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Risking life for Sturgeon


DTro

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It never ceases to amaze me, how every time I'm fishing on the Croix, we almost get ran over.

The spot we usually fish is a very wide stretch in the river, yet for some reason we are always a magnet for boats trying to kill us. Both Fri and Sat nights we had this happen. Fri night we were the only boat out there as far as the eye could see. About midnight, a big cuddy is headed straight for us...at about 40mph, and then veers off at the last second and gets off the throttle. It was VERY close. We had all our nav lights on, and even our headlamps flashing at him. mad

Then last night, there was another boat out there with us. We were spread about 50 ft apart, again about midnight (no other boats again as far as the eye could see) and we are close to the west shore. Well a 40ft houseboat decides to split us instead of veering to the east where there is basically a lake to go around us. He literally came within 15ft of the other boat. mad

In both instances we gave them an earful as they were close enough to hear us plainly, but it gets really tiring having to wonder if every boat that comes by is going to pummel us. smirk

Here's a perfect example from last year. I didn't have any fear this time as I could see his path, but look how much room there is to that east side....

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Happens in too many places. I have a reef I have stopped fishing on at night because nav lights and two lanterns aren't sufficient for drunks heading home from the supper club/bar to see my 20 footer. Toons blaring, load drunk voices, no concept of what's in front of them. It wouldn't take too many BWI's to stop it but that never seems to happen.

Night fishing a lot of places turns into "deadliest catch".

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Darren - After reading your post and having a few close calls of my own, I put together this e-mail and sent it off to the Washington County Sheriff's Office; the St Croix County, WI Sheriff's Office and the MN DNR TIP Line. I don't know if it will do any good but we'll see what happens. Here is my e-mail:

I am a St Croix River fisherman and I spend a lot of time on the river late at night. I used to be the only boat on the water most of the time but things have changed dramatically the last couple of years. Things really have changed in the September and October timeframe. Many fishermen have learned about the excellent sturgeon fishing on the St Croix River and the number of anglers after sturgeon has increased dramatically and it is not uncommon to see 12 to 15 boats fishing the Bayport / Hudson area from sunset until early the next morning. This is a prime time to catch sturgeon but also one of the most dangerous times for boating on the St Croix River. I have personally witnessed some near collisions between power boats and anchored fishing boats near the Excel Energy King Plant in Bayport. The anchored boats are all displaying anchor lights and navigation lights but power boats are running that stretch of water late at night at full throttle throwing large wakes sometimes running within 30 to 40 yards of the anchored boats.

I am sending this e-mail to to seek your help in policing this situation before somebody is hurt or killed on the river. A lot of the anchored boats are small 14' to 16' fishing boats with 2 to 3 occupants and they have trouble when faced with large wave breaking wakes from large cruisers. As the water temperatures drop as we move into October the dangers escalate and I am concerned that some fishing boats could swamp dumping people into the cold water. It doesn’t take long in 50 degree water for somebody to drown.

Something has to be done to bring this situation under control. To make my point I ask you to look at this internet link and the video shot by a St Croix boater: http://www.hotspotoutdoors.com/forum/ubb...eon#Post2352961

This video was taken during the day and you can see how close this cruiser came to this small anchored fishing boat. This happens over and over again out in front of the Excel Energy King Plant especially late at night when a lot of fishermen sturgeon fish. This situation is an accident waiting to happen – and it could end up being a serious, deadly accident.

Steven DeMars

2307 Hidden Valley Lane

Stillwater, MN 55082

Telephone: 651-439-3035

E-Mail: [email protected]

If anybody else wants to send on an e-mail here are the e-mail addresses I used:

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

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Well, I was the other boat 50 feet away from Dtro last night....

Not so scary at first because you're caught off gaurd, but they came so close we really didn't even get a true wake, just one big curl off their stern, one quick ride up and it was over but enough to shift our anchors about 10 feet. Scary in hindsight that afer I hit them with the spotlight, as I was close enough that I lit up their cabin with my spotlight (done out of protection), that I could quite likely ID the guy in a police line up. Twin Honda OBs that were close enough that I could almost read the serial numbers.

Point being: Be alert at all times (we weren't soon enough) and a 10 million camdle power spotlight is nice to have....

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the people in these large cruisers have never been in a boat smaller than 25' long. You put them in a 16' boat and give them a big wake, and a near boating accident experience... I bet they'd show some respect next time. I was out on the Croix friday, saturday, sunday and didn't have anyone get too close to make me nervous, but i was also in a no wake zone at night.

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Thanks Steve! I'm curious to hear their response.

