Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inspection data shows minority of boaters increasing risk to lakes and river

Wardens will shift from education to enforcement of new aquatic invasive species law

MADISON – Surveys at boat landings across Wisconsin in summer 2010 show that 96 percent of people say they are following a new law to prevent the spread of Eurasian water-milfoil and other aquatic invasive species. But a few are leaving boat landings with aquatic plants attached, potentially putting scores of lakes and rivers at risk.

From May through late July, 182 people were observed arriving at boat launches with aquatic plants hanging off their boat trailers or boats, or driving away from boat launches at the end of the day with invasive plants attached, according to statewide reports entered through July 25 by boat inspectors and DNR Water Guards. Boat inspectors advise the boaters of the law and how to comply, but they do not have authority to issue warnings or citations. Survey results are available on the Department of Natural Resources website.

Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark says that such numbers will spur conservation wardens and Water Guards to shift from educating boaters about the new law, to enforcing it. “Given the extensive media coverage and boater surveys at the landings showing high public awareness of the new law, we’ll begin transitioning to enforcing the law by issuing citations to those individuals who, by not complying, can erase the excellent efforts of the vast majority of boaters.”

The vast majority of Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers are free from the most problematic aquatic invasive species; a case over the July 4th weekend in Vilas County illustrates the threat such waters face from boaters who do not follow laws to prevent spreading aquatic invasive species or fish diseases.

DNR Water Guard John Preuss checked the public launch at pristine Allequash Lake in Vilas County and found a trailer with Eurasian water milfoil and zebra mussels hanging from it. When the boater returned to the launch, he told Preuss he was aware of aquatic species law but launched anyway with weeds attached. The man had fished earlier that week in Shawano Lake in Shawano County, which has aquatic invasives including Eurasian water-milfoil, rusty crayfish and zebra mussels. Preuss cited the man for launching a boat in state waters with invasive plants attached, which carries a penalty of $389.50 for a first time offense.

“The Vilas County AIS Partnership is very happy that (Water Guard) John Preuss chose to visit the landing that day and was vigilant in following through on the incident and issuing a citation,” says Ted Ritter, who coordinates invasive species efforts for Vilas County. He adds that the UW Trout Lake Center for Limnology has agreed to monitor Allequash Lake carefully to see if either zebra mussels or Eurasian water-milfoil get established in the lake from the incident, Ritter says.

Aquatic invasive species officials and public awareness campaigns have stressed to boaters the need to inspect their boats and remove any aquatic plants for the last 15-20 years. It’s illegal to launch or leave boat launches and drive on public roads with aquatic plants and animals attached, according to Bob Wakeman, who coordinates aquatic invasive species prevention and control for the DNR.

DNR conservation wardens, Water Guards, and the paid and volunteer watercraft inspectors statewide made a concerted push in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July holiday, the busiest boating weekend of the year, to educate people about the laws. The effort netted extensive media coverage and wardens and Water Guards statewide issued dozens of warnings to boaters about the transport law, regional warden supervisors reported.

“Awareness of AIS is very high thanks to the efforts of many individuals and groups around the state that see this as a potential threat to the quality of the lakes in the state,” Stark says. “Enforcement of this new law will help support their work, and the good job most boaters are doing to remove aquatic plants and animals from their boats and trailers. We need everybody to do it, however, and hope the enforcement stick can get those last few boaters to comply.”

Lake by lake breakdown on boat inspections available

People can find additional information invasive species and control efforts in a new, user-friendly aquatic invasives database available on the Department of Natural Resources website.

Web users can find statewide statistics, as well as by county. The site provides data on boat inspection efforts, boater compliance and special projects to prevent or control invasive species. The information is displayed in easy to read pie charts and bar graphs, and it’s updated every 15 minutes to reflect the reports as they’re filed by more than 1,000 boat inspectors, both paid and volunteer, and by DNR Water Guards, according to Jennifer Filbert, who is developing the database and pages.

