Tuesday, April 20, 2010

May 1 opener earliest date possible

Warm spring bodes well for anglers

MADISON – The 2010 regular inland season is opening on the first date possible – May 1 -- but the fish and the anglers are already waiting and eager.

“The fishing opener is a great opportunity to take kids fishing and start to build their appreciation of Wisconsin’s great outdoors,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank. “We are working hard with our partners to deliver great angling opportunities for all, from first-timers to pros.”

With most of the state experiencing an early spring, fisheries biologists say water temperatures are warmer than in the past few years.

“The ice is out statewide, and the fish will be at a later stage of spawning than normal,” says Mike Staggs, director of DNR fisheries management. “Anglers may need to change their tactics to match the warmer conditions, but the fish should be feeding and we expect a good fishing opener and a great season.”

The anglers are ready.

“I am really looking forward to the opener this year. I don't know if it is too any e-mails, too long a winter, or what, but I am ready,” says Scot Stewart, who can be found fishing when he’s not on duty as fish supervisor in the DNR South Central Region.

“Panfish in the Madison lakes should be outstanding. Muskie management has paid off in a number of waters around the region. Bass, walleye, pike are all there. Trout fishing in southern Wisconsin is the best it has ever been. Explore a new river. Get out there and enjoy it and take someone with you to enjoy it with you.”

Other fish managers had equally encouraging predictions for anglers based on the results of the spring surveys they are just conducting and last year’s results. Check out the 2010 Wisconsin Fishing Report for the forecast for dozens of the most popular waters in Wisconsin, and find the up-to-date conditions report filed by fish managers in the last few days.

Northern Wisconsin

The ice went out on lakes in the Woodruff area a full two weeks earlier than usual. Initially we thought the fish would not be ready to spawn and would thus avoid our netting gear for spring surveys. The eggs need time to develop and photo period/day length has some say in that process. We figured the fish would "dribble" in, but were surprised with typical catches each day. But we set nets immediately after ice-out and found the fish were spawning as they would have had it been two weeks later. Currently, walleye are well past the peak of spawning except for the large, deep lakes like Trout (Vilas County) or Tomahawk (Oneida County). I would expect spawning to go on in those for another several days to a week yet, but well before the opening of fishing in a few weeks. In a "normal" year, we still see some active males and post-spawn females hanging shallow and up on the rocky shorelines during the fishing opener. This year I don't know if that will be the case - anglers may have to adjust their tactics to more of a mid-May presentation. Fish might take jigs and minnows yet, but trying leeches would not be out of the question by then either. Our weather has been mild and the long range forecasts are calling for continued above-average temps. – Mike Vogelsang, fisheries supervisor, Woodruff

Northeastern Wisconsin

Spring arrived early this year and the fish should be much more active by opening weekend. Spawning was earlier for northern pike and walleye, so along with warmer water temperatures these species will have moved into their active feeding patterns. – George Boronow, fisheries supervisor, Northeastern Wisconsin

South Central Wisconsin

Panfish in the Madison lakes should be outstanding. Muskie management has paid off in a number of waters around the region. It will be a good year. Bass, walleye, pike are all there. Trout fishing in southern Wisconsin is the best it has ever been. Explore a new river. Get out there and enjoy it and take someone with you to enjoy it with you. – Scot Stewart, fisheries supervisor, South Central Wisconsin

Southeastern Wisconsin

Walleye and northern pike are done spawning and out actively feeding. Musky are just starting their spawn. Pre-spawn, largemouth bass are schooling-up, congregating in shallow bays actively feeding on panfish attracted to warming waters found there. Smallmouth bass are in rocky shallows, searching for emerging crayfish. Having left their egg-skeins draped on submerged shoreline brush, yellow perch are done spawning. Come opening day, musky should be done spawning, and all game fish should be actively feeding as they put-back weight lost over winter or through spawning. Fish shallow along drop-offs early and late for walleyes and northern pike; and in shallow bays mid-day for bass. Smallmouth bass will be near rock, pier pilings and boat-lift tracks; largemouth will be over dark bottom hiding in ambush near emerging aquatic plants. - Randy Schumacher, fisheries supervisor, Southeast Wisconsin

Western Wisconsin

Eau Claire area: Walleyes have completed their spring spawning ritual and anglers should find them on the feed up and down the Chippewa River and it’s impoundments. Shallow flats adjacent to spawning areas are your best bets for larger fish. Panfish have been moving into the warm shallow water on area lakes. Small jigs or worms under a bobber will bring action. Largemouth bass have also been seen moving into the shallows. Small lures and light line will provide the best action. Local trout anglers should find conditions tough with water clarity being the issue. Lighter rains causing some runoff will “dirty” the water making the trout less spooky and easier to catch. – Bob Hujik, fisheries supervisor, Lower Chippewa and Central Wisconsin basins.

La Crosse area: Anglers fishing for trout in the La Crosse Area will find streams in the best shape they have been in my 30 years here. Anglers fishing the early catch and release season have found good numbers brown trout in the 14-18 inch range and occasinal brook trout over 12 inches. Many anglers have personally told me they have had days where they caught and released more that 20 trout. One angler released a brown that was 26+ inches (but I forgot where he said he caught it). Water levels in the streams are good and should remain that way well into the summer. This is a good time to explore some new water that you haven't fished before. (Fact: There are more than 220 classified trout streams (1,000 miles0 in the four-county area. Creel surveys have shown that average angler fishes for about 2.5 hours before quitting or moving to another stream. With our season being about 210 days long, an angler could fish a different stream every single day and he/she would still not be able to fish all the water available). Just be sure to ask permission when wanting to access private land. - Dave Vetrano, fisheries supervisor, La Crosse

Wausau area: Fishing in central Wisconsin is expected to be good even with the early spring. The walleye in the Wisconsin River should be feeding very well by now; they have been done spawning for two weeks, well ahead of schedule. With the very warm weather, I expect the panfish to be biting better than on a normal opener, since the water has been above 60 in many of the bays and backwaters of the Wisconsin River for a week or more. Also, musky anglers in Central Wisconsin can now start fishing the Stevens Point Flowage South of the new Hwy 10 bridge on the opener, instead of when the Northern Season opens. – Tom Meronek, fisheries biologist, Wausau

Season dates and regulations
The hook-and-line game fish season opens May 1 on inland waters for walleye, sauger, and northern pike statewide.

