Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Early catch-and-release trout season opens March 7

MADISON – The March 7 opening day of the early catch and release trout season is the latest date it can be by law -- and that may well benefit Wisconsin anglers.

The early February warm-up erased what had been record snow accumulations in some parts of the state. “That means less snow so it will be easier to access the streams – at least until it snows again,” says Larry Claggett, the Department of Natural Resources coldwater ecologist.

“The cold, snowy winter we’ve had so far should leave trout streams in good shape. The groundwater recharge means they have a good amount of water and it’s cold and clean and the trout are happy,” he says.

The season opens at 5 a.m. on March 7 and runs until midnight April 26, when there is a week “rest” before the regular season. The season is catch-and-release, and only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used while fishing for any species of fish on trout streams. Most trout streams are open to early fishing with the exception of most Lake Superior tributaries and most streams in northeast Wisconsin; check the 2008-2009 Trout Fishing Regulations pamphlet for specific waters.

Some of the best fishing conditions -- no bugs, weeds, or summer distractions -- are found in the early season, according to Claggett. “What a great way to get your mind off the economy, or other problems.”

Any damage from last year’s flooding should be healed, Claggett says, but major changes may still be evident in some streams. Scouring should have cleaned out some holes and improved things for fishing deep holes in the early season.

Tips for fishing techniques during the early season and information on the fish populations in some popular early season waters are available on the early trout season page of the Wisconsin Fishing pages of the DNR Web site.

An estimated 230,000 anglers fish for trout, based on sales of inland license stamps, with a smaller proportion fishing the early season, Claggett says. Across both the early season and the regular inland season, trout anglers caught an estimated 1.6 million trout in 2006-07, according to results from a mail survey of anglers during that calendar year.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Claggett (608) 267-9658

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