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Last updated: April 25, 2011

Bighead carp caught in St. Croix River

Kabetogama Area Fishing Opener is ON!

No CWD positive deer detected during sampling effort

OHV riders: Wet conditions across much of state will result in seasonal closures

Minnesota DNR clarifies seasonal closures that protect walleye

Expected late ice-out prompts fishing closures on Canadian border

DNR Fisheries announces 2011 field season plans in the International Falls area

Sign up now for a firearms safety hunter education class

Bear hunt applications open April 1, new rule sets purchasing deadline

DNR unveils new mobile apps for outdoor enthusiasts

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducting 12th National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation

DNR to expand muskie fishing opportunities

MDHA Honors 2011 Distinguished Service Award Recipients

Kevin VanDam Wins Again... Is Anyone Surprised?

No change in Mille Lacs walleye slot, northern pike regulation relaxed

 

 

Bighead carp caught in St. Croix River

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed a 27-pound bighead carp was caught in the St. Croix River on Monday, April 18 by a commercial fisherman.

Bighead carp are among several invasive Asian carp species that could cause serious damage to Minnesota’s native fish species and aquatic ecosystems.

While other Asian carp have been found in the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, authorities say the latest discovery highlights the need to rally state and national support to slow the spread of the destructive fish in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

“It’s a priority for the state to get an action plan in place to stop or slow the upstream spread of Asian carp,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “We need help from the federal government to address invasive carp in the Mississippi River. Any efforts to stop them here require coordination with the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and commercial navigation interests.”

The bighead is not the “leaping” silver carp seen in nature videos, but it destroys habitat in a similar way by filter-feeding vast amounts of plankton and out-competing native fish. Bighead can grow up to 110 pounds.

The commercial fishing operator caught the bighead carp near the U.S. Highway 10 bridge near Prescott, Wis., which is at the river’s confluence with the Mississippi. The fish was 34 inches long and about five years old.

There is no indication bighead carp are reproducing in Minnesota waters of the Mississippi or St. Croix rivers. However, the DNR is very concerned that without decisive action to improve or implement physical barriers, authorize lock closures and fund research, that situation could change.

Gov. Mark Dayton included $16 million in his current bonding proposal to improve the Coon Rapids Dam on the Mississippi River so it can function as a physical carp barrier. The Legislature is considering the proposal.

Downstream, the locks and dams at St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis are another likely barrier, but emergency authority doesn’t exist to close the locks if Asian carp are discovered there. The DNR would like to see that emergency authority created.

“Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to stop Asian carp in large river systems,” Landwehr said. “Our best hope is to stop them at physical barriers on the Mississippi River.”                                                                                          

State and federal agencies have discussed the potential use of electric or hydro-acoustic barriers to stop the spread of carp. While those techniques may help to limit or slow the spread of Asian carp, they likely won’t completely stop carp migration in large, flood-prone rivers like the St. Croix and Mississippi.

DNR officials hope to meet soon with Minnesota’s congressional delegation to talk about these barrier options and other strategies.

The Minnesota DNR will assist partners in a monitoring program this summer called eDNA, which uses a sensitive DNA test to determine if Asian carp are present in the Mississippi River. It will help to determine whether Asian carp are widespread in the river system.

Also, a new technology called otolith (or ear bone) microchemistry will give Minnesota researchers a chance to learn more about this recently discovered bighead carp. “We’ll be able to tell where this carp was born and where it has been,” said Brad Parsons, DNR central region fisheries manager.

This is the seventh incident of bighead carp being caught in the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers in Minnesota, but only the second bighead caught in the St. Croix River.

History of Minnesota bighead carp captures:

2011: St. Croix River. Single fish caught near U.S. 10 bridge near Prescott
2009: Mississippi River. Single fish caught near Winona; another caught near the Iowa border
2008: Mississippi River. Single fish caught in Pool 8 near Brownsville
2007: Mississippi River. Single fish caught in Lake Pepin
2003: Minnesota River. Single fish caught in Lake Pepin
1996: St. Croix River. Single fish caught upstream of confluence with Mississippi River.