The site is a work in progress, and more features may be added in coming months, including more information about local projects to prevent or control the spread of aquatic invasive species, and interactive maps.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Keep an Eye on Your Boat Trailer and It Will Treat You Well

The BoatUS Trailering Club's Top 3 Reasons for Trailer Mishaps

ALEXANDRIA, Va- With the boating season now in full swing, the miles are starting to add up for the thousands of boaters and anglers trailering their boats and fishing rigs to their favorite waterway.

The BoatUS Trailering Club, which offers "Trailer Assist" roadside assistance for both disabled boat trailers and their tow vehicles, says if you want your trailer travels to remain trouble-free, now is the time to keep a close eye on your trailer for wear and damage.

So far this summer, the BoatUS 24-hour dispatch centers (800-391-4869) report the following top three reasons why boaters are requesting help, as well as some tips to ensure a smooth tow to the lake all summer long:

#1 Flat tires: Tires should be inspected before, during and after each trip, and inflated to proper PSI (usually 50 PSI). Having a spare in serviceable condition is key, along with a jack that works with your trailer (most vehicle jacks don't). Waiting to replace a tire that is worn or dry-rotted, or not properly inflated are sure-fire ways to disable a boat trailer quickly.

#2 Bearing problems: Bearings should be inspected, cleaned and repacked at least once a year - more if you boat in salt water or put a lot of miles on your rig. Keeping dust caps in place helps prevent premature wear. The best early indicator of bearing problems is to stop the rig periodically to feel the hubs for heat. It's normal for hubs to get warm, but they should not be hot to the touch.

#3 Axle problems: Axles don't last forever, especially those regularly immersed in salt water. Whether it's a torsion axle or standard leaf-spring mounted axle, pay close attention to any rust and corrosion - and that includes the fasteners (bolts) that keep it attached to the trailer.

Trailer Assist service is $14 annually, plus association membership of $24. For more information on the BoatUS Trailering Club and all of the services provided, visit www.BoatUS.com/trailerclub or call 800-395-2628.
About the BoatUS Trailering Club:

The BoatUS Trailering Club is from Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) - the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with government representation, programs and money saving services. The Club's Trailer Assist program offers over 18,000 roadside service providers across North America with the experience and equipment to handle a disabled tow vehicle and trailer, and will tow both up to 100 miles to the nearest repair facility, safe location, or home. Flat tires, lock out service, ramp-winching are also included. For more visit www.BoatUS.com/trailerclub or call 800-395-2628.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wisconsin Outdoor Report as of July 22, 2010

Wisconsin continued to receive ample rain in the last week, keeping rivers and flowages running very high. Some areas of the state received as much as 5 additional inches of rain over the last week. The major rivers like the Black, Chippewa, Fox, Rock, Wisconsin and Mississippi area all running very high. Some northern rivers are high while others are closer to seasonal norms. Canoeists and kayakers on the Lower Wisconsin River should be aware that most sandbars are submerged, making it difficult to find camping spots. Many waters in both Columbia and Sauk counties are under slow-no-wake ordinances. Many of northern Wisconsin’s seepage lakes remain at a relatively low levels, but they have been creeping up with the slowly increasing ground water levels.

The unsettled weather has kept angling success real variable. In the north, musky continue to provide the most consistent action and are showing much more of a typical summer pattern. Top-water baits continue to be the most successful and some nice catches in the 36 to 42-inch size and some up to 48 inches have been reported. Bass and walleye fishing have both generally been slow. Panfish action has been fair, with decent catches of crappie, perch and rock bass reported, with bluegill a bit tougher to find.

Despite the storms of the last week, fishing pressure on Green Bay and Lake Michigan was heavy this week. A smallmouth bass tournament on Green Bay had around 100 boats hitting the water. Fishing was slow entering the weekend but picked up for the tournament. The Two Rivers and Manitowoc piers were also packed full over the weekend for a fishing derby. Trollers were averaging seven to eight fish during the week with a few limits reported. Trollers out of southeastern Wisconsin harbors continued to report good success with a mixed bag of chinook, coho, rainbow, and a few brown and lake trout. A angler out of Racine reportedly brought in a 41.5 pound brown trout last Friday. Shore fishing has also been good, with fair numbers of chinook, some browns and a few perch taken off piers.

