Friday, March 10, 2017


WCSFO Annual Spring Meeting Agenda

Date: Saturday, March 18, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location:  McCarty Park
8214 W. Cleveland Ave
West Allis, WI

  • Call to order / Introductions / sign in
  • Minutes from Previous Meeting (Brenda Rosin Schaff)
  • Treasurers Report (Cornell Stroik)
  • DNR Update:  We have requested to have a WDNR Representative attend our meeting to bring us up to date on DNR issues and the Spring Hearings. We have not received confirmation on the attendance as of yet.
  • WI Wildlife Federation Update from a WWF Representative.
  • B.A.S.S. Federation/Bass Nation News (Cornell Stroik)
  • Tournaments/C.A.S.T. – Updates/News
  • “Kids Fishing Klinics,” Recap of 2017 events and update
  • Old Business:
  • Kids Klinic Books—Sponsors, Printing, Distribution and Storage (Changes/updates of Book before next printing.)
  • Facebook (We have about 210 likes on our Facebook Page.)
  • eNewsline (We can always use Member Clubs Information and events on our Website and the Weekly Newsletter – eNewline.)
  • New Business

Next Meeting October 21, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017

New rule includes five fish daily limit for lake trout as part of combined salmon and trout bag

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board on Wednesday approved expanded harvest opportunities for Lake Michigan lake trout using the emergency rule process.

Brad Eggold, Great Lakes district fisheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said the new rule would:

·         Expand Lake Michigan lake trout harvest opportunities to a daily bag limit of five.
·         Include the five fish daily lake trout limit as part of the overall five trout and salmon combined daily bag limit.
·         Maintain closure of refuges, which are supporting some natural reproduction.
·         Offer a continuous open season.
·         Maintain the commitment to lake-wide lake trout restoration and promotion of a diverse salmon and trout fishery through continued assessment of lake trout restoration goals and impacts of management actions on those goals.

The emergency rule was developed following an extensive angler engagement process that included seven public meetings convened by the department with total attendance of 500. DNR fisheries managers also participated in numerous angler group meetings to discuss the changing Lake Michigan ecosystem and stocking strategies to improve the balance of predators with record low levels of prey fish.

"Based on more than 100 comments from stakeholders, we believe the option to harvest up to five lake trout per day will expand recreational opportunities while reducing predation pressure on alewives," Eggold said "We intend to monitor the harvest through the duration of the emergency rule and use the information to develop a permanent rule. Given the current data on lake trout populations and harvest activity in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan, we do not believe the increased bag limit will jeopardize long-term restoration efforts."

During 2016, the Lake Michigan lake trout harvest totaled 19,137 fish, down 46 percent from 35,715 in 2015. The lake trout sport harvest has remained at or below levels considered necessary for recovery of the species since 1998.

While pursuit of lake trout may not be the primary motivator for anglers who head out with their own equipment or hire charters on Lake Michigan, the opportunity to catch more lake trout including the possibility of a trophy fish is likely to generate additional interest in the prized fishery. Each year, Wisconsin's Great Lakes fishing opportunities draw some 178,000 anglers (as measured by the sale of the Great Lakes Salmon and Trout stamp) who contribute some $114.3 million to the economy, according to the American Sportfishing Association.

The lake trout emergency rule now moves forward for consideration by Gov. Scott Walker. Pending this approval, DNR will hold concurrent public hearings for the emergency rule and planned permanent rule in anticipation that the emergency rule will take effect during the 2017 season.

To view a recent presentation on Lake Michigan lake trout that informed development of the rule, visit and search "Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum." For more information including recent presentations on broader Lake Michigan management topics, search "Lake Michigan salmon and trout meetings."

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

NOAA Programs are Rooted Across Wisconsin

March 1, 2017
By Marie Zhuikov

From underneath the waves to the heights of outer space, six organizations in Wisconsin receive funding and support from the same federal program and touch many environments in the state. They do so in a way that complements and strengthens the other programs, not duplicating efforts or competing.

The parent program in question is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Housed in the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA’s tagline is “Science, Service, Stewardship.” Its goal is to help Americans understand and protect the air and the water we depend upon, and in doing so, ensure economic vitality.

Read on to discover more about Wisconsin’s six NOAA programs -- how they work together, and how Wisconsin Sea Grant fits into each.

The National Weather Service

The NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) is familiar to anyone who pays attention to weather forecasts. In Wisconsin, weather forecasts and warnings are handled by five offices that cover different areas of the state. They are located in Green Bay, Milwaukee, La Crosse, Duluth, Minn., and Minneapolis.

“We’re concerned about making sure people are safe from hazardous weather,” said Tim Halbach, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS in Milwaukee. “We’re in the business of saving lives and property. We forecast, but we also try to tell people how they might be impacted by weather events.”

