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SUMMER 2014 $1 on newsstands






Celebrating summer

Several area lake associations plan boat parades for the July 4 weekend, including North Browns Lake near Eden Valley

Chief of fisheries shares his vision for managing the state’s 5,400 fishing lakes, rivers & streams

Belle Lake works with Kingston Archery Club for carp shoot

Community-built playground, new restrooms add to

Lake Ripley

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SUMMER 2014 • Vol. 6, No. 2

PUBLISHED BY Litchfield Independent Review P.O. Box 921 Litchfield, MN 55355 320-693-3266 Hutchinson Leader 170 Shady Ridge Road NW Suite 100 Hutchinson, MN 55350 320-587-5000


From boat parades to fireworks, lake 10 Cover: associations celebrate with red, white and blue Waterways: Don Pereira shares his vision for managing the state’s 5,400 fishing lakes, rivers and streams

PUBLISHER Brent Schacherer 320-234-4143

EDITOR Juliana Thill 320-593-4808 Litchfield office 320-234-4172 Hutchinson office



CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Brent Schacherer,Andrew Broman

ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Kevin True 320-234-4141




members gear up for a carp shoot, an activity growing in popularity

Crow River Press 170 Shady Ridge Road NW Hutchinson, MN 55350 320-587-2062 Dockside is published three times a year (April, June, September) by the Litchfield Independent Review and Hutchinson Leader newspapers. It is distributed free to lake and river property owners around Litchfield and Hutchinson. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publisher.

deck: As night falls, 16 Main Kingston Archery Club


Currents: New community-built playground and permanent restroom facility add to Lake Ripley


Currents: Legacy funds flow through Minnesota

26 Waterways: Six things to know before going fishing 29 Waterways: Find lake associations on Facebook 30 In the galley: Baja Fish Tacos, Baked Potatoes on the Grill, Frozen Mixed Berry Pie, Gazpacho Salad SUMMER 2014 | DOCKSIDE




tep onto a lakeshore or walk along a riverbed, and one’s pulse slows. The stress of the day is left behind — no more phone calls, work deadlines or pressures. Instead, it’s you and the open water. And all you hear are the sounds of birds and geese, little critters scampering and chattering, and waves lapping on the shore. In addition to the fun to be had on area lakes, rivers and streams, there’s a peacefulness that can’t be matched anywhere else. Summer has arrived, and it’s time to enjoy the outdoors, whether fishing, boating, tubing, paddling, swimming, or sitting around a campfire gazing at the stars. Under the blanket of night recently, the Kingston Archery Club headed to Belle Lake, in between Hutchinson and Litchfield. Club members took part in a growing sport, bowfishing. The activity was designed by Belle Lake Association as a carp shoot, and proved to be appreciated by all — from the archery club members who

enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, to the lake association who liked having the damaging carp removed from the lake. Read more inside this magazine. With the July 4 around the corner, we’ve compiled a list of some area lakes that will have boat parades or fireworks. Celebrate your independence this year on a nearby lake. We also worked to compile a list of lake associations’ websites and Facebook pages. If you don’t see your lake association listed let me know, and we’ll add it. Finally, if you have a scenic or recreational photo from an area lake you’d like to share in a future edition of Dockside, email it to me, and we’ll try to publish as many local photos as we can this year. — Juliana Thill, editor


Calendar of local events June Hutchinson Water Carnival, the city’s annual summer celebration, will take place June 9-15 and includes a boat parade, canoe races, parade, fireworks, and an 8K run by the river. Lake Stella Association seeks volunteers to perform boat inspections for aquatic invasive species at the public access on high-traffic periods. A training has been scheduled for 6 p.m. June 10 at Darwin Rod and Gun Club. The program will include classroom and hands-on training (with a boat in the parking lot) to understand the practice of boat inspections. Belle Lake Association will meet at 7 p.m. June 10 at Bonfire. Lake Stella Association meets at 7 p.m. June 10 at Litchfield American Legion. Annual bow and arrow carp shoot will take place from dusk to 3 a.m. June 14 on North Browns Lake. There will be specially rigged boats with high-intensity lights. Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association Board of Directors will meet from 7:30 to 9 p.m. June 18 at Bonfire Bar & Grille. The LMBIA



