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OutdoorsWeekly.com Minnesota Archived News
Minnesota News

June 2017

 

Angler ties his own state record for flathead catfish

record flathead catfishAn angler has tied his own state record fish in the catch-and-release length category with a 49-inch flathead catfish, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Jake Robinson of Shakopee caught and released the new record flathead catfish May 15 on the Minnesota River near Savage. He caught the 49-inch fish on 100-pound test line. It had a girth of 33-1/2 inches, identical to his previous record caught on June 7, 2016. Because of different markings, they appeared to be two distinct fish.
Robinson, an experienced catfish angler, has some advice for those targeting flathead catfish.
“I have 11 years of targeting flathead cats and suggest to new anglers to stay on the move every 20 minutes if you don’t get a bite,” Robinson said.
There are two kinds of Minnesota state records: one for catching and keeping the biggest fish in each species based on certified weight; and the other for the length of a caught and released muskellunge, lake sturgeon or flathead catfish.
Mike Kurre, the DNR’s mentoring program coordinator, recommends anglers become familiar with the record-fish guidelines and be ready to take the required photos and go through the correct procedures for submitting a record – especially when equipped with the fishing tackle and on waters where they might catch record fish.

The DNR announces new state records in news releases, on social media and on the DNR website. Find current records and guidelines for each type of state record at mndnr.gov/recordfish.

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DNR seeks outside review of Mille Lacs Lake walleye questions and concerns

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced this week that the agency will initiate an external review of Mille Lacs Lake walleye management and harvest strategy. The review is part of the scientific process of adaptive fisheries management and will help to increase transparency with the public.
“Mille Lacs Lake issues are complex, and peer review is an important component of sound science,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief.
Pereira said the review will cover several elements, including:

  • Evaluation of current management objectives.
  • Review of alternative management approaches.
  • Analysis of the feasibility and likely outcomes from a change in management strategy.
  • Evaluation of the current field assessment methodologies such as fall gillnet surveys, population estimates and creel surveys. 

Pereira also said the DNR will provide any data and other fisheries management information needed for a proper, thorough and accurate review by this external review team.
However, DNR staff will not be involved with this independent review by fisheries experts from across the Great Lakes basin. Dr. Chris Vandergoot of the U.S. Geological Survey, Lake Erie Biological Station, is the lead.
A member of the external review team will meet with Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee members later this summer to document the committee’s concerns, questions and issues it wants the review to address.
In addition to the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee, the DNR is seeking the involvement of the Fisheries Technical Committee and the eight Chippewa bands that have rights to harvest fish from the lake under the 1837 Treaty.
“We’re eager to see the results,” Pereira said. “The review will be complete sometime next winter. Having more people review will add to everyone’s understanding of the lake and options for the future.”

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Minnesota's largest invasive carp captured near Redwood Falls

Bighead Carp

Bighead carp captured by bow angler and reported to DNR

A bow angler fishing in a private gravel pit near Redwood Falls Sunday caught the largest invasive carp recorded in Minnesota. The bighead carp measured 47 1/2 inches in length and weighed 61.7 pounds.
Invasive fish coordinator Nick Frohnauer said the angler immediately reported the capture to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and was helpful getting the specimen delivered to the area fisheries office. “The news of this capture is somewhat alarming, given the size and location,” Frohnauer said. “This bighead carp was captured about 80 miles upstream from the only other bighead carp captured in the Minnesota River.”
The fish likely entered the gravel pit during a period of high water. The pit is within the Minnesota River floodplain and periodically becomes connected during flood flows. When floodplain lakes become connected to the river, fish move into these areas to escape the high water velocities in the main river and exploit new food sources. 
 “The gravel pit where the carp was captured provides a unique opportunity to determine if the fish was an isolated capture or part of a group,” Frohnauer said. “The pit is off the main channel, so fish are confined to a smaller area rather than having many miles of river.”
The DNR invasive carp field crew is working with the local fisheries office and the landowner to conduct follow-up sampling. The crew will also look at sampling areas near the location, including floodplain lakes and the main river.
The DNR is concerned about the potential impacts of invasive carp in the Minnesota River and other waters. The agency is working with other state and federal agencies, conservation groups, university researchers and commercial businesses to prevent the spread of invasive carp.

  • The DNR has contracted with the Water Resources Center at Minnesota State University – Mankato to provide information to guide DNR management decisions for the Minnesota River.
  • The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the University of Minnesota has funding through the DNR to evaluate potential deterrents for Mississippi River Locks and Dams. Through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENTRF), they have installed acoustic speakers at Lock 8 in southeastern Minnesota and modeled flows through the gates at Dams 2, near Hastings, and 8. 
  • The DNR is in the process of awarding a contract to explore the feasibility of installing an acoustic deterrent system at Lock and Dam 5 in southeastern Minnesota. A deterrent system at this location would help prevent fish from moving into both the Minnesota and St. Croix rivers.

Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River in the 1970s. These large fish compete with native species and pose a threat to rivers and lakes. While no breeding populations have been detected in Minnesota waters, individual fish have been caught in the Mississippi near the Twin Cities, the St. Croix River and the Minnesota River.
Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. Call 651-587-2781 or email invasivecarp.dnr@state.mn.us. Take a photo and transport the carp to the nearest fisheries office or make arrangements for it to be picked up by a DNR official.
More information about invasive carp is available at mndnr.gov/invasivecarp.

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DNR sees boatload of state record fish applications

Large fish caught highlight the variety and quality of angling in Minnesota

Interest has ramped up this spring in the state record fish program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, with five applications for four species including everything from shortnose gar, lake sturgeon, golden redhorse and the quillback carpsucker. 
“This is by far the wildest, craziest spring we’ve ever had. We’ve never had so many record submissions and so much interest in such a short span of time,” said Mike Kurre, state record fish program coordinator. “They’re are all impressive catches and show interest in the program is growing and that there are some huge fish out there in Minnesota.”
There are two kinds of Minnesota state records: One for catching and keeping the biggest fish in each species based on certified weight; and the other for the length of a caught and released muskellunge, lake sturgeon or flathead catfish.
A bump-up in applications for record fish shows interest in the state record fish program, but a bump in records tells little about an angler’s overall chances of catching a large fish.
Someone’s chances of catching a lunker depend on a variety of factors including the species and location. Anglers fishing for lake sturgeon, for example, now have better chances of catching large ones because of the recovery and restrictive harvest regulations have led to their numbers increasing.
On the level of individual fish, catch-and-release fishing often means large fish returned to the water can keep growing.
“Anglers are in some cases benefiting from good fisheries management decisions and environmental cleanup of past decades, especially when it comes to long-lived fish like sturgeon,” Kurre said. “In some cases, specific state record holders probably wouldn’t have the record without other anglers releasing that fish in the past.” 
Anglers also might be taking more of an interest in identifying and trying to catch obscure species – like golden redhorse or shortnose gar – and boosting their personal life-lists for species caught. Such was the goal in the case of one recent record.
“The newest record for the shortnose gar involved a cool story of a father and son who set out to fill out their life species list and were targeting some of the more obscure fish,” Kurre said. “They succeeded and not only are they up to 45 out of the recognized 62 state record fish on their list, they have a new state record with a shortnose gar.”
So far the record count this year stands at four: a 5-pound 4-ounce shortnose gar caught by Cayden Hutmacher; two caught and released lake sturgeon that were 70 inches long caught by Tim Deiman and Mark Minnick; and a 4-pound 7-ounce golden redhorse caught by Mathew Williams.
Social media even fueled some recent speculation that there would be two other candidates for flathead catfish records after photos surfaced of anglers who caught, photographed and released large catfish on the Minnesota River the same day on May 15, about 100 miles apart from each other. The fish may have ended up tied with the current 49-inch length record; however, one of the anglers didn’t have a witness and the DNR hasn’t received a record application for the other.
The largest catch-and-release record submitted for consideration this year came from the Minnesota-Canada border waters, a submission that stated it as a 72-inch lake sturgeon. Unfortunately, there was no photo of that fish on the ruler so it could not be certified as a record. There was also an application for a quillback carpsucker that turned out to be a bigmouth buffalo.
“Some of the potential records submitted for the catch-and-release category haven’t had a photo of the complete fish on a ruler,” Kurre said. “It’s understandable, since outside a cadre of top-level anglers, few go out fishing expecting to catch one of these huge fish. Or, in the other cases, solo anglers would have just needed to take someone else fishing with them.”
Kurre recommends anglers become familiar with the record-fish guidelines and be ready to take the required photos and go through the correct procedures for submitting the record – especially when equipped with the fishing tackle and on waters where they might catch record fish.
The DNR will in coming weeks announce new state records in news releases and online. Find current records and guidelines for each type of state record at mndnr.gov/recordfish.

