MN DNR NEWS RELEASE: Arson, Prevent the Spread of AIS, Top Ten Fishing Violations, and more

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #33                                                                                              May 4, 2015
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.
Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr.

IN THIS ISSUE
Lake Vermilion resort owner builds Minnesota lake traditions
‘Protect your waters’ on fishing opener and throughout season
Arson likely cause of 2 fires near Little Falls, reward offered
Top 10 Minnesota fishing violations
Question of the week: early season boating


 

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Lake Vermilion resort owner builds Minnesota lake traditions

Lake Vermilion

Photo courtesy of MN DNR

Like the bald eagles that soar just outside his Lake Vermilion dockside window, Ed Tausk loves to fish.

He could be on the lake at a moment’s notice. Necessity and, to a lesser degree, choice, combine to keep Tausk’s muskie rod out of his hands much until fall. There’s just too much to do for a resort owner and fishing advocate who spends his time helping others savor time and build traditions at the lake.

“When I get time, I take my kids out. Any chance I get I’ll fish,” Tausk said. “But the reality is, it’s not that often.”

Lake Vermilion will host the 2015 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener, which coincides with the statewide walleye and northern pike fishing opener on Saturday, May 9. Long after the media attention from the event fades, the hustle will continue for Tausk as he enters the busy season at Vermilion Dam Lodge.

Located on Wolf Bay where the Vermilion River flows out of the lake of the same name, Tausk’s lodge and cabins are about 25 miles as the crow flies from the U.S.-Canada border near Crane Lake. It’s 20 miles by backroads to Cook, the nearest town. 

Tausk left an established career at Northwest Airlines to buy the resort and move his family from the Twin Cities 18 years ago. Since then he’s helped hundreds if not thousands of anglers start and strengthen fishing traditions, while continuing to keep the resort fresh for those who want more than a bed and a boat ramp.

Fishing remains a major draw for Tausk’s resort. How could it not be on a 39,000-acre lake that offers everything from walleyes and muskie to bass and panfish?

But these aren’t the old days. On the site of an 1890s logging camp that became a resort in 1912, guests now find WiFi access and amenities for families.

Families are the bulk of Tausk’s clientele. Outdoor activities and cabins with the modern conveniences are as important, if not more so, than the ability to easily hop in a boat and wet a line.

Still, many of his guests grew up looking forward to fishing each year on their family vacation. Now they’re bringing back their own kids so they can experience what their parents once did. And fishing is a big part of that tradition.

Taking kids fishing
Tausk knows that not every kid comes from a family that provides opportunities to enjoy Minnesota lakes or try fishing. It was a realization that led him and others in 2010 to start the Let’s Take a Kid Fishing event on Lake Vermilion, which has grown to include 100 kids each year who fish for the day in boats with local guides and volunteers.  

Tausk recalls hearing a presentation from Mark Holsten, a former commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, about the need to keep kids fishing.

“It was interesting. He put a slide up and showed a picture of a bunch of kids sitting around a laptop. And he said we have a crisis in front of us,” Tausk said.

Taking the words to heart, he asked about a similar event in Bemidji and enlisted the help of volunteers, the 2,400-member Sportsmen’s Club of Lake Vermilion, the Lake Vermilion Guides League, Fortune Bay Resort Casino, and other key sponsors to make the event possible for kids ages 10 to 15. This year, the event is Wednesday, July 15.

Most kids who participate live in the area, and for some it’s the only time they fish on a boat the entire year.

“It’s pretty cool, the whole thing has really taken off,” Tausk said. “But what’s really interesting about it, I think, is that kids coming every year look forward to that one time to come out fishing.”

While the number of Minnesota anglers has been steady in the past decade, the number represents a declining percentage of the overall state population who fish, because Minnesota’s population is growing.

Tausk said he and others want the kids fishing event to spark an interest.

“It gets the message out – not just to the kids, but to the parents and other people out there – that that we’ve got to get these kids outdoors and engage them in fishing,” he said. “And it’s a great experience for the kids.”

Advocating for resorts, anglers
Tausk remains an advocate for resort interests, and serves on the 11-member DNR’s Fisheries Oversight Committee, which he joined to provide a resort perspective. He said there is a need to promote fishing opportunities in Minnesota.

“We should really be expanding – trying to bring more people to our state,” Tausk said. “We’ve got phenomenal fisheries.”

Sometimes, he finds himself convincing anglers who usually book Canadian fishing trips to instead cast on this side of the border. He steers them to the fishing on Lake Vermilion, a big walleye lake, and also one that the DNR has stocked with muskie fingerlings in six of the last 10 years. Today, Lake Vermilion is one of the top trophy muskie lakes in the country.

Anglers continue to catch trophy-sized fish on the lake, including one of Tausk’s guests who caught and released a 59-inch muskie. Tausk had a quick response when asked whether there have been other muskie released on Lake Vermilion that could have beaten the state muskie record that stands at 54-pounds, 56-inches.

“There’s no doubt in my mind,” he said.

It’s not all about the fishing, though, and Tausk is at the ready to make sure guests enjoy their stay. He even became a certified first responder to prepare for any accidents that might happen at a resort so far from town. And he’s removed plenty of errant fish hooks from people over the years.

Tausk occasionally gets out on the water while helping customers familiarize themselves with a boat or the lake. Wherever he is this time of year, there’s a good chance it will involve making someone else’s experience of northern Minnesota a little bit better.

Naturally, that means his muskie rod has to wait.

“Everybody thinks I’m nuts, because I’m always working,” Tausk said. “But for some reason I do enjoy it.”

For more information on the Let’s Take a Kid Fishing event, see www.lakevermilion.com/kids.