Have your event listed If your organization or lake association has a meeting, coming event or item to list in the calendar, we want to hear from you. Email information to Juliana Thill at or call 320-593-4808 or 320-234-4172. meets monthly on the third Wednesday of the month, 11 times. Glencoe will celebrate Glencoe Days June 20-21. Activities include live music, fireworks at Oak Leaf Park, and a parade. Lake Francis Lake Association Board of Directors meet at 9 a.m. June 21 at Kingston Community Center. North Browns Lake Association Board of Directors will meet at 9 a.m. June 21. Koronis Lake Association meets at 11:30 a.m. June 27 at Wishing Well Cafe. Eden Valley celebrates Valley Daze June 27-29 with a parade, carnival, live music, food stands, a tug-ofwar tournament and an annual youth

fishing contest. Lake Marion Improvement Association meets at 6:30 p.m. June 19 at Brownton Rod and Gun Club. Lake Jennie Improvement Association annual meeting will be at noon June 28.

July A list of July 4 events is on Page 10. Lake Washington Improvement Association board members meet at 7 p.m. July 1 at the Dassel Rod and Gun Club. Lake Stella Association meets at 7 p.m. July 8 at the Litchfield American Legion. Belle Lake Association will meet at 7 p.m. July 8 at Bonfire. Litchfield celebrates Watercade July 10-13. Activities include fireworks, golf tournament, parade, 4-mile run around Lake Ripley, fishing contest, Little Crow ski show on Lake Ripley. Lake Stella Association annual meeting will be at 9 a.m. July 12 at Darwin Rod and Gun Club. Greater Lake Sylvia Association board meeting will be from 9 to 11 a.m. July 12 at Southbrook Golf Course.

SHIP’S LOG Koronis Lake Association annual meeting will be July 12 at Lake Koronis Regional Park. If case of inclement weather, it will be at Paynesville Community Center. Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association Board of Directors will meet from 7:30 to 9 p.m. July 16 at Bonfire Bar & Grille. French Lake Improvement Association will meet at 9 a.m. July 19 at French Lake Township Hall. North Browns Lake Association annual meeting will be at at 9 a.m. July 19 at Eden Valley Civic Center. There will be an update on the lake’s environmental/grant money status, a raffle drawing, and an election of open board member positions if available. RiverSong Music Festival will be July 19-20 in Hutchinson, two days of American music along the Crow River in Masonic West River Park. Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association annual meeting will be at noon July 20 at Beckville Lutheran picnic grounds at Minnie Belle.

August Belle Lake Association will have its annual potluck picnic Aug. 2 at Piepenburg Park. Lake Francis Lake Association will have a picnic at noon Aug. 2 at Holiday Beach. Lake Washington Improvement Association will have its annual barbecue and meeting Aug. 2 at Dassel Rod and Gun Club. Social hour is at 5 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., with meeting to follow. Lake Washington Improvement Association Board of Directors meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at Dassel Rod and Gun Club. Lake Stella Association meets at 9 a.m. Aug. 12 at the Litchfield American Legion. North Browns Lake Association Board of Directors will meet at 9 a.m. Aug. 16 with an election of executive officers for 2015. Lake Stella Association youth fishing contest will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 16 at the public access for friends

and relatives (children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews) of those on Lake Stella. There are two age groups, up to 10 years old, and 11 to 15 years old. Prizes will be awarded for the biggest fish in every category. There is no cost. Greater Lake Sylvia Association board of directors meeting will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 16 at Southbrook Golf Course. Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association Board of Directors will meet from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Aug. 20 at Bonfire Bar & Grille. Lake Marion Improvement Association annual meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at Brownton Rod and Gun Club. Officers will be elected, and there will be a potluck picnic. French Lake Improvement Association will meet at 9 a.m. Aug. 23 at French Lake Township Hall. North Browns Lake Association Board of Directors will have its annual pie and ice cream social from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 30. Location to be determined.

