Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Launch of Clean Marina Program Benefits State Waterways and the Great Lakes

Madison, WI 5/26/2010 — The traditional kick-off of summer, Memorial Day, means thousands of Wisconsin boaters will enjoy long days on the water. A new Wisconsin Clean Marina Program,, means those waterways will see improved quality and habitat protection. Plus, it’s good for business. Participating marinas can reduce waste disposal costs, receive free technical assistance and attract more customers who appreciate patronizing an environmentally friendly operation.

The program will be administered by the newly formed Wisconsin Marina Association (WMA),, with training and technical assistance from the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. Other partners include the UW-Extension Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, U.S. Coast Guard and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-Office of Great Lakes.

It involves voluntary participation by the state’s 300 marinas that vow to employ pollution-prevention practices such as washing boats on land with non-polluting cleaners, minimizing use of and recycling hazardous materials, and being prepared for petroleum spills. Marinas and boatyards that go above and beyond the existing state and federal environmental regulations may become certified and promoted by the WMA as “clean marinas.”

“The boating industry in Wisconsin is a large contributor to the economy and will now also help to improve water quality and habitat through the Clean Marina Program and boater education,” said Jon Kukuk, owner of Nestegg Marine and chair the of WMA.

“Wisconsin is blessed with more than 15,000 lakes. In addition, Lakes Michigan and Superior are important destinations for those who enjoy boating. The Wisconsin Clean Marina Program is a voluntary, cooperative effort that will go a long way toward protecting those waters for everyone to enjoy for years to come,” said Victoria Harris, a water quality specialist with the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.

The program Web site, which launched today, also provides tips for boaters who want to do their part in protecting Wisconsin’s waters. With this effort, Wisconsin joins 24 other states, and Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands, in instituting a clean marina program.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Governor's Council on Invasive Species Meeting

June 2 - The Governor's Council on Invasive Species will meet at 10 a.m. in Room 041 of the GEF 3 State Office Building, 125 S. Webster St. Madison. The Invader Crusader Awards Ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the Governor's Conference Room, State Capitol. The Council's agenda includes welcoming Shelly Allness to the Council, discussing the Invasive Species Awareness Month (ISAM) website, sharing updates on the Species Assessment Group process and discussing the future role of each of the committees. For more information contact Diane Greisinger at 608-264-8529

Public Hearing - relating to the establishment of a slow-no-wake zone on the “narrows” of the Wisconsin Dells

June 22 - Pursuant to §§ 23.28(3), 227.11(2)(a), 227.24 Wis. Stats., interpreting § 28.28(3) Wis. Stats., the Department of Natural Resources will hold a public hearing on revision to ch. NR 45, relating to the establishment of a slow-no-wake zone on the “narrows” of the Wisconsin Dells. at 5 p.m. at the Kilbourn Public Library, 620 Elm Street, Wisconsin Dells. This emergency order took effect on May 15, 2010. This provision prohibits motorboats from going faster than slow-no-wake, defined as the minimum speed required to maintain steerage, on an approximately 0.7 mile long stretch of the Wisconsin River at the Dells of the Wisconsin River state natural area. Currently, no fixed speed limit exists on this stretch of the Wisconsin River other than “reasonable and prudent speed” and the general laws that regulate 1) speed of personal watercraft in the vicinity of other boats, and 2) the speed of boats towing persons within defined distances of anchored and occupied boats. This regulation is intended to improve public safety and help minimize user conflicts. In the last few years, the conservation warden for the area has received a number of complaints from boat operators regarding the user conflict of high speed recreational boats operating close to the larger and less maneuverable boat tours. Accidents and near misses have been documented in this stretch of the river. This rule is also being advanced as a permanent rule which was authorized on March 16, 2010, but will not be promulgated in time for this summer’s heavy use season. In order to minimize the potential for accidents during the 2010 season, this is being advanced as an emergency rule. There are four commercial enterprises that operate boat tours in the Upper Dells on the Wisconsin river; two run both traditional tour (cruise) boats and jet boats, one runs exclusively jet boats and one only operates a tour/dinner boats. When contacted by the department, all the tour boat operators said their normal practice is to go slowly through the area anyway, so there would be no impact to them on their scheduling. They expressed support for a slow-no-wake regulation because their ability to navigate is often jeopardized by recreational watercraft attempting to jump the wakes of their boats or trying to maneuver around the larger boats at high speed. The distance of the slow-no-wake area is approximately 3,700 linear feet. The proposed rule and supporting documents, including the fiscal estimate, may be viewed on the Wisconsin Administrative Rules or may be obtained free of charge by contacting Kathryn Fitzgerald, , or by calling (608) 267-2764. Comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before June 25, 2010. Written comments may be submitted by U.S. mail, fax, E-mail or through the internet and will have the same weight and effect as oral statements presented at the public hearing. Written comments and any questions on the proposed rule should be submitted to: by Kathryn Fitzgerald, Wisconsin DNR, LF/6, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, , or by calling (608) 267-2764. For more information contact Conservation Warden Barbara Wolf, (608) 273-6277.