Since the 1960s, the DNR has been monitoring fish populations in the Mississippi River. The agency uses electrofishing and netting to assess all species, including invasive carp. Every river pool is sampled annually.

The agency works with commercial fishing operators to look for Asian carp, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources does intensive netting and monitoring of the river for carp as well.

Asian carp were imported from China in the 1970s to control plankton in aquaculture ponds. By the early 1980s, both the bighead and the silver carp had escaped into open waters in the southern states. The fish have the potential to inhabit about one-third of Minnesota’s waters.

The species is very difficult to control once established.  In some states with high Asian carp densities, such as Missouri, they can represent more than 90 percent of the fish biomass.

For more information: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/aquaticanimals/asiancarp/index.html

http://www.fws.gov/midwest/News/documents/AsianCarp.pdf

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Kabetogama Area Fishing Opener is ON!

By Phil Hart
Kabetogama Lake Association
President
Gateway General Store  

Over the last week there has been much confusion over which lakes actually have a delayed opener due to anticipated late ice out and spawning time frames.

The DNR information that first announced Northern Minnesota border lakes closures, were misunderstood and construed to mean that Kabetogama, Namakan and Sand Point lakes were included in the closures.  This was about the most detrimental news that could possibly get out for this area.

Kabetogama and the adjoining lakes are well known for the past great walleye openers, regardless of ice-out dates, with some years being better than others.  These lakes are again known as a last minute destination for many anglers, as they watch for the ice out date, the expected weather, and for convenience, the water levels. 

The mistaken delayed opening news has been and could be devastating to the community, as many resorts were contacted by people wanting to cancel reservations because of what was thought to be accurate news. 

Fortunately the resorts that were contacted had a chance to save their customers.  Now we are reaching out through this fine media source to let you and anyone you know, Kabetogama and the adjoining lakes will have our fishing opener, as always on time with the rest of the state. 

The DNR did a clarification in a follow-up, however the word did not get out near as well as the misinformation first introduced.  I encourage anglers to check us out; we will have a great opener regardless of what Mother Nature has in mind.

Find us at www.kabetogama.com, and check out our fishing reports at www.kabfishingreport.com

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No CWD positive deer detected during sampling effort

Winter sampling is complete in southeastern Minnesota and none of 1,180 deer taken during the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) disease surveillance effort tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

"We looked hard and found nothing,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator. “This suggests the infection rate is low, which is very good news.” 

Landowners and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sharpshooters took 752 yearling or older deer during the sampling. The DNR also tested 87 deer that died from vehicle collisions or other means.

The DNR initiated sharpshooting this winter following the discovery of a CWD-positive deer in November in the Pine Island area. Shooting permits for 315 landowners expired Feb. 28. USDA sharpshooting ended April 1. All laboratory tests were completed Wednesday, April 6. Most landowners kept the deer they shot. Deer taken by sharpshooters were donated to individuals who signed up to receive them.

Cornicelli praised local landowners for their cooperation in the surveillance effort. “They opened their lands. They shot deer. They helped in so many ways. We thank them for that and look forward to working with them in the future,” he said.

All sampling efforts took place within a 10-mile radius of where an archery hunter harvested the a CWD-positive deer in November. Thus far, it is the only wild deer to test positive for CWD in Minnesota.

Cornicelli said the removal of more than a thousand deer from the Pine Island area will minimize the potential for the disease to spread from animal to animal.

With the winter surveillance period over, DNR will begin planning for changes to this fall's deer season in the area. Those plans will be announced later this spring but hunters can expect a new CWD management zone, mandatory sample submission, carcass transport restrictions, liberalized seasons and increased bag limits.

Details of these changes and other CWD information will be posted on the DNR's website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

CWD is a fatal animal brain disease. The National Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans. The disease is found in 14 other states and two Canadian provinces, including Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

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OHV riders: Wet conditions across much of state will result in seasonal closures

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urges off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders to use caution when out in state forests to avoid damage to forest access trails and roads. Riders also should watch for closures of trails and roads because of wet conditions.