To that end, Halbach is working with Wisconsin Sea Grant on projects designed to understand how people react to weather warnings and to develop more effective wording for the warnings. “We’re trying to integrate social science more into what we do,” Halbach said.

His NWS colleagues worked with Jane Harrison, Sea Grant’s former social scientist, and other social scientists in the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network to test different tornado warning wording, which may change the way the NWS broadcasts its warnings nationwide.

Currently, Halbach is working with Harrison’s successor, Deidre Peroff, to explore the influence of severe weather on economically disadvantaged people. They are analyzing which communications tools and technology are most effective in reaching poorer people, who seem to bear more significant losses in life and property during severe weather.

“The weather service has a lot of ways to communicate to the high-end technical users who have computers, iPads and smart phones in front of them but we don’t spend a lot of time assuring that everyone is getting the information they need,” Halbach said.

Wisconsin Coastal Management Program

Located within the state Department of Administration, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP) provides technical assistance and receives funding from NOAA -- dispersing it through a competitive process to other organizations in the state that want to work on issues affecting Wisconsin’s Great Lakes coastline. It focuses on the 15 counties along lakes Michigan and Superior.

“There’s a little bit of the coastal management program everywhere from Superior down to Kenosha,” said Program Manager Mike Friis. “We work with local governments, nonprofits and academics to do projects and hazard mitigation work, coastal community planning, habitat protection, public access and historic preservation work. We address coastal nonpoint pollution control and Great Lakes education.”

With Sea Grant, the WCMP has worked on many programs including coastal storms beach safety, freshwater steel corrosion in the Duluth-Superior Harbor, and the Sea Caves Watch project in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (along with UW-Madison and the National Park Service). The program also funds a joint Science Policy Fellow position with Sea Grant and houses the fellow in their office.

Friis likens the close working relationship the WCMP has with other NOAA partners in the state to a tree “whose roots have grown together. You can’t really separate us.”

And like a tree that can grow saplings from its roots, the WCMP has led efforts to create new NOAA programs in the state. These include the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (the Reserve) in Superior and the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary. “The WCMP was the lead agency, but Sea Grant was a key partner working on the Reserve designation process – figuring out where it would be located – and we worked on the nomination to NOAA by the state,” Friis said. “The Reserve is now managed by the University of Wisconsin Extension, so that created another NOAA partner in the state for us.”

Friis said that the idea for the marine sanctuary started over 15 years ago with the development of a Wisconsin Harbor Towns Association, a collection of Great Lakes communities that came together to market themselves as travel destinations. “That group also provided us with the capabilities to conduct public outreach on the idea of a marine sanctuary,” Friis said. The WCMP worked with the Wisconsin Historical Society to conduct a survey of shipwrecks within all of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes waters to identify where the known and likely maritime archeological resources are the greatest. Once NOAA developed a process for community-driven nomination of the sanctuaries, the WCMP worked closely to bring together a coalition of partners to work on the nomination, he said.
The nomination was submitted in December of 2014, was accepted by NOAA and is in the planning and rule-developing stage, with public meetings scheduled for the second week of March 2017.

Proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary

Russ Green has been working for the past six months at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan as the regional coordinator for the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary. Before that, he worked as the research coordinator and deputy superintendent for the only other Great Lakes marine sanctuary in Alpena, Mich.

Marine sanctuaries are designed to protect natural and cultural marine resources because healthy water environments are the basis for thriving recreation, tourism and commercial activities in coastal communities. Green explained there are 13 sanctuaries spread out on the U.S. ocean coasts, Hawaii and American Samoa, along with two National Marine Monuments.

Although the sanctuary is not designated yet, the planning process has Green working closely with Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties, which are within the proposed boundaries. Kewaunee County is also included in an alternative assessment.

“The region has all the pieces you’d want in a marine sanctuary,” Green said. “It has a great breadth of history with nearly 40 shipwrecks and the communities really rallied together to leverage the idea to support heritage tourism and local economies. It’s very much a partnership.”

Green is also working with Sea Grant on some lake-bottom mapping projects, which he hopes will be useful for commercial fishermen and natural resource managers. Also, with the WCMP and Sea Grant, Green has submitted a grant to a NOAA program called Preserve America to produce a GIS-driven website that would feature an interactive story map of the sanctuary. “The site would provide a one-stop-shop for people who want to learn what they can do at the sanctuary, such as kayaking and diving, as well as many shore-side attractions. We want something that all the communities can use to market heritage tourism. The proposal is very representative of the future work we want to do with our NOAA, state and community partners,” Green said.

Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve
With an office in Superior, Wis., the Reserve was designated in 2010, joining a national system of 28 reserves with the mission of long-term research, education and stewardship of vital coastal estuaries. Estuaries are found where rivers meet and mix with a larger body of water. In Superior, that’s the St. Louis River and Lake Superior, and other areas along the north and south shores of the lake.

“Reserves are set up as places of innovation, science and management,” said Erika Washburn, director of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve. “We try to improve research techniques and protocols, and design education programs that lead to behavior change – all things that the rest of the coastal science and management community can replicate across the country, especially in other place-based programs.”

The Reserve is so enmeshed with its NOAA partners, it shares office space and programming with Wisconsin Sea Grant staff members. And the Reserve partners with those staff members – a coastal engineer and a science communicator – to help with the Reserve’s coastal training programs, answer questions about the use of dredged material, and to provide support for community events such as The River Talks speaker series and the St. Louis River Summit. The Reserve has also recently cooperated with Sea Grant staff in Madison to hold an ecosystem services workshop.

Washburn said that each year the Reserve works with a wide range of community partners to help them write research proposals for Sea Grant funding. “We must be involved with six or seven conversations with partners right now,” she said.

Washburn stressed the importance of working together. “Especially now, in a more resource-constrained environment, it’s critical that those of us in NOAA programs leverage our resources and collaborate. Otherwise, we’re going to struggle to get the work done.”

Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies

Another NOAA program that’s a little less public than the others, but no less important, is the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at UW-Madison. With seven NOAA employees working alongside UW scientists, the institute cooperates closely with the National Weather Service and NOAA to design the next generation of weather satellites for installation into outer space, as well as developing new ways to analyze the data coming from the satellites.

Steven Ackerman, acting director for CIMSS, offered this example of their role: “When the weather service forecasts severe weather, generally they’ll map out big boxes denoting the area at risk, which may cover a couple of states. We use satellite data to try and pinpoint when that storm forms and is beginning to go severe. We work to narrow it down.”

Ackerman said CIMSS has also collaborated with Sea Grant over the years on weather-related projects and is currently collaborating on a project involving high spatial resolution imagery to look at the ground and how it changes. “A lot of the work we do is looking at the atmosphere and the weather. Since Sea Grant has more of a water-related focus, our jobs are different but I think we certainly support each other in terms of our missions.”

Wisconsin Sea Grant

Sea Grant Director James Hurley cites the proposed marine sanctuary as a good example of how NOAA programs cooperate and respond to stakeholder needs, and even how Sea Grant works. “The whole sanctuary process was a bottom-up approach, with organizational help from the coastal program,” Hurley said. “The communities along the coast wanted the sanctuary. Then it was enabled by the collaborative work of the NOAA partners. In a sense, that’s the same way we try to drive our Sea Grant research program. We focus on funding water research that meets and is responsive to the needs of local coastal stakeholders.”

He agrees with the tree root analogy for NOAA programs in Wisconsin. “The key part of all this is the cooperation among all our groups. Although everyone has their own niche, by pulling together we can better address state and local concerns and define our roles in responding to them.”

University of Wisconsin Sea Grant/Water Resources Institutes

The latest issue of the Aquatic Sciences Chronicle is now online! Green infrastructure, urban water contamination, ghost nets and more.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Enthusiasts (Day 6 - February 16):

Alexis Kruger 125.3 pounds 75.5 inches_Quinney
Day 6 of the 2017 sturgeon spearing season included the harvest of 44 fish (28 from Lake Winnebago and 16 from the Upriver Lakes). Stockbridge Harbor remained the busiest station with 11 fish registered, followed by Cal Harbor (6), Payne’s Point (4) and Wendt’s (4).  Registration numbers picked up at Boom Bay today with 8 fish registered there.  An additional 6 fish were registered at Critters and 2 at Indian Point on the Upriver Lakes.   

The biggest fish harvested today was registered at Quinney by Alexis Kruger of Chilton. A photo of Alexis’s 125.33 pound, 75.5 inch fish is attached to the report.  There were two other fish larger than 100 pounds registered today, one at Calumet Harbor and the other at Boom Bay. 

Sturgeon Vignette – Lake Sturgeon Age and Growth Project

I've attached a low resolution PDF copy of the vignette. 

We are committed to service excellence.
Visit our survey at to evaluate how I did.

Ryan Koenigs
Senior Fisheries Biologist / Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Enthusiasts (Day 5): February 15, 2017

Today marks the conclusion of the 5th day of the 2017 sturgeon spear fishery on the Winnebago System.  There were 32 fish harvested from Lake Winnebago and 18 from the Upriver Lakes today.  We are currently at 67% of both the adult female and male harvest caps and would need a harvest of either 22 adult females or 54 males to reach the 90% trigger that would close the fishery the next day.  With the decrease in harvest each day, I am expecting the Upriver Lakes fishery to go well into this weekend.  