Public Hearing - Relating to Commercial Fishing on the Mississippi River Boundary Waters

June 21 - Pursuant to §§ 23.11 (1), 29.014 (1), 29.041, 29.523, 29.526, 29.529, 29.531, 29.533 and 227.11 (2) (a), Wis. Stats., interpreting 29.014, 29.024, 29.041, 29.523, 29.526, 29.529, 29.531 and 29.533 Wis. Stats., the Department of Natural Resources will hold a public hearing on proposed revisions to chs. NR 20, 21 and 22, Wis. Adm. Code, relating commercial fishing on the Mississippi River boundary waters at 5 p.m. in the Upstairs Community Room, City Hall, 214 E. Blackhawk Avenue, Prairie de Chien. The proposed revisions were developed in consultation with commercial fishers to address concerns regarding the lack of legal descriptions of what the varieties of nets are and inconsistency between the rules that apply to the same Wisconsin commercial fisher depending on if he or she is fishing in the waters between Wisconsin and Iowa or the waters between Wisconsin and Minnesota. This rule will benefit commercial fishers on the Mississippi river by providing clear descriptions of the nets that their licenses authorize them to use on this water and not leaving the types of nets open for a variety of interpretations. This rule will also benefit commercial fishers by creating more consistency in the rules regardless of which part of the river in Wisconsin they are fishing. The rule will be enforced by department Conservation Wardens under the authority of chapters 23 and 29, Wis. Stats., through routine patrols, record audits of commercial fishers and follow up investigations of citizen complaints. Liberalization of some of the commercial fishing rules will also benefit commercial fishers such as the higher number of hooks on setlines allowed with these changes. This is a type III action under Chapter 150, Wis. Adm. Code, and neither an environmental impact statement nor an environmental assessment is required. The revisions:

1.Amend cross references found in NR 20 and NR 21 to definitions that have been renumbered by this rule or which were incorrect.

2.Repeal and recreate the definition sections in NR 21 and NR 22. There are new definitions added to these sections, including bait net, bank pole, buffalo net, detrimental fish, drive set, drift set, frame net or fyke net, gill net, hoop net, lead, seine, seine haul, setline, slat net or basket trap and trammel nets. Several existing definitions are revised and all others are retained but have been renumbered. Unnecessary statutory references placed in parenthesis after some definitions were removed.

3.Clarify in both NR 21 and NR 22 that live carp taken for use as bait may not be transported away from any waters of the state unless specifically authorized. Such movement of live fish has been prohibited under NR 19.05 effective Nov. 2, 2007 as a result of new rules meant to reduce the risk of the spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) in fish.

4.Clarify in both NR 21 and NR 22 that a licensed commercial fisher and their agents are restricted to commercial fishing only within the state boundaries of the state they are licensed under.

5.Clarify in both NR 21 and NR 22 that each person who is required to hold a commercial fishing license must be present at all times when any of his or her nets or setlines are set, placed, tended or operated, while still allowing the licensee to move commercial fish by boat or on the ice and to load commercial fish into trucks at a boat landing while the crew continues to load fish at the net. These sections also provide that a commercial fishing licensee’s fish helpers or crew members do not need to also hold a commercial fishing license when only assisting a licensed commercial fisher, but that the commercial fisher must notify the department of the names of all such helpers or crew members.