As the snow melts, current forest road and trail conditions are becoming wet throughout much of northern Minnesota

“We are asking OHV riders to use good judgment when they are out in the forest,” said Bob Moore, DNR parks and trails supervisor, Grand Rapids.

Closures vary from south to north as spring thaws occur. Closed areas will be opened as soon as conditions allow.

Find trail and road closure information at:

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/current_conditions/index.html

or go to www.mndnr.gov , click on recreation on the top green bar, click on Off-highway Vehicle Riding under Find an OHV Trail and click on trail/road closures.

Weather data is available at http://water.weather.gov/

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Minnesota DNR clarifies seasonal closures that protect walleye

Only small portions of some Cook County lakes and streams along the Minnesota-Ontario border that traditionally hold concentrations of spawning walleye will be closed to fishing during the early part of the upcoming season, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

These closures, the majority of which occur annually and are required by law, will not delay the walleye fishing opener on Saturday, May 14, on all other Cook County lakes and streams.

Closed areas, concentrated along the Gunflint Trail northwest of Grand Marias, remain open for travel but are closed to fishing for short periods each year to prevent potential over-harvest of walleye that congregate during the spawning season. Closures on the border waters, required by state law and done in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, are enforced in Minnesota and Ontario.

All areas closed to fishing will be posted.

As in past years, the following areas were closed to fishing on Friday, April 1:

The following areas will be closed to fishing from Saturday, May 14, through Friday, May 27:

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Expected late ice-out prompts fishing closures on Canadian border

Several lakes and rivers along the Minnesota-Ontario border in Cook County will be closed to fishing at the start of this year’s season to protect concentrations of spawning walleye from potential over-harvest.

Walleye may be vulnerable to over-harvest during what is expected to be a year with relatively late ice-out and delayed spawning.

Closures, which are done in cooperation between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, affect both sides of the border. All areas closed to fishing will be posted.

The following areas were closed to fishing on Friday, April 1:

The following areas will be closed to fishing from Saturday, May 14, through Friday, May 27:

Only fishing is affected by these closures, travel is permitted through the areas.

Direct questions to the DNR office in Grand Marais at 218-387-3056 or to Steve Persons, Grand Marais area fisheries supervisor, at steve.persons@state.mn.us.

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DNR Fisheries announces 2011 field season plans in the International Falls area

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is planning lake and stream surveys and fish assessments this year on several lakes in the International Falls area.

The area, which covers Koochiching and Northern St. Louis counties, provides diverse angling opportunities for most of Minnesota’s popular game fish species as well as a chance to catch lake sturgeon, the largest freshwater fish in Minnesota.

The surveys and assessments provide information that fisheries managers use to effectively manage these resources. Assessment results are used to develop and evaluate management efforts such as fish stocking, experimental regulations, and habitat improvement projects for individual water bodies. 

The surveys and assessments may involve the use of seines, trap nets, gill nets, and electrofishing gear to assess fish populations. Water transparency will be measured and critical habitat will be surveyed for location of emergent plants. 

The following lakes have assessments planned in 2011: Crane, Dovre, Johnson, Moose, Namakan, Pelican, Sand Point, Little Vermilion, Echo, Elephant, Kabetogama, and Rainy Lake. The following streams have assessments planned: Dinner Creek, Lost River, Trout Brook and Rat Root River.

Staff at the DNR’s International Falls office is responsible for managing the fisheries on 151 lakes covering 147,000 acres and 220 rivers and streams, including 14 designated trout streams and several large rivers. Thirty-two of these lakes are managed for walleye and eight lakes are managed for lake trout.

All the information collected is available to the public and inquiries are welcome. Reports on these activities will be available by April 1, 2012.

Anyone with questions or comments can contact Kevin Peterson at 218-286-5220, send an email to kevin.peterson@state.mn.us or stop by the DNR Fisheries office at 392 Highway 11 East, International Falls.


