by Scott Moeller
Forget about what you’ve seen in “Planet of the Apes” or “Jurassic Park”. Sometimes, good things can happen when technology and nature intersect.
The Minnesota DNR is using technology to change the way you plan your next student field trip or family fishing excursion. Gone is the need to lower small children into the water to assess the depth of the lake. Now, with the Lakefinder website, a wealth of valuable fishing information is, literally, at your fingertips.
The Minnesota DNR’s Lakefinder website (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html) receives over half a million visitors every month for good reason. For more than a decade, this website has grown to become the most comprehensive searchable lake database in the nation. But don’t let the name fool you – it’s not just about finding a lake. It’s a user-friendly one-stop-shopping outlet for tons of valuable information about nearly all of Minnesota’s fishing spots.
If you know the name and location of your potential lake destination, just enter it into the database and, with one click, you have instant access to lake size, depth, water levels, water quality, maps, and more. If you don’t know the name of a lake, you can find it with the “Recreation Compass” interactive mapping tool. You can zoom in on the part of the state you are interested in and get information by clicking on a lake.
Beginners love it because it’s a quick and easy way to get basic information about lake access, depth, and fish species. Experienced anglers love it because it has a wealth of information about when each lake was stocked and what it was stocked with. It even has fisheries office phone numbers so you know who to contact if you have additional questions.
And, more and more educators are using it to help plan fishing field trips. It empowers educators by helping them select a nearby fishing destination appropriate for their students, as well as helping develop appropriate lesson plans. You can use Lakefinder to learn about water quality, invasive species, pollution and much more. Plus, it’s part of the MN DNR website, so educators have access to lots of great environmental education links. Use the information on Lakefinder with the lessons in the MinnAqua: Get in the Habitat Leader’s Guide, and you’ve got some quick yet meaningful lesson plans about fishing, water quality, invasive species, pollution and fish consumption guidelines.
So, check out the Lakefinder website and start planning your spring field trip today. Then go visit the good folks at your local bait shop.