col La Crosse area fishing touted in Field #x0026;; Stream

By John Weiss

The Upper Mississippi River has been highlighted by Field &; Stream magazine as one of the top 20 places in this country to wet a line.

The area cited is around La Crosse, Wis., and Lake Onalaska, a river backwater to its north.

According to the outdoors magazine's May issue, the area is known for big catfish as well as walleye and sauger in the spring and fall. During the summer, fishing turns to smallmouth bass along wingdams or along riprap on shore. Also, within a short drive of La Crosse are about 600 miles of trout streams. The story doesn't say if that refers only to Wisconsin streams or the many in southeastern Minnesota.


Besides the La Crosse area, the other top places include Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Missouri River in North Dakota and South Dakota.

POOL DRAWDOWN: Biologists are hoping a drawdown of Pool 8 (from Genoa, Wis., to north of La Crosse, Wis.) of the Mississippi River will again be lowered 3 inches to 18 inches this summer to try to help fish and wildlife habitat. A drawdown was tried last year, but the river didn't cooperate; instead of having 85 to 90 days of low water, there were only 40. Biologists found 1,259 acres of mud and sand was exposed.

The hope is that, with lower water, more mudflats will be exposed to sunlight and plants will begin to grow. The vegetation, in turn, will be habitat and trap sediment that will start to form new islands. In turn, those islands will become wind barriers, allowing the water downwind to be less turbid and more plants to grow. The river can't drop below certain levels now because the locks and dams system holds the pools at a minimum level unless there is a drawdown.

This year's drawdown is expected to begin June 17 and end in mid-September.

If this one is successful, more pools will have water lowered.

T.U. DINNER: The date and place of the annual Trout Unlimited fund-raising dinner have been changed. The event will be May 4 in the Kahler Grand Hotel's Heritage Hall. Tickets, $45 each, are available at Tyrol Ski and Sports, Gander Mountain and Face the Music.

BIRDING TRIPS: The Zumbro Valley Audubon Society will offer morning birding hikes through Quarry Hill Park beginning at 6:30 a.m. Friday, May 3, May 10, May 17 and May 24. Meet at the nature center; the hikes will last 90 minutes to 2 hours. Also, the club is sponsoring a birding trip to the Lake City area on May 4; meet at the Rochester Community and Technical College east parking lot at 7 a.m.

MIGRATORY BIRD DAY: International Migratory Bird Day will be May 18 at Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, along the Wisconsin shore of the Mississippi River a few miles south of Winona. Events include birding from a canoe or bike, identifying waterfowl, music and birding hikes for all ages. To cap off the day, there will be a hike to listen for owls from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information, call the refuge at (608) 539-2311.


BIRDING NOTES: According to the Minnesota Office of Tourism, an adult Scott's oriole was seen at a feeder in Rochester eight days ago and has stuck around. Also, eight white-faced ibis were seen at the reservoir west of Rochester near the Sanitary Landfill on 19th Street Northwest west of Olmsted County 104. The ibis is a large wading bird. Finally, a northern mockingbird was seen April 17 near Rochester.

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