Monday, December 28, 2009

Madison Fishing Expo (2010)

More Vendors, More Speakers!

Expected to draw over 20,000 visitors, the Madison Fishing Expo features a diverse lineup of fishing tackle, equipment and boats from the industries' leading manufacturers and dealers.

The Madison Fishing Expo is an all volunteer, non-profit organization that donates all of its show proceeds to fund fishing related projects throughout South Central Wisconsin.

The largest show of its kind in the Midwest. Since 1985, the nonprofit Madison Fishing Expo has donated over $550,000 to various projects and organizations to improve fishing in Wisconsin!
  • Great deals on tackle, trips, and boats!
  • Youth Activities: casting contest, face painting, balloons, Kids Teaching Kids and more!
  • Check out the antique lures display or have your old lure appraised!

Show Dates: Feb 26 - Feb 28, 2010

Show Hours:

Friday - 4:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Saturday - 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
Sunday - 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Admission Price: $8.00 for Adult (Kids 12 and under are FREE)
Note: Tickets are sold at the door only. A parking fee of $5.00 is charged per car by Dane County.


Here are the 2010 Show Dates:

St Louis, MO Jan 8-10, 2010
Indianapolis, IN Jan 11-13, 2010
Chicago, IL Jan 14-17, 2010
Milwaukee, WI Jan 21-24, 2010
Madison, WI Jan 25-27, 2010
Green Bay, WI Jan 28-31, 2010
Minneapolis, MN Feb 5-7, 2010
Sioux Falls, SD Feb 8-10, 2010
Des Moines, IA Feb 12-14, 2010
Omaha, NE Feb 15-17, 2010
Dallas, TX Feb 19-21, 2010

The All-Canada Crew is working hard preparing for our upcoming show season. You can shop online in preparation for attending one of our events.

Just click on the show you plan to attend (above) and then click on the Exhibitor List to start shopping.

3rd Annual - BATTLE ON BAGO...

Supporting Youth and Environmental Conservation Efforts

Battle on Bago was created in 2007 by a group of five individuals in order to support area youth and conservation efforts throughout the state of Wisconsin. Our strong foundation was built with the support of many area companies, volunteer efforts, and a dedicated committee resulting in net proceeds of $10,500 in 2008 (our inaugural year), and $40,340 in 2009.

Beneficiaries receiving funds embody our mission statement “For Kids & Conservation” and serve as just the beginning of a long list of organizations and youth Battle on Bago will benefit in the future. We continue to look for new ideas, partner with more businesses, and increase volunteer efforts each year to better serve all who attend our event. With over 3,000 in attendance last year from Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, and all over Wisconsin, we anticipate Battle on Bago 2010 to once again exceed our expectations and continue to have a positive impact on our youth and conservation efforts.

If you or your business would like to support “Kids and Conservation” please feel free to contact one of the committee members or send an inquiry to

February 26 & 27, 2010
Menominee Park
Oshkosh, WI

Hearings scheduled for aquatic plant management fee rule changes (Minnesota)

Public hearings to discuss proposed changes to rules governing aquatic plant management fees are scheduled in three locations across the state in February.

The hearings, as well as the now-open public comment period, give interested citizens an opportunity to have their concerns considered before the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) adopts rule changes. Written comments may be submitted to Administrative Law Judge Bruce H. Johnson, Office of Administrative Hearings, 600 North Robert Street,P.O. Box 64620, Saint Paul, MN 55164-0620, or by e-mail to .

The 2008 Legislature directed the DNR to recover the costs of the aquatic plant management permit program through fees. The proposed rule changes would increase fees for aquatic plant control adjacent to privately owned lake shore from the current permit fee of $35 to $90. The proposed rules would eliminate the permit fee requirement for lake or bay wide invasive aquatic plant management efforts.

In addition, the rules propose a $100 permit fee for businesses that remove aquatic plants for lakeshore property owners for hire. The revised rules also propose a $100 permit fee for businesses that harvest aquatic plants, or plant parts, from public waters for sale. The current rule requires a permit and training for both of these commercial activities in public waters, but contains no provision for permit fees.

In addition to fee changes, other proposed rule revisions include:
  • Prohibiting the control of lotus (Nelumbo lutea), a native aquatic wildflower, in public waters.
  • Changes to the landowner approval and notification requirements for invasive aquatic plant management.
  • Extending the duration of aquatic plant management permits from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 of the year the permit is issued unless otherwise stated in the permit.

Hearings are scheduled from 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on:

  • Feb. 23, at Bigwood Event Center, 925 Western Ave., Fergus Falls.
  • Feb. 24, at the Camp Ripley Education Center, 15000 Highway 115, Little Falls.
  • Feb. 25, at the Kelly Inn, 2705 Annapolis Lane N., Plymouth.

The proposed rules as well as additional information about the process are available on the DNR Web site at If you would like a printed copy of the proposed rules or the statement of need and reasonableness mailed to you, contact Steve Enger at 651-259-5092 or by e-mail at

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mich. Takes Invasive Carp Battle to Supreme Court

By TARYN LUNTZ of Greenwire

Published: December 22, 2009

Michigan has taken its fight against invasive Asian carp to the U.S. Supreme Court, suing Illinois to force the closure of Chicago-area waterways that provide the fish a pathway to the Great Lakes. [Full Story]

Source: New York Times

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Natural Baits For Panfish

by: L.A. Van Veghel

Here’s a list of live baits that are ideal morsels to use when panfishing. Sure, some bait types are missing, but these are basically “variations on a theme by L.A. Van Veghel.” Newly swatted flies and bees are ideal for use when panfishing for most species.