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Sign up now for a firearms safety hunter education class

Now is the time for people to sign up for a firearms safety hunting education class offered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Instructors from throughout the state are calling in right now to set up spring classes, so this is the time to get your son or daughter registered before the fall hunting seasons begin,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR hunter education coordinator..

Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979 must take a DNR safety training course and receive a certificate of completion before purchasing a license for big or small game. 

“Every year we have hopeful hunters who wait until the last minute to take a hunter safety class only to find out they have missed their opportunity to do so,” Hammer said. “Usually we are able to work them into a class somewhere, but every year there are a few who simply cannot hunt because they do not have hunter safety certification.”

Also, hunters frequently encounter problems when they hunt states where more stringent hunter education requirements are required. For example, Colorado requires a hunter education certificate for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1949, and neighboring states such as North Dakota and Iowa have requirements for those born after 1961 and 1967. 

Hunters who have lost their certificate or have questions about certification for other states, should get a firearms safety certificate in hand now so they won't miss the opportunity to hunt in Minnesota or take that trip of a lifetime to another state this fall, Hammer said.

Spring classes are currently available around the state but fill-up fast. For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov or call 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

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Bear hunt applications open April 1, new rule sets purchasing deadline

Applications for this fall's bear hunt will be accepted beginning Friday, April 1, at any Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) license agent and online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense.

New this year is a requirement that hunters who are selected in the annual lottery purchase their licenses by Friday, July 29. The remaining licenses can be made available to other hunters.

Applications for this year's bear hunt, which runs from Thursday, Sept. 1, to Sunday, Oct. 16, will be accepted through Friday, May 6. Applications also are available at the DNR License Center in St. Paul or by phone at 888-665-4236.

A total of 7,050 licenses are available in 11 permit areas. Although almost 2,500 fewer bear licenses are available this year over last year's total of 9,500, the drop isn't as dramatic as it appears, said Dan Stark, DNR wildlife specialist.

Until this year, DNR adjusted the number of licenses available upward because about 30 percent of successful applicants did not purchase a license. By implementing the purchasing deadline and allowing unclaimed licenses to be sold, the number of licenses is expected to better reflect the actual number of bear hunters.

"Historically, unclaimed licenses went unused because only successful lottery applicants could buy them," Stark said.

In 2010, 7,086 hunters actually purchased a license. Those hunters were chosen from a pool of 18,647 applicants for the available 9,500 permit area licenses. Hunters harvested a total of 2,699 bears.

Following the July 29 deadline, anyone who applied for a license but was not selected may purchase any remaining licenses starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 3. If licenses still remain, any hunters who did not participate in the lottery may purchase a license starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

Bear licenses cost $38 for residents and $200 for nonresidents. The bag limit is two bears in the no-quota area and one bear in all quota permit areas.

Stark said bear harvest goals remain essentially unchanged from the 2010 season, with the exception of permit area 24. In this area, hunter numbers will be reduced to allow the black bear population to increase.

Complete information on the fall bear hunt is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/hunting/bear.

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DNR unveils new mobile apps for outdoor enthusiasts

Finding outdoor fun in Minnesota is easier than ever now that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has created and launched a handful of new and free applications for mobile devices.

“The DNR is aware that mobile devices are an increasingly popular means of accessing information anytime, anywhere,” explained Steve Lime, DNR data and applications manager. “We decided to try a variety of technical approaches to delivering DNR content. We started with a simple fall colors mobile web page last October that turned out to be very popular.”

Last year, the DNR website had 1.3 million page views by mobile devices. The mobile LakeFinder app has had nearly 3,000 installs based solely on word of mouth. The snowmobile GPS files have been downloaded more than 3,000 times.

Here is a look at what’s available:

LAKEFINDER
Data for more than 4,500 lakes and rivers throughout Minnesota including lake surveys, depth maps and vegetation reports, plus water quality and clarity data are available for most Android phones. This app allows people to get the information on demand with an Internet connection or save it to a device for offline access.

