Times and dates you don’t want to missWORTHINGTON — It is the second week of February and there is still no snow. I just love it. I have always had a desire that if it were to snow, it should at least wait until the day before Christmas. This makes for 60 less days of shoveling. This season, my wish has been more than answered.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — It is the second week of February and there is still no snow. I just love it. I have always had a desire that if it were to snow, it should at least wait until the day before Christmas. This makes for 60 less days of shoveling. This season, my wish has been more than answered.
In addition to little to no snow cover, the temperatures continue to be 20 degrees above normal. I have seen the larger ice houses come and go off Lake Okabena about six different times this ice fishing season. I helped a friend put his out with my Polaris Ranger a few weeks back because the ice was not thick enough to drive a truck on the lake at the time. I see very little truck traffic yet today. It was only a day later that he removed it for fear of warmer weather compromising ice conditions to the point that removal would be difficult.
As I look out my office at Rall Financial Services, there are only 17 shacks on this end of the lake.
So, with ice conditions just now getting to the point where safety is of little concern for anglers on foot for most lakes in the area, it is the perfect time for the Winterfest Ice Fishing Tournament. This is going to be held Saturday, and is spearheaded by the Southwest Minnesota Fishing Club in concert with the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and the US 95 Deep Freeze Dip.
This fishing club began in 1989 and has been on the scene for just about every fishing event ever since. They carry a roster of more than 100 members. The fishing starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. The entry fee is $10 per person, regardless of age. There is no pre-registration, but sign-ups will take place on the shore the morning of the event. Fishing will be at Centennial Beach on the north end of Lake Okabena.
Prizes will be awarded for the first 20 places. The heaviest fish wins first place but the subsequent prizes are not awarded in a value order. For example 20th place might very well have a better prize than 10th place. You do not need to be an accomplished angler to participate and have fun. There is no vehicle traffic allowed. I was told there will be a few ATV’s around so talking someone into a ride could very well happen.
Proceeds from the event will fund a wide variety of different fisheries projects in the area. The Southwest Minnesota Fishing Club is the only organization in Nobles County that focuses its efforts on fisheries. I am a life member of the club and was involved in it for many years. I think a membership costs $15 a year and it is well worth the money.
The club is having its annual membership and fundraising banquet on April 21st at the Elks Lodge in Worthington. Make a note on your calendar and consider attending and helping them out. For more information on the fishing club and its activities, call Danny Frisch at 376-6145.
There will be many other activities you will not want to miss. Complete information can be found at the US 95 website, www.myradioworks.com. With the nice weather forecast, I think you will find many of your friends and neighbors on the lake on Saturday.
There are a few other dates that warrant inclusion on your planning calendar. The first is the 29th Nobles County Pheasants Forever Banquet on March 30, at the Long Branch saloon. There is more exciting news to be shared with all in attendance. This chapter continues to rank at the very top of all chapters across the nation. There are 750 chapters in the United States and your local Nobles County chapter was the No. 1 chapter in the nation in 2010 and the No. 1 chapter in Minnesota last year. These are successes achieved by very few others. For ticket information, contact a committee member or call my office at 372-7888.
The last, but by all means not the least, additional date that you need to record is May 5. This is the scheduled range day for the Worthington area firearms safety training program. The firearms safety program in Worthington, under the guidance of the Minnesota DNR, has recently gone to a 12-hour on-line classroom portion instead of students having to attend 6 separate evening classes.
In addition to completing the on-line portion, students must attend and participate in a more extensive day-long field program. This is a hands-on gun handling exercise that allows for a much greater opportunity for more in-depth safety training.
Other programs that have gone in this direction have seen dramatic increases in student participation. Parents have only to get the student in the car for one taxi ride verses seven under the old format.
In Worthington the opposite has happened. Normally 40-50 students participate annually, but since the change those numbers have dropped to about 25. This is of great concern to the local volunteers, and the only way to achieve more students is to make sure they know how the program works and to get them to the scheduled range day.
Mark your calendars and tell your friends. This training has been credited for reducing the number of firearms accidents to the lowest levels in recorded history. As the community gets accustomed to the new methods, we hope to be one of those areas where participation increases 10-fold.
If you have questions about any of these items, you can call me at my office. I have been a firearms safety instructor for almost 15 years and can get you headed in the right direction. We are getting to the period in the year between seasons. Game fish season ends in a few weeks and I refuse to get my Harley out as I am certain it would make winter come on full force. I will just watch as the days get longer and play with my summer fishing gear in anticipation of liquid water.
There is no cabin fever in me because there has been no winter so far. It is so nice I think I will take my dogs for a big run in the grass. They will really like that!
Scott Rall is the Daily Globe’s outdoors columnist. His column can also be read weekly at www.dglobe.com.
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