Late spring forces postponement of Minnetonka crappie contest

  • Updated: April 16, 2013 - 8:44 PM

One of Minnesota’s first open-water fishing contests of the season has been washed out — because of no open water.

One of Minnesota’s first open-water fishing contests of the season has been washed out — because of no open water.

The Lions Lake Minnetonka Crappie Contest was supposed to be held Saturday, but the lake still is gripped in ice, forcing organizers to postpone the event until April 27. And even that date could be iffy.

“We have all our fingers crossed,’’ said Roy Peterson of Mound, chairman of the contest and president of the Northwest Tonka Lions. “I think there’s a shot for the 27th. We just need Mother Nature on our side.’’

Last year, the first year of the contest, about 300 people participated. “We were hoping for more this year,’’ Peterson said.

Of course, last year a spring heat wave left Lake Minnetonka ice-free March 21, and many lakes around the state set early ice-out records.

Not so this spring.

Peterson said this year’s event, including fishing seminars, activities and giveaways, will be held April 27 at the Bayview Event Center in Excelsior regardless whether fishing can occur. “We have a lot of activities from 11 ’til 2. We’re giving rods and reels to the first 100 kids who show up. And we’ll have seminars and drawings.’’ A boat-motor-trailer package is being raffled off.

The event is a charity fundraiser. For information, see mnlakeparty.com.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Bound Crappie Contest on Lake Minnetonka is set for May 4, a little more than two weeks away. It, too, raises money for charity. For information, see mnbound.com.

Fishing opener on ice?

As the state continues to get pummeled with unseasonably cold weather and more snow, the million-dollar question now is whether northern lakes will be ice-free by the May 11 fishing opener. Anglers in many areas are still ice-fishing, and 3 feet of ice is common. “Many worry that the ice will not be gone in time,’’ reported conservation officer Brad Schultz of Cook. Meanwhile, officers still are checking snowmobilers in the middle of April.

Iced pheasants?

The recent ice storm that devastated the Worthington area of southwestern Minnesota has been well-documented, but it’s unknown what impact the freezing rain might have had on the local pheasant population. Nicole Davros, DNR pheasant biologist, believes the birds might have survived with limited mortality. The southwest winter wasn’t as severe as it was farther north, and the ringnecks should have had good cover.

“I think the birds should have been able to handle it just fine, as long as they had a place to hide,’’ she said. But the forecast for more snow in southern Minnesota doesn’t bode well for pheasants already stressed from a long season.

DOUG SMITH

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