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Zebra mussels can help a dirty lake, too

I mentioned last week I would comment on the discovery of Zebra Mussels in Pelican Lake. Zebra Mussels are an invasive species that get their name from the striped pattern of their shells. Most are about the size of a thumbnail, but can grow up to 2 inches. They have been in the U.S. since 1988 and appeared first in Lake St. Clair (between the Great Lakes of Huron and Erie). They are in numerous lakes and rivers in Minnesota now.

No good strategies have been found to eliminate or remove them. We and our ecosystem will have to learn to adapt to them. They attach themselves to hard surfaces and will be a nuisance. Obviously we all need to do our part to prevent the spread of invasive species. We are battling nature here, and these little buggers can attach themselves, swim, or be moved by current and wind, not to mention waterfowl.

We don't have any intake pipes here to worry about being clogged, which is one of the biggest concerns I have read and heard about.

On the benefit side, they filter water. An adult Zebra Mussel filters a quart of water a day. Many of us are old enough to remember the Saturday Night Live skit of the competition between a Heinz ketchup and a bottle of Lake Erie water as to which one was slower. Lake Erie has made an amazing turn around since the 1970's.

Confrontation of environmental abuses helped, but the Zebra Mussel has been a major factor in cleaning up Lake Erie. Erie is clean, healthy, and the fishing is the best it has ever been.

In my opinion, this invasive species does not mean the end for Pelican Lake and the Pelican River watershed, just some adaptations.

The cold weather and cold front, on top of cold front, has dropped water temps 12 degrees in the last week. As of Wednesday evening, I had 54.6 degrees. I have not seen as many fishermen out lately and I figure it is part weather and part Twins and Vikings.

I have stayed on the shallow water walleye pattern. I had to downsize minnows on jigs and go to an aggressive presentation of popping, snapping or ripping jigs with some good success in 11 to 13 ft of water. This technique has also triggered Northern Pike and Bass action. The word on the Muskie is that Big Detroit and Pelican have both been good, and the live bait bite with big sucker minnows is working well.

Crappies are getting active and are suspended off sharp breaks to deep water off shoreline breaks and breaks off the major flats. We have some great fall fishing in front of us yet so make sure you get out and enjoy what the lakes have to offer at this time of year.