The largemouth and smallmouth bass southern zone opens May 1, while the northern bass zone opens for catch and release only from May 1 through June 18. Anglers are reminded that artificial lures and barbless hooks must be used if fishing for bass during the catch-and-release bass fishing season in the northern zone and any other water body that has bass catch-and-release regulations. From June 19 to March 6, 2011, there’s a minimum length limit of 14 inches with a daily bag limit of five fish in total.

Musky season opens May 1 in the southern zone and May 29 in the northern zone.

The northern zone is the area north of highways 77, 64 and 29, with Highway 10 as the dividing line.

The seasons for rock, yellow and white bass, panfish, bullheads and rough fish, catfish, cisco and whitefish are open all year. Check the “2010-2011 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations" for special regulations listed by county, for regulations on the Great Lakes and boundary waters, and for tributary streams to Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The complete guide is also available at DNR offices and license agents.

Fishing licenses
It’s easy to buy a fishing license. You can purchase online; at DNR license vendors; or by calling toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

Wisconsin residents and nonresidents 16 years old or older need a fishing license to fish in any waters of the state. Residents born before Jan. 1, 1927, do not need a license, nor do people who exhibit proof they are in active service with the U.S. armed forces and are a resident on furlough or leave.

About 1.4 million licenses are sold each year to adult anglers in the state and Wisconsin trails only to Florida in the number of days nonresident anglers spend fishing here. Anglers have 15,000 inland lakes, 42,000 miles of streams and rivers plus the Great Lakes shoreline and 260 miles of the Mississippi River to fish. Sportfishing generates $2.75 billion in economic benefits, supports 30,164 jobs, and generates $200 million in state and local tax revenues.

Governor’s Fishing Opener in Polk County
The 45th Governor’s Fishing Opener, officially kicking off Wisconsin’s big game fishing season, takes place at Lake Arbutus in Jackson County on Saturday, May 1. Joining Gov. Jim Doyle at the event this year will be DNR Secretary Matt Frank, DNR Fisheries Director Mike Staggs, local legislators and officials, and media from in and outside of the state.

Former Governor Warren Knowles started the tradition in 1965 to officially open the state's fishing season. The angling event is held at various locations in western and northern Wisconsin each year and is sponsored by the Wisconsin Indianhead Country Tourism group. This event is also by invitation only to key people in the media and state and local government officials.

Anglers are reminded of rules to help stop the spread of VHS
Anglers are reminded to follow rules that help prevent the spread of the deadly fish disease viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS. Earlier this year, evidence of viral hemorrhagic septicemia was detected in fish from Lake Superior by Cornell University scientists using sensitive new molecular methods. And just last week, the DNR learned from Michigan that the virus had been detected in lake herring from Wisconsin waters of the Apostle Island. In both cases, the testing was done on fish that had not died of VHS nor showed any symptoms of the actual disease.

For more information on VHS and steps that all water users can take, visit VHS Prevention.

Eat smaller, younger fish
With walleye spawning done in much of the state, many anglers will be hoping to reel in their limit of this tasty fish. It’s a good, low cost source of nutrition and a brain booster to boot, but make sure that those who eat the fish are following Wisconsin’s fish consumption advisory. A 2009 video (avaialble on the linked page) shows how you can eat your catch and reduce your levels of environmental contaminants such as PCBs and mercury. Inland waters are covered by the same general advice with the exception of about 100 waters where more stringent advice applies.

Fishing in Wisconsin by the numbers
Fifty-three percent of the adults responding to an October 2009 statewide UW-Madison Badger poll say they fish.

The latest statewide mail survey shows that anglers in Wisconsin catch an estimated 88 million fish and keep about 33 million of them, or a little more than one-third. While walleye is the top target, panfish are the most frequently caught and consumed. Learn more online about fishing in Wisconsin.

Connect with fish
Be the first to hear where fish are biting and more by subscribing to fisheries email updates or following [fishwisconsin] on Twitter [Exit DNR].

Correction on two popular Vilas County waters
The 2010-2011 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations incorrectly lists a slot size limit on walleye for North and South Twin lakes, which are connected. There is no slot size limit; the lakes are under the statewide 15-inch minimum size regulation.

Also, Kentuck Lake has a minimum length limit on musky of 40 inches. The size limit was incorrectly listed in the pamphlet.

Spring Fishing Clinic Totals 2010

In spite of near perfect weather conditions the number of kids attending this springs fishing clinics was down at most locations. There were two exceptions. Racine's Quarry Lake had 298 kids and Sandy Knoll Pond in Washington County had an incredible 350 kids! The final tally when you put them all together was a respectable 1,564 kids and 299 volunteers!
Thank you to all that contributed to this event.