Small Minnows – Yellow perch, crappies, rock bass, white bass, yellow bass, and also rock bass.
Earthworms – White bass, rock bass, yellow perch, occasionally crappies, sunfish (including bluegills, pumpkinseed, perch, rock bass and crappies.
Crickets – Bluegills, pumpkinseeds, yellow perch, occasionally crappies, both black and white,
Grubs - Crappies, yellow perch, rock bass and all species of sunfish,
Caterpillars – Crappies, yellow perch, rock bass & sunfish,
Hellgrammite – Rock bass, yellow perch & sunfish,
Nymphs – (Examples: May fly or Caddis Fly) – Yellow perch, crappies and sunfish,
Nightcrawlers – Yellow perch, rock bass, warmouth & sunfish,
Grasshoppers – Yellow perch, crappies, & all species of sunfish,
Newts & Salamanders (Small) – Rock bass & warmouth,
Wasp larvae – Yellow perch, crappies, rock bass & sunfish,
Freshwater Shrimp (scud) – Yellow perch, crappies, rock bass & sunfish,
Dragonflies – Crappies, white bass, warmouths, rock bass,
Darters – Crappies, warmouth, yellow perch & rock bass,
Sculpins – Warmouth and rock bass.Cut bait (small) – Yellow perch, crappie, rock bass, white bass & warmouth.


Contrary to popular belief, there are more panfish types than just crappie, bluegill and yellow perch. Our planet includes warmouth, green sunfish, long-eared sunfish, Sacramento perch – It’s a sunfish family member --, pumpkinseed, redear sunfish, redbreast sunfish, Roanoke Bass (Similar to rock bass), spotted sunfish, yellowbreast sunfish, white perch – This one’s a whitebass relative --, and we might as well include the following smaller fish that are not normally included in the larger gamefish groupings. Among these fish are lake herring, bullhead, chubs, smelt, mooneye, eulachon (or candlefish due to their oily skin. These fish were once burned as candles), and the threatened Wisconsin specie the goldeye. Brook trout have the luxury of being panfish but are upper crust enough to also be called gamefish.

This article is not in the continuing sunfish of southeast Wisconsin series that will pick-up again with crappies. This piece augments that series. Look forward to an article on Wisconsin’s forgotten gamefish. See if you can guess what it is.

Here’s a suggestion for a New Year's Resolution for private pond owners. How about switching from importing non-native fish that the history of past species such as silver carp or snakefish shows will end up in our state’s public waters and displace native panfish and gamefish to raising threatened and endangered native fish species? Switching is a great way to help save protected and getting rarer native fish species while helping protect biodiversity in our southeast Wisconsin waters. See what the DNR thinks.

Fish Base Consortium (Fresh water & salt water fish identification) –

Rare Fishes -

DNR offices closed for Holidays and furlough day

MADISON – State offices, including all Department of Natural Resources offices and the DNR customer call center, will be closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas, Dec. 24 and 25, and New Year’s Eve and New Years, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

In addition, DNR offices will be closed Monday, Dec. 28 for an agency-wide furlough day as part of state government cost-cutting measures. However, DNR’s call center will be open on the 28th and available to help customers.

Key DNR services will be maintained. State conservation wardens will be on duty, and state parks, forests and trails will be open and staffed as necessary.

People who need to buy a license or get a question answered will have these DNR resources available:
  1. Questions on rules, regulations, or other DNR program, can be directed to the toll free DNR call center available seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 1-888-WDNRInfo [1-888-936-7463,] with Hmong and Spanish service also offered. The center will be closed Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1.
  2. Customers can visit the DNR Web site or call 1-877-945-4236 24/7 to buy a license. Phone callers can, for example, order a fishing license, get a confirmation number, and head out fishing right away.
  3. Live on-line chats are available on the DNR Web site 7 a.m. until 9:45 p.m. all days except Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1.
  4. And DNR partners with more than 1,400 retail stores offering convenient service and hours for purchasing hunting and fishing licenses. A list of agents at other locations is available on the DNR Web site.

Root River Fishing Report for December 21, 2009

Water and flow conditions

Water levels are at normal levels and water clarity is excellent. There remains a good population of both brown trout as well as steelhead throughout the river.

For up to date river conditions, check out the USGS web site of stream flow conditions [exit DNR] in Wisconsin. Just click on the river that you want to see.

Fishing Report

With the cooler weather and overcast conditions this weekend the fish were consistently holding in the deeper holes. This has made them tougher to catch for those fishing with fly gear as the drifts are extremely short in the slower water. Those willing to put forth the effort required are having some luck. Smaller flies have been most productive. Black or olive whooley buggers or worms (in smaller sizes) as well as small egg imitation flies have been taking fish. For those drifting spawn sacs the fishing has been much more consistent. With the fish holding in the deeper holes, drifting the sac under a float will allow one to cover the deep pools much more effectively. Action has been best in the mid-afternoon, but mornings have also produced fairly well.

Fish shelter identification required

Minnesota conservation officers want to remind ice anglers and others that all shelters placed on the ice of Minnesota waters must have either the: 1) complete name and address, 2) driver’s license number, or 3) The nine-digit DNR number on the license of the owner plainly and legibly displayed on the outside in letters, and figures at least 2 inches in height.

This includes ice skating warming houses and other traditional structures placed on the ice, either temporarily or overnight.