6.Repeal unnecessary references to the cost for tags issued for commercial fishing nets. These fees are established under §§ 29.523 and 29.563 (7) (c), Wis. Stats., and also clarifies that it is not legal to remove roe from a commercial fish while on the water, ice or shore, and that commercial fish shall remain intact until the fish reaches the final processing facility or place of business of the commercial fisher. This new language created in NR 21 is consistent with the current rule language found in NR 22.11(2m).

7.Clarify that either any small game or a fishing license is a valid approval for taking turtles. This change is consistent with a recent change made to s. NR 19.275 (3) (a) under clearinghouse rule CR 09-018 and which took effect March 1, 2010

8.Clarify that a person taking of turtles on the Wisconsin-Minnesota and Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters shall comply with the regulations of the state in whose territorial waters they are taking the turtles.

9.Makes the NR 22.05 (1) language consistent with the language found under NR 21, regarding the ability to sell or barter rough fish under one’s control or possession if lawfully taken during the open season by hook and line, spear or bow and arrow.

10.Clarifies in NR 22 that fishing within 200 feet of any fishway, lock or dam by any means other than hook and line is not legal. This is consistent with the restrictions found in NR 20.05 (3) and 21.065.

11.Clarifies that set or bank poles are not commercial gear on the Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters and that the same rules apply to their use on the Wisconsin portion of this water as apply to their use on non-boundary inland waters.

12.Makes a number of revisions to NR 22.11 and 22.12 so that the language in these sections is more consistent with current s. NR 21.11.

13.Removes reference to tortoises and simply refers to these animals as turtles.

14.Creates several new restrictions in NR 22.11 that currently apply to commercial fishing on the Mississippi river in the Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters in s. NR 21.11, but not to commercial fishing on the Mississippi river in the Wisconsin/Iowa boundary waters under NR 22.

15.Amends NR 22.12 commercial fishing gear restrictions to make them more consistent with the commercial gear restrictions found in NR 21. These new restrictions will provide for more consistency in the commercial fishing rules up and down the Mississippi river, as well as provide additional opportunity to use commercial fishing gear on this water.

The proposed rule and supporting documents (exit DNR), including the fiscal estimate, may be viewed and downloaded from the Wisconsin Administrative Rules website. Written comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before June 23, 2010. Written comments may be submitted by U.S. mail, fax, email, or through the Internet and will have the same weight and effect as oral statements presented at the public hearing. Written comments and any questions on the proposed rules should be submitted to: Thomas Van Haren, Department of Natural Resources, LE/8, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, by calling (608) 266-3244 or by e-mail at: For more information or a copy of the proposed rule changes contact Thomas Van Haren at (608) 266-3244.

Free Fishing Weekend June 5-6

MADISON – People of all ages can fish free in Wisconsin on June 5 and 6, the state’s Free Fishing Weekend.

More than two dozen free fishing clinics statewide during that weekend – and free loaner equipment available from 50 state parks and offices will help make it even easier for people to take advantage of this opportunity, state aquatic education officials say.

“We want everybody to give fishing a try, and Free Fishing Weekend’s a great time to do it,” says Theresa Stabo, DNR’s aquatic education coordinator.

“Every day is free fishing day for kids 15 and under, so it’s nice for their parents, friends and older teenagers to take advantage of Free Fishing Weekend to fish for the first time, or return to it.”

All waters of the state are open, including Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and rivers bordering Wisconsin. Residents and nonresidents of all ages can fish without a fishing license (or trout or salmon stamps) over these two days. However, all other fishing regulations apply, including how many fish anglers can keep and limits on the minimum size of fish they can keep.

More than two dozen fishing clinics offered

Free fishing clinics – some aimed at kids and some intended for the whole family – are set for more than two dozen locations across the state. Some of the clinics are sponsored by Wisconsin State Parks, but most are put on by local fishing and conservation clubs.