The nesting season is winding down but some species are still working on late nests or their second or third clutches. Tennessee and Nashville warblers and other species are moving around now that their breeding season is almost over. Bald eagle fledglings are now hunting on their own. Outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife watchers from across the state have reported 422 game bird brood observations during the first month of the survey period.. The most frequently observed game bird species is turkeys with an average of four poults per hen. Ruffed grouse are the next most frequently seen game bird followed by pheasants, with both averaging five poults per hen. People can continue to report observations throughout the remainder of July and the month of August through the Wisconsin Game Bird Brood Observations page of the DNR website. Red admiral and monarch butterflies are prevalent.

Blueberries and raspberries are ripe in the north and bountiful crops are being reported. Mid summer wildflowers blooming include asters, bergamot, coneflowers, compass plant, goldenrods, milkweed, mullein, sunflower, evening primrose, hoary vervain, yarrow, queen Anne's lace and big and little bluestem.

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest – The Bois Brule River is running at normal seasonal levels. Blueberry pickers (and bear) are enjoying the bountiful crop. Pin cherries and chokecherries should ripen in the next few days. Flowers that have started blooming in the past couple of weeks are campion, sorrel, milkweed, mullein, native sunflower, evening primrose, asters, fleabane, and big blue stem. Invasive species that are blooming now are spotted knapweed, butter and eggs, hoary alyssum, and tansy. Summer seems to going quickly now as there is a little over a month before kids are back in school. It is not too late to get out to the Brule River State Forest to do some camping, picnicking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, checking out the Hatchery, or soaking in the sun on the beach. Admission stickers are only required in the campgrounds and the picnic area at the Bois Brule Canoe Landing, everywhere else has free admission…a fun and inexpensive way to spend a summer day!

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Big Bay State Park – The highs have been in the 80s with the lows in the 60s.Trails are in good condition. The raspberries and blueberries are abundant and ripe. Campsites have been quickly filling up, and reservations are highly recommended. Access to Madeline Island and the park is via the Madeline Island Ferry Line service. The ferries depart from Bayfield and carry passengers and vehicles of all sizes. They run 7 days per week

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The Upper Chippewa Basin received about another inch of rain in the last week. This has kept most streams and flowages at a high level and made for some tough fishing conditions. However, many of the seepage lakes still remain at a relatively low level and they have just been creeping up with the slowly increasing ground water levels. Weed densities continue to be real variable, with emergent vegetation such as wild rice, bulrush and water lily appearing to be at typical densities. But submergent weed growth such as pondweed, musky cabbage, coontail and milfoil continues to be relatively light for this time of year on many lakes and flowages. Angling success continues to be real variable and the constantly changing weather seems to be keeping most species pretty tight-lipped. Musky have been providing the most consistent action as the fish are showing much more of a typical summer pattern. The best success has been coming from weed edges and over the weed beds, with top-water baits providing some very good action. Some nice catches have been made, with most of the fish in the 36 to 42-inch size and some up to 48 inches also reported. Bass fishing has been generally slow, with both largemouth and smallmouth being somewhat tough to find. Largemouth still do not seem to be in their typical summer pattern and the fish that have been caught have been found in a variety of different habitats. From deep-water structure, to bog edges, to shallow weeds, to woody cover – all have produced some fish, but none have produced real consistently. The same has held true for smallmouth, and they seem to be even more finicky than the largemouth lately. A few nice fish have been caught on a slow presentation of plastic finesse baits – worked near woody structure in 5 to 8 feet of water. Walleye action continues to be slow and many anglers have just given up trying to catch this species during these dog days of summer. The catches that have been made have come on small weedless jigs, fished with a leech or a piece of crawler that is worked thru the mid-depth weed beds. Panfish action has been fair. Some decent catches of crappie, perch and rock bass continue to be made, but larger bluegill have been a bit tougher to find.

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Lots of rain has the rivers running high and fast, combine this with the heat and humidity and fishing pressure in most places has been light. Lots of debris still hampers river and bay anglers alike.

