Martin Schuetze of Eagan and his buddy Hal Goetzke of Stillwater had a dandy outing on Spring Lake in Scott County recently.

"We caught 20 crappies, eight sunnies and a couple of walleyes," said Schuetze, an avid angler.

But the trip left them with a bad taste in their mouths.


Schuetze filleted the fish and fried them. His wife took one bite -- and about gagged. "They tasted like chemicals," he said. "It was a metallic taste. Oh man, it was bad."

The fish were inedible, Schuetze said. Goetzke's fish were tainted, too. Both threw their catch away. Schuetze said he was dumbfounded, saying, "I just couldn't believe it."

It turns out that parts of the lake were indeed treated with chemicals the day before Schuetze and Goetzke fished it. According to a permit filed with Department of Natural Resources, Lake Restoration of Rogers was contracted by 33 lakeshore owners to treat the areas in front of their properties with chemicals to kill curlyleaf pondweed and algae. Under the permit, about 5 acres of the 700-acre lake were treated.

Tim Ohmann, a DNR fisheries specialist, said he never has heard of herbicides being taken up in the flesh of fish. Said Kevin Kretsch of Lake Restoration: "The chemicals are approved by the EPA, and there's no fishing restrictions. You can fish and consume the fish the same day of the treatment."

Under the law, blaze-orange signs identifying the chemical and treatment must be erected on the lakeshore property that is treated. Kretsch said that was done at Spring Lake. Signs must be posted at public accesses only if the entire lake is chemically treated, Ohmann said.

"We didn't see any signs," Schuetze said.

After his experience, Schuetze said signs should be posted at public landings whenever a lake is treated with chemicals, so that those who don't live on the lake are made aware of the treatments.

Good pheasant weather The dry May -- one of the driest on record -- bodes well for pheasants, though the rain and cooler weather over the weekend could be untimely. "So far, the spring looks good [for pheasant reproduction]," said Kurt Haroldson, DNR pheasant biologist. The peak of the pheasant hatch is occurring now, he said. Pheasant chicks are very susceptible to cold and rain, so dry, warm weather boosts survival.

South Dakota ringnecks Pheasant conditions this spring have been good in South Dakota, too. "Things are looking promising," said Chad Switzer, state upland wildlife biologist. The peak pheasant hatch is occurring now, and so far, precipitation has been below normal. Decent snowfall last winter has helped boost grassland conditions, he said. And the ringneck population survived the winter in good shape.

Did you know? • LeVern Oveson of Lake Kabetogama, a well-known northern Minnesota fishing guide and bait shop owner, has died at 94.

• The night fishing restriction on Lake Mille Lacs expires Monday.

Doug Smith •