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In 2013, a playground and restrooms were built on the east shore of Lake Ripley, along Minnesota Highway 22 south. The playground was a communitywide effort, and the Litchfield American Legion built the restrooms.

New playground, restrooms add to amenities at Lake Ripley


itchfield’s community-built playground near Memorial Park along the east shore of Lake Ripley has been a popular attraction for visitors since being constructed a year ago. In addition, the permanent restroom facility that was built nearby is a welcome addition. The playground began as an idea promoted by a small group of parents, that grew into hundreds of adults and children lending a hand to see it to fruition. A new playground was needed, Litchfield resident Luke Stordahl said, because equipment at the old park was in bad shape and ill-suited for toddlers to experience without parents having to closely monitor their child. Stordahl and his family helped kick off a playground campaign during the summer of 2012 to have a new playground built on the same sight as the old one. They quickly found many supporters. Nearly 400 people signed a petition asking Litchfield City Council to approve a new playground and con-



tribute funds for its construction. Stordahl and Justin Wendroth of Litchfield made multiple trips to City Council meetings, urging cooperation from city officials. Ultimately, council members agreed to donate $80,000, while Stordahl and other organizers raised more than $100,000. “It’s a special experience. That’s what everyone says. It’s a community building thing,” Stordahl told the City Council. A New York firm, Leathers and Associates, hired to oversee the construction, worked alongside dozens of volunteers to construct the playground during a five-day period. Organizers, who kept track of volunteers by requiring them to register at the site’s entrance, estimated more than 800 people participated in the build. Skilled and unskilled volunteers worked alongside each other. “As mayor of this city, I just want to say, this was a great humanitarian effort,” Litchfield Mayor Keith Johnson said. “I could almost cry

thinking about what this was like.” Following the playground’s completion, WCCO-TV’s Matt Brickman visited the site. Every week, he requests viewers’ votes in his “Best of Minnesota” series, and viewers voted the Litchfield’s community-built playground the best in Minnesota. After the playground was built, American Legion members decided the site also needed new restrooms. Litchfield American Legion donated $35,000 toward the construction of the $109,000 building, which the City Council approved. The building includes restrooms, showers and diaper changing tables. The restrooms had been under consideration since the 1990s, according to John McCann, commander of the Litchfield American Legion. The playground’s construction reignited those discussions, prompting Legion members to donate money for new restrooms, he said. — By Andrew Broman, editor of the Litchfield Independent Review

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Legacy funds flow through Minnesota Clean Water Fund supports projects that protect, enhance, restore state’s ground, surface and drinking water

The Legacy Amendment Funds are appropriated into four areas: Outdoor heritage receives 33 percent; clean water, 33 percent; parks and trails, 14.25 percent; and arts and heritage, 19.75 percent.

By Juliana Thill EDITOR


innesotans are leaving a legacy of cleaner water for future generations with financial assistance from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, which was instituted five years ago. Voters overwhelmingly approved the Legacy Amendment in 2008 to restore and enrich Minnesota’s land and water resources, as well as improve arts and cultural heritage. The Legacy Amendment increased the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent beginning July 1, 2009, and continuing until 2034. State agencies that receive Clean Water Fund dollars released their second collaborative report in May: the 2014 Clean Water Fund Performance Report. The report clarifies connections between the Clean Water dollars invested, actions taken, and outcomes achieved. Money in the Clean Water Fund comes from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. The funds are used for water management activities such as monitoring, planning, and on-the-ground restoration and protection activities. The report shows how Clean Water Fund dollars for fiscal years 20122013 were spent and what progress has been made. The majority of the Clean Water Fund — 84 percent — goes toward implementation activities. And local partners play an important role, as 43 percent of appropriations were awarded to non-state agencies. Nearly all 81 watersheds benefited from Clean Water Fund supported activities. Implementation activities comprise the largest portion of spend-