Marinette County – The Peshtigo Harbor has still been producing some catfish and sheepshead but it takes an ounce or better of weight to keep bait in place. The salmon bite out of the Menominee River has been good from the 3 Sisters to Chambers Island, no one color stands out at this time although green seems to work well. The walleye bite on the Menominee is alive and well with trolling in the evening netting anglers some nice eye’s in the 17 to 20 inch range. With the fast moving water trolling up river is the only effective means of presenting a lure.

Oconto County – A few panfish were being caught up by the dam at Stiles but most of the activity is coming from kayaks, canoes, and rafters enjoying the rivers. The perch bite is spotty out of Oconto Breakwater and Oconto Park II. If you get on a school there are some nice fish, with minnows being the bait of choice. Find the weed beds in 8 to 16 feet of water.

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Brown County – Bayshore Park anglers have had some good walleye action. Most anglers have been fishing crawler harnesses. Anglers have been fishing water depths ranging 8 to 24 feet of water depending on the day. Perch fishing is still hit or miss. Minnows or worms seem to be working the best for perch anglers.

Manitowoc County – High temperatures in the mid-80s combined with light winds early in the week created excellent pre-fishing for area anglers participating in the Two Rivers Kiwanis Fish Derby. By Thursday, the winds picked up out of the west at 15-20 mph, bringing in cold water to help out pier anglers. Water temperatures varied from the mid-50s to the lower 60s over the weekend which was the biggest challenge for derby contestants. Boats were averaging 7-8 fish during the week with a few three person limits, but fishing consistency slowed for the derby. Pier fishing has been consistent all week, with several of the top fish in the derby being caught off the piers along the lakeshore. Out of Two Rivers, the best action has moved in shallow between 15-30 feet from Two Rivers ranging south to Cleveland. Most boats by the weekend were fishing the gaps of both the Manitowoc and Two Rivers piers. Coolers have consisted mostly of chinook salmon of all age classes, along with rainbows and browns. The brown trout have been relatively big, with many in the 13-18 pound range. The majority of boats have had success using spoons up high with J-Plugs on the down riggers and also up higher on planer boards. Green in both plugs and spoons continues to be the color of choice, but some days any color catches fish. With fishing so shallow, scatter the water column and you will find where the fish are. Keep an eye out for cooler temperature breaks and try working those areas. With the derby over the weekend, the Two Rivers and Manitowoc piers were packed full this past week. The catch has been dominated by three and four year old kings ranging from 12-18 pounds with a few large rainbow and brown trout. Casting with green champs, any type of green spoons, and jigging with gulp minnows have been reported for taking most of the kings, rainbows, and browns. Using alewife on bottom or on bobber four feet down has also been very successful with kings and rainbows. Get out as early as you can, both in the morning and afternoon, considering most fish have been taken near the end of the piers.

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Door County – The third week of July was dominated by a nasty mid week thunderstorm and inclement weather. A large storm cell came through the area Wednesday and shook fishing conditions up a bit. Spotty showers continued through the week and into the weekend. The mid week thunderstorm had some affect on fishing; however, fish were still being caught on both the lake and the bay. Fishing the bank reef has been busy to say the least with most success coming on a variety of baits including flies, spoons and j-plugs. Occasional rainbows were being caught in the upper 70 feet of the water column, but most coolers have been dominated by salmon. A smallmouth bass tournament was held over the weekend with around 100 boats hitting the water. Fishing was slow entering the weekend but picked up for the tournament. Plastics were the popular bait, along with some stick baits and spinner baits. Perch fishing has been decent, finding keepers has been the only obstacle. Minnows have been the most productive bait working in a variety of depths from 15 to 40 feet of water. Most anglers report about one keeper per two or three fish caught. Fishing countywide has continued to be productive. Chaudoir’s Dock anglers have been fishing perch with some success. Most have been fishing south of the landing in 20 feet of water. Minnows have been working the best rigged on a slip bobber or a bottom rig. Anglers were also catching a few walleye with most being caught on a crawler harness. Anglers fishing walleyes have also reported numbers of drum and catfish being caught as well. Little Sturgeon Bay anglers have been having good success on perch fishing in the weeds in the bay. A few walleye are being caught by anglers trolling, most have been caught on crank baits. Sturgeon Bay anglers have been catching some perch. The best action has been in the weeds off the State Park.

