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Brad Laabs: Low lake levels could be a problem again this year

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This week will be a bit of a shotgun approach as far as topics. The first is a FYI for those that will be continuing to get on area lakes for some of the upcoming fall fishing. With all the hot weather and bright sun of the last couple of weeks, combined with the lack of any significant rain since about June, lake levels have dropped considerably.

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Lake levels started low after ice out, were good by early June with all the late May and June rain, and now have just continued to drop since then. The low water is not as bad as it was about this time last year, but it is getting close.

If you remember last fall, by mid-September many anglers/boaters were done, as launching and loading was a real challenge with the low water conditions. Last year was about as low as I can remember and we may match that again this year. If it continues, I will add some reminders on how to adjust/adapt in an article in a few weeks.  We are starting to have some challenges already at some accesses, and if we don’t get some moisture soon, we may have fall access issues like we had before.

You will already want to make sure your motor is trimmed up as you launch and as you approach loading onto your trailer. The prop wash out area has piled rock very shallow before the blow-out hole from power loading boats in these low water conditions. I am guessing most lakes are down about three feet from previous levels.

It looks like a new ramp is getting added to the west (beach) shore access on Little Detroit. That will help with the long weekend lines next summer. If you are putting in on the south access of Big Detroit, wear your kidney belt and drive slow. The potholes are the “end of the summer season special.”

The DNR will be hosting several public meetings about special regulations on some of the lakes. The most interesting one for us may be the Leech Lake meeting that will be held Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Walker Area Community Center (105 Tower Ave E.) The meeting will discuss relaxing the current slot for walleyes of 18-26 inches to 20-26 inches.

For the list of other meetings and lakes with special regulations under review, go to the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us. Go to the fishing portion of the website and it is easy to locate from there.

Also of note from the DNR is the easy access to licensing for those with smart phones. If you access the DNR site with your smartphone you will be directed to the license area and you will be able to get fishing, small game, or special stamps texted or emailed to you. You will not be sent a paper copy of your license. You will need to have your phone with you to show an officer your license number sent by text. This will be very handy for the short notice license needs or the tech savvy population of anglers and hunters. Minnesota residents that are 21 and older that have never purchased a fishing license will not be able to use this service. They will have to get their first license at a licensing agent or they can call 888-646-6367. After that they will be able to use the smart phone service.

I recently had a customer use this service in the truck on the way to the lake and accomplished getting his license in a matter of minutes in the vehicle.  You can also see the host of other smart phone apps the DNR has available at the website listed above.

Lastly, we will be losing the services of the many college students and some of the summer volunteers that have been helping with AIS education and boat checks at accesses all over the state. Make sure you thank them for their service. We had some quality young people and some dedicated volunteers doing a thankless job at our local lakes. It can get to be some long hours sitting at the accesses, especially with some of the extreme weather conditions we had at times this summer. Not everyone is pleased with their presence or understands they are trying to help, and many have taken some abuse from boaters that don’t get it.

Just a reminder — lots of open water fishing left yet. Get out a few more times!

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)

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