DNR LAYARS
Public Water Accesses - Finding a lake in Minnesota is easy – finding the water access on that lake is sometimes another story. Now users can download a free application that uses the Layar software platform to locate Minnesota water accesses. Open the application, point the phone at the lake and it’ll help locate a place to launch a watercraft for a great day on the water. Most of the public state-managed access sites, as well as many of the private access sites, are available. The app is available for most iPhone and Android phones.

GPS MAPS
Snowmobile Trails -
Snowmobilers can know their exact location and where a trail will take them. Garmin GPS users can now download a background map containing Minnesota snowmobile trails, including state trails, trails within state parks, state forests and other state owned lands, as well as snowmobile trails funded through the Grant-In-Aid snowmobile system. Available in Garmin IMG format.

Wildlife management area data
People can download data and locations for all state wildlife management areas (WMA) to their GPS. Parking lot and WMA boundary information is available in two common GPS formats – Garmin and Lowrance. Available in Garmin IMG and Lowrance LCM formats.

These applications and options are the DNR's initial efforts in these technology areas. The agency plans to support other operating systems and file formats in the future.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/mobile.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducting 12th National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO LAUNCH MAJOR NATIONAL SURVEY ON HUNTING, FISHING, AND WILDLIFE WATCHING

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon be conducting the 12th National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. Hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts across the nation will be asked to participate in interviewing set to begin April 1. The survey, which has been conducted every five years since 1955, will involve 53,000 households.

“We appreciate the anglers, hunters, birdwatchers and other citizens throughout the United States who voluntarily participate in the survey when contacted,” said Acting Director Rowan Gould, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The survey results help wildlife and natural resource managers quantify how much Americans value wildlife resources in terms of both participation and expenditures.”

The survey is funded by the Multistate Conservation Grant Program authorized by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs Improvement Act of 2000. The survey provides the only comprehensive statistical database available on participation and expenditures for hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in all 50 states. The information is collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, primarily through telephone interviews to be conducted April to June and September to October in 2011, and January to March in 2012. Those contacted will be asked about their participation and expenditures in several categories of wildlife-associated recreation. The results will be available in a national report and in 50 individual state reports.

“The last survey published in 2006 revealed 87.5 million Americans enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation and spent more than $122.3 billion pursuing their activities,” said Hannibal Bolton, assistant director for the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. “The survey is a critical information resource for federal and state wildlife agencies, outdoor and tourist industries, local governments, planners, conservation groups, journalists and others interested in wildlife and outdoor recreation.”

Participation is voluntary and all responses are strictly confidential. Data collected is used for statistical purposes only and no participant can be identified from information contained in the database and follow-up reports. Representative samples will be based on the initial contacts and include 19,000 anglers and hunters and 10,000 wildlife watchers (wildlife photographers, feeders, and observers). Preliminary survey findings will be available in the spring of 2012. Final reports will be issued beginning in the fall of 2012. The reports, when completed, will be posted at http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work 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.

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DNR to expand muskie fishing opportunities

Roosevelt Lake in northern Crow Wing County and the Sauk River chain of lakes in Stearns County southwest of St. Cloud will be stocked with muskellunge this fall in response to growing angler interest, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

"This decision is a positive step consistent with our long-range management plan for muskie and northern pike," said Dirk Peterson, DNR fisheries management chief. "Many people representing a wide variety of interests helped create that plan, and the desire to develop new muskie fisheries was clear."

Results of the DNR's extensive public comment process in 2010 showed that about 80 percent of the 25,000 comments received supported stocking muskellunge in additional lakes. The substance of all comments, regardless of support or opposition, were factored into the DNR's decision.

Muskie will not be stocked this fall in three other lakes the DNR was considering. Upper and Lower South Long lakes near Brainerd will not be considered further for muskie management. Stocking in Lake Tetonka west of Waterville has been put on hold indefinitely pending resolution of local issues.