Peninsula State Park – All hiking trails and the Sunset Bicycle Trail are open. Heavy and sustained rain over recent weeks has resulted in standing and flowing water across portions of Eagle Trail. Otherwise, trails are in good condition. The off-road bicycle trails are open to riding, but may be wet in some sections. Please report impassable trails to park staff. The American redstart–a warbler which nests in the park–has been frequently spotted by park visitors in recent weeks. Grouse are having second broods. Red admiral and monarch butterflies are prevalent. Self-heal, bergamot, harebell, rudbeckia, herb Robert, and bittersweet nightshade are currently in bloom. Peninsula is currently keeping a record of all salamander observations. Please report any salamander sightings to the White Cedar Nature Center. The bat boxes attached to the exterior of the Welcker’s Point shelter building are home to a nursery colony of little brown and big brown bats. Bats can be observed exiting the bat boxes nightly, about 30 minutes after sunset. Nicolet Beach is open for swimming, but the bathrooms and showers are still undergoing replacement and are not available. The nearest showers are located in the North and South Nicolet Bay campgrounds. A toilet trailer has been provided at the beach for convenience. Construction of the pre-fabricated shower building is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks. Mosquitoes are out in full force due to recent rain. Plan to bring insect repellent for hiking Peninsula’s inland trails.

Kewaunee County – Some major storms made their way through the county this week and brought with them varying wind strengths and directions. The wind did not seem to remain blowing in one direction consistently and caused the water temperatures at the surface to change by more than 10 degrees some days. This brought a week of very up and down fishing out on Lake Michigan. The Kewaunee pier had a few reports of king salmon and rainbow trout being caught but the fishing continued to be very slow this week. The most productive lures were spoons that were red with black flecks. This week the fishing out on the lake near Kewaunee continued to show varied success. Some days had reports of fish being caught early in the mornings but shutting down around 6 am and remaining slow for the remainder of the day and night. Other days the bite seemed to be pretty consistent throughout the day and into the evening others. The fish caught throughout the week seemed vary in depths ranging for 70 feet to about 180 feet of water. The anglers that were able to find water temperatures in the mid 50s had consistently caught fish while any temperatures about 56 degrees seemed to be slow fishing. The fish seemed to be split almost 50/50 on spoons and flies with no particular color doing better than others. Once again the pier fishing in Algoma was very slow with reports of only two fish being caught all week. The two reported fish were caught on fire tiger spoons and were both rainbow trout. The fishing all week was hampered by a combination of warm waters and storms that ravaged the area. The average catch per boat this week was down dramatically to only 2-3 fish and the size of the fish considerably smaller as well.


Havenwoods State Forest – Trails are in good condition. Deer, squirrels, raccoon, turkeys, red-tailed hawks, cooper’s hawk, owls, mourning doves, chickadees, nuthatch, downy woodpeckers, flickers, song sparrows, meadowlark, bluebirds, bobolink, Baltimore orioles, American redstart, wood ducks, and mallards are all being seen in the forest.

Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit – All trails are open. Trails east of Powder Hill Road have some wet and muddy areas. Temporary planks are on the trail in these areas to help hikers avoid the mud. The accessible trail pier is in place for the season. Swim area buoys are in place for the season. The lake water is tested four days a week for elevated bacteria levels. Any warnings will be posted.

Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Sheboygan County – In Sheboygan trollers have been catching chinook, rainbow, and lake trout. Most fish have been caught throughout the water column in 25 to 50 feet of water. Shore fishing in Sheboygan has been good, with rainbow, chinook, and a few brown trout caught off both piers. Spoons and alewives have taken the most fish.

Ozaukee County – Trollers in Port Washington have found a mixed bag of fish between 30 and 60 feet of water. Good numbers of chinook, coho, rainbow, and a few brown and lake trout have been hitting spoons, flashers and flies, and J-plugs. Shore anglers in Port Washington have been catching perch on jigs and minnows fished near the power plant as well as off the harbor side of the pier. Anglers fishing the lake side of the pier have been catching chinook. The most success has been with alewives, but some fish have been taken on spoons as well.