Allocation of Clean Water, Land & Legacy Funds In honor of the Legacy Amendment’s five-year anniversary, Conservation Minnesota offers a snapshot of what the Clean Water Fund has accomplished. The Clean Water Fund supports projects that protect, enhance, and restore Minnesota’s ground, surface, and drinking water. One-third of the Legacy Amendment’s revenue goes to this fund, and it is managed by seven agencies. In the past five years, accomplishments include: N In 2006, less than 20 percent of the state’s lakes and rivers had been tested.Today, 52 percent of watersheds have been monitored and 43 percent have been assessed, putting the state on track to have all watersheds monitored by 2018 and assessed by 2019. NThe Pollution Control Agency has initiated more than 300 individual projects across the state. N $78 million in grants has been awarded to citizens and local governments to install “on the ground” conservation practices to improve the quality of lakes, rivers, and groundwater. N The Department of Natural Resources has conducted stream flow monitoring at 130 sites, 539 surveys of fish species in lakes, and fish contaminant sampling on 320 lakes. N From 2010-2011, 246 failing subsurface sewage treatment systems were fixed. N DNR has now assessed 761 of the state’s observation wells and installed or performed maintenance on 200 wells. As the Amendment turns 5 years old, there’s much to celebrate and more to look forward to, according to Conservation Minnesota. To learn more about Legacy Amendment projects or funding sources, visit Conservation Minnesota’s website at or the state’s Legacy Amendment website

ing in watersheds statewide. The measures in the report are organized into four categories: investment, surface water quality, drinking water protection, and new this year, external drivers and social measures. Each measure has a status ranking and trend information. Of the 24 measures, status and trends vary: N 11 measures showed improving trends. N Four showed no trend or were too

early to assess. N Two showed a declining trend. “We understand that people want to see immediate results from Clean Water Fund investments,” said Rebecca Flood, assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “However managing Minnesota’s water resources is a long-term endeavor that will take the efforts of many — from state agencies to local governments to citizens.”


MPCA seeks volunteer water monitors


Volunteer data helps water he Minnesota Pollution resource managers to see trends Control Agency is in water quality and make recruiting volunteers to watershed management decihelp track water quality sions throughout the state. For changes in lakes and streams some lakes and streams, volunacross the state. Minnesota’s teer-collected data is the only volunteer water monitoring prodata available, making citizen grams are among the largest involvement critical to ensuring citizen science programs in the the long-term health of nation, but in order to reach all Minnesota’s waters. the lakes and streams across Citizen Water Monitoring volMinnesota, more volunteers are unteers benefit from the proneeded. gram by learning more about More than 1,300 Minnesotans PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MINNESOTA POLLUTION CONTROL AGENCY their favorite lake or stream, volunteer to track the health of their favorite lake or stream The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeks connecting with their communithrough the Citizen Lake and volunteers to perform a simple test at their des- ty, and helping to maintain and Citizen Stream Monitoring ignated lake or stream once per week through- protect one of our state’s most Programs. As part of the pro- out the summer. The MPCA provides equip- precious natural resources. To become a volunteer or gram, volunteers are asked to ment and training. learn more about the program, perform a short and simple test visit the MPCA’s website at at their designated lake or stream once per week throughout the summer. Equipment, or call 651-296-6300 or 800-6573864. and training are provided by the MPCA.

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Several area lake associations plan July 4 activities


hen it comes time to honor America’s independence, water lovers celebrate in style, whether it’s decorating their dock, participating in a boat parade, or watching fireworks light up the night sky. The following are some celebrations planned on area lakes: N Belle Lake — A boat parade will take place at 10 a.m. July 4 starting at Piepenburg Park. Boaters who also want to be involved in a water balloon fight must have a Jolly Roger or any black flag flying from their boat. N Lake Jennie — A boat parade will take place at 2 p.m. July 4, starting at the south landing. Monetary prizes will be awarded for most patriotic boat, best themed or creative boat, and best-dressed dock. N Lake Koronis — Fireworks are scheduled for July 5. N North Browns Lake — A boat parade will take place at 2 p.m. July 5. Boats assemble at the south end of the lake. All captains are eligible for the prize drawing at the conclusion of the parade on the water. N Lake Ripley — Fireworks will be July 11 in conjunction with Litchfield’s Watercade summer celebration. There are public parks and a beach where people can watch fireworks. 10



Boaters celebrate July 4 with a boat parade in 2013 on North Browns Lake near Eden Valley.