"Although physically and biologically suitable for muskie management, the lakes initially proposed in the Brainerd area have public access issues that raise public safety concerns," said Tim Goeman, northeast regional fisheries supervisor. "Their combined 2,100 surface acres also would not meet muskellunge fishing demand in the Brainerd area, so we will continue to look for a larger, yet-to-be-identified lake for future consideration." No new lakes are currently under consideration, he said.

DNR will collect additional information on recreation use and user attitudes in the Lake Tetonka area and expand its public outreach efforts before re-considering stocking muskie in Tetonka.

Stocking muskie in Roosevelt Lake and the Sauk River chain is a step toward fulfilling a goal in the long-range management plan that calls for up to eight new waters to be stocked by 2020, focused on areas of the state without nearby muskie fishing opportunity.

The muskellunge is one of Minnesota’s largest fish, growing to more than 50 pounds and more than 50 inches in length. Anglers have become increasingly interested in the so-called “fish of 10,000 casts” now that 50-plus inch fish can be caught in Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Vermilion and other waters that have been stocked since the 1980s.

“As muskie have grown in size and abundance, so has interest in catching them,” Goeman said.

Muskie anglers are the fastest-growing segment of Minnesota’s fishing population. About 14 percent of Minnesota's licensed anglers target muskie, and the quality experiences Minnesota offers attract muskie anglers from across the nation.

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MDHA Honors 2011 Distinguished Service Award Recipients

On February 26, 2011, at the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s 24th Annual Habitat Banquet at Timberlake Lodge in Grand Rapids, MDHA honored recipients of this year’s MDHA Distinguished Service Award.  This award is presented annually to individuals who have exhibited outstanding conduct and dedication to MDHA and its mission; working for tomorrow’s wildlife and hunters today through education, habitat and legislation.

MDHA President, John Erlandson and Vice President, Darrold Persson were proud to present the 2011  Distinguished Service Awards to Mike Foley of Sauk Centre, Jack Adams of Albert Lea, Chris Carlson of Brookings, SD,  the late Wes Libbey of Grand Rapids (received by his son & granddaughter) and Wanye Jacobson Sr. of Grand Rapids (not pictured).

Each of these recipients has displayed exemplary volunteer spirit and selflessly devoted countless hours to their dedication of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and its mission.  “The examples that these individuals have displayed show a true dedication to their passion.  Each of these individuals are a great asset to this organization,” reports MDHA State President, John Erlandson.  “MDHA has well over a thousand volunteers statewide who are involved within our 65 chapters.  Without their dedication and help, there would be no way that we could accomplish even a small percentage of what gets accomplished.  Volunteers are the heartbeat of MDHA.  Recognizing these outstanding volunteers within our organization is just a small way that MDHA can express our gratitude for their generous dedication.”

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is a non-profit conservation organization.  For more information on or about MDHA, visit MDHA’s website at www.mndeerhunters.com or call 800-450-3337.

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Kevin VanDam Wins Again... Is Anyone Surprised?