Other noteworthy shelter regulations include:
  • Any shelter (fish houses, dark houses, warming houses, etc.) left on the ice at any time between midnight and one hour prior to sunrise must have a shelter license.
  • The Dept. of Public Safety now requires trailers used to haul fish houses or dark houses and enclosed trailers or recreational trailers used for fishing to be registered. See your local Deputy Registrar for trailer registration.
  • A tag, furnished with a license, must be attached to the exterior in a readily visible location.
  • Shelters left on the ice overnight need to have at least 2 square inches of reflective material on each side of the house.
  • A shelter license is not required on border waters with WI, IA, ND, and SD.
  • On border waters, shelters must comply with the identification requirements of the state for which the angler is licensed.
  • No person may erect a shelter within 10 feet of an existing shelter.
  • Portable shelters may be used for fishing within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), but must be removed from the ice each night. The structure must be removed from the BWCAW each time the occupant leaves the BWCAW.

New winter lake trout season dates for 2010

Winter season for lake trout on all lakes located entirely within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), will open Friday, Jan. 1 and close Wednesday, March 31, 2010, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

In 2009, winter lake trout season dates were the same for lakes within and outside the BWCAW. Legislation enacted after the 2009 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet was printed changed the lake trout opener on lakes entirely within the BWCAW to Jan. 1, making the information printed on page 19 and 51 obsolete.

The winter season for lake trout lakes outside and partially outside the BWCAW remains the same. That season opens Friday, Jan. 15, and closes March 31. Lakes partially outside the BWCAW are Snowbank, Magnetic, Seagull, Clearwater, East Bearskin and Saganaga.

Winter season for stream trout lakes remain unchanged. That season opens Jan. 15 and closes March 31. The only exception to this statewide winter season is lakes in Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Crow Wing and Hubbard counties. Those lakes are closed to winter stream trout fishing. Blue Lake in Hubbard County is the only lake within those counties where stream trout can be caught during the winter season.

Up to date winter season dates for lake trout and stream trout in lakes, as well as other corrections and changes, are listed online.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Despite economy, tackle and fishing license sales up 8%

Increase mirrors fishing’s heyday in the 1960s and 1970s

State DNR agencies reported, as of September 1, 2009, a 7.7% positive change in the number of licenses sold year-to-date compared to the same months last year. The same states also saw a seven percent increase in the number of licenses sold in July 2009 compared with July 2008.

Fishing license sales increased at a faster rate in the 1st quarter of 2009 compared to the 2nd quarter. Increases of 20% or more were common in the first quarter. However, a larger volume of sales occurred in the second quarter ― the peak period for license sales nationally ― and had a greater effect on the year-to-date sales trend than first quarter license sales.

In general, more fishing licenses are sold during the 2nd quarter than any other time of the year. Reasons for the 2009 license sales increases range from a slow economy, allowing people more time to engage in outdoor activities, to recreational fishing being a lower cost alternative to other forms of recreation


Van Hollen joins fight against carp

He seeks to stop fish invasion of Lake Michigan

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Wednesday he is willing to use his official authority to try to stop Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan.

"I am determined to take appropriate action to ensure that the integrity of Lake Michigan is not harmed by the introduction of these carp," Van Hollen said in a statement. [Full Story]

Source: JSOnline

Asian carp: Illinois gets $13 million from U.S. in battle to keep fish out of Great Lakes

Illinois was awarded $13 million in federal funds Monday to bolster efforts to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Lake Michigan. [Full Story]

Source: Chicago Tribune

DNR issues ice warning for aerated lakes

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) warns ice anglers, snowmobilers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts to use caution when going onto any lake covered or partially covered with ice, especially those that feature aeration systems.

“Open water areas created by aeration systems can shift or change shapes depending on weather conditions,” said Marilyn Danks, DNR aquatic biologist. “Leaks may develop in air lines creating other areas of weak ice or open water.”

About 285 Minnesota lakes will have aeration systems operating this winter. Private hatchery operators also use aeration systems, usually on small lakes without public accesses.

Aeration systems generally operate from the time lakes freeze until ice break-up in the spring. They help prevent winterkill of fish, but they also create areas of open water and thin ice, which are significant hazards.

Both “Thin Ice” and Warning” signs are used to identify aerated lakes. The person who applies for a permit is required to maintain “Warning” signs at all commonly used access points to the lake. This sign warns people approaching the lake that an aeration system is in operation and to use extreme caution.

“Thin Ice” signs are used to mark the perimeter of the thin ice and open water area. These signs are diamond shaped with an orange border and white background with the warning “Thin Ice” in bold print. It is the permittee’s responsibility to post and maintain “Thin Ice” signs at 100-foot intervals. Some municipalities may have ordinances which prohibit entering into the marked area and/or prohibit the night use of motorized vehicles on lakes with aeration systems in operation. These local regulations are often posted at accesses where they apply.

Aeration systems are inspected for safety and compliance with regulations by permittees and DNR personnel.

For more information call a regional fisheries office or the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

The following is a list of lakes that will likely have aeration systems in operation this winter.
When there are lakes in the county with the same name as the aerated lake, the nearest town is shown in brackets. Names in parentheses are alternate lake names. Those names followed by an asterisk are newly aerated lakes.


COUNTY: LAKE BECKER: Big Cormorant, Bijou, Eunice, Fifteen, Island, Little Cormorant, Melissa, Sallie, Wolf.BELTRAMI: Ewert’s Pond.CASS: Leech.CLAY: Blue Eagle, Lake Fifteen.CLEARWATER: Pine.DOUGLAS: Aldrich.HUBBARD: Petite, Wolf.MARSHALL: Unnamed [Florian Reservoir].OTTER TAIL: Adley, Big McDonald, Fish (Parkers Prairie), Fish (Pelican Rapids), Lida, Lizzie, Marion, Pelican, Perch, Pete, Tamarac, West McDonald.POLK: Badger, Cable, Maple.POPE: Johanna, Signalness.STEVENS: Hattie, North and South Baker.WADENA: Stocking.


AITKIN: Cedar (McGrath).CASS: Eagle, George*, Loon, Meadow.CROW WING: Nisswa.LAKE: Superior (Marinas).ST. LOUIS: Colby.


