The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Outdoors

May 6, 2012

Cross: More and more anglers taking advantage of the digital era

— Serious and even not-so-serious anglers hang all sorts of sophisticated electronics from their boat, all to tip the odds in their favor to catch a few fish.

But nowadays, among the most important electronic fishing tools for Minnesota anglers might just be the home computer.

For decades, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries has conducted periodic fish population surveys on most of the state’s fishing lakes.

 “Minnesota’s lake history data base is second to none in the country,” said TJ DeBates, the supervisor at the DNR’s Waterville Fish Hatchery. “The DNR has been gathering lake data for decades.”

That data, along with stocking records, lake maps and other lake information compiled over decades can be found in the LakeFinder section on the DNR’s Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

The information makes fascinating reading and gives anglers an idea of what to expect when they hit a particular body of water for the first time.

In some cases, however, the LakeFinder information listed for a lake — population assessments, stocking records — are too old to accurately reflect current conditions.

“Most lakes are surveyed every five years or so, certain core management lakes more frequently,” he said. Typically, it has taken as long as 1 1/2 years for lake survey information to be posted for a given body of water.

That lag time should shrink dramatically since DNR Fisheries personnel now carry electronic tablets into the field where data can be directly entered into data base templates.

In the past, catch and size rates of the various species captured in survey nets were recorded the old fashioned way — with pencil and paper — while on the water.

 That data then was compiled and entered during the winter months, DeBates explained.

After being analyzed by area biologists, it would move down the line to the regional and finally to a state level, before manually being entered into the LakeFinder.

Utilizing the tablets has streamlined the operation, allowing the data to be accessed and reviewed more quickly.

Following review of lake survey data on area and regional levels, it then becomes just a matter of someone in St. Paul flipping a switch to update a particular survey.

“It will be more real time,” he  said. “Where it used to take 1 1/2 years to get the latest information up on Lake Finder, it now will happen much more quickly.”

The following is a list of area lakes that had recent fish population estimates or full surveys (in-depth assessments) conducted:  2010: Madison, George, Albert Lea, Dora, Rice, Cody, Phelps, St. Olaf, Clear, Elysian; 2011: Crystal, Duck, Fountain, Fox, Frances, Greenleaf.

DeBates said LakeFinder data from those most recent surveys should be online and available for viewing sometime this week.

Just in time for the opener.

John Cross is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at 344-6376 or by e-mail at jcross@mankatofreepress.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Outdoors
  • mfp sports-jc outdoor column-7-27 Singing the praises of the prairie When pioneers first traveled through Minnesota, they marveled at the seemingly endless, inland sea of tall grass prairie that greeted them.It is estimated more than 18 million acres of grasslands stretched from the southeast to the northwest corners

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • mfp sports jcross outdoor column 7-20 Chasing walleyes in South Dakota nice We slowed to a crawl the other day on the dusty Day County township road in northeast South Dakota, a courtesy to the farmer who was baling ditch hay south of Webster.Otherwise, we would have enveloped him as he drove his open tractor in the choking

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fishing report Outlook on area lakes

    July 6, 2014

  • Cross column: No wake, no fish ... no problems on the water Patience is always a virtue when fishing.

    July 6, 2014

  • Know Your Lakes: Series maps

    Missed out on the weekly lake preview Wednesday's in the print edition? That's ok, we have you covered here. View the series thus far and download a printable PDF.

    May 24, 2011

  • Cross column: Where does the buck stop in your home?

    Displaying your trophy catch can be debatable

    June 29, 2014

  • Storms came at horrible time for pheasants For pheasants and pheasant hunters, there were no silver linings to be found in the storm clouds that inundated the countryside with heavy rains this week.A foot of rain falling in just a week is never good, but for pheasants, it came at precisely th

    June 22, 2014

  • Early morning is beautifully lonely Benjamin Franklin was on to something when he extolled the benefits of "early to bed, early to rise." While I can't vouch for its effect on health, wealth or wisdom, rolling out of the sack certainly seems to pay dividends for outdoor activities. The

    June 15, 2014

  • mfp sports cross column 6-1 Cross: Take a kid fishing, no license needed A few years ago, while cruising with a co-worker through an area community on a steamy summer day, we passed a vacant lot. There, oblivious to the heat and humidity, a group of kids were playing a game of pick-up baseball, racing down well-worn paths

    June 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cross: Once upon a time, when fishing was simple... Once upon a time, fishing was a pretty simple affair. A rod-and-reel, some bait and tackle, perhaps a rowboat if you were lucky, and you were in business. While the basic premise of angling -- to catch fish -- remains, it sure seems to have grown mor

    May 25, 2014