By Jason Holmer
It's hard to believe that Kevin VanDam, the man better known as "KVD," or as bass tournament rubes call him, "King Kong," just won his second straight Bassmaster Classic. Put that in perspective for all of you tournament guys: he just won the Superbowl of bass fishing for the second straight year. It's news around here when someone wins two in a row on a small weekend circuit. Now add to that KVD's three straight Angler of the Year titles, making his total six for his career, and it just gets more amazing to think about what this guy is doing.
Here's another thing that many people don't realize: VanDam's first Classic title came in 2001. That's right, he has won all four of his titles between 2001-2011!
I hear a lot of people compare KVD to Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. "VanDam is the Tiger Woods of bass fishing," etc. I don't think this could be more wrong. What Woods has done, and will do (female conquests not withstanding) in his career is amazing, but Woods has the distinct advantage of seeing what is in front of him. He can see where his target is, his caddy tells him how far to the pin, he can gauge the wind, if he's putting he can read the break of the green and is given the slope that he is faced with. Michael Jordan could strike fear into the heart of his opponent, he could see the defense that teams were using to try to stop him, and he could hone his skills knowing that no matter where he played the rim would always be 10 feet off the floor and the free throw line was always going to be 15 feet away from the basket.
Not Van Dam.
VanDam has shown consistency in an inconsistent sport. A sport in which the goal is unseen, ever-changing, and completely out of your control. Sure VanDam has his gadgets, his electronics, etc. But ultimately he is faced with understanding a live creature and how the changing elements will effect its behavior, and no one does it better.
What makes things even more impressive is the level of competition that VanDam faces when he enters a tournament. Sure Rick Clunn has as many Classic titles, and good ol’ Roland Martin has more Angler of the Year trophies (for now), but both Clunn and Martin will tell you that while they fished against some great anglers, it was nothing like it is now. These days you have hundreds of top flight anglers competing on three Bassmaster open circuits trying to qualify for their shot at the tour or the Classic. Tens of thousands of B.A.S.S. Federation Nation anglers vy for a spot through their club qualifying tournaments. What was once a $50,000 grand prize for the Classic has ballooned to $500,000, and that's not even counting the endorsements!
When I think about all of the great athletes I have been fortunate enough to witness in my life: Jordan and Woods, Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, Albert Pujols, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, etc, I know that Kevin VanDam will be firmly planted in that list as the greatest angler of all time.

Contact Jason at these websites:
Bass Uptopia www.bassutopia.com
5 in the Well Fishing www.5inthewell.com

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No change in Mille Lacs walleye slot, northern pike regulation relaxed

Anglers who fish Lake Mille Lacs will need to follow the same walleye regulations as in 2010, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The season will open Saturday, May 14, with a regulation that will allow anglers to keep up to four walleyes less than 18 inches, which may include one trophy more than 28 inches. Anglers must release all walleyes from 18 to 28 inches.     

Starting July 15, if angler harvest is low enough to allow it, anglers may be allowed to keep walleyes up to 20 inches with one trophy more than 28 inches in the four fish limit. All walleyes from 20 to 28 inches would then need to be released.

The slot would revert to four walleyes up to 18 inches with one more than 28 inches in the four fish limit on Dec. 1. Any regulation changes would be posted at the accesses as well as on the DNR website.

“The walleye regulation is the same as last year and should provide anglers with ample opportunities to harvest some fish, very similar to last season,” said Dirk Peterson, DNR Fisheries chief. “The angling this winter has been pretty decent; anglers harvested nearly 24,000 pounds of walleye, which suggests a similarly decent bite for the open water season.”

For northern pike, the regulation will be a protected slot from 27 to 40 inches, with one trophy more than 40 inches allowed in the standard three fish possession limit. This regulation is a change from the 24- to 36-inch slot limit that has been in effect since 2002.

The new pike regulation is in response to the last several years of minimal angler harvest, an increase in abundance of northern pike, and a desire to maximize the trophy potential of this fast-growing population of pike. Mille Lacs pike regularly grow to sizes in excess of 40 inches. The northern pike regulation printed in the 2011 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet does not reflect this change but is correct in the online version at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.

“The new pike regulation increases anglers’ opportunities to harvest some of the smaller fish, while increasing the chances of being able to catch a true trophy northern pike,” said Peterson.

The combination of strong 2007 and 2008 year classes of walleye, now mostly 13-16 inches, will provide for a decent catch of eating sized walleyes for anglers to keep, while numerous year classes of older fish, now more than 18 inches, will provide for excellent catch and release experiences.

“With the rebounding of the Mille Lacs tullibee population in recent years, the larger fish have filled out and are now in very healthy condition,” Peterson said.

Last year, anglers caught more than 800,000 pounds of walleye and harvested 271,000 pounds (including 44,000 pounds of hooking mortality) under the same slot limit.

“These regulations continue to protect the long-term health of the fishery, allow excellent opportunity for anglers, and safeguard economic interests,” Peterson said. “The decision to maintain the same walleye regulation was made based on the best biological data as well as input from anglers and resort owners.”    

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