I know if you are anything like me when it comes to winter, you may be starting to feel some of the symptoms of the dreaded “spring fever” as January draws to a close and we head into February. In all reality however, we still have a lot of winter left and for the “hard water” fishermen maybe not enough considering the slow start to the season.
I have been hearing some fishing reports from area fishermen regarding Fountain and Albert Lea Lakes. Although it has been spotty, there have been some walleyes caught in the channel by Frank Hall Park. On Fountain the beach has been the place for sunnies using wax worms and a small jig. I have also heard reports of walleye and crappie being caught in Edgewater Bay. I haven’t heard of any big numbers, but there are fish to be had by spending a little time.
Something to do while sitting indoors waiting for the snow to melt is to plan a visit to one or more of our many state parks this summer. A onetime sticker will get your vehicle into any state park for the whole year. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy nature and the outdoors than visiting one of the 75 state parks we have available for us to enjoy. There are many special events planned for our state parks this year in lieu of their 125th anniversary.
State officials have invited Minnesotans to take part in a 125-mile challenge, a state park “Total Takeover,” picnics, summer “samplers” and other special events throughout the coming year as part of the 125th anniversary of Minnesota state parks and trails.
On hand at Fort Snelling State Park to kick off the year-long celebration were Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr, DNR Parks and Trails Division Director Erika Rivers and 30 fourth-grade students from Northrop Urban Environmental Learning Center, representing the next generation of park and trail visitors.
“Minnesota is blessed with a remarkable system of state parks and trails, which have allowed generations of Minnesotans to enjoy our state’s many natural wonders over the past 125 years,” said Smith. “As we celebrate this anniversary, I encourage all Minnesotans to get out and enjoy their state parks and trails this year.”
In the 125 years since Itasca State Park was established in 1891, the system has grown to include 75 state parks and recreation areas, 49 state forest campgrounds, 34 state water trails, more than 360 fishing piers, more than 1,500 public water accesses, more than 600 miles of paved state trails, and many additional miles of off-highway vehicle, snowmobile, equestrian and cross-country ski trails.
“There’s a state park, trail or water trail within 30 minutes of just about every Minnesotan,” Landwehr said. “We hope the anniversary events that we have planned in 2016 will encourage new people to discover these special places.”
The anniversary celebration will include:
• A State Park “Total Takeover”—An effort to fill up all of the campsites at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas by encouraging experienced campers to invite a family of beginners to go camping with them on Saturday, June 11, which is National Get Outdoors Day.
• 125 Miles by Bike, Boot or Boat—A challenge to visitors of all ages to track the miles they bike, hike and paddle at Minnesota state parks and trails throughout 2016, with a goal of reaching a total of 125 for bragging rights, an exclusive “Finisher” sticker and an opportunity to have their photo included in a Finishers Gallery on the website.
• Summer Samplers—For anyone wondering what there is to do at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, these events will provide opportunities to try paddling, archery, nature photography, fishing and other activities all in one fun-packed day.
• Picnic in the Park—An invitation to return to the days before soccer, hockey and dance took over on the weekends, and to carve out time for a family picnic, followed by games and activities for all ages.
• A contest—to design an official Minnesota state parks and trails license plate.
• A commemorative quilt—which will pay tribute to Minnesota’s natural and cultural resources.
• Merchandise—Limited edition 125th anniversary mugs, apparel, pins and other items will be available for purchase at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.
Until next time, enjoy the outdoor rinks, sledding and fishing our area lakes but always be careful when you do decide to venture out because no ice is ever 100 percent safe.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, n not only during the holiday season but for the rest of the year. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.