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DNR has varying requirements for shoreline property owners when removing aquatic plants


horeline property owners might need a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to remove aquatic plants, which serve important functions in lakes and rivers. By taking care, property owners can avoid harming a nearby lake or river, and DNR staff can help answer questions about what’s allowed, said Steve Enger, supervisor of the DNR’s aquatic plant management program. “Aquatic plants prevent shoreline erosion, stabilize bottom sediments, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and tie up nutrients that might otherwise grow algae,” Enger said. “We encourage shoreline property owners to disturb as little near-shore vegetation as possible. Removing too many aquatic plants can impair their ability to provide these important functions.” Property owners sometimes do not need permits for smaller-scale removal of plants for recreational reasons such as swimming or boat docking. However, permits are generally required for more intensive plant removal. And some removal methods are not allowed.

Does not require a permit Shoreline property owners can, without a DNR permit, mechanically control a modest area of aquatic plants. However, regulations vary slightly on submerged vegetation compared to floating leaf vegetation. Managing submerged vegetation like pondweeds, watermilfoil or coontail by cutting, pulling, raking, or harvesting the vegetation is allowed under the following conditions: N The cleared area may not exceed 2,500 square feet. N The cleared area may not extend more than 50 feet along the shore, or more than one-half the frontage width, whichever is less. N If the cleared area does not reach open water, a 15-foot wide channel to open water may be added. N The cut or pulled vegetation must be removed from the water.




Property owners sometimes do not need permits for smaller-scale removal of plants for recreational reasons such as swimming or boat docking. However, permits are generally required for more intensive plant removal.And some removal methods are not allowed. Managing floating leaf vegetation like white or yellow water-lilies by cutting or pulling is allowed for property owners looking to clear a 15-foot-wide channel extending to open water, under the following conditions: N The cleared channel must remain in the same place from year to year. N The vegetation that is cut or pulled must be removed from the water.

Requires a permit A DNR aquatic plant management permit is required, for a $35 fee, if plans include the following: N Using herbicides or algicides. N Removing emergent vegetation, like bulrush, cattails or wild rice. Emergent plants are rooted in the lake or river bottom, but their leaves and stems extend out of the water. N Installing or operating an automated plant control device, such as the Crary WeedRoller, BeachGroomer or Lake Sweeper. N Removing floating leaf vegetation

in an area larger than a 15-foot-wide channel (see above). N Controlling submerged vegetation in an area wider than one-half the width of your frontage or 50 feet, whichever is less (see above). N Removing or relocating a bog of any size.

What is not allowed These activities are not allowed by DNR aquatic plant management regulations: N Excavating the lake bottom for aquatic plant control. N Use of hydraulic jets. N Using lake-bottom barriers to destroy or prevent the growth of aquatic plants. N Removing aquatic vegetation within posted fish-spawning areas. N Removing aquatic plants from undeveloped shoreline. For more information, see the DNR website at shorelandmgmt/apg/regulations.html, or call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

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DNR offers ‘I Can!’ programs on paddleboarding, paddling, fishing


ne of the latest trends in paddle sports is coming to Minnesota state parks this summer. People can sign-up for one of the new stand-up paddleboarding programs offered as part of the “I Can!” series of outdoor skill-building opportunities for beginners. “I Can Paddle! Stand-up Paddle-boarding” programs ($10 per person, ages 8 and up) take place: N June 21, Glacial Lakes State Park (in Starbuck, 140 miles northwest of the Twin Cities). N July 5, Sibley State Park (near Willmar in central Minnesota). N Aug. 16, William O’Brien State Park (north of Stillwater).

