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Let's Go Fishing helps stock Green Lake, plans second underwater cleanup

Joe Holm, president of Let's Go Fishing With Seniors, carries a bucket load of walleye to Green Lake for stocking. The organization helped stock the lake with walleye thanks to $2,000 in contributions and sponsorships from last summer's underwater cleanup event. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

SPICER -- Green Lake gave up a truckload of trash to volunteer scuba divers who scoured its depths near Saulsbury Beach in Spicer last June.

In return, the lake received a truck load of new walleyes.

All 800-plus of the new fish arrived at the Joe Brown access near the Olde Mill Inn on Tuesday.

The walleye -- each one measuring eight- to 12-inches in length -- were poured into the wind-whipped waters of Green Lake by the bucket load.

Joe Holm, president of Let's Go Fishing With Seniors, had the honors of helping Mike Holme and Mark Tanner of West Central Bait, New London, stock the popular game fish into the lake.

The stocking is payback for all the lake has offered Let's Go Fishing, and for all of the support provided the non-profit organization during last year's first-ever underwater recovery and cleanup, said Holm.

Last year's event raised $2,000 in contributions, and those funds were invested in improving walleye fishing on the lake, said Holm.

As he introduced the fish to their new waters, Holm also announced plans to repeat on last year's successful and unique underwater cleanup.

Let's Go Fishing is putting out a call for volunteer divers willing to help out with the second annual Green Lake Cleanup Day and Underwater Recovery Challenge on June 12.

The divers will meet again at Saulsbury Beach in Spicer, but their clean-up activities will take place in a new set of quadrants to be mapped out in the area.

Like last year, divers are free to keep any of the "treasures" they may find on the lake bottom.

And like last year, a truck will be ready to haul the majority of the recovered materials to the landfill.

Approximately 30 divers joined last year's cleanup, and quite literally filled a truck with the materials they hoisted from the depths. Some of the items were expected: rusted anchors and fishing lures that had snagged on the bottom were among the diver's cache.

But the event also brought to light the mistreatment the lake has received. Divers found all kinds of mud-crusted bottles and cans, car tires and even a porcelain toilet.

The find was put on public display along the beach. Holm said he hopes that the event helps raise awareness about littering in the lake and leads more people to treat it with the respect it deserves.

Since 2002, Let's Go Fishing has served more than 40,000 seniors in Minnesota, giving them opportunities to enjoy fishing and boating excursions on their local waters. The organization has grown to include 26 chapters, said Holm.

The Willmar area chapter served nearly 2,000 people last year, and is looking to do so again this year. It's not just senior citizens who benefit. The organization is seeing growing interest in the inter-generational program that matches senior citizens with young people on outings.

Holm said volunteers are always needed, and helping out is easy. Volunteers need only join one or two outings a season, he noted.

Green Lake is the most popular of the local destinations for Let's Go Fishing outings.

Holm said the recent stocking is one step to help assure good fishing in the days ahead.

The fish stocked into the lake were raised in rearing ponds, and were about 1½ years of age when released, according to Holme and Tanner.

Holm said Let's Go Fishing decided to stock the larger fish since they have the best chance of evading predators in the lake and reaching the size that will land them in angler's buckets as keepers.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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