“We’re really excited that there are more clinics than usual, and that some of them are targeted at families,” says Rachel Piacenza, DNR aquatic education associate. “If you're an adult new to fishing, don't feel embarrassed to attend an event! This weekend is really about introducing people of all ages to fishing. If you’re an avid angler, consider taking an adult who has never fished before. Share your passion with someone else; you're sure to remember that smile when the first fish is reeled in.”

Fishing rods and reels available for loan from 50 DNR locations

Many of the fishing clinics provide all the equipment people need to fish. But people who cannot or do not want to attend a clinic can borrow fishing equipment from dozens of DNR state parks and offices. Call ahead to the listed contact people to make sure equipment is available, and to arrange to pick the equipment up as DNR service centers are open limited hours.

Upcoming Fishing Clinics and Learning Opportunities

Throughout the year, the Department of Natural Resources works with local parks departments and fishing clubs and organizations to put on fishing clinics and other events. These are excellent opportunities to introduce fishing to people both young and old. If you are 16 years or older, you will need a fishing license if you fish at these events, other than those taking place on Free Fishing Weekend. Call contacts for complete information.

If you are planning an event, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) [exit DNR] will promote all registered events through a national public relations campaign centered around National Fishing and Boating Week, the first full week of June. So also be sure to register your event with them, too!

CLICK HERE for complete story

Carp catch and release tournaments; you can have 'em. We don't want them

Anglers of southeast Wisconsin and throughout the state prefer their native fish. Yet, the common carp, a relative of bighead silver carp, goldfish and koi, is attempting to jump from bow and arrow rough fish category to catch and release fish status in our state.

Unfortunately, making this invasive species one worthy of being released is like having a contest to see who can catch the most mosquitoes and then having all successful contestants release their unwanted blood suckers and disease transmitters back into our world.

Seeing carp in a contest where they are returned to their non-native waters is sickening. It shows that if we let it continue, we have sunk to a new level in not caring about our Wisconsin waters.

Carp replace our native gamefish, not on a one-to-one basis but in highly inflated numbers. Where 3- to 5- walleyes is a good number per acre for walleyes, common carp do fine when there are 75 per acre.

Common carp were brought to America by people, pre-dating our modern DNR, who wanted to get rid of native aquatic plants in their waters. The fish escaped rearing ponds into our native waters, and unwittingly, the blue heron spread the nuisance, big-scaled fish throughout our state. The adhesive eggs of the common carp stick to the skinny legs of the bird. The birds fly from waterway to waterway and transplant eggs.

To fish, “aquatic plants,” are wonderful. Pike cruise through and along the weeds in search of food. Bass cruise the outer and inner weed edges and hide amongst weeds to ambush day dreaming, smaller, prey fish and crayfish, the latter is the favorite dinner treat for smallmouth bass. Walleyes and pickerel use weeds, not only for oxygen but as an area to hunt food.

Hungry panfish use weeds for aquatic insects and for fish that eat these creatures. Find a nice, leafy aquatic plant, and it often holds bass or a musky. Let the carp take over, and these oxygen-producing weeds are gone and so are the bass, muskies, pike, etc., except for those fish that dine on carp, and these include flathead catfish and dogfish.

Is this the sad future of Wisconsin’s waters? Are they to be mostly carp, flathead catfish, dogfish, and bullheads?

Hopefully, fishing clubs, individual anglers, conservation minded organizations, lake associations, resort owners, tourism organizations, water skiers who don’t want to bounce off of big carp at full speed, boaters who don’t want to lose their lower ends to these swimming suitcases, conservation minded tournament promoters, those who contribute to conservation via their Wisconsin State Income Tax forms, and more will band together and stop the practice of removing carp and then restocking these nuisances via releasing the non-native fish back into our waters where they can reproduce to the level of native species elimination.

On May 8, 2010, there was a catch and release CARP (catch and restock?) Tournament/Fisheree in the Oconto River Harbor at Oconto. Fishing started at 8 a.m. & ended at 6 p.m. Entry fee - $25.00. This is the qualifier for the Wisconsin State Championship. (Who would tell anyone that they won?) To voice an opinion direct to the contact, call Lee Young at (920) 834-4494.

