Editorial - Opener advice: stop zebras, help walleyesTomorrow, Saturday, is like Christmas for fishermen and fisherwomen. It’s fishing opener and the “presents” – lunker walleyes and northerns – are waiting to be caught.
Tomorrow, Saturday, is like Christmas for fishermen and fisherwomen.
It’s fishing opener and the “presents” – lunker walleyes and northerns – are waiting to be caught.
But before heading out to their favorite fishing hole in one of Douglas County’s hundreds of lakes, we urge anglers to do two things.
First, be vigilant about zebras. Zebra mussels were found in Lake L’Homme Dieu last summer and later in Lakes Geneva and Carlos. Five other lakes have also been designated as infested waters – Jessie, Victoria, Darling and Alvin.
Zebra mussels – fingernail-sized shells that can attach to practically any hard surface in the water – multiply quickly and have been found to cause problems in some lakes. They filter large volumes of lake water, producing more weeds and less plankton for fish to eat, which can decrease fish populations and size.
A lake isn’t “doomed” once it is invaded by zebra mussels and the exact impact is impossible to predict because it can vary widely from lake to lake.
Zebra mussels aren’t the only enemy to battle. There are thousands of invasive species that can threaten lakes – spiny and fishhook waterfleas, flowering rush, rusty crayfish, purple loosestrife, bighead and silver carp and Eurasian watermilfoil.
Before you leave a lake that has been labeled as infested waters, you must do the following (it’s Minnesota law):
•Drain water from motor, boat bilges, livewells and other boating equipment holding water.
•Drain plugs must be removed from bilges and livewells.
•Drain water from bait containers. If you want to keep bait alive, you must replace water in bait containers with tap or spring water. Place unwanted bait in the trash.
•Remove all aquatic plants and zebra mussels from your boat, trailer, anchors and other boating equipment.
The other way to help preserve our fishing resources is to support a new program of the Department of Natural Resources: Buy a walleye stamp.
The proceeds from the stamp sales will support a $3 million a year effort to stock walleye into about 1,000 lakes that cover 1 million acres.
“When you purchase a stamp, your voluntary contribution flows into a dedicated account for walleye stocking,” said C.B. Bylander, outreach section chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “The account is used to support the state’s rearing and transportation of walleye and the purchase of walleye from certified private producers.”
A walleye stamp validation costs $5. For $2 more, the DNR will mail the actual stamp to your door as a collector’s item. This year’s stamp was created by artist Tim Turenne of Richfield, who painted a pair of walleye, one of which is chasing a jointed crankbait. A walleye stamp is not required to fish for or keep walleye.
It’s never too late to snag a walleye stamp – they’re available year-round and can be purchased days, weeks or even months after you’ve bought your fishing license.
Echo Press editorials are the position of the newspaper’s editorial board, which includes Jody Hanson, publisher; Al Edenloff, editor; and news reporter Celeste Beam.