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Muskie season begins

Here are the basics

Anglers can begin fishing for muskellunge on Saturday, June 3, in Minnesota – a state well known as a muskie fishing destination, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
While committed muskie anglers might cast large lures all season and be happy with a small number of encounters with trophy fish, casual anglers may not be in-the-know about muskies in Minnesota.
To help set the stage, Chris Kavanaugh, northeast region fisheries manager, discussed some muskie basics.   
Q: Where did muskies come from?
A: Muskie are native to Minnesota waters, and they were present historically in many lakes and rivers, mainly in the north-central and northeast part of the state in waters connected to each other in the Mississippi River watershed. They were actually found in all the major watersheds in the state.
Q: What different kinds of muskies are present in Minnesota?
A: Presently, the fish we consider pure-strain muskies are descended from the fish that lived here historically, and are referred to as the Mississippi River or Leech Lake strain. We also have a small number of waters with smaller-growing native muskie from Shoepack Lake in what’s now Voyageurs National Park, although this strain has not been stocked since the 1980s. Finally, tiger muskies are hybrids of northern pike and muskie.
Q: Where in Minnesota can you fish for muskie now?
A: Some well-known muskie lakes include Leech, Cass, Winnibigoshish, Vermilion and Mille Lacs, and the St. Louis River estuary. Muskies are also found on many smaller lakes. Contact a local area fisheries office to ask about local muskie fishing opportunities, and learn about lakes to fish on the DNR LakeFinder at www.mndnr.gov/lakefind.
In all, there are 99 waters managed for muskie and they’ve also been found in small numbers in another 50 waters. The 99 waters make up 21 percent of the total surface area of all the waters managed for fishing in the state – which means they’re here in very low density considering we have 5,500 fishing lakes and several large rivers.
Q: Does the DNR stock muskies?
A: Yes, of the 99 waters where we manage for muskie fishing, we stock pure-strain muskie in  50 waters, and tiger muskie in 11 waters in the Twin Cities metro area. Some waters are stocked every year. Others may be stocked every other year or less frequently. The number stocked in any given water varies from as few as 63 fingerlings to 4,000 fingerlings. In any given year, about 30,000 fingerlings are stocked across the state.
Q: How many people fish for muskie?
A: Our estimates tell us that about one in six Minnesota resident anglers fish for muskie at least once per year. The popularity and interest in muskie fishing seems to continue to grow.
Q: Can people eat muskies?
A: Yes, although the minimum size to keep a muskie on inland waters is 54 inches. On specific lakes in the metro area, the minimum size is 40 inches for tiger muskies. There is a strong catch-and-release ethic among muskie anglers, so fewer anglers choose to harvest these large fish compared with some other species. That’s one reason we included muskie in the catch-and-release length category of our state record fish program. The record length for a caught-and-released muskie is 56-7/8 inches from Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County.

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Volunteers sought for Governor’s Council on Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program

People who enjoy the North Shore and Lake Superior and want to help shape its future are encouraged to consider volunteering to serve on the Governor’s Council on Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.
This is a citizen advisory group that sets grant funding priorities, reviews grant applications and recommends projects to receive funding through the Coastal Program. All funded projects benefit Minnesota’s coastal area.
The 15-member council is made up of three representatives each for Carlton, Cook, Lake and St Louis counties and three at-large positions that can be filled statewide. There are ten available seats on the council.
The council meets about five times per year at various North Shore locations. Council members receive travel reimbursement and serve 60 to 70 hours per year while fulfilling a two or three year term. All adult Minnesotans are eligible to serve.
Anyone interested can apply online at the Minnesota Secretary of State website: https://commissionsandappointments.sos.state.mn.us/Agency/Details/162. A paper application can be downloaded at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/media/1336/printable_application-2.doc.
 For more information about the Coastal Program’s work and service area, see www.mndnr.gov/mlscp.
Questions about the Coastal Program and application process can be directed to Amber Westerbur, Coastal Program manager, at 218-834-1445 or amber.westerbur@state.mn.us.