Park                                                  Volunteers                    Kids

Sandy Knoll                                             32                             350
McGovern Park                                       21                               52
Sheridan Park                                          15                               55
Muskego Park                                         13                               65
Brown Deer                                            17                                41
McCarty Park                                         14                               75
Mitchell Park                                          14                                61
Wilson Park                                            23                               58
Lannon /Menomonee                                7                                51
Greenfield Park                                       23                               82
Oak Creek Mill Pond                                 9                               78
Racine Quarry                                        50                              298
Washington Park                                    12                                91
Fox Brook                                             12                                40
Scout Lake                                            15                                64
Humboldt Park                                      17                                35
Minooka Park                                          5                                68
                                     Totals             299                           1,564

Matt Coffaro
Southeast Region Fisheries Biologist

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010 Sturgeon Spawning Photos from Shawano Dam #1

Click on photos to enlarge. Once they've been enlarged, you should be able to enlarge them one more time.
Top Left: This Sturgeon is about to get measured, tagged and released. Top Right: Spawning Sturgeon at the foot of the Shawano Dam on the Wolf River here in Wisconsin. You can see one poke his head out of the water as if to look what fate is in front of him. 2 Left: One of the netted Sturgeons is passed along as if it were in a fire brigade.Not only does this reduce some of the fatigue, it reduces the risk of tripping over the many slippery rocks underneath the water. 2 Right: This fish decided it had no intentions of getting processed. 3 Left: An identification tag is being inserted into the fish for tracking purposes. Information regarding their size, location, age and more can be determined from the tags. If the fish is unfortunate enough to get speared during the Sturgeon Spearing season the tag is removed and the information is updated. 3 Right: Although the spawning season was drawing to a close for this year, volunteers were still able to net a few more fish on this Saturday morning. Bottom: Information is being read from the tagged fish by the hand held scanner in the DNR workers hand. The information is then relayed to a volunteer who records the information for future use. (Note: Earlier in the day this volunteer was instructed on how to handle these huge and powerful fish to avoid getting any fingers broken or hurt.)

Photos  by: John E. Durben

2010 Sturgeon Spawning Photos from Shawano Dam #2

Click on photos to enlarge. Once they've been enlarged, you should be able to enlarge them one more time.
Top Left: The Run is on. This photo was taken on Friday evening Arpil 16 at about 5:30 PM. It looks like a scene from the movie - "Jaws". Top Right: One of the young college volunteers gets a chance to help measure the fish with the assistance of one of the DNR workers. 2 Left: A fairly sizeable crowd was on hand to witness this event. 2 Right/3 Left: More volunteers and interns net the fish for the DNR workers. Fish are measured, tagged, recorded and released. Some fish that were processed were over 70 inches long and over 100 years old. 3 Right: DNR workers encouraged the young kids to touch the ancient fish if they wanted to. You can see some of the fish eggs on the ground by the young kids foot. Bottom: Another view of the spawning fish in their natural habitat.

Photos by: John E. Durben

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sturgeon Spawning at Wolf River Dam in Shawano 4-16-2010 #1

This video was actually taken at about 6:00 pm on Friday night. The spawn was a little heavier that night than the next morning. These people are working up an appetite.
Video by: John E. Durben

Sturgeon Spawning at Wolf River Dam in Shawano 4-17-2010 #2

Volunteers catch the fish while DNR employees measure the fish on this cold, windy April morning.
Video by: John E. Durben

Sturgeon Spawning at Wolf River Dam in Shawano 4-17-2010 #3

This short clip shows some of the DNR people and volunteers working to measure, tag, and collect data on the 2010 Spawning Sturgeon. The fish are caught and released in as quick of time as possible.
Video by: John E. Durben

New DNR Lake Michigan research ship boost for fisheries

MANITOWOC – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank and Burger Boat Company today signed a contract for the construction of a 60-foot research vessel to support expanded study and survey work of the Lake Michigan fishery.

“This day is the result of tremendous partnerships and efforts, and the dedication of many,” Frank said at a morning news conference at the local company’s shipyard at the Port of Manitowoc. “This new boat, made by this nearly 150-year-old Wisconsin manufacturer, will be a state-of-the-art vessel with features to support expanded work by our fisheries experts of Lake Michigan.”

Burger Boat Company president James Ruffolo participated in the ceremonial signing. Founded in 1863, Burger Boat Company is the oldest custom yacht builder in the nation and the oldest functioning company in the city.

“This is a big day for Wisconsin’s $13 billion tourism industry which includes the very popular sport fishery of Lake Michigan, our licensed commercial fishing operations and their employees and the science of healthy resources and water,” Frank said.

Named after the fish genus that includes lake whitefish, lake herring and bloater chubs, the new RV Coregonus will be capable of gill netting and allowing fisheries staff to continue the work done on the previous research ship – the RV Barney Devine.

However, the RV Coregonus also have expanded features including onboard laboratory equipment, water tight compartments and a semi-planning hull along with capabilities for scuba operations.

The Coregonus was designed by SeaCraft Design in Sturgeon Bay and will be built by Burger Boat Company for a cost of $1.9 million. Funding for the boat will come primarily from license revenues placed in the segregated fisheries account with an additional $500,000 from the Salmon Stamp revenues.

“Although the RV Barney Devine was well-maintained, it is now nearly 75 years old and become technologically obsolete with an increasing maintenance expense,” Frank said of the previous research ship also built by Burger Boat. “There have been many advances in fisheries research since 1937 and the old boat is not longer suitable. The new vessel also will incorporate many safety features and improve vessel and crew safety.”

DNR fisheries staff worked closely with SeaCraft to develop the design that would maintain the ability to use gill nets during all seasons but in the most extreme sea conditions, while expanding its capabilities for research. Its capabilities include trawling and deploying hydro-acoustic equipment.

The Barney Devine had a top speed of less than 10 knots, which meant a travel time from Sturgeon Bay to Milwaukee of 15 to 16 hours. The Coregonus will be able to travel 20 knots, decreasing the travel time and increasing efficiency.

The Coregonus, which the company anticipates to build with current employees, is expected to be ready for use in 2011.