I Can Paddle! Novice paddlers will explore some of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers with guides during this summer’s “I Can Paddle!” programs. Advance registration is required. Two of the paddling programs are: N On the Lake programs — These two-hour programs ($10 per canoe, with each canoe accommodating up to three people), for beginners of all ages, take place at various Minnesota state parks, starting June 14. N On the River programs — In addition to the same basic skills included in the “On the Lake” programs, these programs ($25 per canoe, with each canoe accommodating up to three people) will cover how to read a river and river safety. Programs take place on state water trails (river routes mapped and managed for paddling), starting June 14. Participants must be age 8 or older.

The Minnesota DNR’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman program teaches women a range of skills.

DNR’s BOW program marks 20 years of connecting women to the outdoors Learn how to hunt deer. Tie a fly and catch trout. Call a turkey. Go kayaking. Women and families all over Minnesota are learning these and more skills through the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Minnesota offers more BOW programs than any other state in the nation, with more than 100 family and womenspecific offerings. In May, DNR staff honored volunteers and celebrated two decades of BOW. Classes cover a range of outdoors skills, from Fishing 101 to guided sturgeon fishing adventure trips, from firearms safety classes to mentored archery deer hunts. “The BOW program has long been the gold standard in providing ways for adult women and families to learn outdoor skills,” said Jay Johnson, DNR hunting recruitment and retention supervisor. To read more about BOW and to download the catalog, see For a list of BOW classes and events, see

I Can Fish! First-time anglers and those who want a refresher can get hands-on instruction at free fishing programs. Equipment and bait are provided, and no fishing license is necessary for Minnesota residents fishing at Minnesota state parks. Advance registration is not required. No experience is necessary for any of these programs. Instruction and all necessary equipment is provided. Some programs require advance registration and a fee; others are free, although a vehicle permit is required ($5/one-day or $25/year-round) to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. To register for I Can Paddle!, visit reservations or call 866-857-2757 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, except holidays). For more information, visit or contact the DNR Information Center at or 651-296-6157 or 888646-6367.



CROW continues sale of rain barrels Crow River Organization of Water still has some rain barrels for sale, if property owners would like to buy one. Using rain barrels will help the environment and reduce water bills. Rain barrels can capture and store runoff flowing from rooftops during rain events that can be used later to irrigate flowers and landscaped areas. In addition, reducing the amount of water that immediately flows in the storm drain cuts down on the amount of contact water has with contaminants, such as oil, salt, pesticides, fertilizers, and trash. Each barrel is $55, including tax, and holds up to 54 gallons with a removable debris screen, hoses, and a flat back. For more information, contact Charlene at 763-682-1933 ext. 122, or email her at

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Resident married couples can obtain an annual combination fishing license for $35, compared to $44 for two adult individual licenses. For children, a fishing license can be an investment in building a lifetime interest in the outdoors.

Planning to go fishing? The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a license to fit. Resident married couples can obtain an annual combination fishing license for $35, compared to $44 for two adult individual licenses, according to the DNR. Asking a spouse, child or friend to go fishing is one way to start a tradition, said Jenifer Wical, of the DNR’s outreach section. “Most people won’t start fishing by themselves but they will if someone asks them to go,” Wical said. Buy licenses at any DNR license agent, online via mobile and desktop at and by telephone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers, and cut their time between front door and fishing. For children, a fishing license can

be an investment in building a lifetime interest in the outdoors. Lifetime angling licenses for children age 3 and under are $304, while lifetime angling licenses for those age 16 to age 50 are $508. Want to try fishing for a weekend? Purchase a 72-hour fishing license for $12, around the price of a movie. Teens ages 16 and 17 can buy annual fishing licenses for only $5, little more than the price of some smartphone apps. Kids under 15 are not required to buy a license to fish, but must comply with fishing regulations. Time outdoors need not end at the boat access. Outdoors-savvy customers can buy hunting and fishing licenses in one fell swoop. A Sports license includes angling and small game for $38, while a Super Sports license includes a trout/salmon stamp, small game with pheasant and waterfowl, and a deer tag (archery, firearms or muzzleloader) for $93.

