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Gary Crichton

PORTAGE LAKE

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Gary Crichton

Just courious, I used to fish Portage lake a lot, just west of Mcgregor

Does anyone fish that still. It used to have BIG Crappies and Northerns in it. Now I here it has gone over to the Largemouth/Sunfish and has become very weedy.

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loadmaster

You are correct. The lake has got so weedy that you can not go ten feet without weeding up your motor in the middle of the lake. I do not know about the fish after one hour of cleaning my prop I gave up and went somewhere else>>>later the load

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UdeLakeTom

My nephew and I went up a couple of weeks ago, there was only 1 fish house and 1 other pick-up out there. A couple of years ago the lake was busy. We asked about it, and the reply was it was fished out. I used to be able to get nice sunnies and crappies in the spring off our bay, and now only potato chip size sunnies. The last couple of years, not too many people fishing and yes, last spring, we tried trolling and there were weeds all over the place. Many where I have never seen them. With more year-rounds and the low water levels, the weeds have really sprung up. Maybe with the rain last fall and some snow this winter, the level will rise, and the ice/snow will winter kill some of the weeds.

I also used to be able to put out a sucker or shiner from the landing a pick up a bass or snake and have gotten skunked 2 years in a row now.

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Moses2531

We've had a cabin on Portage since I can remeber... Sadly I have the same news.. Extensive weed growth and a diminishing Northern population with the overfishing that occured a couple of years ago. There are still Northerns to be had, but on average much smaller.. The bass fishing has improved for my buddies and I however.. The most disappointing thing however is how the Crappie fishery has gone down hill.. With not as many predators them along with the Sunfish tend to stunt themselves. Just three winters ago my buddies and I could fill a bucket of nice (10-12 inch) crappies if we'd wanted too... For two winters in a row now I havent gotten 1 Crappie over 8!! Ude Tom, mentioning the weeds dying off sounds nice, but that would also most likely cause a winterkill of the lake...I guess that could be a good thing, but then you're starting from scratch... tough situation there, but I always love wetting a line in Portage!!

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UncleKes

I'm really sorry to hear that about Portage. The Lake has very fond memories for me. Back in the 1950's when I was just a little rascal it was the first lake I ever fished with my Granddad! Over the years we fished it a lot. I have not fished it since he died back in 1975. I suppose something just made me stay away. Maybe the loss of a good friend, fishing buddy and all around sportsman.

What do you think is the cause of all this weed growth? As I recall the lake was not all that deep but it was spring fed and while there were weeds they were not all over the place. Is it Milfoil or just common weeds. has the lake sedimented THAT much that it aged to the point it won't support cooler water fish like Walleyes and Pike?

If it hasn't. maybe it might not be a bad thing for the DNR to come in and kill some of the weeds and attempt to save it? It would mean a few years of NOT fishing it which I am usually opposed to but it it meant saving the lake and bringing it back for your kids and their kids it might not be a bad thing? After all there are lots of lakes in the area to fish and I think it is our responsiblity to preserve the fishing we have for those who will come behind us. Besides! I would really love to see the Lake come back!

Tight Lines everyone!

Uncle Kes

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palisade1kid

This very thing has happened to several lakes in the area due to septic run off.

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Gary Crichton

Yes this is a bummer. I also have fond memories of Portage as my Aunt and Uncle built a cabin on the west side on the point. My uncle (mostly my Uncle) along with a few others help build it back in the late 60's.

Back then not to many people fished it and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Slab Crappies, I mean 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 lbs, were common. Northerns were running 5-10 on average. I had a spot on the Northwest side that I could cast spoons or top water and watch the Northerns come out and attack. What a blast that was. We did a lot of waterskiing also, but I guess now it is not much fun as the weeds weeds and more weeds have taken over. Doesn't Rice Lake flow into there from the southside. I remeber my Father who sold Diawa fishing equipment was showing a client how this rod and reel works and hook a 12 lb. Northern from shore. Sold a few combo's to that bait dealer that day, and we enjoyed the fish the next day. I also learned how to drive as my Grandfather would take us out in his Ford Galaxie. A lot of good and fun memories from that lake. There must be something that can be done. I know they have checked with the DNR and they did not offer much advice.

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UdeLakeTom

Nice to see you back.....I think CK is correct, and that's what I was trying to say. Back when Uncle Kes was fishing with Grandpa, there weren't too many houses on the lake, now they are adding more every year and the runoffs from the lawns are adding to the weed growth. It has always been a weedy lake due to it being shallow, but it is getting worse all the time.

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loadmaster

I think what really hurt the lake besides the houses, a few years ago the Outdoor News listed the lake on the back page as an outstanding crappie/sunnie lake. That year it got pounded hard both summer and winter and from then on it has gone downhill. This lake is not big enough to support that kind of pressure. I sure would like to see the O.N use a little common sense when listing lakes that are hot>>>later the load

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UncleKes

I thought the State had laws about septic run off? This is very discouraging! I too know of lakes that have been fantasitc in the past but are now just weed chocked swamps! It used to be said Minnesota was the Land of 10,00 Lakes. What will our children and grandchildren think of us if we leave them with the Land of 10,000 Sewage Basins? We need strict reporting of such things. (Septic Run off!) This is nothing more than Eco-terrorism in my opinion and jacks my blood pressure up about 20 points!