ANOKA: Centerville, Coon, Crooked, Golden, Ham, Martin, Moore (East), Peltier, Shack Eddy, Spring.CARVER: Eagle, Oak, Susan.CROW WING: Platte.DAKOTA: Alimagnet, Birch Pond, Blackhawk, Bur Oaks, Carlson, Cliff, East Thomas, Farquar, Fish, Gun Club, Hay, Heine, LeMay, Manor, Marion, Pickeral, Rebecca [Hastings], Roger’s,Schwanz, Thomas, Thompson.GOODHUE: Pottery Pond [Red Wing].HENNEPIN: Arrowhead, Bass, Crystal, Gleason, Hadley, Hyland, Indianhead, Mitchell, Penn (Lower Penn), Powderhorn, Rebecca [Maple Plain], Red Rock, Rice, Round, Snelling, Sweeney-Twin, Wirth, Wolfe.KANABEC: Knife.MORRISON: Alexander, Shamineau.RAMSEY: Beaver, Bennett, Como, Island, Loeb, Otter, Owasso, Pleasant, Silver (East Silver), Silver (Columbia Heights), Shoreview Community Center Pond, Vadnais, Willow.SCOTT: Cedar, Cleary, Crystal, Lakefront Park Pond, Legends, McColl, McMahon (Carls), Murphy, O’Dowd, Thole.SHERBURNE: Ann [Becker], Birch, Fremont, Unnamed [Fawn].STEARNS: Becker, Black Oak, Dullinger, Marie (Maria) [Kimball].WASHINGTON: Battle Creek (Mud) [Woodbury], Benz, Cloverdale, Goose, MacDonald, Pine Tree, St. Croix River, Sand, Shields.WINONA: Winona.WRIGHT: Augusta, Crawford, Dean, Little Waverly, Louisa, Mink, Somers.

REGION IV (SOUTH)BIG STONE: Artichoke, East Toqua, Long Tom.BLUE EARTH: Crystal, Ida, Loon [Lake Crystal], Lura, Mills.BROWN: Clear, Hanska, Sleepy Eye.COTTONWOOD: Bean, Bingham, Cottonwood, Double [North and South basins], Mountain [Mountain Lake].COTTONWOOD/MURRAY: Talcott.FARIBAULT: Rice.FREEBORN: Albert Lea, Fountain, Morin.JACKSON: Clear [Jackson], Independence, Little Spirit, Loon [Jackson], Pearl, Round.KANDIYOHI: East Solomon, Elizabeth, Foot, Long, Mud (Monongalia) [New London], Nest, Ringo [Spicer], Swenson [Pennock], Unnamed [Tadd], Unnamed [Upper], Wakanda, Willmar.LESUEUR: Clear [Lexington], Gorman, Greenleaf, Mabel [Kilkenny], Scotch, Silver [Elysian].LINCOLN: Benton, Dead Coon, Hendricks, Shaokatan, Stay (East Stay).LYON: Clear, Cottonwood, East Goose, East Twin, Lady Slipper, Rock, School Grove, West Twin, Yankton.MARTIN: Big Twin, Budd, Buffalo, Cedar, Fish [Trimont], George, Sisseton.MCLEOD: Marion, Swan [Silver Lake], Winsted.MEEKER: Star, Thompson.MURRAY: Bloody, Buffalo [Currie], Corabelle, Currant, First (South) Fulda, Lime, Louisa, Sarah,Shetek, Wilson (North & South Basins).NOBLES: East Graham, Indian, Kinbrae, Okabena, Ocheda, West Graham.PIPESTONE: Split Rock.RICE: Circle, Cody.SIBLEY: Silver [Henderson].STEELE: Kohlmeier.WASECA: Elysian, Loon [Waseca].WATONWAN: Fedji, Kansas, St. James.YELLOW MEDICINE: Tyson, Wood.

Note: The same conditions hold true in Wisconsin when it comes to Lakes and aerators, please use caution when going on any water body during the winter season. Check with the locals in those areas.

Wisconsin Outdoor Report as of December 17, 2009

Northern Region Northeast Region Southeast Region South Central Region West Central Region

Snow depths across Wisconsin range from about half a foot to a little more than a foot, with the exception of the far southeastern portion of the state that has less snow. New snow in the last week ranged from about 1 to 4 inches, with more of the newer snow in the north.

Snowmobile trails are now open in about 30 counties across the state, according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Conditions range from fair to good.

Cross-country ski trails are open and have been groomed at most parks and forests across the state, with conditions ranging from good to excellent. Cold temperatures late this week turned the snow that had softened and saturated by warm temperatures earlier in the week into an icy trail surface in some locations.

Despite the cold weather of the past week, ice cover remains real variable ranging from 1 to 7 inches on waters across the north. This is due to the 5 to 10 inches of snow that has insulated the lake surface and kept us from gaining a more significant amount of ice. Lakes are starting to freeze over in the south, but many of the larger lakes remain open. Any early season anglers are urged to exercise extreme caution when venturing out -- as lakes with undisturbed snow cover may only have 1 to 2 inches of thin ice covered by snow. Early season anglers have been using tip-ups and targeting walleye in the north, and they have reported fair success. Anglers fishing frozen bays and river backwaters in the south have been having some success with panfish.

Along Lake Michigan, shore anglers at Port Washington and Milwaukee have been catching a few brown and rainbow trout. On the Root River in Racine, water clarity and stream flows are good, and the river remains open upstream of Island Park. Anglers have been catching some brown trout and steelhead in smaller pools.