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Matt Mackedanz scans the backwaters of Belle Lake for carp during the lake association’s bowfishing tournament in early May. Bowfishing for carp has increased in popularity during the past decade, with the Minnesota State Archery Association even offering a state bowfishing tournament on Diamond Lake near New London.

Hunting the water’s edge Kingston Archery Club hunts for fish during a recent carp shoot on Belle Lake.The popularity of bowfishing has increased because it’s a win-win situation — for archery members, who enjoy the sport, and for those who want to get rid of fish that are damaging area lakes. 16


By Brent Schacherer PUBLISHER


hey descend on the lake like a band of alien bounty hunters straight out of a science fiction novel. From afar, their hightech vehicles resemble spaceships, hovering low over the water, the silhouetted inhabitants communicating in hushed murmurs as they scan the water. Until, that is, the wanted prey is apprehended, when a triumphant whoop might go up from an excited hunter. Despite appearances to the uninitiated, it isn’t science fiction, and they aren’t alien. Rather, the “spaceships” are boats equipped with blazing streetlight-power lamps, some with elevated shooting stands. The inhabitants are bow-hunting enthusiasts. And the prey — the lowly carp. The slightly eerie scene of bowfishermen

MAIN DECK on a lake after dark could be played out on any body of water in southern Minnesota, where carp and other rough fish are plentiful. But in early May, a large contingent arrived at Belle Lake north of Hutchinson to participate in a bowfishing tournament. “We were kind of looking for a fun way to thin the carp population out,” said Jeff Strazzinski Jr., director of the Belle Lake Association. “Our objective is focusing on the water clarity. These guys want to shoot some carp. We can work together, and it benefits both of (the groups).” Bowfishing has exploded in popularity in recent years, according to Craig Mackedanz, vice president of the Kingston Archery Club, which served as host of the Belle Lake carp hunt. That was evident from the turnout at the Belle Lake carp shoot, which drew about 15 teams from around the state — from as far north as Grand Rapids and west to the South Dakota border. “It’s really a win-win,” Mackedanz said of bowfishing’s popularity. “It’s not just carp; we’re shooting dogfish and bullheads, too. Any rough fish. The bottom feeders, the ones that are wrecking the vegetation and really damaging the lake for game fish. We shoot them all.” Among the participants at Belle Lake were Brandon Young and his wife, Emily, of Deerwood, Minn., and his father, Bob, of Annandale. Though their two daughters weren’t with them for the Belle Lake shoot, the Youngs said they frequently bring them with on bowfishing expeditions. “It’s gotten to be a family affair after a while,” said Brandon, who picked up the sport about four years ago. “If you want to get addicted to something, this is it. It’s a blast.” Along with generating excitement among participants, the sport certainly draws attention from others, too. “It can be kind of different,” Brandon Young said. “You go out at night and there’s no one else on the lake, except sometimes confused homeowners, when I’m rolling in there with a spaceship on the water, basically.” Prior to the carp shoot, Belle Lake Association had a pork chop feed, during which lake residents mingled with bowfishermen, introducing some of those “confused homeowners” to the enthusiasts and their sport. That was followed by a drawing for door prizes donated by area businesses. “We had a shoot two years ago in July, and they contacted us this year about coming again, but earlier in the year,” Strazzinski

Brothers Matt and Craig Mackedanz land their first carp during the Belle Lake carp shoot.