L.A. Van Veghel

Friday, May 21, 2010

Governor Doyle Vetoes AB 371

This Bill really doesnt' have anything to do with fishing, however it could affect us as fishermen some day and that's why I thought I had to say something about it.

I attended a Club Meeting last night and one of the speakers mentioned that Governor Doyle vetoed a Bill affecting Wisconsin Bear Hunters. You could tell in his voice that he didn't really care about the bear hunters and didn't really know much about the Bill itself. It was his opportunity to get in another slam against the current State Administration.

Please let the record be set straight. This Legislation needed to be stopped. The Bear Hunting issues in this Bill were voted on at the Spring Hearings last month and were defeated by an overwhelming margin. As much as 82% in one County.

That means the majority of the public have spoken. By attempting to get these changes legislated through and by-bass the rule making procedure is a slap in the face to the rest of the Sportsmen in this state.

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF) and other groups protested to Governor Doyle to Veto this legislation and he listened to us. I say us because we too are a member of the WWF. I would also personally like to thank the Governor for listening to the majority of the Wisconsin Sportsmen.

I hold no grudge against the Bear Hunters and their organizations. The rules themselves do not affect us in this scenario, but it's the way the process was developed after being defeated could very well hurt us in the future if the proposed rule affects fishing.

Please read the Governor Doyle letter below:
(you can click on each page to enlarge them some)

John E. Durben

Wisconsin Fishing Club, Ltd. Meeting - May 24th

May 24 - Justin Newkirk, Tournament Pro and Expert Bass Angler talks on “Bass Tournament Fishing.” Writer for MidWest Outdoors and Fishing Facts magazines. Wisconsin Fishing Club, Ltd., $5.00. 7 PM.

Yester Years Pub & Grill,
9427 W. Greenfield Ave.
West Allis, WI

Contact Dan Freiherr, treasurer, 414-464-9316. Fishing reports, fishing equipment raffle plus hot food is available.

Newkirk successfully uses the latest methods and techniques. Learn what is catching “hawg” bass. Carpool with your angling friends and relatives.

National Safe Boating Week May 22-28

MADISON - National Safe Boating Week, the last full week before Memorial Day, marks the traditional start of the recreational boating season in Wisconsin. The focus is to promote a safe boating season with an emphasis on life jacket wear.

Last year in Wisconsin none of the 16 fatal boating victims were wearing a life jacket. In fact from 2007 – 2009 there were 42 people who drown in boating incidents in Wisconsin and 88 percent of them were not wearing lifejackets. This mirrors the national statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard which has shown over the past few years that 90 percent of all boaters who drown were not wearing a life saving jacket.

“Tragically already this year we’ve had three fatalities, two of those were drownings in the same incident. Life jackets were not worn, in fact the lifejackets on that boat were found stored in a compartment,” reports Roy Zellmer Department of Natural Resources boating law administrator. “Life jacket wear is one of the simplest ways to save lives while boating.”

National Safe Boating Week is a good time to review other important safety items for boaters as well:
  • Complete a safe boating course
  • Equip and inspect boats before hitting the water
  • Maintaining a speed appropriate to the surroundings, including other craft on the water
  • Help fellow boaters in distress
  • Refraining from mixing alcohol with boating
“Mixing alcohol with a high-speed motor on a watery track is a recipe for disaster,” Zellmer said. We would like to make 2010 the safest boating season ever. We can do it if everyone follows safe boating practices.” For more information on boating in Wisconsin visit and search boating safety.

Musky seasons open May 29 in northern zone and Lake Michigan including Green Bay

WOODRUFF – Good news for anglers looking forward to the May 29 opening day of the northern zone musky season.

The early spring experienced in northern Wisconsin and most of the state means the muskies are done spawning and ready to concentrate on eating. Even an early May blast of snow in many parts of northern Wisconsin shouldn’t put a damper on the bite, says Steve Gilbert, Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist for Vilas County.

“We had 2 to 3 inches of snow in early May and the water temperatures did drop 4 or 5 degrees, but the temps are going to rebound fast,” Gilbert says. “The muskies are done with spawning. Things are going to warm up. We still have nearly two weeks before the opener and the weather forecast looks cool but not unusually cool, so the muskies will be in their post-spawn, late-spring pattern.”