The Mississippi River stage was at 7.39 feet at Prairie du Chien. Ice has formed on most back water areas, but conditions vary greatly and are generally unsafe. Some of the back water areas along the Wisconsin River are seeing some bluegill action.

Small game hunters are finding favorable hunting conditions with the snow. Squirrel, rabbit, and coyote hunters are finding ample hunting opportunities. Turkey are out searching for food under the snow in small groups.

The last major crane, goose and tundra swan migration took place Dec. 15 on the back side of a cold front. The snow and cold weather have brought lots of birds to backyard feeders including: cardinals, blue jays, juncos, gold finches, purple finches, woodpeckers, nuthatches and song sparrows. Northern hawk owls have been reported in Oneida and Burnett counties; it is shaping up to be a good year for them. Barrow's goldeneyes, a rare bird in Wisconsin, have been seen in Madison and along Lake Michigan.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Commercial harvest of whitefish allowed to increase

MADISON – Commercial fishermen can increase their harvest of whitefish from Lake Michigan under changes approved Dec. 14, 2009, by the state Natural Resources Board.

The approved increase in commercial harvest would allow commercial fishermen to catch 410,001 more pounds more of whitefish, a 16.6 percent increase. The total allowable annual harvest would increase from 2,470,000 pounds to 2,880,001 pounds. The increase, the first since 1999, would be split equally among the three commercial fishing zones in the lake.

The proposed rules now have to undergo Legislative committee review before they can be published and take effect.

“Since the sea lamprey was brought under control, whitefish populations have done well,” he said. The population appears to be stable or growing, and it is the only commercial species that’s held up well in lake Michigan over time, particularly as invasive species have significantly changed the ecosystem and the food fish have available to them.

Horns said that the DNR is conservative in setting harvest numbers and that the modeling shows the whitefish population is able to accommodate the increase in commercial harvest. And the department is changing its angler surveys, or “creel” surveys, to get more precise estimates of sport angler harvest.

DNR fisheries staff will continue to monitor whitefish to understand why the fish, though abundant, are growing to a catchable size more slowly, and to measure the take of recreational anglers.

The final approved changes differ from a proposal the Department of Natural Resources took out to public hearings earlier this fall that would not have divided the increase equally among three zones, but would have used the same proportions used in the past to allocate the overall commercial whitefish harvest, according to Bill Horns, the Department of Natural Resources fish biologist who led work on the rule quota change.

More information about the commercial whitefish harvest quota can be found in this background memo provided to Natural Resources Board members.

Great Lakes photo contest underway

MADISON – Shutterbugs, warm up your trigger fingers.

The second annual Great Lakes Photo Contest is now underway, with a Feb. 1, 2010, deadline for all entries.

Winning photos will be featured in the 2010-2011 “Discover Wisconsin’s Great Lakes” calendar, which will be distributed at the 2010 Wisconsin State Fair.

“Last year, we had a flood of fantastic photos and we hope for the same this year,” says Jo Temte, the DNR water resources specialist who is coordinating the contest. “People feel a deep connection to Wisconsin’s Great Lakes and their photos really show it.”

The winning images from last year’s contest featured in the 2009 calendar [PDF] are available for viewing on the DNR Web site.

Photographers can submit their work in any of four categories: Natural Features and Wildlife, Cultural and Historic Features, People Enjoying Wisconsin’s Great Lakes, and Lake Protection Activities. Photos must be taken in Wisconsin, but anyone may enter the contest.

“Last year, we received photos from all over the state, from as far away as California, and even one from an exchange student in Germany,” Temte says. “Our youngest photographer was 16 years old, our oldest was probably 80.”

In addition to photos, the DNR is also seeking writing submissions about the Great Lakes. The writings may be used in the calendar as well as other publications, the DNR Web site and displays. Last year’s writing search brought in several poems and a song, all of which can be found online.

For more information about photo and writing submissions, visit the Office of the Great Lakes page of the DNR Web site.

Gift ideas to make the most of the outdoors

MADISON – Give like you mean it.

In Wisconsin, that means giving family and friends the gift of the outdoors.
These eight gift ideas will help you, your family and your friends make the most of the state’s beautiful lakes, rivers, state parks and other special places.

They won’t break the bank (some are even free); they’re convenient to get and give; and they’ll leave everyone, including Mother Earth, feeling better.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll find in DNR’s online gift guide, whether you’re shopping last minute or want to help a loved one start 2010 off right.

Add water…and a bobber. Print off a certificate that pledges to a family member, a friend, a co-worked, that you’ll give them a fishing trip and the chance to tell the tale of “the one that got away.”

Non-stop fun @ Wisconsin’s special places – For $25, an annual parks sticker gets the bearer unlimited vehicle admission to 60 state parks and forests across Wisconsin. An annual state trail pass gives access to more than 30 scenic trails throughout Wisconsin, so get that body moving.

Books to get hooked on – A pair of new books will reel in readers of all ages: “The “Magic Goggles: Discovering the Secrets of the Lake” is a richly illustrated story book that entertains and educates with its story of two kids discovering the underwater forest at their grandparents’ lake. “People of the Sturgeon: Wisconsin’s Love Affair with an Ancient Fish,” a glossy coffee table book, uses historical photos, personal stories and other memorabilia to tell how Lake Winnebago area residents and state fish biologists help nurse the lake sturgeon population back from the brink to become the world’s largest.

Where the Wild Things Are - A subscription to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine brings our natural world and emerging environmental issues to their doorstep. Stories highlight year-round outdoor activities and our outdoor environment. For more than thirty years Wisconsin Natural Resources has delighted readers with stories about Wisconsin's wild things. Order online to get 1 year (6 issues) for $8.97 and print off a beautiful gift card.