Sport fishing in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior generated $419 million in economic activity and supported 5,000 jobs in Wisconsin alone, based on a comprehensive survey conducted in 2006 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Census and an economic analysis done by the American Sportfishing Association.

Wisconsin also sustains a commercial fishery with about 60 licensed commercial operations on Lake Michigan and a smaller number on Lake Superior.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010 Lake Sturgeon Spawning - It's almost over...

Come Face To Face With Prehistory

Become one of the crowd as lake sturgeon make their annual spawning run up the Wolf River, Wisconsin. Sturgeon Spawning Update (4/15/10)

The sturgeon are spawning at Shawano

The sturgeon moved into the Shawano Dam spawning site yesterday in large numbers and started spawning this morning at daybreak. This is it - the big final push of the sturgeon spawning season and one of the biggest sturgeon spawning shows on earth. Below the dam at the west end of Richmond St in Shawano is a public sturgeon viewing area (Sturgeon Park). Given the warm weather, I expect the fish to spawn out quickly, most likely finishing with the majority of their spawning by Saturday morning. Sturgeon also started spawning yesterday evening or this morning at a number of other sites south of Shawano on private properties. Fish can still be seen spawning today at Bamboo Bend near Shiocton- Ron Bruch, Oshkosh.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lake Michigan Outdoor Fishing Report April 12, 2010

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: April 12, 2010

Kenosha Co.
In Kenosha steelhead fishing on the Pike River has been slow. In the harbor anglers are catching a few steelhead and browns on white tube jigs or spawn sacs.

Racine Co.
In Racine the Root River is still holding good numbers of steelhead. Upstream of the Root River Steelhead Facility, most fish have been concentrated below the Horlick dam, and downstream most are in Lincoln Park. Large black or fluorescent flies have been productive in faster moving water, and spawn sacs have worked well in the deeper pools. Suckers are also abundant in the river. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, April 5. Both Chambers Creek and Ganaraska eggs were taken, and 148 more steelhead were passed upstream, for a total of 331 this season. The last processing day will be Wednesday, April 14.

Milwaukee Co.
In Milwaukee anglers fishing the Milwaukee River along the wall under the Hoan bridge have been catching a few browns and rainbows. Spawn and small shiners have produced the most fish. In the Milwaukee River anglers have been catching a few steelhead on yarn flies at Kletzsch Park. A few steelhead are still being taken out of Oak Creek and the Menomonee River, but numbers have been diminishing. Boaters working in and around the gaps in the Milwaukee harbor continue to catch browns and lake trout. Both jigging and trolling small crankbaits have been effective.

Ozaukee Co.
Shore anglers in Port Washington have been concentrating on the area around the power plant discharge. Fair numbers of browns and rainbows have been taken, and spawn has produced the most fish.

Sheboygan Co.
In Sheboygan, anglers fishing both the Pigeon and Sheboygan Rivers have been catching a few steelhead. Flies and spinners have taken the most fish. Some northern pike have also been caught in the Sheboygan River near the Kohler dam. Fishing off the piers has been slow, but boaters casting crankbaits in shallow water have been taking decent numbers of browns.

The Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report is updated twice per week from March 1 to December 1 each year. This report is a copy of the fishing report we post on our fishing hotline at (414) 382-7920.

Northern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: April 12, 2010

Manitowoc Co.
Strong winds and gusts all week started diminishing by Saturday afternoon. The winds created waves 2-4 feet high on Lake Michigan. Rain and snow throughout the week raised water levels and increased flow while the temperature dropped 8 degrees in local rivers. Air temperatures ranged from the upper-20s to mid-60s throughout the week. East Twin River: Anglers fishing for steelhead near the Mishicot dam had scattered success this past week either fly fishing or using spinners and spawn sacs. Anglers had the best luck downstream near the fire station. Suckers have been caught by the dozens up and down the East Twin using night crawlers, spawn, and plastic jigs. Water temperature dropped to 46F by the weekend. West Twin River: Steelhead fishing has slowed down recently as water levels rose and the water temperature dropped from 56F to 46F. Anglers had the greatest success using spawn sacs with a few split shots for weight. Most of the landed steelhead were still spawning. A few anglers tried their luck fishing for catfish, but the fishing was fairly slow. Manitowoc and Branch Rivers: Fishing was relatively quiet this week most likely due to the strong winds and the high, fast flowing water. A few anglers ventured out for catfish and carp, landing a few small fish. Anglers used a variety of bait from night crawlers to even spawn sacs on bottom. A few fly fishermen on the Branch River, near the golf course saw slow action with the high waters. Silver Creek: The water levels have risen roughly 5” since the mid-week rain. A few steelhead have been observed, but there has been very little fishing pressure. The sucker numbers are still high throughout the area. A few dip netters have had no problem getting their desired amount. Two Rivers and Manitowoc Harbor/Piers: Calmer winds later in the week provided great opportunities to fish lakeside. Using spawn off the bottom and orange casting spoons, a small number were hooked with little success landing the fish. Early season anglers had limited success during the week for carp and catfish. Manitowoc/Two Rivers Ramps: The boat ramps heated up over the weekend with light southerly winds with water temps around 44F. Boaters averaged 1-3 Brown Trout with the most success coming between the Two Rivers Hospital and the South Manitowoc Pier in 8-13 feet of water. Spoons and crank baits of various colors worked best on high lines. Two Rivers/Manitowoc shoreline: A few steelhead have been taken using spawn near the Little Manitowoc River mouth but fishing pressure remains relatively low due to strong winds. Dip netters also have had success taking abundant amount of suckers.

