant area fisheries supervisor. “We’re seeing species of fish in places we haven’t seen them before.”

Last summer, DNR fisheries sampled 16 stations along the river from Ortonville to Minneapolis and caught 54 species of fish, including walleye, sauger, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, muskellunge, flathead and channel catfish, sunfish, crappies and shovelnose sturgeon. 

“We’re also finding sensitive species of fish in the river including paddlefish, blue suckers and black buffalo,” Domeier said. “This is good news, because they reflect river health.” 

The health of the river was brought to the forefront in 1992, when it was declared one of the state’s most polluted waters by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). A century of urban and industrial development and intensive farming had contributed to poor water quality due to increased levels of nutrients and sediment. Then-Gov. Arne Carlson announced a plan to make the waterway “swimmable and fishable” in 10 years. 

Governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, citizen activist groups and the agricultural community have worked to better the river. This spring, the Minnesota River is being nominated to the National Blueway System for multi-faceted efforts to maintain the river and watershed as a valuable and useable resource. 

River clean-up efforts continue. MPCA testing last August along a 20-mile stretch of the river showed improvements in oxygen, phosphorus and chlorophyll levels. 

An important ecological gain for the river occurred last winter when Xcel Energy removed the Minnesota Falls dam near Granite Falls. As a result, 3 miles of high quality rapids habitat that previously were flooded out by the reservoir created by the dam were re-exposed. The project also removed a barrier to seasonal fish migrations and will provide valuable spawning and nursery habitat for numerous species, including walleye, sauger, blue sucker and lake sturgeon.  The rapids will also help increase oxygen levels by aerating the water as it flows through this stretch of the river.

“Better water quality and better habitat create better fish populations,” Domeier said. “Along with that I would expect better fishing.”

The river is becoming well-known for producing trophy flathead catfish that can exceed 40 pounds, Domeier said. It is also one of the few places in the southern part of the state where sauger can be caught.

As the river flows 335 miles from Big Stone Lake in Ortonville, to its confluence with the Mississippi River in St. Paul, it winds through prairie, woodlands, farm land and ancient rock outcroppings. The river is one of 33 designated DNR water trails in the state and portions have been designated as a Wild and Scenic River.

Numerous public accesses along the river accommodate a variety of watercraft and many provide ample parking for groups who want to paddle together. Primitive campsites along the river provide scenic views and quiet places to rest for the night.

“Anglers who pass by the Minnesota River on their way to a lake or the latest hot spot are missing out,” Domeier said.  “If you just like to relax and catch fish, this is a great place to go.” 
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DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          May 8, 2013

State parks and water trails in Park Rapids
area offer scenic spots to wet lines and paddles

Abundant fishing and paddling opportunities can be found at the state parks and state water trails near the Governor’s Fishing Opener in Park Rapids, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

Established in 1963, Minnesota’s state water trail system is the first and largest in the United States. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the system, which has expanded to include more than 4,500 miles of routes to explore along 32 rivers and Lake Superior.

The DNR’s Parks and Trails Division, maps and manages Minnesota’s 33 state water trails for canoeing, kayaking, motor boating and camping.

There are three state water trails to explore and fish near Park Rapids. Visitors can:

  • Hook smallmouth bass along the Otter Tail River State Water Trail. Designated in 2006, this 165-mile route is one of the newest state water trails. It begins in Rochert (near Detroit Lakes) and flows west through Fergus Falls to meet the Red River of the North at Breckenridge. Known for its crystal-clear water, it also offers some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state. Wild rice and lady’s slippers grow along its banks. Smallmouth bass season opens May 25.
  • Take a kid paddling on the Crow Wing River State Water Trail. Named for a wing-shaped island at its mouth, this water trail begins at a chain of 11 lakes near the towns of Nevis and Akeley. Although the water is rarely more than 3 feet deep, it is almost always deep enough for paddling, and there are no major rapids, making a great “starter” river to paddle with kids and other beginners. Launch a boat at Akeley City Park to explore 11th Crow Wing Lake or put in below the dam on 10th Crow Wing Lake and paddle south to the access between the ninth and eighth lakes.
  • Paddle through history on the Mississippi River State Water Trail. Novice paddlers seeking a half-day excursion through an area of natural, historic and cultural significance can launch their canoes or kayaks at Coffee Pot Landing in La Salle Lake State Recreation Area. Four miles downstream, the Class 1 Stumpages Rapids are shallow and easy enough for beginners to manage safely and confidently. Taking out at Bear Den Landing concludes a 14-mile trip, with great fishing along the way.

Minnesotans can now fish without a license at most lakes within Minnesota state parks, thanks to a law that went into effect in July 2009. There are two places to exercise that privilege in the Park Rapids area:

  • Fish the walleye haven at La Salle Lake State Recreation Area. Eight miles north of Itasca State Park, Minnesota’s newest state recreation area features the 213-foot-deep, 221-acre La Salle Lake, a walleye haven that also has bluegill, northern pike and crappie populations. The campground, which opened in 2012, features 26 reservable campsites with full sewer, water and electric hookups, plus 13 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Wade across the headwaters at Itasca State Park. Crossing the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park is practically a rite of passage for Minnesota kids. Minnesota’s oldest state park, established in 1891, also has more than 100 lakes. The largest is Lake Itasca, which has a boat ramp and fishing pier on its south shore, plus a fish cleaning house where anglers can fillet their catch-of-the-day.

In addition to stocking Minnesota lakes and streams with fish, the DNR also has stocked Itasca State Park and many other state parks with fishing poles and tackle they loan out free to visitors. Check out the complete list of where to find free loaner equipment (also including GPS units, binoculars and bird guides, and activities for kids) at www.mndnr.gov.

For more information on fishing and paddling at Minnesota state parks and state water trails — including maps, contact information for outfitters, river water levels and other trip-planning resources — visit www.mndnr.gov or call the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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This email was sent to editor@woodsnews.com on behalf of: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources · 500 Lafayette Road · Saint Paul, MN 55155 · 1-888-MINNDNR  

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