The online guide will put you a click away from most of these gifts. In some cases, you may need to make a call, e-mail someone or drive to a state park or DNR Service Center if you want to make sure you have the gift in hand for that special day.

So give like you mean it, and let the fun begin.

Watch out for invasive species in adornments to wreaths and dried arrangements

MADISON - When decorating for the holidays, many people look to nature for raw materials: colorful berries, dried flowers and seed heads can provide for simple but beautiful adornments. But state environmental officials are cautioning that some plants used for wreaths and dried arrangements are actually invasive weeds that can spread if not handled and disposed of carefully.

“When you go looking out your back door in search of inspiration for your next craft or come across a ‘great find’ at a local market, keep in mind that some of these beautiful specimens can cause great environmental damage to our forests, prairies and fields,” says Courtney LeClair, AmeriCorps invasive plant specialist, with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In particular, people should be on the lookout for bittersweet, multi-flora rose and teasel she says.


Bittersweet is a common vine frequently cut for wreaths and other decorations.

“Many people are unaware that there are two species of bittersweet in Wisconsin,” LeClair says.

The somewhat uncommon native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) has large clusters of many fruits at the ends of long stems. A bright orange husk surrounds each deep reddish orange berry. Although it is legal to harvest and use this bittersweet, collectors should always get permission from the landowner first.

The second species Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is from Asia and is extremely invasive in Wisconsin.

“The invasive bittersweet can spread by seed into forests, where it winds around trees, climbing to the top where it can topple or strangle the trees,” LeClair says.

This bittersweet can be recognized by its lighter orange fruits surrounded by a pale yellow/orange husk. There are usually just a few berries at each leaf node, rather than the large cluster at the end of the stem.

“Even in the winter, it takes only a minute to look closely to ensure that you are not harvesting and using the invasive species,” she says.

Some people add the deep red fruits or “hips” of rose bushes to their flower arrangements. Although there are many ornamental and native roses that are good to use, the clusters of the invasive multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) often are used. If wreaths or arrangements are put outside, birds and rodents may feed on the fruits and disperse the seeds of these plants.


Another plant frequently used as a holiday ornament is the spiky oval shaped seed heads from common teasel (Dipsacus fullonum and D. laciniatus). Teasel seed heads are sometimes spray painted to give them even more of a creative splash. If collecting teasels for decorating, make sure all seeds are removed and disposed of in the garbage.

“Often when these flower arrangements or wreaths get old, they are tossed in a compost pile or in the local park or woodlot. If these invasive plants still have seeds, they are probably still viable and can germinate wherever they were disposed of and can start a new infestation,” LeClair says.

Asian bittersweet, multiflora rose and teasel were recently declared as restricted invasive plants throughout Wisconsin. With the new invasive species rule (NR 40, Wis. Admin. Code) that went into effect on September 1, 2009 it is now illegal to transport, introduce, or transfer (buy, sell) these restricted invasive species, unless you are trying to control or dispose of them. Even though you may see some of these species for sale, it is no longer legal to sell them or purchase them in the state of Wisconsin. A full listing of species affected by this rule is available on the DNR Web site.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lake Puckaway fish kill affects netted, penned game fish and rough fish

Contractor hired to remove rough fish from lake is faulted Public meeting scheduled for December 16

MONTELLO - “Final estimates of the number of dead fish as the result of a preventable fish kill in Lake Puckaway in Green Lake County are expected to be completed in several days,” says Ron Bruch, DNR Fisheries Team Leader in Oshkosh.

The fish kill was reported by a Puckaway lakeshore resident who had concerns about the way the rough fish removal contract was being carried out by a carp removal contractor who is permitted to harvest rough fish, primarily carp, from the lake. There has been a contracted removal of rough fish on this lake for several decades without any similar incident. This is the first year with this particular contractor and the contract with him has been terminated.

The north and south shores of the lake where most of the fish were killed are adjacent to the areas where the contractor had set up his net pens. The contractor’s failure to remove the game fish as required from these nets was the primary cause of the fish kill. Thirty per-cent of the fish killed were game fish. Various species of rough fish made up the remaining 70%.

Fresh dead walleye and drum have been collected and sent to the lab in Madison for necropsy and disease testing. “The final tallies of the numbers of walleye that we picked up or were seen dead on shore may be less than we originally thought,” said Bruch, “however the size of the walleyes was impressive -- with many fish over 5 pounds.”

DNR fisheries biologists are collecting the facts about the kill, doing dead fish counts, collecting biological information on the walleyes, and developing estimates of the size of the kill. DNR law enforcement officers are conducting a thorough investigation, have terminated the rough fish contract, and will hold discussions with the Green Lake District Attorney to determine what legal action may be taken.

Fisheries staff are working closely with the district to sort through the information and put together a plan of action to move forward with the management of the fishery. “Several individuals asked whether the DNR was going to stock the lake to re-build the walleye population,” said Bruch who explained that stocking the lake will not replace the large walleyes that were killed. He reports that the walleyes ranged from 18 to 28 inches and were probably 6 to 18 years in age.

Biologists will alter their lake assessment schedule to conduct a fisheries survey on Lake Puckaway after ice is out in the spring of 2010. Until the fish biologists do their assessment of the lake they won’t have an accurate picture of what kind of impact the kill actually had on the fish community. DNR and the lake associations will move forward from that point.

Prior to this fish kill, the DNR had planned to work with the lake district to prepare their walleye wagon to spawn and raise walleye fry for stocking in spring 2010. Biologists reaffirmed their commitment to work with them to make sure they get the eggs from the lake, that the walleye wagon is functioning properly, and that the fry stocked are marked for future assessment.