Kewaunee Co.
This week's conditions were a little more favorable for the anglers compared to last week. The rain and snow has helped raise the water levels in all of the streams considerably. The winds were strong for the majority of the week but tapered off during the weekend. The melted snow has lowered the temperature of the Kewaunee stream down to 38 degrees. Lake Michigan has been seeing high waves due to the high winds coming off the lake and has kept most fisherman from launching. There has been high fishing pressure at Stony Creek, Brummerville (Silver Creek), and Footbridge. These locations were also the places reporting the most steelhead being caught. All of the reported fish caught have been hooked with spawn sacs. Forestville is starting to see some increasing fishing pressure as a few steelhead are starting to be pulled of out the stream there. The Algoma and Kewaunee piers are still experiencing slow fishing action with a few brown trout and catfish being caught off the Algoma pier with spoons and chunks of sucker, respectively.

Door Co. (Lake and Bay sides)
For the people who were dreaming of a white April, the wish came true this week. A heavy dumping blanketed the county on Thursday and stuck around until the weekend. Winds were heavy out of the west for part of the week, increasing the number of fisherman on the lake side. Overall the weather was pleasant enough to allow anglers to hit the water all over the Door. Brown trout fishing has continued to be productive on both Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Reports of anglers taking five to ten fish were common off of Baileys Harbor, Ellison Bay, outside of the Sturgeon Bay shipping canal, and along areas of the Sturgeon Bay shores. Some nicer fish have been taken in the fifteen pound range, good news for anglers looking forward to the brown trout tournament being held next weekend. Fire tiger Rapalas have been popular for results, along with fishing in more turbid waters. Pike fishing along the channel in Sturgeon Bay has been somewhat slow. Most fisherman having success have been drifting along the shipping channel edges using live bait suspended off the bottom with floating jig heads. The walleye spawn looks to be right around the corner in Sturgeon Bay. Many fish have been reported off the train bridge and along the shoreline out toward Potowatomi Park. Clown colored Rapalas have been the popular choice for anglers. Good luck to all anglers fishing in the brown trout tournament next weekend.

The Northern Lake Michigan Fishing Report is updated once a week until October 31.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Walleye bag limits adjusted for Ceded Territory lakes

MADISON - Daily walleye bag limits have been revised on 530 lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory in response to harvest declarations made by six bands of Chippewa in Wisconsin, the state Department of Natural Resources has announced. These bag limits are effective between May 1, 2010 and March 6, 2011, inclusive.

There will be a three walleye bag limit for sport anglers on 190 lakes, and a two-fish daily bag limit on 340 lakes, unless they are adjusted upwards later in the season for lakes lightly or not speared.

Most off-reservation Chippewa tribal harvest takes places during the spring spearfishing season. Tribal spearers typically have harvested walleye from 170-180 lakes annually, regardless of the number of lakes initially declared. DNR will review tribal harvest following the spring spearfishing season and may revise bag limits upwards on lakes lightly or not speared. An administrative rule passed by the state Natural Resources Board in 1998 allows the department to adjust initial bag limits to reflect actual spring spearing harvest and projected summer harvests.

The adjusted walleye bag limits [PDF] are available in portable document format on the DNR Web site. They will also be posted to the fishing regulations page of the DNR Fishing Wisconsin Web site and are being published as an insert to the 2010-2011 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations. Lakes not listed are subject to the regulations printed in the regulations pamphlet. Anglers should check the regulations for special size and bag limits that are in effect on specific waters.

The 175 lakes declared by the Lac du Flambeau Band have a daily bag limit of three walleye for sport anglers. The DNR and the Lac du Flambeau Band have an agreement giving the Band authority to sell fishing licenses in return for making declarations at a level that allows a three walleye per day recreational angler bag limit.

As part of a 1983 federal Appellate Court decision affirming Chippewa off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, the six bands of Wisconsin Chippewa set annual harvest quotas for off-reservation lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory. As part of court agreements, the Department of Natural Resources reduces bag limits for recreational hook and line anglers in lakes declared for harvest by the Chippewa bands to assure the combined tribal and recreational angler harvest does not jeopardize the ability of walleye to sustain its population in any lake.

For background information on Chippewa treaty rights, a description of the management and monitoring system used to ensure the long term viability of fisheries in the Ceded Territory, and to see data collected as part of that monitoring system, including walleye population estimates and creel survey summaries for all game fish, see the DNR Bureau of Fisheries Management Internet pages regarding the joint tribal and recreational fishery in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory.

2010 Annual Spring Fish & Wildlife Rule Hearing Results

MADISON – There were 4,360 people who attended the 2010 Spring Fisheries and Wildlife Rules Hearings and Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meetings that were held in every county statewide on Monday, April 12. The hearings allowed citizens to comment and provide their input on proposed fish and wildlife rule changes, Conservation Congress advisory questions, and to submit resolutions for rule changes they would like to see in the future.

Statewide hearing results and the questions are available on the Spring Rules Hearings page of the DNR Web site. The results will be presented to the state Natural Resources Board in May.

Hearing results, along with written comments on proposed rules, and DNR recommendations are used to advise the state Natural Resources Board. This year’s results will be reviewed at the board’s May 26 meeting in Lake Geneva. Votes are non-binding and are presented to the Natural Resources Board to reflect public sentiment on proposed DNR rule changes.

DNR fish and wildlife managers will spend the next several weeks analyzing the vote tallies and developing recommendations they will present to the board in May.

The hearings are held in conjunction with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meetings. DNR related proposals are presented to attendees by DNR staff. Following DNR business, the meeting is reconvened as a Conservation Congress meeting and congress advisory questions are presented and county congress delegates elected. The congress is an advisory body to the Natural Resources Board. During the congress’ portion of the hearing, citizens may introduce resolutions for consideration and vote by those attending the hearings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 Lake Sturgeon Spawning It's on...