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juddH

The state does have pretty strict rules on septic systems that are on lakes. I believe they passed a law a few years back and many lake owners including my nieghbor had to update. Also, they now restrict how close you can put one from the shoreline in new construction. I am sure there are still problems with them though, with people bypassing the main line and running thier dishwasher etc right outside.

I have never been on portage but sounds like a sad story, is it worse then Minnewawa? I would guess the weed problem is from a variety of problems; Low water levels (more sun exposure), run off from yards, septics, warmer water in summer.

Even Big Sandy has had an increase in their weed growth the last few years? I remember as a kid swimming off the dock and there were very few weeds, now we have to pull weeds in mid summer.

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UncleKes

Judd! Yeah! I know! My parents have a cottage on Clear Lake at Glen and I can remember as a kid the Lake being crystal clear and swimming off the dock. Last year the neighbors kid came down with a skin rash from swimming in the lake. It was like Dog Days in mid July. Out in Oregon and Northern California they have adopted whole areas of rivers and impoundments where you are NOT allowed to build a cabin. The land and access is open for everyone. In many cases after about 25 years the lakes and rivers have come back to their natural pristine condition.

I hope we in Minnesota do not have to do anything THAT extreme but it may come to something like that if we don't start taking better care of our natural resources. I am not in favor of such extreme action but I can see how some people are after seeing first hand the lakes and rivers coming back.

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UdeLakeTom

Maybe not so much septic problems as much as using fertizer for a nice green lawn. I was in Aitkin and the soil and water dept showed me what clear cutting can do and how it shows up on aerial photos. This has been addressed all over the FM, the person that buys lake property wants a nice lawn, nice view of the lake, etc, but they don't realize what they are doing to the lake structure.

Portage is a very shallow lake, somewhat like Minnewawa, just a lot smaller. The deepest spot is 18' and mostly runs in the 12-14 ft range.

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Moses2531

The excessive weed growth is a process called hyper-eutrophication.. Portage has always been eutrophic by nature, but an incredible influx of both Phosphorus and Nitrogen in the past years thanks to peoples' actions (fertilizing, farming, erosion, sewage) has made it unnaturally eutrophic or hyper. This includes the ridiculous weedgrowth and algae blooms all summer and the low oxygen levels in the winter... Sad story that's happening more and more to lakes...

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UncleKes

Moses? If these chemicals can cause eutrophication in a lake are there any chemicals that will slow down or nuetralize the Eutrophicaiton process? After all if man can screw a lake up with chemicals can he not screw it up with other chemicals?

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UdeLakeTom

I wonder if this guy would know...

Sometime in this election season I heard about the "Urgency of Now." The appeal was that a certain issue was so important, and had been put off for so long, that more delay was simply "unacceptable."

A year ago in January I wrote a column on these pages about such a situation. The governor had announced a Clean Water Initiative. Three years of effort had accomplished a lot of new awareness about shoreland development, and the focus of this effort became a set of Alternative Shoreland Standards for the five counties in the best lake country of Minnesota.

I called the piece "A New Year's Resolution." In it I proposed to the commissioners of Aitkin County that they lead the way to "get together, discuss, and decide to select the best of these standards for Aitkin County in 2007." On the Tuesday after the column was published, I met the commissioners and presented the resolution in person.

Now it's "next year" already, and I am still meeting the commissioners to ask them to consider shoreland standards that are supported by an increasing number of lake people and persons who care about clean water.

Resorts, shallow lakes, conservation

The conversation about these new alternative regulations has taken the form of public meetings, lake association and coalition briefings, crowded courthouse corridors, and refusal of agenda requests. Let me just summarize where the discussion between lake representatives and the Board now stands. Three standards are on the table:

• Resort-friendly rules for remodeling and enlarging family-owned lakeshore businesses.

• A Protected Lakes classification - a new category for added protection of lakes, to help retain habitat and wildlife on and around shallow and fragile lakes that have seen little development to date.

• New Conservation Subdivision rules that will increase rather than lower the value and appeal of clustered lakeside development properties.

Political will

A year ago I wrote that "We approach decision time on this issue." But I learned over the course of 2007 that the "political will" to adopt new standards was not to be found on this body.

A recent quotation from the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, went something like this: "... but political will is a renewable resource!"

To which I will add, "Especially in an election year, in Aitkin County Districts."

Gordon Prickett is a member of the Water Planning Task Force

He writes in the Aitkin Age quite often about water quality issues, but I don't know how you would contact him.

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Coach1310

It is unfortunate that so many other issues seem to get in the way with the "talking heads." The quality of our lakes and waterways in diminishing more and more by the day. I am sure hard and fast rules will come someday, but will it be too late??

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Moses2531

Yeah there are chemicals do slow down the process... Aluminum Sulfate binds with Phosphorus and it precipitates out of the water.. This all sinks to the bottom of the lake though and its scooping this white solid off the bottom that than becomes an issue... As far as nitrate, certain types of bacteria are our best allies... They use it up readily as well as ammonia.. Its a complex process, but using "phosphorus free" soaps and watching the fertilizers we're throwing on our lawns are simple and effective ways of helping the situation...

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UncleKes

Moses! I remember reading about the Chinese using certain types of bacteria to clean up their waters? I wish I knew more about the process. The gist of what I read was that certain types of bacteria ate phosphates and nitrates and converted them to something harmless like Oxygen.

Its [PoorWordUsage] to get old! You forget things to easily! My advice to you younguns out there is NOT TO DO IT!! They women you want you can't get and the women you can get you don't want!

Tight lines!

Uncle Kes

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