DNR has scheduled a public meeting to review and discuss the information about the kill and plans for the future. Members of surrounding communities, area businesses, and lakeshore residents are pleased that DNR is moving ahead to actively involve the public. The public meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on December 16 at the UW Extension facility, 480 Underwood Avenue in Montello.

The department will advertise this meeting in local newspapers in the Lake Puckaway area and the Lake Puckaway District and Association will get the meeting announcement posted on the Lake District/Association web site.

DNR biologists are confident they will have good data on this fish kill and that they have a solid strategy outlined to move forward.

‘Water guards” will be working ice fishing season to help prevent spread of deadly fish disease

MADISON – Wisconsin’s “Water Guards,” will be working the hard water season to help ensure that anglers know about and are following rules to prevent the spread of VHS fish disease and aquatic invasive species.

This specialized group within the Department of Natural Resources conservation warden service focuses on education and enforcement of VHS and aquatic invasive species rules and laws. As their second open water season draws to a close, they’re turning to the ice fishing season.

“For the first time, through careful planning, we’ve been able to stretch our budget to allow Water Guards to work later in the year,” says Wisconsin’s Chief Warden Randy Stark.

“VHS is most active during the cold water season and our ice fishermen move around, particularly over the holidays,” Stark says. “It’s important to keep up our education and enforcement efforts during this time of year. We must continue to contain the threat to Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers and fishing.”

Wisconsin’s regular field wardens, stationed in local communities around the state, also will be looking for violations of VHS and aquatic invasive species, he says.

According to Greg Stacey, a Water Guard based in Fitchburg and the coordinator of their winter efforts, “we want to concentrate our efforts on where we can get the biggest bang for the biggest buck, so we’ll be working major ice fishing tournaments across the state,” he says. “The rest of the time, we’ll be out there on the ice, talking to individual anglers, reminding them of the rules, and writing citations where we see violations.”

The VHS virus is most active in water temperatures below 60 degrees, and the disease can spread fish to fish, or through water contaminated with VHS.

“In the winter, it’s primarily about the water and the fish,” Stacey says. “We need to stop people from moving both of them around.” Specifically:
  1. Don’t move live fish away from the water. Keep the fish you want to take home on the ice until you leave at the end of the day, or carry them away in a dry bucket.
  2. Drain all water from your equipment. That includes all buckets and containers of fish. When you’re leaving the ice, you may carry up to 2 gallons of water in which to keep your minnows.
  3. Follow bait rules. Buy the bait from Wisconsin bait dealers. If you take minnows home after a day fishing and you’ve added lake water to their container, you can return with them only to that water body the next day.
  4. Preserve bait correctly if you catch your own. If you use smelt or other dead bait, preserve it in a way that does not require freezing or refrigeration. Watch the video Preserving Your Bait on the DNR Web site for more information.
Following these rules will protect Wisconsin lakes and rivers and anglers’ pocketbooks: a citation for carrying live fish away from a water runs $343.50, while the penalty for failing to drain the water from fishing equipment is $243, Stacey says.

“VHS is still found in Wisconsin waters, so we need everybody to keep up the good work,” Stacey says. “Together, we can keep the disease from spreading and can continue to keep our lakes and rivers healthy.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Top 10 ice safety tips for 2010

MADISON –Hard water fishing will soon be here and state recreation safety wardens offer their top 10 safety tips to make sure the first trip of the season isn’t the last.

“Ice is always unpredictable, and that’s particularly true during Wisconsin’s first cold snap and early in the ice fishing season,” says Todd Schaller, the Department of Natural Resources recreation safety chief.

Learn ice safety precautions, follow them -- and educate your children about the dangers associated with frozen ponds, lakes and rivers, he says.

Schaller offers these other tips for staying safe this season:
  • Contact local sport shops to ask about ice conditions on the lake or river you want to fish.
  • Do not go out alone, carry a cell phone, and let people know where you are going and when you’ll return home.
  • Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss; take extra mittens or gloves so you always have a dry pair.
  • Wear creepers attached to boots to prevent slipping on clear ice.
  • Carry a spud bar to check the ice while walking to new areas.
  • Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself – or others – out of the ice.
  • Do not travel in unfamiliar areas or at night.
  • Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have current that can thin the ice.
  • Look for clear ice. Clear ice is generally stronger than ice with air bubbles in it or with snow on it.
  • Watch out for pressure ridges or ice heaves. These can be dangerous due to thin ice and open water and may be an obstruction you may hit with a car, truck or snowmobile.

Ice fishing season around the corner

Top 5 fishing tips, fun facts, online resources

MADISON – Ice auger? Check. Tip ups? Check. Ice? There’s the rub.

The calendar says “December,” the snow is starting to fall, but ice is still in short supply in Wisconsin.

The 2009-2010 winter seems to be following the trends that UW-Madison researchers have identified in Wisconsin’s climate over the past five decades, among them, lakes freezing later. That’s because over the past half-century, scientist says, Wisconsin is a warmer place, with the exception of northeastern Wisconsin, with the greatest warming during winter/spring and nighttime temperatures increasing more than daytime temperatures. That’s led to later and shorter ice cover, lengthening growing seasons, and an earlier arrival of spring, according to a presentation (exit DNR; pdf) given to the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (exit DNR).

Before heading out on any ice, it is always best to contact local sport shops to ask about ice conditions on the lake or river you want to fish.

5 steps to early ice fishing success

But the ice is coming, and in the meantime, it’s the perfect time for anglers to take the first step that avid ice angler and DNR fish supervisor Terry Margenau says is one key to great ice fishing.

“Tool up,” he says. “Some ice anglers may be like me and stash the tip-ups and jigs poles after the last outing in February or March without a thought until first ice the following December. Then suddenly, you find yourself ready to go and surprise, after sitting around all summer some grease has dripped out of the tip-ups, the lines are in a snarl, leaders need replacement, and hooks are a little rusty. Similar to any trip, fishing or otherwise, it’s a great asset if you can take a little time BEFORE that first trip to get organized.”