Milwaukee County – In Milwaukee trollers have been catching mostly chinook, along with a few coho and rainbow. Fish have been caught in 40 to 60 feet of water, and spoons have taken the majority of fish. Some boats have also taken chinook while jigging at Milwaukee’s north gap. For shore anglers, the most consistent spot continues to be McKinley pier. Chinooks have been caught off the pier after dark and before dawn, and most have been taken on alewives. Perch anglers have had some limited success at Cupertino pier and the Lake Express Ferry dock. Small shiners have produced the most when fished early in the morning.

Racine County – In Racine trollers have been catching good numbers of chinook and a few brown, coho and rainbow. Fish have been near shore, with the best action in 25 to 50 feet of water. Spoons, flies, and J-plugs have all taken fish, and green and silver have been the most productive colors. A 41.5 pound brown trout was taken north of Racine last Friday. Congratulations to the angler and his crew on this fish of a lifetime! Shore fishing in Racine has also been good, with fair numbers of chinook taken off the piers in the early morning hours. Both spoons and alewives have taken fish. Perch anglers fishing from shore have had the most success near Gateway, and boats have taken a few limits near the DeKoven Center.

Kenosha County – In Kenosha the trolling bite remains consistent, with good catches coming from 20 to 60 feet of water. Nearly all methods have produced fish at times. Fishing in the Kenosha harbor has been spotty, with some chinook taken off the south pier either before dawn or after dark. Silver & green spoons as well as glow in the dark have been catching fish. Perch anglers have occasionally been catching fair numbers off of the south pier and in Southport Marina, and the boats continue to catch some at the bubbler. Both crab tails and minnows have produced.

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Much of Columbia County and Sauk County are under slow-no-wake orders due to high water. Algae blooms continue to be a problem on Lake Wisconsin and Beaver Dam Lake causing odor and health concerns. The Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers are both running very high, making navigation quite difficult. There is a lack of sandbars to camp on in the Lower Wisconsin Riverway during these high water conditions.

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Perrot State Park - Trails are in good condition. Water levels are extremely variable this summer due to the drawdown on Pool 6. At times, the bay is VERY low, but after heavy rains, the water can be very high. The level can change over the course of the day and large boats may have difficulty reaching the Mississippi River from our boat landing. Caution is advised. Baby toads are hopping around the park. Fledgling bald eagles are learning to hunt in the bay. White pelicans are soaring overhead amid large groups of turkey vultures. Spotted fawns are still prancing about on the North Road. Butterflies and dragonflies are dancing about in the prairies. Plants currently blooming in the park include: hoary vervain, yarrow, compass plant, prairie dock, cup plant, monarda, coneflowers, daisy fleabane, creeping bellflower, mullein, Canada and showy tick-trefoil, swamp milkweed, grey-headed coneflower, wild quinine, leadplant, hoary alyssum, coreopsis, goldenrods, sunflowers and queen Anne's lace. big bluestem, little bluestem and side-oats grama are also in bloom. Mosquitoes are out and about. Campers are advised to remember their bug spray since there is none to be purchased in Trempealeau.

Great River State Trail - The trail is open and in good condition. Prairie flowers are blooming along the sides of the trail and the sweet smell of bergamot fills the air. Goldenrods, button bush, swamp milkweed, and Joe-Pye weed are the stars of the show. Mosquitoes and gnats are out in pretty good numbers and users are encouraged to be prepared.

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - Water levels on the Black River are very high and there is much more water in the channels. Two sections of All-terrain Vehicle (ATV) Trails closed by last week’s storm have reopened. Only the Wildcat loop remains closed. Crews hope to repair this section by early next week and have it open by July 30. The entire trail system has been groomed within the last week and is in good condition with some areas of standing water. Please remember that it is never appropriate to leave the trail system even to avoid a wetter area. This behavior in past years has resulted in short-term closures of the system. The state forest is hard at work upgrading the entire system to make the trails less susceptible to large rainfall events. Those portions that have been upgraded faired very well even with the recent rain. After Labor Day weekend crews will continue work on the section of trail just south of the Highway 54 parking lot and begin work on the section running just south of the Castle Mound area of the forest.

