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Outdoor Notes for Dec. 24

Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame names 2018 Inductees

LITTLE FALLS—Three individuals and two organizations will be enshrined by The Fishing Hall of Fame of Minnesota in 2018.

Inductees in the Individual Legends category include outdoor writer, photographer and filmmaker Mark Strand, one of North America's most recognizable faces, and voices, in fishing today; Director of Field Promotions for Rapala USA, Mark Fisher; plus legendary Rainy Lake guide, Billy Dougherty. The Gapen Company and Minn Kota will join the ranks of Legendary Organizations.

The Hall of Fame annually recognizes up to three individuals and two groups or organizations that have made a major impact on Minnesota's sport fishing industry. The Hall stands to recognize all passionate fishing promoters, whether they have made a difference through education, legislation, guiding, manufacturing, media promotions or other means.

Individuals must be a state resident, have lived in Minnesota for a minimum of 25 years, be at least 50 years of age, and have made meritorious contributions to the sport of fishing. Businesses and organizations may also be nominated, provided they are registered in Minnesota and have made similar noteworthy contributions to fishing. Nominations are accepted from the general public, and the list is reduced to the top 10 by current Hall members, after which finalists are voted on for induction.

Mark Strand has written for nearly every outdoor magazine, including many years as a regular contributor to "In-Fisherman," "Fishing Facts" and other publications. He's amassed thousands of freelance magazine credits; developed, produced and hosted two nationally-syndicated radio programs and five podcasts. He has authored or co-authored 13 books.

His decades-long drive for offering the best as a tournament angler, TV-personality, and radio host, Mark Fisher, has brought incredible success both personally and for those he represents. "Exposure is the best preparation for opportunity! Whatever your strong suit is, whether it's painting lures, writing stories, giving seminars or engineering boats, put those skills to use," he said in a news release

William "Billy" Dougherty's career as a legendary guide on Rainy Lake includes his youthful 1965-1975 stint at his grandparents' Kettle Falls Hotel, plus his work at Rainy Lake Houseboats from 1985 to the present. Billy's multi-species angling expertise has been featured by "In-Fisherman TV," "Babe Winkelman's Good Fishing" and "Backroads with Ron and Raven." Dougherty proudly notes that 2018 marks the centennial of his Williams/Dougherty family's deep involvement with fishing-related tourism on Rainy Lake.

Among the Legendary Organizations, Minn Kota established in 1934 has served as an industry leader in the trolling category. The company has led the way in product innovation and cutting-edge technology from day one, when O.G. Schmidt first strapped a propeller to a starter motor from a Model A. Since the company has continued to lead the way in innovation with trolling motor accessories, GPS-enabled motors, battery chargers, and electro-mechanical shallow water anchors. The Gapen Tackle Company, a Minnesota firm for 62 years, got its main start when Don Gapen created the Muddler Fly in 1936. This fly has become the largest-selling trout fly in the world.

Official enshrinement coincides with the Northwest Sport show and is planned for Friday, March 23, 2018 near the Minneapolis Convention Center. For details, visit www.fishinghalloffamemn.com.

Precautionary test results show no new outbreaks of CWD in wild deer

No chronic wasting disease was detected in more than 11,000 precautionary samples from deer that hunters harvested this fall in north-central, central and southeastern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

"This is good news for Minnesota," said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. "The results lend confidence that the disease is not spread across the landscape."

In all, 7,813 deer were tested in the north-central area, 2,529 in the central area and 1,149 in the southeastern area outside deer permit area 603, the CWD management zone. Researchers still are submitting samples from cooperating taxidermists so final results will updated online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck as they become available.

Given no deer with CWD were found in north-central and central Minnesota, the DNR will narrow surveillance next fall to areas closer to the farms where CWD was detected. A fourth precautionary surveillance area will be added in fall 2018 in Winona County because CWD recently was detected in captive deer there.

Precautionary testing in north-central and central Minnesota became necessary after CWD was found in multiple captive deer on farms near Merrifield in Crow Wing County and Litchfield in Meeker County. It also was conducted in the deer permit areas directly adjacent to southeast Minnesota's deer permit area 603, the only place in Minnesota where CWD is known to exist in wild deer.

Minnesota's CWD response plan calls for testing of wild deer after the disease is detected in either domestic or wild deer. All results from three consecutive years of testing must report CWD as not detected before DNR stops looking for the disease.

