Wednesday, May 29th, 2024 Church Directory
Bruce Goenner fishing on Elk Lake with little luck due to the rise of the barometer.
Christian Morana and Herman Guseyn-zade braved the sub-zero temperatures in their spear house on last week.

Lake Users Need To Become Care Takers

With the growing popularity of ice fishing, there are other aspects that need to be addressed when it comes to having fun, local land officials say with fun comes great responsibility.
 
 George Wallen lives on Eagle Lake and is also a member of the Eagle Lake Lake Association. He says “It takes everyone to maintain the lakes when they visit. It’s a shared responsibility.” Wallen has seen an increase of winter and summer activity on the lakes and would like visitors to be aware of their actions when it comes to the health and conservation of the lakes. 
 
There is a great selection of local lakes to choose from. Briggs Lake Association President Dan Merchant may not be an avid angler, but has great concern about preserving the lakes. He explains when the ice houses are taken off the lakes at the end of February, there is a lot of trash that gets left behind. It may not be intentional but it does add up.
 
 Local college students help clean up the ice before the big thaw starts. However, that is only the start of the care for the chain of lakes which include Briggs Lake, Lake Julia, Rush Lake, and Big Elk Lake. When spring comes, the association works with the DNR to test the water of the lakes and to determine if there are any new issues. At this time they also get permits from the DNR to treat the already pesky invasive species. Merchant reports the current invasive species invading our waters in the chain are the Eurasian Water Mil Foil and  Curly Leaf Pond Weed. 
 
These are not the only issues the association keeps track of, they are just the most predominate at this point. Other issues include the water level. Being under the average for snow fall this year could impact the water level. However water levels fluctuate over years.
 
“It’s not just boats that are transmitting the invasive species. It’s also lake residents when purchasing new toys like diving platforms and docks,” Merchant adds. There is a detailed chart of how to properly clean your boat and aquatic toys on the DNR website.
 
 After obtaining a permit local associations hire a company to treat the lakes. Only 15 % of the shallow area of each lake can be treated at a time. Last year the Briggs Lake Chain Association spent $20,000 on treating the lakes. In the fall they are in charge of restocking the lakes with fish that are hatched here in Minnesota.
 
Restocking the local lakes is far more complex than just dumping a few hundred baby fish in a lake. For our local lakes the hatcher that is used is in Montrose. Once hatched, for instance, the walleye are shipped to a lake in Brainerd where they grow until they reach the size of a finger. Hence the name fingerlings, and then are ready to be put in to the lakes to fully mature.  Other growing areas are set up by the DNR in multiple lakes and in streams to insure the fish reach the right size and the right quantity.
 
Conservation Officer Mitch Sladek explains when they are the size of a fingerling they are less likely to be eaten by other fish. Restocking happens in Late October through November to ensure the water temperature is ideal for the fish to survive.
 
Big Lake Community Lakes is an association of members of both Big Lake and Lake Mitchell. Board Member Sanford Smith does multiple tests on the lakes year round. He also works with different agencies to process these samples. 
 
Every year Smith will record the date of the freeze and the thaw and also the clarity of the lakes. Smith tests the clarity by running a disc shape object attached to a string down into the water until it is unseen and records the length. In the spring it can be as far as 20ft and in middle of summer 6-8ft due to the stirring of sediment by boats. 
 
Those tests are then reported to the PCA. (Pollution Control Agency) RMB is another agency used for chemical testing, water samples, wind directions, and water temperatures. Tests are conducted May through November.  Smith collects all the samples and then hands them off to RMB. One test that is taken is chlorophyll A, which is basically used to test the vegetation in the water. There is also a chloride test to measure the salt and chemicals that run off Hwy 10 and other roads into the lake water. 
 
Unlike the Briggs chain of lakes which have a source of fresh water running through it, Big Lake and Lake Mitchell are enclosed. Smith informs that all chemicals and other additives will remain in the Lakes for 22 to 23 years.
 
The City of Big Lake regulates how many boats are on the lake per day by using the pay booth located at the boat launch on Big Lake. This cuts down the boats on the lake and the pollution and disturbance in the lake. The funds are then used for the upkeep of the lake. It will be used for everything from treating the swimming area to treating the invasive species, and prevention of new invasive species.
 
Sladek works daily in Sherburne County to preserve and maintain the natural resources. He explains there is not a part of his coverage area that he has not walked, canoed, boated or traveled though. Officer Sladek has a vast knowledge of the invasive species. If there are any questions or concerns he is more than reachable by phone or e-mail which you can find at the DNR website.
 
 When it comes to fishing a misunderstood regulation is the daily limit. To clarify, your daily limit is the same as the possession limit. The limit you can have both with you and at home. For example, if you have a limit of crappies in your freezer at home and you go out the next day and catch another crappie, you are over your daily limit. 
 
“Everyone that uses the Water of Minnesota throughout the year should read and understand the Rules and Regulations that our Minnesota Legislators and DNR Staff have established to protect our delicate and precious resources. By Following these guide lines everyone can continue to enjoy are Natural Resources in the future,” Sladek said.