Darren - I got a reply to my e-mail from the St Croix County Wisconsin Sheriff that he was forwarding my e-mail to his Water Patrol Deputy plus sending a copy to Washington County and the DNR. Based on his quick response I would expect we could start seeing more of a Sheriff Water Patrol presence in the Bayport / Hudson area through the sturgeon season.

All you sturgeon fishermen reading this might want to make sure your boats are inspection ready. Boat Registration handy, PFDs, Fire Extinguishers, Nav Lights, etc. I expect most boats will get checked if the law enforcement presence increases on the St Croix. That is a good thing and a small price to pay if it makes the fishing safer.

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I got checked by a WIS ranger Friday night and it was the first time in my life where they wanted to see everything, both livewells, fire extinguisher etc.

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Thanks for putting in the extra effort SteveD. I agree that getting checked is a very small price to pay.

On a side note, I have not been checked yet this year and I'm on the water 4 to 5 times a week. Last year I got checked at least 7 (probably 10) times. Seen plenty of Sherrif and DNR out there but they just pass me by.

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I know this is preachy, but there is no way I would fish that spot after dark, no way. You guys are sitting ducks for the Rodney Dangerfields cruising and boozing. Makes no difference that they are in wrong if the collision happens. The old MN state record sturgeon caught out of Beanies was caught in the day btw in a safe spot.

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Thanks for the update Steve.

Turk, I agree with you about the sitting ducks, and if I lived closer I would take advantage of more weekday fishing.

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If I were planning on fishing there, I'd consider beefing up my anchor lights. Maybe a brighter/bigger white lite (the standard ones kinda suck). Could even set it up that you could turn it on just when you see an approaching boat. Could also rig up a revolving orange beacon light to flip on.

I've been boating/fishing on the St. Croix for the past 25 years in everything from a 14ft alum to a 42 ft cruiser. Many hours are had out there every year and its tough to see anchor lights and even tougher to judge how far out they really are. Its not an excuse for the big boats, but I wouldn't see any harm in making your presence more obvious. Something I would do anyways.

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imo.

concerning nites, i just don't see why a 20mph speed limit is there for. should be no wake n off plane. i went nite fishing once at nite on my boat n there is just no way i can see going 20mph. i can barely see just idling. it's just too high of a risk to be traveling at speed faster than idle. i was traveling without a spot lite, just my nav lites.

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John went out and bought an orange flashing LED beacon. Wow did that thing work good. Only draws like .1 amp and makes it look like you are a floaing reef out there. grin

Not sure of the legality, but I can assure you that it kept the boats away from us. smile

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I saw John's orange flashing beacon light in operation last night and I'm getting one for my boat too. The whole issue on the St Croix is that your anchored boat needs to be visible at night to the passing boats. Last night we could see how some anchored boats that sit low in the water were just not visible from any distance with just a white anchor light on. I normally run a clamp on light with a low watt white lightbulb in the back of the boat so we can see our lines and it makes fishing so much easier. It makes my boat a lot more visible too but I really like that orange beacon that John ran last night. I think that is the way to go just from a safety standpoint.

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when flirting with the line of legality and safety, i will always lean towards safety. the flashing beacon light is a great idea IMO. if there is anyway for you to have an extra means of letting other boats know where you are, i am all for it. the last time i went out there after dark, my friend brought his high powered spotlight which is key for navigating the river's many obstacles at night. i also thought it would be handy to have incase a boat was running wide open right at you and didnt see you were there. many uses for a spotlight like that on the river

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I was just up to Menards and stopped at the Lighting Department looking for some type of beacon type light. The guy that works there showed me a Plug-In Flasher that makes any standard light flash, cost of $5. I bought one of those and I will just plug it in to my extension cord running off the power inverter. I'll plug a Clamp-On utility light into the flasher and then clamp the utility light on my bimini top with one of the amber low watt incandescent lights in it. Bingo - low cost flashing amber light. The bulb only uses about 13 watts of energy. I'll just run that off my Power Inverter along with my other lights. Quick and easy fix that should make my boat much more visible at night.

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So that explains strange orange blinking light!! I knew that there wasn't a buoy over there so we were quite baffled what was going. Not a bad idea! I'm guessing I was one of the hard to see boats out there last night.

I've been keeping the spot light handy...used it a couple weeks ago when a big cruiser was headed right at me (at a low speed at least). Pointed it at the bottom of my white fiberglass boat and it lights up the sky. The boat veer away instantly. Frustrating thing is he had his radar on, so why not show me he knows I'm there by turning away earlier?