Wolf River

The 2010 sturgeon spawning run has begun on the Wolf River. A handful of females have been spawning with their harems of males along the Wolf River Trail on County Highway X west of New London for a few days now, but the remaining 3000 or so females in the river that need to spawn yet have been waiting for the water temperatures to get a little higher. The wait appears to be over as a large number of fish moved into the Bamboo Bend spawning site on Highway 54 west of Shiocton last night and are vigorously spawning this morning. I suspected this to be the case when I heard the high flocks Canadian geese migrating north at 6:00 AM this morning. Every spring when we first see the high large V-flocks of Canadian geese heading north (not the low local flocks), we know we will be working spawning sturgeon that day. Given the weather forecast this week calling for high temperatures for most days (except tomorrow) in the 60s and possibly low 70s, we expect the majority of sturgeon in the Wolf River to spawn sometime this week. Sturgeon spawn each spring at approximately 20 or more sites (out of about 60 known sites) on the Wolf, Little Wolf, and Embarrass Rivers. Once fish start spawning at a particular site, the activity lasts there about 3 or 4 days, with usually 2 days of peak activity at that site. Most of the nearly 60 different spawning sites on the Wolf River and tributaries are man-made, with only about 10 natural sites. The man-made sites are typically rip rapped areas on outside bends adjacent to deep water that people rocked to protect their river banks from erosion. Although erosion is a natural event on rivers, most of the erosion today is caused by boat wakes crashing into soft shorelines, which causes erosion rates to be much higher than normal. The best spawning site on the river is a natural site below Shawano Dam, which has always attracted large number spawning sturgeon, even before the dam was built in 1892. Thousands of fish spawn at this site every year. In many years we also will see a "second run" at several of the main sites, typically a small number of females that need higher a temperature to induce their ovulation, that spawn about a week or two after the main spawning event. - Ron Bruch, Oshkosh.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wolf River Cam - Shiocton 1

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Wolf River Cam - at Fremont, WI

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2010 Lake Sturgeon Spawning

Sturgeon Spawning Update (4/08/10)

Upper Fox River

Sturgeon actually began spawning on the upper Fox River at Princeton and Eureka last weekend on Easter Sunday, April 4. The upper Fox is more of a southern watershed that warms more rapidly and sturgeon almost always begin spawning there a week or more before they begin on the Wolf. This first pulse of spawning on the upper Fox is over but will likely be followed by a second pulse in late April. The sturgeon that spawn in the upper Fox are a separate sub-population of fish that generally always spawn in the upper Fox, although we do have some males that spawn in both rivers in the same year. The number of sturgeon that spawn in the upper Fox is relatively small - probably several hundred fish. Historically the numbers were likely much greater, although the series of locks and dams constructed on the river in the late 1800s disrupted spawning runs and closed off many of the natural spawning areas. We have either removed or built fishways around most of the dams, and we still have a remnant stock that uses the river for spawning. We have also been working with Sturgeon for Tomorrow and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee WATER Institute since 2002 to collect eggs each spring and rear extended growth sturgeon fingerlings for stocking in the upper Fox River in a long-term effort to rebuild the upper Fox lake sturgeon spawning stock. SFT pays for rearing the fish at the WATER institute in Fred Binkowski's lab, and we use sturgeon spearing license funds to PIT tag all of the 500-1000 fish released annually, and to implant radio and sonic tags in a dozen or more fish each year to study the behavior and habitat-use of stocked fish. After radio or sonic tagging and tracking a over two hundred young sturgeon since 2002 we have learned a lot about the movement and habitat use of fingerling and larger juvenile surgeon in our system including the best time of year to stock young sturgeon, the seasonal downstream movement of fingerling sturgeon from the rivers into the lakes, and the vital importance of the Upriver Lakes as a nursery ground for young stock.

Wolf River

Sturgeon have been porpoising at several sites on the Wolf and Embarrass Rivers since Easter weekend, but no spawning has been observed to date. People can see porpoising fish at Bamboo Bend just west of Shiocton on Highway 54. Prior to and during the spawning period, lake sturgeon exhibit a porpoising behavior where they come to the surface adjacent to spawning sites and jump out of the water or sometimes just stick their faces out of the water. Depending on the water temperatures, this activity may go on for up to two weeks before spawning actually begins at a particular site. Given the nice snow we received last night and this morning, the water temperatures have begun to drop in the Wolf River which will delay the start of sturgeon spawning activity from earlier expectations. At this point I don't expect fish to begin spawning at the earliest until sometime next week - dependant upon on how fast things warm up after we get through this current spell of cold weather. With any luck we may see spawning commence close to the same time we open Sturgeon Camp and get our first Sturgeon Guards out on April 15 - although it could start earlier than April 15 - we'll be watching closely and will let you know when spawning on the Wolf actually starts.

Track the Wolf River temperature, stage, and discharge data (exit DNR)

Track the upper Fox River temperature, stage, and discharge data (exit DNR)

Call the sturgeon hotline number for recorded daily updates: (920) 303-5444.

Volunteer to guard sturgeon at their spawning sites on the Wolf River and protect the fish from poaching.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lake Michigan Outdoor Fishing Report

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: April 6, 2010

Kenosha Co.

In Kenosha steelhead fishing on the Pike River has been rather slow. In the harbor anglers are catching a few steelhead and browns on white tube jigs or spawn sacs.

Racine Co.

In Racine the Root River is holding good numbers of steelhead. Upstream of the Root River Steelhead Facility, most fish have been concentrated below the Horlick dam, but fair numbers can also be found in Colonial Park. Downstream of the Steelhead Facility most fish have been taken in Lincoln Park. Flies in egg patterns have been productive, as well as woolly buggers and small black stoneflies. Suckers are abundant in the river. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, April 5. Both Chambers Creek and Ganaraska eggs were taken, and 148 more steelhead were passed upstream, for a total of 331 this season. The next processing day will be Monday, April 12.

Milwaukee Co.

In Milwaukee anglers fishing the Milwaukee River along the wall under the Hoan bridge have been catching a few browns and rainbows, as well as perch. Spawn and small shiners have produced the most fish. In the Milwaukee River anglers have been catching fair numbers of steelhead on yarn flies at Kletzsch Park. A few steelhead are still being taken out of Oak Creek and the Menomonee River, but numbers have been diminishing. Boaters jigging in and around the gaps in the Milwaukee harbor continue to catch lake trout.

Ozaukee Co.

In Port Washington a few browns and rainbows have been taken on shiners off the pier. Shore anglers fishing near the power plant have also been catching browns and rainbows; and spawn, flies, and wax worms have all taken fish. Boaters have been catching lake trout just outside the Port Washington harbor. Fish have been 35 feet down and hitting spoons.

Sheboygan Co.

In Sheboygan, fishing on the Pigeon River has been slow, but anglers on the Sheboygan have been catching steelhead near the Kohler dam. Spawn, flies, and stickbaits have taken fish. A few rainbows and browns have also been caught off the south pier on spawn sacs and crank baits.

The Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report is updated twice per week from March 1 to December 1 each year. This report is a copy of the fishing report we post on our fishing hotline at (414) 382-7920.

Northern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: April 6, 2010

Manitowoc Co.

East Twin River: Anglers fishing for steelhead near the Mishicot dam had some success this past weekend either fly fishing or using spinners and spawn sacs. The sucker run appears to be in full swing as most anglers landed several suckers for every steelhead hooked. West Twin River: Steelhead and sucker fishing has been excellent near the large Shoto dam. Anglers had the greatest success using spawn sacs with a few split shots for weight. Most of the landed steelhead were still spawning. A few anglers launched at the Shoto ramp in search of catfish, but the fishing was fairly slow. Water temperatures in the river have quickly risen to the mid 40s, but water level is very low. Manitowoc River: Fishing in the Manitowoc River was relatively quiet this weekend most likely due to the strong winds and the Easter holiday. A few anglers ventured out for catfish and carp. Anglers used a variety of bait from night crawlers to even spawn sacs on bottom. Very few anglers were steelhead fishing. Branch River: The Branch River over the weekend saw limited angler action. Poor weather and low water levels likely limited fishing activity this weekend. Silver Creek: The water levels in Silver Creek are very low. A few steelhead have been observed but there has been very little fishing pressure. The suckers have had no problem getting through the shallows and can be found throughout the area. A few dip netters have had no problem getting their desired amount. Two Rivers and Manitowoc Harbor/Piers: A strong SW wind made fishing difficult this weekend. A few hardy anglers were using orange spoons or spinners but they had very slow fishing. Manitowoc/Two Rivers Ramps: The boat ramps have been quiet due to the strong winds last week. When the weather has cooperated, anglers have had success catching brown trout with an occasional rainbow using crank baits and spoons of various colors. Two Rivers/Manitowoc shoreline: A few steelhead have been taken using spawn near the Little Manitowoc River mouth but fishing pressure remains relatively low due to strong winds. Dip netters also have had success taking abundant amount of suckers.

Kewaunee Co.

In Kewaunee County the weather this past week was not very cooperative with the fishermen in the area. High winds have limited the amount of boats that have been launching from both Kewaunee and Algoma ramps. A few brown trout are being caught off the Algoma Pier with spoons but have been very much hit or miss. The lack of rainfall has lead to low levels of water in the Ahnapee and Kewaunee Rivers and has hampered the efforts of fishermen seeking steelhead. The smaller streams in the area also are displaying low levels of water and are making for some difficult fishing. Some steelhead have been spotted in Stony Creek but have been very skittish due to the high fishing pressure there. On the Kewaunee River,a few steelhead have been caught behind the zoo with egg sacs. Although the trout fishing has been slow in the county, suckers have been making up for that with lots of action. There have been plenty of suckers being caught near Footbridge and near the bridge behind Bruemmer Zoo. Suckers are also very visible in Silver Creek near Brummerville and can provide plenty of action.

Door Co. (Lake and Bay sides)

Although the pounding winds limited fishing on the lake this week, the unique peninsula offered good fishing conditions on Green Bay. Many anglers were seen at the Stone Quarry north of Sturgeon Bay and the Egg Harbor launch areas. Trolling for brown trout along the flats of Sturgeon Bay, Little Harbor, and the south shore on the bay off of Potowanomi State Park yielded some nice fish. Anglers fishing off the Egg Harbor and Murphy Park piers reported many brown trout sightings and follow ups, but few takers. Fishing off of Weborg’s Point in Fish Creek and the Sister Bay marina have also produced a few browns further north. Most anglers were working Rapalas and spoons. Walleye fishing in the bay is picking up with heavy fishing off the train bridge in Sturgeon Bay, with reports of some nice fish being taken with Husky Jerks and Thundersticks. Many boats were seen working the edges of the shipping channel in the bay for northern pike with some decent success. Stream fishing was minimal and reports were of very few fish seen in Hines, Hibbards, and Whitefish Bay Creeks. Water level is very low in all streams in Door County.

2010 Wisconsin boating regulations online and in three languages

MADISON - With the mild temperatures rapidly melting what ice cover remains on lakes and rivers, Wisconsin boaters should think now to prepare equipment and to refresh their memories about the rules and regulations of the water highways.

Department of Natural Resources Boating Law Administrator and Conservation Warden Roy Zellmer says boaters should consult the 2010 guide online to learn the new regulations and review safe boating practices.

“The 24-page booklet, which is must-reading for all water enthusiasts looking for safe fun this season, is available in English, Spanish and Hmong on the Bureau of Law Enforcement regulations page of the DNR Web site,” Zellmer said.