Three years of testing are necessary because CWD incubates in deer slowly. They can be exposed for as long as 18 months before laboratory tests of lymph node samples can detect the disease.

Proactive surveillance and precautionary testing for CWD is a proven strategy that allows the DNR to manage the disease by finding it early and reacting quickly and aggressively to control it. These actions, which were taken in 2005 to successfully combat bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota deer and in 2010 to eliminate a CWD infection in wild deer near Pine Island, provide the best opportunity to eliminate disease spread.

Precautionary testing is necessary to detect the disease early. Without early detection, there's nothing to stop CWD from becoming established at a relatively high prevalence and across a large geographic area. At that point, there is no known way to control the disease.

"Overall, hunter cooperation and public support has been tremendous," Cornicelli said. "While there are always challenges when you conduct this type of surveillance effort, it really couldn't have been successful without the cooperation of hunters, taxidermists, landowners and the businesses that allowed us to operate check stations."

Complete information about CWD and DNR efforts to keep Minnesota deer healthy are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

DNR announces new special angling regulations

Special fishing regulations will change March 1 on a number of Minnesota waters following an annual public input and review process, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

"Anglers need to know special regulations because they take precedence over statewide regulations," said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the DNR. "We have special regulations to improve fish populations and make fishing better or more sustainable."

Special regulations for individual waters are listed in a separate section of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet and at mndnr.gov/fishmn, and are posted at public accesses.

For this spring, new statewide northern pike zone regulations that take effect on inland waters will make it possible to do away with several previously existing special regulations that apply to individual waters and aim for similar outcomes as the zone regulations. The new statewide pike regulations go into effect in time for the fishing opener on Saturday, May 12.

On waters that have a special fishing regulation, anglers are required to follow the special regulation and unless otherwise mentioned, all other regulations apply.

Public process for special regulations

Special regulations are put in place after fisheries managers write plans for the lakes they oversee and each provides objectives for achieving management goals. Before changes are made to special regulations, the DNR evaluates each regulation, shares what's found in the evaluations and angler surveys, hosts public input meetings in the fall and reviews comments from the public about the regulations. Goals of individual lake management plans also are considered.

"We need the public to tell us what they want for the process to work well, and we do value the input," Stevens said.

For this spring, 29 lakes and connected waters were reviewed.

Changes detailed

Pelican Lake in St. Louis County: A special regulation on bass will be made permanent, while a regulation on northern pike will be dropped. An evaluation of the regulations showed that the 14-20 inch protected slot limit with one over 20 inches in possession on bass maintained a quality bass fishery, while allowing for an opportunity to harvest smaller bass. The regulation was generally popular with anglers and will continue. The 24-36 inch protected slot limit on northern pike provided some benefit to the pike population; however, the benefits of the regulation are similar to the new statewide zone regulation, which provides the opportunity to drop the regulation and simplify regulations complexity for anglers.

Sand Lake and connected waters (Little Sand, Portage, and Birds Eye lakes) in Itasca County: A special regulation for northern pike will be dropped, and the lakes will change to the statewide limits. The new statewide zone regulation for northern pike will likely be just as effective as the special regulation in encouraging harvest of abundant small pike while improving sizes of pike.

Big Swan Lake in Todd County: A 24-36 inch protected slot limit with only one fish over 36 inches will be made permanent after the review showed sizes of pike have improved. Also, the regulation's expanded possession limit of six, with only one fish over 36 inches, will remain in effect as the number of small pike has continued to remain higher than desired.

Balm, Big Bass, South Twin and Deer lakes in Beltrami County; Portage Lake in Cass County; and Flour, Hungry Jack and Two Island lakes in Cook County: These eight lakes with restrictive size regulations (either a 12-20 inch protected slot or catch-and-release only regulation) on bass will be modified to a less restrictive, 14-20 inch protected slot with one over 20 inches to allow additional harvest of small bass while still protecting quality sized fish. Although the existing regulations were shown to be effective, the new protected slot is expected to provide a similar protection to quality fish and with the added benefit of allowing additional harvest of abundant smaller bass.