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So that explains strange orange blinking light!! I knew that there wasn't a buoy over there so we were quite baffled what was going. Not a bad idea! I'm guessing I was one of the hard to see boats out there last night.

haha

I'm a little confused though because I don't remember a third boat out there, except the little one that was pulled up on shore.

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I was just up to Menards and stopped at the Lighting Department looking for some type of beacon type light. The guy that works there showed me a Plug-In Flasher that makes any standard light flash, cost of $5. I bought one of those and I will just plug it in to my extension cord running off the power inverter. I'll plug a Clamp-On utility light into the flasher and then clamp the utility light on my bimini top with one of the amber low watt incandescent lights in it. Bingo - low cost flashing amber light. The bulb only uses about 13 watts of energy. I'll just run that off my Power Inverter along with my other lights. Quick and easy fix that should make my boat much more visible at night.

You can buy a revolving beacon light for under $20. Probably would hold up better than a inverter and a bulb that isn't meant to get bounced around.

I have some friends that live on the bluffs above the river. They are gonna hate me if they find out I suggested orange beacon lights. whoops.

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[quote name='dtro

I'm a little confused though because I don't remember a third boat out there' date=' except the little one that was pulled up on shore.[/quote']

Okay, now that's got me worried, if you couldn't see us at all! Especially since we had head lamps on most of the time. I'm headed to Menards...

We were north and a bit east of the other two boats). Background lights might of camouflaged us.

If you care to share notes about last night, please email me at my username at aol.com. We had a decent but very sporadic night and I was curious if the bite was similar throughout that section of the river or not. Always trying to figure these guys out!

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Yeah, an amber plow truck rotating light would be very cool. You can get one (if your up this way) at Milaca Unclaimed Freight for under $5.00. Plugs into a cig lighter and is just a small incandescent bulb in the middle of mirrored spinning plate. Auto parts (Napa for sure) store has then for under $10. They comes with a stretchy 6-10' cord with a huge magnet base. Might draw a little more than led, but I would assume cheaper and an option for those looking for one.

A tow truck led over cab light bar mounted on the bow or some bracing over the transom would blow their minds. Especially if you flipped it on as they come full steam into that area. laugh

This warm weather does not help much, but when I have went in the past it has been cold as heck and during the week night. No bigs boats were ever seen. Just other fishing boats.

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Beacon or no beacon, we had yet another incident last night....and this time it was no mistake by the driver mad He didn't like us barking at him the first time he came by within 50ft making 4ft waves with no other boat in sight, so the next time he came back he made 6fters and gave us a nice honk as he went by.

Way to go buddy, hope you impressed your golddigger gal on board. grin

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Slow no-wake boating restriction in effect on St. Croix River

(Released September 28, 2010)

Recent heavy rains have caused the St. Croix River to rise to the level where boaters will be required to slow down to minimize shoreline damages, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Related Link:

Water levels

Boaters on the St. Croix between Taylors Falls, Minn., and Prescott, Wis., must operate at slow no-wake speeds when the river’s level reaches 683 feet above sea level at Stillwater. The special restriction, authorized by state rules in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, is aimed at reducing shoreline erosion and resulting property damage in areas not usually susceptible to wave action at lower water levels.

Officials from Wisconsin, Minnesota and the National Park Service will post signs regarding the slow no-wake requirement at all public accesses, and marina operators have been notified.

The slow no-wake rule will remain in effect until the water level again recedes below the 683-foot level. Boat and water safety officials at the DNR also point out that high-running rivers often contain debris floating just below the surface that can pose serious hazards. Boaters should slow down and exercise extra caution in such conditions.

http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/index.php/20...r-3/#more-43870

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Beacon or no beacon, we had yet another incident last night....and this time it was no mistake by the driver mad He didn't like us barking at him the first time he came by within 50ft making 4ft waves with no other boat in sight, so the next time he came back he made 6fters and gave us a nice honk as he went by.

How does that saying go - it always amazes me but never suprises me.

Was this at night or during the light hours? How great would it be to meet up with that guy at a dock when he's not at the helm of his big tough 35', will never be paid for, compensating for short comings in his own life, boat.

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This was at about 11pm, and the second time he came by he's lucky we weren't "prepared" to retaliate.

Put it this way when his wake hit us, anything that was standing up (including us) was not anymore, and anything on a shelf or console, was on the floor.....oh and pulled us off anchor and moved us about 80ft (confirmed on GPS).

Technically he broke a law both times he came by (no wake within 100ft of anchored vessel) and I have no doubt that he heard us on the megaphone pointing out the 3/4 mile area he has to stay clear of us. He was just being an a$$.

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i thought that too, but then you are setting yourself up for a scenario not unlike road raging with a 18 wheeler. you are not gonna win.

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