Fishable populations of musky are found in 711 lakes and 83 stream segments in 48 Wisconsin counties but the heaviest concentration of lakes with musky is found in the headwater regions of the Chippewa, Flambeau, and Wisconsin rivers. Online lists of lakes and rivers can steer anglers to where musky populations are known to be found.

Season details
The musky season opens May 29 in Wisconsin north of U.S. Highway 10, excluding Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters, and runs through Nov. 30, 2010. The daily bag limit is one and the minimum length limit is 34 inches in most cases, but some lakes have special regulations. Please see the “Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations 2010-11."

Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters opened for musky fishing on May 15. The southern zone musky season opened with the regular game fish opener on May 1.

Lake Michigan waters north of Waldo Boulevard in Manitowoc open for musky fishing May 29. Included in this season are the Bay of Green Bay, the Fox River upstream to the DePere dam, Sturgeon Bay and other bays to Lake Michigan and Green Bay. The daily limit is one, the minimum length limit is 50 inches, and the season closes Nov. 30.

The Lake Michigan season for musky south of Waldo Boulevard in Manitowoc is already open. It runs May 1 through Dec. 31, 2010, and the daily limit is one. There is a minimum length limit of 50 inches.

A few fish managers took a break from their busy season of fish population surveys to file updated forecasts and condition reports. Other notes on season prospect have been pulled from the 2010 Wisconsin Fishing Report; check the report for more information on musky and other species.

Northern Zone season forecasts
Barron and Polk counties - Musky completed spawning by mid-late April in many northwestern Wisconsin waters mainly due to an early ice out and rapidly warming spring water temperatures. Expect fish to be active and on the feed if the weather cooperates come the opener. More specifically, Barron staff finished a two-year musky population estimate on Deer Lake in Polk County this past spring. We found a solid number of 35 to 38-inch fish present in the population as well as respectable number of mid-40 inch present. The fish were in great condition and should continue to provide a fishery with high angler catch rates as well as an above average size structure. – Heath Benike, fisheries biologist, Barron

Chequamegon National Forest in Price, Sawyer, Ashland counties - Saturday May 29 marks the musky opener in the Northern zone and fishing prospects look excellent. Most musky have completed their spring spawning ritual and the fish should be active with the warming temperatures. Abundance is still high on many small waters in the Chequamegon National Forest and anglers just looking for action should try Day Lake Flowage, Spider-Moquah Lakes, and English Lake in Ashland County; and Ghost Lake, Lower Clam Lake, and Black Lake in Sawyer County. On these smaller lakes with a high abundances of musky, the key is to downsize your baits. Large forage is generally scarce in these lakes and the musky are used to chasing smaller baitfish - so anglers should adjust accordingly. Others waters with good abundances of musky include Butternut Lake, the Phillips Chain, Solberg Lake, and the Pike/Round Chain in Price County. With cooler water and early season conditions, small bucktails and jerk baits should provide some good action and look for the fish to be holding on the deep edges of newly forming weed beds. – Skip Sommerfeldt, fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Iron County - The Turtle-Flambeau Flowage musky population also has improved over the past 12 years. Surveys show that musky abundance is similar from 1997 to 2009 but the size structure has dramatically improved. In 1997, 17 percent of the fish sampled were 40 inches and longer while no fish were captured exceeding 45 inches. In the spring of 2009, 31 percent of the fish sampled were 40 inches or longer while eight percent exceeded 45 inches. There was no evidence of natural musky reproduction and the population and fishery remains dependant on stocking. – Jeff Roth, fisheries biologist, retired.