Five more fish 100 pounds or larger were harvested today, all of which were from the Upriver Lakes. After the first 5 days of the fishery 7.9% of the Lake Winnebago harvest have been fish 100 pounds or larger, compared to 2.7% of the Upriver Lakes harvest.  The largest fish harvested today was registered at Quinney by Daniel Reindl of New London (118.2 pounds and 75.2”).  I don’t have a photo of Daniel’s fish, but we did get a picture of Jonathan Schneider’s 115.2 pound, 68.5” sturgeon that was registered at Payne’s Point (photo attached).  

Sturgeon Vignette – “The 1957 Sturgeon Spearing Season”

I often talk about the cultural and social aspects of sturgeon spearing. Modern sturgeon spearing seasons date back to the winter of 1931-1932, with much of the equipment used being handmade and handed down through the generations. This spearing season I plan to chronicle some of the past sturgeon spearing seasons, at least one’s that I have records from.  I will start with years ending in “7” and move on to the next digit with each passing season.  The archives of past sturgeon spearing seasons are pretty variable in content, but today I want to take a few minutes to describe the 1957 season (60 years ago). 

I have attached a few documents from the folder from 1957 (season synopsis, news release prior to season, sturgeon registration guide that was provided to the registration stations, and the length frequency from the 1957 harvest). It’s amazing reading through these documents how little some of the regulations regarding sturgeon spearing have changed in 60+ years.  Of course the harvest cap system, shortened spearing days, URL lottery, and many other regulations have been more recently implemented but some of the basic requirements have not changed. 

It’s interesting to read through these historic documents and realize that sturgeon biologists have always collected a tremendous amount of data from harvested fish. For example, the registration guide talks about collection of fin bones for age estimation.  To this date, we continue to collect fin bones for age estimation.  However, this season we are making a big push to collect sturgeon heads for an age and growth study.  That’s the nature of science though, we are always looking for improvements in the way we do things and that will never change.

It’s also interesting to read the information about the $10 reward for tagged sturgeon. Through time there have been a number of reward programs for not only sturgeon tag returns, but also other species.  At one point, breweries were even involved in the program to provide added incentive to anglers.  I hope you enjoy the information about the 1957 season. 

I enjoyed reading through the documents and learning more about the 1957 season.  Further, I look forward to chronicling other past spearing seasons as the 2017 continues on! 

We are committed to service excellence.
Visit our survey at to evaluate how I did.

Ryan Koenigs
Senior Fisheries Biologist / Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Enthusiasts (Day 4):

John Leroy 149.4 pounds 77.1 inches
Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there! We are now ¼ of the way through the 2017 sturgeon spearing season, and harvest numbers continue to drop with each passing day.  A total of 70 fish were registered today with 46 coming from Lake Winnebago and 24 from the Upriver Lakes.  After today’s harvest from the Upriver Lakes, we have now reached 60.0% of the adult female harvest cap and 63.4% of the male cap.  A harvest of either 29 adult females or 63 males is still needed to reach the 90% trigger and force an early season closure.

Today’s harvest included 5 more fish weighing 100+ pounds, including 2 fish larger than 140 points registered at Jerry’s Bar. John Leroy’s 149.4 pound (77.1”) fish was the heaviest fish of the day, but there was a 81.6” fish (144.8 pounds) also registered at Jerry’s Bar that was longer.  John honored the Valentine’s Day holiday by kissing his fish in the attached photo.  As a side story, I was fortunate to harvest one fish in my spearing career and that fish was harvested on Valentine’s Day 2010.  Although my fish was not near the size of John’s, I still have fond spearing memories of this date.

There has been a lot of discussion about the mild weather we have had during the first 4 days of the spearing season. Further, there is concern about the weather forecast starting this upcoming weekend.  The sturgeon spearing season will NOT be closed early due to weather, but we want to make sure that spearers are aware of the warm temperatures (upper 40s) forecasted for later in this week and into this weekend.  I strongly recommend that spearers stay up to date on ice and landing conditions in the areas that they plan to travel.  Also, stay in touch with local fishing clubs and conservation groups maintaining access points and roadways as some of the local fishing clubs may choose to pull their bridges if conditions worsen.  Also, make sure that you properly mark your sturgeon hole with wood lathe cut into the ice any time you move your shack from that location.  Unmarked abandoned holes pose serious safety concerns for people travelling on the lake and placing the lathe in a snow bank is not sufficient to mark holes. 

Good luck to all spearers venturing out on Wednesday! More to come in later reports.    

We are committed to service excellence.
Visit our survey at to evaluate how I did.

Ryan Koenigs
Senior Fisheries Biologist / Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources