Public water accesses ready; low lake levels persist

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 at 6:51 am

Boaters will find favorable launch conditions at most public water accesses for the May 15 fishing opener. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) crews have been repairing launch ramps and installing docks.

“The ramps are ready for public use,” said DNR Northeast Parks and Trails Supervisor Les Ollila. “However, water levels and ramp conditions may vary depending on the specific access site.”

Low water levels can make launching and retrieving a boat more challenging. Boaters should be aware that portions of central, east and northeast Minnesota lakes have water levels one to two feet below average.

“When launching boats on lakes with low water levels, some concrete ramps may not be long enough,” said Nancy Stewart, DNR Public Water Access Program coordinator. “It may not be possible to back far enough into the water to float the boat off the trailer. In the worst case scenario, a boater could potentially damage their equipment if trailer tires fall off the end of the concrete ramp.”

Stewart offers the following tips for launching boats in low water conditions:

* Check the ramp and the firmness of the gravel at the end of the concrete ramp.
* Wear hip boots or waders and help guide boat into water.
* Watch for obstructions in lake.
* Lower the motor only if there is enough clearance.
* Have a back-up plan in case traditional fishing opener lake access is too shallow.
* Expect delays at public access sites and be patient with boaters who are having difficulty launching.

Boaters who encounter problems at DNR public access sites can contact their local DNR office or the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

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