Lincoln County - A comprehensive survey on Lake Mohawksin, a 1,910-acre impoundment on the Wisconsin River in Tomahawk, found strong, self-sustaining populations of walleye, musky, northern pike, smallmouth bass and panfish. There is a strong musky population with many fish up to 45 inches long. - Dave Seibel, fisheries biologist, Antigo

Oneida County – A comprehensive survey of Gilmore lake found abundant musky. About 71 musky were handled during the survey, which sizes from 30 to 47 inches. A survey on the Minocqua chain of lakes found that most musky ranged from 36 to 45 inches with the largest 50.5 inches. - John Kubisiak, fisheries biologist, Rhinelander

Price County - Fall 2008 and spring 2009 surveys of Butternut Lake allowed sportfish population comparisons to goals outlined in the 2005 Butternut Lake Fishery Management Plan. Capture rates for musky ranked in the 81st percentile among spring netting surveys on similar “fast-action” musky waters, suggesting that musky density remains above the goal of 0.2 – 0.3 adults per acre. Anglers are encouraged to selectively harvest a musky 34 to 40 inches long once in a while to help attain goals for musky, perch and walleye. – Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Taylor County - Anglers of all skill levels can pick from a variety of fishing opportunities that Spirit and North Lakes offer. Novice and avid musky anglers should enjoy fast-action with a decent chance to land one of memorable size. Netting in spring 2009 yielded 31 musky ranging 29.5 to 42.5 inches. Musky abundance and size structure were better in North Spirit Lake where 42 percent were 38 inches or longer. – Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Marinette and Oconto counties - In Marinette County, Caldron Falls has been stocked by the DNR for more than 20 years and it supports a very good fishery. Those fish have expanded into the next flowage known as High Falls. Both impoundments produce several legal-size musky each year. White Potato is also a stocked fishery but it is located in central Oconto County. White Potato is a large shallow water lake that also supports a good musky fishery. DNR recently assessed Brule Flowage in Florence County and that information confirms a decent musky fishery exists in that flowage located just north of Florence. – Mike Donofrio, fisheries supervisor, Peshtigo

Marathon and Portage counties - The musky stocking program for the flowages on the Wisconsin River between Stevens Point and Wausau has been very successful and the local fishing has benefited. The stocking program continues to get better with the assistance of local musky clubs, and the DNR is taking a more active role in management by marking every stocked musky with an elastomer jaw tag, used for evaluating natural reproduction. These tags are invisible to anglers, however a large number of adult muskies are now marked with orange internal anchor tags, placed between their pectoral and pelvic fins (belly). Anglers should report these tag numbers along with length and waterbody by calling the telephone number listed on the tag, as this is valuable recapture information for biologists. – Tom Meronek, fisheries biologist, Wausau

Price County - Fall 2008 and spring 2009 surveys of Butternut Lake allowed sportfish population comparisons to goals outlined in the 2005 Butternut Lake Fishery Management Plan. Capture rates for musky ranked in the 81st percentile among spring netting surveys on similar “fast-action” musky waters, suggesting that musky density remains above the goal of 0.2 – 0.3 adults per acre. Anglers are encouraged to selectively harvest a musky 34 to 40 inches long once in a while to help attain goals for musky, perch and walleye. – Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Taylor County - Spirit and North Spirit lakes – Anglers of all skill levels can pick from a variety of fishing opportunities the Spirit Lakes offer. Novice and avid musky anglers should enjoy fast-action with a decent chance to land one of memorable size. Netting in spring 2009 yielded 31 musky ranging 29.5 to 42.5 inches. Musky abundance and size structure were better in North Spirit Lake where 42 percent were 38 inches or longer. - Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Shawano County – Musky have continued to provide a great fishery on Shawano Lake, with several 45- to 50-inch musky captured/observed during our fall assessments. This past year the DNR stocked 2,500 musky fingerlings. In 2010, department staff are planning to conduct fyke netting surveys on Shawano Lake to obtain more comprehensive information on the entire fish community. – Al Niebur, fisheries biologist, Shawano

Vilas County - This year we had one of the earliest ice outs on record and conditions remained warm and dry all spring. This means musky spawning will be over on all county lakes several weeks before the opener. Fish should be on the move looking for a meal to replace reserves used during spawning. If the weather holds up we should have good fishing for the opener. Anglers should note that Long and Big Sand lakes in the Town of Phelps have 50-inch minimum length limits. - Steve Gilbert, fisheries biologist, Woodruff

