The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 2, 2012

Cross: Recent rain could hurt pheasants

— Not too long ago, I fired off an email to an Iowa hunting partner about how encouraging spring nesting conditions were looking around here for pheasants.

I suggested that after several back-to-back tough winters and wash-out nesting seasons, ringnecks might be poised to hit a real home run in the reproduction department.

Foolish, optimistic me.

Two weeks and copious rainfall amounts later, the rivers and streams are running bank-to-bank, lowlands are flooded, uplands are soggy across many parts of Minnesota’s prime pheasant range and temperatures have been below normal.

Worse, this perfect storm of wet, cool conditions comes in late May and early June, frequently near the peak of the pheasant hatch.

So now, instead a home run, we might just have to settle for a base hit if this wet, cool pattern holds.

If there is one glimmer of hope, it might be that even before this extended wet weather pattern arrived, a few people had reported seeing some fairly large pheasant broods.

That and my friend tells me that in his neck of the woods in northern Iowa, conditions have been much more favorable.

Clarification needed

Last week, there was the story of the Mankato angler who caught a potential state record sturgeon that because of its protected status on the Minnesota River had to be released.

It had to be released because as a protected species, it couldn’t be taken to a certified scale to be weighed, a requirement for any fish being considered to be listed as a state record.

It now sounds like a possible case of mistaken identity.

Mike Parsley, whose credentials are pretty good — he’s a research fish biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Fisheries Research Center based in Cook, Wash. — saw the article and wrote:

“The accompanying photo shows a lake sturgeon, not a shovelnose sturgeon. Both species occur in the Mississippi River basin. Shovelnose typically don’t exceed 3 feet in length, whereas lake sturgeon can be much larger.”

“The shape of the head and the caudal peduncle (that portion of the body between the dorsal fin and the actual tail) differ markedly between the lake and shovelnose sturgeon. The shovelnose is aptly named — its head and nose are very flattened and elongated like a shovel. The lake sturgeon has a much more rounded and blunt nose,” he explained.

For the record, the current Minnesota record lake sturgeon listed in the 2012 Fishing regulations is a whopping 94 pound, 4-ouncer caught in the Kettle River, Pine County, indeed much larger than the existing shovelnose record listed at 5 pounds, 9 ounces.

Also yes, like shovelnose sturgeon, lake sturgeon — even potential state records — are protected in the Minnesota River and must be released.

A Shadow in the spotlight

Shadow, a five-year-old black Labrador retriever owned by Bob Sorenson of New Ulm, continues to rack up the trophies for his aerial abilities.

Sorenson and Shadow took the top spot in the Super V, a high jump for dogs, as part of the Super Retriever Series Crown Championship held over the Memorial Day weekend in Little Rock, Ark.

Going against 20 of the best jumping dogs in the country, Shadow managed a clean grab at a suspended dummy at 7.2 feet, garnering the championship.

In the Youth Division, Tiffini Kettner, the daughter of Sorenson’s girlfriend, coaxed Shadow into stretching for a 20.11-foot jump from a dock to capture the Junior Flyers Championship.

John Cross is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at 344-6376 or by email at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • 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