Itasca, Ozawindib and Mary lakes in Itasca State Park: Special regulations on sunfish, black crappie and bass for three lakes in the park will be standardized among the lakes. While the existing regulations largely have been effective and have been generally popular with park visitors, the DNR will standardize sunfish and crappie possession limits to five, drop a minimum size restriction on crappie for Ozawindib Lake and modify the current restrictive bass regulations (catch-and-release on Mary Lake and the 12-20 inch protected slot on Ozawindib Lake) to a 14-20 inch protected slot with one over 20 inches for both lakes. The goal is to simplify regulations for park visitors while maintaining fishing quality.

Sissabagamah and Long lakes in Aitkin County: Special regulations on northern pike will be dropped in favor of the new statewide zone pike regulation. Some benefits to the sizes of pike have been seen since a protected slot regulation was enacted; however, the north-central zone pike regulations may provide a similar or even better outcome and also serve to reduce regulation complexity.

Bass Lake in Todd County and Cedar Lake in Morrison County: Trophy regulations (40 inch minimum length requirement, possession limit of one) on northern pike will be modified to a 26 inch maximum with a possession limit of three. While trophy northern pike still exist, growth rates of smaller pike in these lakes have declined. Allowing harvest opportunity on pike under 26 inches may help the population while still protecting medium to large pike.

Kraut, Peanut, North Shady, Squash and Tomato lakes in Cook County: Catch-and-release regulations on trout in these five lakes will be dropped this spring. Additionally, the ban on winter fishing and special tackle restrictions for these lakes will go away. The catch-and-release with tackle restrictions and the winter fishing closure did not meet management goals for these stocked trout fisheries. They are remotely located and special regulations and the closed winter season did not provide quality fishing in these lakes. But the same special regulations will continue on three other lakes—Thompson, Thrush and Turnip lakes—that were reviewed at the same time.

Moody Lake in Crow Wing County: This lake will reopen to fishing after having been closed to fishing since 2001. Entirely located within an aquatic management area, the lake has been used as a fisheries research lake and at times was used for rearing walleye. It no longer is needed for that purpose and plans are to reclaim the lake by using rotenone to remove undesirable fish and then restock with walleye, yellow perch and bass, and implement a catch-and-release regulation to maintain quality sized fish for anglers to enjoy.

Little Boy and Wabedo lakes in Cass County: These lakes will have an 18-26 inch protected slot, with one over 26 inches, in a possession limit of four walleye — which will be in effect for 10 years and then re-evaluated. The regulation was proposed in response to local requests to improve and protect the walleye population, which will likely benefit from restrictions on harvesting walleye longer than 18 inches.

Visit mndnr.gov/fishmn for more information on special fishing regulations. Special regulations that change March 1 will be listed in the 2018 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet.

Applications open for spring wild turkey A and B season permits

The deadline for firearms wild turkey hunters to apply for early season spring hunting permits is Friday, Jan. 26, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The spring season, which runs from Wednesday, April 18, to Thursday, May 31, is divided into six time periods. Only people age 18 and older who want to hunt using a firearm during the first two time periods (A or B) need to apply for a spring turkey permit. Permits for the remaining time periods (C-F) can be purchased over-the-counter. Archery and youth turkey hunters can hunt the entire season without applying for the lottery.

Permits for the last four time periods and youth licenses are sold starting March 1. Surplus adult licenses from the first two time periods, if available, are sold starting around mid-March.

People applying for permit area 511, the Carlos Avery State Wildlife Management Area, are advised that the sanctuary portion of the WMA will be closed to turkey hunting except for the special hunt for hunters with disabilities.

For turkey hunting, a person may only use shotguns 20 gauge or larger, including muzzleloading shotguns. Only fine shot size No. 4 and smaller diameter may be used, and red dot scopes and rangefinders are legal. Visit mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey for more information about turkey hunting.

Christmas Bird Count event

The seventh annual Uppgaard Christmas Bird Count will be held Dec. 30 at Uppgaard WMA near Crosslake.

Those interested can meet at 7 a.m. at the A-Pine Restaurant in Jenkins. The bird count starts at 8 a.m. The count area includes Crosslake, Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point and the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway. Other bird counts include Dec. 28 at Rice Lake NWR, meet at 7 a.m. at the School House Cafe in McGregor; and Monday, Jan. 1 in Pillager, eet at 8 a.m. at Casey's Gas Station.

This year marks the 118th Christmas Bird Count in the U.S., the oldest citizen science project in the country. For more information contact Judd Brink at 218-8384784 or by email at info@birdminnesota.com.

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