Green Bay forecast
Green Bay – Green Bay musky fishing should be fantastic. While fall 2009 wasn’t particularly great in terms of catch rate, huge schools of forage fish comprised of gizzard shad and emerald and spotfin shiners were present. This healthy forage base resulted in some massive fish and there were plenty of 50-plus inch fish caught and released that would have weighed in at over 45 pounds. This spring DNR crews collected eggs from the Lower Fox River for the hatchery system and in one night 82 muskies were netted and averaged 44 inches. These fish are now finished spawning and will be starting to move back out into the bay. Fishing transition points may produce good results, before the fish disappear to their summer deep-water haunts. In the northern part of Green Bay, muskies may still be spawning when the season opens because of the colder water. DNR crews have implanted radio transmitters in some female fish to study the spawning behavior. If anglers happen to catch a fish with an antenna sticking out of it they should leave it in the fish and release the fish. Fish larger than 54 inches have been sampled this spring. Fish seem to relate more to structure in the northern bay and casting in early June is really an effective pattern, even in this big water. Anglers pursuing musky on Green Bay need to be prepared with an adequate-sized landing net and a good pair of pliers and side cutters for removing hooks. Oh, and make sure to have your camera ready. - David Rowe, fisheries biologist, Green Bay

Walleye bag limits to increase on 369 northern lakes

MADISON – Daily walleye bag limits will increase May 21 on 369 lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory to reflect spring spearing harvest by six Wisconsin bands of Chippewa Indians.

A daily bag limit of two walleye will increase to three walleye per day on 83 lakes. In addition, 286 lakes will go from an initial bag limit of two or three walleyes per day to the state daily bag limit of five, according to Joe Hennessy, who coordinates the treaty fisheries management program for the Department of Natural Resources.

Anglers should consult the 2010-11 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations, signs at boat landings, and the 2010-2011 Revised Ceded Territory Walleye Bag Limits pamphlet for lake-specific information.

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. To assure the combined tribal and recreational angler harvest does not exceed a sustainable level, the state sets recreational bag limits in lakes declared for harvest by the Chippewa bands.

An administrative rule passed by the state Natural Resources Board in 1998 allows the department to adjust initial bag limits annually to reflect actual spring spearing harvests and projected summer harvests.

Of the 243 lakes with bag limits less than five, 83 lakes will have a bag limit of two walleye per day, and 160 lakes will have a daily bag of three walleye per day. The six Chippewa tribes together harvested 34,157 as of May 15, 2010.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Make your voice heard - Request Veto of Assembly Bill 371

In this session of the legislature there have been a flurry of bills where legislators have tried to set hunting regulations for turkey hunting, archery deer hunting and bear hunting. This was done intentionally to bypass the input of the thousands of sportsmen and women who normally would have a chance to vote on hunting regulations at the Conservation Congress Spring hearings.

Due to the effort of sportsmen and women several of these bills were stopped before they reached the Governor's desk for signature. However one of them, AB 371, is now before the Governor for his decision to either sign it or veto it.

AB 371 makes several changes to the fall bear hunting season which will be disruptive to archery deer hunters, small game hunters and the majority  of bear hunters. The proposed changes to bear hunting in AB 371 were on the Conservation Congress Spring hearings on April 12, 2010 and were voted down by as much as an 82% to 18% ratio, with 71 out of 72 counties voting against and one county tied.

As a sportsman or woman, it is important for you to take action and contact the Governor and ask for him to veto AB 371. This time the changes affect bear hunting, next time it may be your favorite form of hunting, fishing or trapping. Don't let the regulations affecting your sport be changed without having the opportunity to vote on them at the Conservation  Congress hearings.

The Governor can be contacted by calling 608-266-1212 or writing him at:

Governor James Doyle
115 East, State Capitol
Madison WI 53702

He can also be contacted through the email contact form on the Governor's Office Website:

It is important to make this contact in the next week!

Flow Continues

May 4: Larry Schweiger, president and chief executive Officer of the National Wildlife Federation, talks with Rachel Maddow about the extent of damage to Gulf coast wildlife expected from the oil spill disaster and the anticipated long-term impact on the ecosystem.