Among recent changes are a rule that makes it illegal for boaters to transport invasive species and to operate within 100 feet of the shore of any lake at faster than slow-no-wake speeds. Another rule change dealing with mandatory lifejackets for those 12 years old and younger was pending in the legislature at the time of publication.

“Check with local wardens for the current status on that regulation,” Zellmer said.

However, Zellmer stresses, wearing a lifejacket should be the norm for all of all ages.

“Most of Wisconsin's boating fatalities have occurred in small boats with victims who failed to wear lifejackets,” Zellmer said. “Remember, safe boating depends upon you. Start reading the new rules and regulations and have a safe and fun boating season.”

Best bets for fishing, getting “unlost” and finding field trips in the April issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

MADISON - Pick up the April issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine to net tips for hot fishing, hints on finding your way when in the outdoors, and links to great field trips from spring through fall.

The April issue includes Wisconsin’s annual Fishing Forecast. Readers will have a full 16 pages of Department of Natural Resources fisheries crews’ best bets to cast a line for walleye, bass, muskies, trout and panfish. Read about good places to try your luck around the state where stream projects, habitat rehab, anglers and partners are improving fishing prospects.

The feature story “Getting From Lost to Found” describes what to pack and what to do to help yourself if you get lost outdoors. A little preparation and a few supplies go a long way to keep you safe and help others find you.

The April issues also includes links to the annual listing of weekend field trips offered from spring through fall through the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin at [http://www.wisconservation.org/] (exit DNR). The list includes great paddling trips, field days to see swans, eagles and raptors, and to catch prairies at peak bloom. Outdoor tours are led by expert naturalists with a passion for Wisconsin’s special places.

Another article explores how updates in protecting shorelands aim to keep Wisconsin shorelines pleasing for homeowner, boaters and other lakeside users. And check out the list of plants and animals we hope to contain through partnerships to curb invasive species.

Those features and more await readers of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

Subscribe now. Let us deliver six colorful issues to your door all year for less than $1.50 a copy. All year long we share the hot spots at the hot times to enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors for only $8.97. Subscribe toll-free at 1-800-678-9472, online at [http://www.wnrmag.com/] or by mail. Subscription blanks and single issues are also available from our circulation office at P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

Proposed phosphorous standards aimed at reducing algae growth in surface waters

Public hearings to be held around state in April

MADISON – Public hearings start statewide in mid-April for proposed rules aimed at reducing levels of phosphorus, a key nutrient fueling excessive algae growth on many Wisconsin lakes and other water quality problems on rivers statewide.

The proposed rules would affect industry and municipal wastewater treatment plants that release phosphorus in their discharges to Wisconsin water bodies. The proposed rules complement changes now being finalized to rules aimed at reducing phosphorus in water runoff from farms and urban areas, as well as other measures targeting phosphorus. These include the April 1 start of a statewide ban – with a few exceptions -- on selling, displaying and using phosphorus-based fertilizer for grass.

“We recognize we have phosphorus-related water quality problems across the state – it’s evident in nuisance algae blooms on lakes, cladophora] along Lake Michigan beaches, and low levels of dissolved oxygen in streams that endanger the survival of fish and other aquatic life,” says Jim Baumann, the Department of Natural Resources water quality official who led development of the proposed rules.

“There are many ways that phosphorus reaches our waters. We’re working on the biggest sources first, through these proposals that address wastewater discharges and our parallel proposals to revise runoff rules for ag and urban sources of phosphorus.”

The proposed rules would set the highest levels of phosphorus that could be expected in lakes, rivers and the Great Lakes and still support the fish and other aquatic life they were capable of supporting. Different numerical levels would be set for five categories of lakes and reservoirs, for rivers and streams, and for the Great Lakes, Baumann says.

Wisconsin’s proposed rules would also establish the procedures for setting limits on the amount of phosphorus permitted facilities could discharge.

All states are required to establish such water quality criteria, or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can set it for them. A national state-EPA task force has concluded that the amounts of phosphorus and another key nutrient, nitrogen, entering U.S. waters over the past 50 years has dramatically escalated. “Nutrients now pose significant water quality and public health concerns across the U.S…” concluded the report, “An Urgent Call to Action (exit DNR; pdf).”

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient that controls the growth of plants and animals, but too much phosphorus entering lakes, rivers and other waters can spur excessive aquatic plant and algae growth. The sources of phosphorus pollution to a water body depend on the prevailing land use activities that discharge water to a particular water body.

Public hearings on the proposed rules will all begin at 1 p.m. and are set for the following dates and locations:
  • April 15, Rhinelander, Quality Inn, 668 W. Kemp St.
  • April 20, Green Bay, Green Bay City Hall, Green Bay City Hall, Council Chambers, Room 203, 100 N. Jefferson, St.
  • April 21, Oconomowoc, Olympia Resort and Conference Center, Crown Room, 1350 Royale Mile Road.
  • April 27, Eau Claire, Ramada Inn, 205 S. Barstow St.
The proposed rule revisions and supporting documents, including the fiscal estimate may be viewed and downloaded and comments electronically submitted at the Wisconsin Administrative Rules Web site. Click on the Search tab, enter "phosphorus" in the Search field and select "Department of Natural Resources" as the agency to do a simple search that will lead to the phosphorus rule revision information.

Written comments on the proposed rules may be submitted via U. S. mail to Jim Baumann, DNR-WT/3, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or by e-mail to james.baumann@wisconsin.gov. Comments may be submitted until April 30, 2010. Written comments whether submitted electronically or by U. S. mail will have the same weight and effect as oral statements presented at the public hearings. A copy of the proposed rules and supporting documents, including the fiscal estimate may also be obtained from Jim Baumann, DNR-WT/3, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, or by calling (608) 266-9277.