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President Proposes $1.3 Billion FY 2018 Budget for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump (May 21) proposed a $1.3 billion Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service's budget also includes $1.5 billion in permanent funding, which is mostly administered to states through various grants and other initiatives for their wildlife and sportfish conservation programs. The bureau budget helps put the federal government on track to a balanced budget by 2027. 
“President Trump promised the American people he would cut wasteful spending and make the government work for the taxpayer again, and that's exactly what this budget does,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Working carefully with the President, we identified areas where we could reduce spending and also areas for investment, such as addressing the maintenance backlog in our National Parks and increasing domestic energy production on federal lands. The budget also allows the Department to return to the traditional principles of multiple-use management to include both responsible natural resource development and conservation of special places. Being from the West, I've seen how years of bloated bureaucracy and D.C.-centric policies hurt our rural communities. The President's budget saves taxpayers by focusing program spending, shrinking bureaucracy, and empowering the front lines."    
The President’s budget focuses funding on the nation’s highest priority conservation needs, access to public lands for all Americans, and the agency’s role in streamlining energy development, while containing costs through management efficiencies and other savings to address federal fiscal realities.
“Improving access to national wildlife refuges supports the great American traditions of hunting and fishing that together generate billions of dollars for conservation and billions more for our nation’s economy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Virginia Johnson. “Accordingly, this budget request prioritizes deferred maintenance funding for national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, active habitat management across millions of acres of public lands, and core wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities.”
“Timely environmental review of energy development and other infrastructure needs will create jobs and help the U.S. achieve energy independence,” said Johnson. “This budget also supports our law enforcement officers who support cooperative efforts to secure our borders.”
The FY18 budget includes the President’s continued focus on the following priorities:
America’s Public Lands:
Through the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Service continues the American tradition, started by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, of protecting fish and wildlife and their habitats and providing opportunities for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation to all Americans. The proposed FY18 funding level for the Refuge System is $470.1 million. The proposed budget maintains a commitment to providing outdoor recreational opportunities in rural, urban or suburban landscapes, including through the Service’s Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships program, as well as supporting the vital role of volunteers on our refuges.
American Infrastructure:
Included in the request for National Wildlife Refuges is $136.2 million for improving the Service’s maintenance backlog and to take care of the American public’s investments in facilities and infrastructure managed by the Service. Of this, $41.0 million is to address the backlog in deferred maintenance. This would sustain the Service’s current commitment to eliminate its maintenance backlog in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
In addition, $19.4 million is requested for maintenance of national fish hatcheries, which stock sport and subsistence fish for states and tribes and also propagate and release endangered aquatic species to aid in their recovery. . A further $51.9 million in funding is proposed for national fish hatchery operations.
Invasive species cost our economy billions of dollars each year. To continue its commitment to address this important issue, the Administration proposes level funding for programs that focus on preventing the spread of Asian carp, quagga and zebra mussels, and sea lamprey.
 A total of $225.2 million is proposed to implement the Endangered Species Act and related programs, of which $79.6 million is dedicated for species recovery efforts. Recovery funding includes an increase of $1.8 million for working on five-year species reviews and delistings and downlistings.
Birds are important to Americans in many ways. Birdwatching generates $43 billion in economic activity yearly; hunting of migratory waterfowl is a traditional recreational pastime that generates billions more. A total of $44.0 million is requested for the Service’s Migratory Bird program, which provides waterfowl hunting opportunities and encourages conservation of birds and their habitats.
The budget eliminates funding for Landscape Conservation Cooperatives and the Service’s science program, as well as funding for youth programs and the Cooperative Recovery Initiative.
American Safety and Security:
Refuge law enforcement efforts are funded at $37.9 million to enhance visitor and employee safety on our public lands and honor the President’s commitment to improving border security.
Additionally, the Office of Law Enforcement is funded at $73.0 million. The recent escalation in poaching of protected species and the illegal trade in wildlife poses an urgent threat to conservation and global security. Wildlife trafficking generates billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to the illegal economy, fueling instability in range nations, and undermining regional security in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Poaching operations themselves have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to become a coordinated, large-scale activity often commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates that also traffic drugs, arms and people, and that see wildlife trafficking as a low-risk, high-reward alternative. Our continued investment in combatting wildlife trafficking is important to addressing organized crime and saving hundreds of iconic species such as the African elephant and rhino from extinction.  The Service’s International Affairs program is funded at $14.2 million, nearly level with FY17 Continuing Resolution Baseline. The program provides grants and technical assistance for the international conservation of endangered and threatened species.
America First Energy:
The budget includes $98.8 million to facilitate planning and consultation that will support energy development, economic recovery and job creation in the United States. Timely evaluations of proposed infrastructure, energy and other development projects contribute to job creation and economic growth. Funding will allow the Service to expedite project reviews and work with developers on appropriate mitigation and avoidance measures.
The President’s budget also contains proposals to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling; to enable the National Wildlife Refuge System to recover damages from persons who injure or destroy federal resources; and to permanently authorize the Recreation Fee Program.
The President’s FY18 budget proposal for the Department of the Interior supports his commitment to create jobs, provide outdoor recreation through hunting and fishing, facilitate energy development, and support law enforcement needs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Congressional Justification can be found online: www.fws.gov/budget/2018/FY2018-FWS-Greenbook.pdf.
The Department of the Interior oversees one-fifth of the nation's land and the entire Outer-Continental Shelf. The Department is charged with overseeing energy development on federal lands and waters, grazing allotments and timber sales, water conservation and delivery, upholding tribal trust responsibilities, conservation of wildlife and habitat, and maintaining access for recreation throughout public lands, among other priorities.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.

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