He’s learned a few things over his long fishing career – he ice fishes 20 to 40 days a winter – he’s also gained insights working since 1983 as first a DNR fisheries researcher, and now a fisheries supervisor.

Here are Margenau’s four other top tips to assure tip-ups during early ice:
  • Creepers. Don’t leave home without them. Early season ice can be smooth and slick, especially with a dusting of powder snow on top. These metal cleats and traction devices attached to boots help avoid slips and falls. Not sure about everyone else, but I don’t bounce quite as well as I used to.
  • Travel light and be mobile. One of the nice things about early season ice is that the ice isn’t that thick yet. No need to drag that power auger along until at least 6 inches of ice has formed. A hand auger or ice spud can carve out a nice hole in a minute. Because you can open a hole much quicker than during late season, you can have more freedom to move around into different areas to find fish.
  • Think shallow. Inland predators like walleye are often found in shallow water during the early season. Why? That’s where the food is. Learn more about fish biology and feeding habits during winter the article Life Under the Ice in the December 2009 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.
  • Split the difference. Many anglers, when setting tip-ups, place their bait a certain distance off the bottom. For example, say water depth is 12 feet. Find bottom and set your bait one or two feet off bottom. If you are fishing in vegetation, my general rule is to think in halves. Twelve feet of water –put your bait at six feet. This serves two purposes. First, vegetation is still occupying a fair portion of the water column at early ice. If you place your bait too close to the bottom, there is a good chance it’s in the vegetation. No sight – no bite. Second, predators like northern pike cruise the water column. Even if they are near the bottom they can find prey above them. The opposite is less likely to be true.
5 Favorite Ice Fishing Facts

  • Wisconsin has 1.4 million licensed anglers, and about one-third that number report they ice fish.
  • Ice fishing trails only sledding, snowmobiling and ice skating outdoors as the most popular of outdoor winter activities.
  • Ice anglers catch 14 million fish during the ice fishing season.
  • Nearly half of all fish caught during ice fishing season are kept, compared to about one-third during the open water season.
  • Panfish, northern pike and walleye, are the top species caught, in order, with 11.7 million, 866,000, and 750,000, respectively.

Online ice fishing resource

Find more ice fishing tips and techniques, links to fishing reports, lists of places to take kids fishing and tips for ensuring they have a good time on the Ice Fishing in Wisconsin Web pages. Also learn safety precautions to ensure you return home safely from your outing, and VHS rules to make sure you keep fishing strong for now and future generations.

Shoreland management rules updated to better protect lakes, rivers

MADISON – More than forty years after they were first adopted, state shoreland development rules have been updated to better protect Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers.

Lawmakers last week approved revisions to rules the state Natural Resources Board adopted Nov. 13, 2009. Enactment of the updated rules is the culmination of seven years of discussion on the topic, tens of thousands of public comments and dozens of public meetings and hearings.
Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank said the revised rules represent “a significant step forward in improving the protection of the lakes and rivers that belong to all Wisconsin citizens, while providing for flexibility for shoreland property owners.” Frank said, “As Wisconsin grows in the decades to come, these new modernized shoreland protections will help safeguard Wisconsin’s beautiful lakes and rivers, improve fish and wildlife habitat, enhance water quality, and promote sustainable development.”

Frank noted beneficial changes in the rules include: Improving vegetation standards and prohibiting clear-cutting; ensuring management decisions are made based on land and water conditions, rather than an arbitrary 50 percent valuation of a building; giving homeowners flexibility to improve their properties without requiring the time-consuming process of getting a county variance – also saving counties time; and implementing for the first time an impervious surface standard to protect both habitat and water quality from runoff pollution. He noted that the rules also allow homeowners the flexibility of employing mitigation tools when developing properties to minimize increased run-off pollution.

County governments will now begin the process of updating their shoreland development rules to be consistent with or exceed the state’s rules, and will have two years to do so once the rules are officially published in early 2010.

When the rules are enacted locally, owners of existing homes and buildings will not have to do anything different unless they propose a major change on their property, like remodeling or expanding their home. Then they may have to take steps to offset the potential impacts from their project: increased water runoff, loss of plants to filter runoff and provide wildlife habitat, and impacts on their neighbors’ and lake and river users’ scenic views. The statewide rules require the counties to determine what such “mitigation” requirements and options will be.

“We’re happy to finally bring these rules into the twenty-first century,” says Frank. “A lot of people worked hard to make this happen: DNR staff, the Natural Resources Board, the River Alliance, the Wisconsin Realtors Association, the Wisconsin Builders Association, and the Wisconsin Lakes Association, county staff, and thousands of citizens who provided comments.” Frank also thanked the legislature and particularly legislative committee Chairs Representative Spencer Black, Senator Jim Holperin and Senator Mark Miller for their input and review prior to adoption of the final rule.

Frank stressed that the rules were just one tool Wisconsin uses to protect lake and river shorelands. Lake classification efforts, financial incentives to encourage property owners to restore shorelands, state, local and private efforts to buy sensitive shorelands to protect them, and technical assistance and education for landowners to help them maintain natural shorelands or restore them are among those tools.

Wisconsin’s shoreland protection laws were first adopted in 1966 and the standards were set in 1968 and gave counties two years to adopt them. The standards largely apply to unincorporated areas -- those outside city and village boundaries.

Key statewide minimum rules can now be found online. Counties may adopt more protective standards, so the final rules that property owners must meet depend on what happens at their county level, says Gregg Breese, DNR shoreland program manager.