said. “I took the idea and ran with it. I went around to area businesses and asked for donations for door prizes or for the bounty, and I got a lot of positive feedback on it. That helped make it possible for us to do this tonight.” As the sun set, team members headed for their boats and the landing, embarking on a hunt that would last until 2 a.m., when all boats were to be back if they wanted to share in the 50-cents-per-carp bounty paid by the lake association. But the bounty payout, which was capped at $150, had little to do with the excitement of the bowfishermen. For them, it was almost exclusively about the sport of it all. “It’s an addicting sport,” Mackedanz explained. “You do it once, and you’re hooked. It doesn’t matter how old you are.” That addiction leads some to invest thousands of dollars in their bowfishing equipment — boat, lights, generator, bow, arrow, and line. It isn’t necessary to spend thousands, but when the bug bites, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Mackedanz knows that feeling — though he hasn’t made that huge of a financial investment in the sport. He was bitten by the bowfishing bug six or seven years ago and hasn’t been able to shake it. In fact, he now serves as chairman of the Minnesota State Archery Association’s bowfishing committee. “I got into the sport through the local

It’s an addicting sport. You do it once, and you’re hooked. It doesn’t matter how old you are.

CRAIG MACKEDANZ, vice president of the Kingston Archery Club




A boat appears to leave the landing and embark on the great carp hunt in early May on Belle Lake. archery shop, Minnesota Archery (in Litchfield),” he said. “They took me out one night, and my first night out, I shot a 33-pound carp. You hoist that baby out of the water and into the boat, and it’s like, ‘Oh, man!’ I was hooked. I brought my out boat, set it up with lights … just from that one experience. I love doing it.” The heart-pounding adrenaline rush that archery enthusiasts feel when nailing a bull’s-eye on the range, or when a large buck ambles within shooting distance in the field, is multiplied when bowfishing. “When you go turkey hunting, or you go out deer hunting, you got one shot,” Mackedanz said. “You got one tag; you feel that adrenaline once. You go out bowfishing, you get it 20, 30, 40 times a night. It’s that excitement of taking that shot, harvesting that carp out of the lake … it’s never-ending.” It is a winning combination, then, when lake associations and bowfisherman team up for a tourney. The lake association benefits by thinning the carp population, thus improving water clarity and the game fish environment. Bowfish enthusiasts benefit from fulfillment of their archery jones and the understanding of lakeshore property owners and residents. “An important thing to remember, if you’re going to do this sport, do it right,” Mackedanz said. “Learn the laws, follow the rules. “It’s great when we can pair up with a lake association like this. Everybody on the lake knows what we’re doing, they know we’re out here. They want us out here.”



Matt and Craig Mackedanz bowfish in tournaments regularly. They say there’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of seeing, shooting and landing a large carp.

Though carp are plentiful during daytime hours, bowfisherman prefer the dark of night, when winds usually diminish, creating a smooth lake surface which can be illuminated with the high-powered lights. There’s also less chance of other conflicting pursuits. “Most of the lakes around here are sport and recreation,”

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Jeff Strazzinski Jr., director of the Belle Lake Association, talks with bowfisherman before they head out to the lake for the tournament.

Mackedanz said. “So, during the day, you’ve got people out. I bowfish on Lake Erie (in Meeker County) a lot, and we’ll go out there during the day, but if somebody’s running their jet ski around or if somebody’s out fishing, you’ve got all the wakes and waves. You go out at night and you turn the lights on, and it’s like a different world.” Of course, on a cool night in early May, bowfishermen had eyes only for carp. And that was a good thing for the archery buffs and the Belle Lake Association. By the end of the approximately six-hour hunt, the bowfishermen had harvested more than two tons — 4,340 pounds of carp — from the lake. The harvest was piled into barrels and the bounty paid to teams, then lake association members transported the barrels to a county compost site for disposal. That is another example of cohesiveness between two groups with similar goals. “A good thing about working with the lake association is that, a lot of times, they’ll take care of (the carp). They’ll dis-

Bowfisherman admit their boats, equipped with highpowered lights to illuminate the water, sometimes draw curious concern from lake homeowners, because of their “alien spaceship” appearance in the dark of night. pose of them, which is a huge help for us as bowfishermen,” Mackedanz said. “It’s kind of cool, too, that as we dispose of them, we can get a weight on how many carp these guys just took out of the lake,” Strazzinski said.

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