                                                                                    -30-

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           May 4, 2015

‘Protect your waters’ on fishing opener and throughout season

The 2015 fishing opener is an important reminder of every Minnesota angler’s vital role in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Following AIS laws helps protect waters from invasives while protecting anglers from citations, according to Maj. Greg Salo, DNR Enforcement Division operations manager.

The law requires anglers to clean weeds and debris from their boats, remove drain plugs and keep them out while traveling, and dispose of unused bait in the trash. “The good news is, if everyone taking part in the fishing opener follows this simple procedure throughout the season, it’s possible to prevent new infestations caused by human activity,” Salo said.

The issue is so important that Gov. Mark Dayton declared the 2015 fishing opener a day for invasive species awareness. Zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas can be easily carried from one lake to another if aquatic plants or water are left on a boat or trailer.

“Every angler has a stake in preventing the spread of AIS in the waters they fish and enjoy,” said Ann Pierce, section manager, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division. “We continue to develop management strategies to treat invasives, but the most important tool is prevention.”

Specially marked clean-and-drain areas at public water accesses provide safe and convenient places for anglers to clean, drain and dispose. Anglers will see watercraft inspectors at some access sites. These inspectors will check to ensure anglers follow clean, drain, dispose laws and may deny access if necessary. At other landings, anglers will see volunteer educators who will provide information on what they need to do to protect Minnesota waters.

Some aquatic invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving zebra mussel or spiny waterflea infested waters, the DNR recommends that anglers either:

  • Spray boat with high-pressure water;
  • Rinse boat with hot water (120 degrees for 2 minutes, or 140 degrees for 10 seconds); or
  • Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.

More information, including a 30-second public service announcement about stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species, is available at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.

                                                                                  -30-

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           May 4, 2015

Arson likely cause of 2 fires near Little Falls, reward offered

Fire investigators have determined that arson was the probable cause of two wildfires near Little Falls. The Morrison County Sheriff and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources continue to investigate. A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the arsonist.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact either the Morrison County Sheriff at 320-632-9233 or the DNR Forestry Office at 320-616-2450, ext. 230. To remain anonymous, call the arson tip line at 800-723-2020.

One wildfire started April 14 near the intersection of Hawthorn Road and 185 Avenue. The other started April 15 in the city of Little Falls along 11th Street NE. Neither fire grew large because of quick response by the Little Falls Fire Department and DNR Forestry Division. 

On April 15, there was a red flag warning for central Minnesota. Temperatures were in the 70s, relative humidity was exceptionally low, and there were sustained winds of 18 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Red Flag conditions lead to fast-moving fires that burn with extreme intensity.

The two wildfires could have grown large and threatened homes and structures. The coordinated efforts of local fire departments, wild land firefighters, sheriffs’ offices and emergency managers were instrumental in keeping the fires small and preventing further damage.

Arson wildfires in Minnesota cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year. The cost to those who lose homes is immeasurable. The DNR asks all citizens for their help in preventing arson.

                                                                      -30-

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                May 4, 2015

Top 10 Minnesota fishing violations

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released a list of the top 10 fishing-related violations to avoid this season.

The top two categories for citations and warnings involved license violations. All residents of Minnesota, age 16 to 89, must have a current Minnesota fishing license in possession while angling or transporting fish, unless an exemption applies (see ‘Who doesn’t need a fishing license?’ at www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/fishing/index.html). All nonresidents need a license, except those ages 15 and younger do not need a license if a parent or guardian is licensed, but the fish count toward the licensee’s limit. License fees help the DNR protect, preserve, and manage Minnesota’s natural resources.

Other common violations include no fishing license, extra lines, and over the possession limit.

2014 Violations
1. Fishing license not in possession (194 citations, 2,443 warnings).
2. No license (742 citations, 397 warnings).
3. Extra lines (634 citations, 144 warnings).
4. Improperly/not marked fish house (300 citations, 47 warnings).
5. Over possession limit (262 citations, 47 warnings).
6. Length or slot limit violation (139 citations, 71 warnings).
7. Unattended/set lines (122 citations, 69 warnings).
8. Closed season (67 citations, 33 warnings).
9. No reflective material on fish house (9 citations, 90 warnings).
10. Fish house left on the ice after removal deadline (58 citations, 22 warnings).

“Only a small percentage of Minnesota anglers run afoul of the law,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement Division director. “A majority of anglers in our state abide by the rules and regulations.”

The 2015 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook is available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/fishing/index.html or can be obtained from any fishing license vendor, as well as many outdoor retailers.

The DNR’s mission is to work with citizens to conserve and manage the state’s natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial use of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life. A major part of that mission involves the work of conservation officers in gaining voluntary compliance with regulations through education and law enforcement.

Be on the lookout for game and fish violations and report such violations to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP. Informants can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

                                                                                    -30-
 
Question of the week

Q: With the boating season upon us and fishing opener fast approaching, what do boaters need to remember about early season boating?

A: It may sound melodramatic, but it’s true: Cold water kills. Whether you are paddling, fishing or just taking a spin around the lake, it is vital to wear your life jacket any time you’re on cold water. When air temperatures turn balmy, it’s easy to forget that water temperatures may remain in the mid-40s well into early summer.

In the event of an unexpected fall overboard, even the strongest swimmers can quickly become incapacitated if not wearing a life jacket due to “cold water shock,” which causes an involuntary gasp and subsequent inhalation of water. In fact, 30 percent of boating fatalities in Minnesota occur during the cold water season, and in nearly all cases the victims were not wearing life jackets.

Simply having life jackets on board does not ensure safety. Actually wearing your life jacket – whether it’s a typical foam-filled jacket or one of the newer, lightweight, inflatable styles – remains the simplest and most effective measure you can take to stay safe on the water should the unexpected happen. Learn more at www.mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.

Debbie Munson Badini, DNR boat and water safety education coordinator

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