Minnesota sportsman club celebrates 60 yearsA lot of water has run through the channel that links German and East Jefferson lakes since a group of sportsmen with an eye to improving outdoor recreation opportunities in and around the two Le Sueur County lakes gathered to formally organize the German and Jefferson Lake Sportsman’s Club.
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — A lot of water has run through the channel that links German and East Jefferson lakes since a group of sportsmen with an eye to improving outdoor recreation opportunities in and around the two Le Sueur County lakes gathered to formally organize the German and Jefferson Lake Sportsman’s Club.
Actually, say longtime members, an informal group of outdoors enthusiasts from the area had been meeting for years prior before officially forming as a club.
Six decades later, they’re still at it. In keeping with the added cost of doing business, membership dues have climbed to a lofty five bucks, 10 if you want a club decal for your pickup. Several years ago, monthly scheduled meetings were switched to Mondays and during the summer months were dispensed altogether.
“We’ve never really had a mission statement,” said longtime club member Myron Wolf. A member since the early 60s, he said the club’s goals have been focused on making lakes in the area more accessible and user friendly and, of course, better places to fish.
Clayton Block believes he attended the original meeting of the club held so many years ago at Beaver Dam. “I’m not sure, I was pretty young then and wasn’t too interested in sitting in a meeting too long,” he said.
While he has never held an elected office in the club, for years, he has been the unofficial caretaker of the club’s northern pike rearing pond that the club oversees each spring and that has provided the German-Jefferson Lake chain with a healthy population of the toothsome predators.
Depending on the time of the year, anywhere from a dozen to as many as forty members will show up for the monthly meetings. “The meetings are much smaller in the fall when the harvest is going on,” said LeRoy McCollum, a 30-year member. He said active members in the club number around 40 but that the total membership is around 80 or so. In years past, membership has climbed has high as 125.
“A lot of guys just mail their $5 in with the money for the fishing contest tickets they sell,” said Stan Ziebarth, a relative youngster who became a member 20 years ago. “We’re starting to see a few more younger guys in their 20s who are joining.”
Club activities that have continued over the years include an annual ice fishing contest each February — the club’s major source of funds — a club members’ spring bullhead feed, and a fall wild game feed.
“We used to have our Christmas party every year at the Kato Brewery,” Wolf said. More recently, the club treasury has been augmented with proceeds from charitable gambling.
The club still continues to operate its northern rearing pond. In addition, the club maintains and operates two aeration systems on Scotch Lake, maintains the floating fishing pier on West Jefferson, and has made it handicapped-accessible.
The club also purchased property for a public parking area at the site and had it paved. The club also places and maintains docks, bathroom facilities and lighting at area lake accesses.
Over the last 60 years, the club has managed to acquire some 100 acres of land including a 40-acre wetland, all of which are open to public activities. “We tend to get the biggest meetings when we are talking about buying land,” Wolf said. “Guys with hunting dogs and who don’t own land really push for that ... it’s kind of what we’re all about.”
The club also offers financial support to annual gun safety training and snowmobile classes.
Block said the subject of building a clubhouse has been raised over the years but that concerns over vandalism have prevented members from doing so.