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2013 year in review: bait shortage

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2013 - The Governor’s Fishing Opener was a blessing in disguise for the area. Most lakes were ice-locked for the opener. Park Rapids was the center of attention for national media anticipating where would Gov. Mark Dayton wet a line?

Bait dealers struggled to find the ever popular shiner minnow. Limitations put in place with the discovery of zebra mussels in Lake Winnebigosh didn’t make bait dealers’ jobs any easier.

2013’s late ice out gave anglers fits on where to fish and uncertain angling actions continued until a steady warm-up in June. Several weeks of open water angling were lost. The 2013 Minnesota Fishing season continued to play catch up. Locating walleyes consistently on area lakes gave anglers fits. Weather continued to rule as anglers looked to the days of fall to enjoy better fishing.

Windy days challenged anglers as September walleye action kicked into high gear on a majority of Hubbard County lakes. Pencil-sized chub minnows were scarce at the bait stores but anglers turning to artificial or jigs tipped with minnows enjoyed excellent walleye activity. 

Anglers looking forward to October were optimistic for peak angling action. They realized it came and went as water temperatures continued on a decline through the prime fall fifty-degree temperature range. Steady warm sunny daytime temperatures, typical of October Indian summer, never occurred. October fishing action was short in duration as lakes continued on a steady cool down into November and freeze-up.

Early ice conditions raised the optimism of anglers with the potential of an excellent ice fishing season. Heavy snowfall blanketed lakes, slowing a developing ice layer and creating slushy unsafe ice conditions.

In 2013 Hubbard County lake associations pushed for more awareness of the threats posed from Aquatic Invasive Species.

Shielding lakes for now seems to be working as no new lakes in Hubbard County have realized introduction of aquatic predators. Lake groups ask for ramped up efforts in 2013 with decontamination stations and continued awareness at accesses. 

Anglers and recreational boaters were greeted by cordial informative inspectors at area lake accesses, with 2013 funding coming from lake associations, township and county government. In 2014 we all need to do more to keep the recreational boating public informed of effective measures to minimize the spread of AIS into our lakes and rivers.

The Minnesota DNR faced tough opposition to their proposal of improving and expanding the Big Sand Lake access. It was emotionally charged on both sides of the issue. Currently, unofficial reports indicate that the DNR intends to continue the effort to put into action the needed expansion and improvement of the Big Sand Lake access.

Through the year I am humbled and very appreciative at the positive comments received from a number of readers regarding my columns. Recently the column on the Big Sand Lake access was no exception. I received overwhelming feedback from readers through Facebook messages, phone calls and face to face comments, clearly supporting the effort to improve the Big Sand Lake access.

To all of you I say thank you.

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