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Muskie season opens; check those props

This weekend marks two highly anticipated annual events for anglers and anglers-to-be.

The first is Minnesota's Take-A-Kid Fishing weekend, which runs from Friday, June 5 to Sunday, June 7.

Throughout this weekend, adults who accompany a youth angler under the age of 16 can fish without a Minnesota angling license.

There aren't any fees associated with the event and no special paperwork is required, simply grab your fishing gear and a youth friend for a great weekend on the lakes.

The second event is Minnesota's muskie opener. There may not be the same bustle in the tackle shops compared to the walleye opener, but some anxious muskie anglers will hurl their first cast of the season this morning.

Personally, I'll spend the entire day guiding two muskie addicts. Three if you count me. And "addict" is a fitting descriptor for those blessed, or possibly stricken, with an affinity for muskies.

If you've never fished for muskie, it's a bit different than watching your bobber jiggle and sink under the spastic pulls from an aggressive sunfish - it's a workout! Even if you don't battle a muskie with your biceps straining to pull upon the thick graphite rod arched above a monstrous fish, your shoulders, wrists and back will surely signal their fatigue the following morning.

However, even if your arms feel like stretched-out rubber bands once returning to the dock, you still need to take the time to check your boat and trailer for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS).

Curlyleaf pondweed and Eurasion Milfoil are a couple of vegetative aquatic invasive species, while zebra mussels, and spiny water fleas fall into the animal category. AIS have a negative biological impact on lakes and Hubbard County lakes are at high-risk for infestation, since so many boaters utilize our numerous water bodies.

Both weeds and aquatic animals can easily catch a ride on your boat trailer, propeller or inside your livewell, which can lead to the introduction of AIS to another lake once the watercraft is launched again.

Fortunately, a group of individuals sharing a common goal - to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species - is working in the best interest of our lakes.

The Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) was organized in 1988 to conjoin lake associations and their members, forming a conglomerate group who are dedicated to protecting our beautiful bodies of water.

Recently, the group has been active by creating a small brochure that can easily fit into a purse, wallet or tacklebox which includes information on identifying the primary aquatic invasive species that threaten Hubbard County lakes, proper steps to follow to stop AIS from spreading and a map of our area lakes, their accesses and which ones are currently infested with AIS plants.

COLA is also planning a training for anyone interested in becoming certified as a volunteer watercraft inspector on Saturday, June 13 at the American Legion from 9-11:30 a.m. Register by calling Al Peterson at 652-2493. Pre-registration is recommended.