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Many visitors have been enjoying the warm weather swimming at the beach. People have been catching fish from the pier and at their campsites. The kid's fishing pond has had many visitors using the new parking lot. Kids have been catching and releasing small bluegills , bass and some crappies from the pier at the pond. Trails are in great condition for hiking with the warmer weather and many visitors have been camping, picnicking and fishing. GPS units are available to checkout at the park office. There are not too many mosquitoes but there has been some biting flies. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent at park office. There will be a night hike and naturalist program on Saturday, July 24 from 7-10 p.m. Campfire stories and craft, hike the 1 mile tiki torch lit trail.

Roche-A-Cri State Park - Many wildflowers are blooming in the prairie. Friendship Lake is just a mile down the road and has a swimming beach. The stairway up the bluff is closed due to deteriorating lumber. A $354,600 project to replace it has been approved. We expect to seek bids for the project sometime this year. The petroglyph viewing platform at the base of the mound is still open and several miles of hiking trails are available.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Boats, baits and battling behemoth bass; It's Family Boat Day at the Cudahy Family Library

Being a city located on the Great Lake we call Michigan, numerous anglers and boaters are residents. So the Cudahy Family Library is featuring "Family Boat Day."

On Wednesday, July 21, 2010 from 4:00 - 7:30 pm, the library will display fishing boats, sailboats, canoes and kayaks. Activities such as crafts and storytimes, plus a representative from the Coast Guard, knot-tying techniques demonstrated by the Boy Scouts and informative displays on fly fishing lures, boating safety, zebra mussels, gobis and other invasive species and possible invasive species such as the big head carp are featured.

The library is located east of Patrick Cudahy at 3500 Library Drive, Cudahy, WI 53110. The phone number is (414) 769-2244.

Pick-up some FREE TIPS AND TECHNIQUES. Step inside and read or check out some fishing books. They are located in the northwest corner in the 799.1 area of the Dewey Decimal system.


1.) Look for upcoming articles on the pike family, the perch family, stonerollers and what panfish are eating.

The stoneroller is a native fish that is both hardy and active when hooked. It is a member of the minnow family as is the common carp. In Tennessee, the stoneroller is a popular food fish.

2.) When aquatic plants, aka "weeds," are cut or poisoned, small fish are immediately in trouble. Aquatic creatures requiring these plants for their survival can no longer do their jobs as food for the creatures and as the "Beanstalks" to the watery surfaces. Fish die-offs, such as the not-too-distant-past crappie die-offs on Racine County's Eagle Lake resulted from heavy weed poisoning that removed a major section of the food chain relied upon by crappies.

3.) Anglers looking to fish in tournaments can find some of the weekly local contests put on by taverns and bait shops.

by: L.A. Van Veghel

Public input for Leech Lake management plan open until July 30

Citizens interested in the Leech Lake fishery have until Friday, July 30, to provide input to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff on the department’s proposed five-year fish population objectives and fisheries management actions.

The public can review the Leech Lake Advisory Committee’s final report and provide proposal feedback online. Paper questionnaires also are available in Walker at the DNR’s Walker Area Fisheries Office, 07316 State Highway 371 NW, and the Walker Public Library, 207 Fourth St.

For more information on the draft management plan and the public input process, contact the DNR’s Walker Area Fisheries office at 218-547-1683.

Nature’s fish factory: phenomenal, fragile

When it comes to factory tours, Dirk Peterson, Minnesota’s new fisheries chief, figures his tour rocks, literally.

“You won’t need a hard hat or ear plugs on my tour,” he said with a smile. “Instead, we’ll be on the water - casting lures toward lily pads, bulrush, rock rubble and the rest of the production facility.”

Though many folks don’t view lakes and rivers as factories, Peterson does. He knows they kick out the fish that contribute $4.8 billion a year to the state’s fishing-related economy. He also knows the lakes are incredibly fragile, comprising parts and processes that took thousands of years to evolve.

“You can’t fix a lake with parts from Fleet Farm,” said Peterson. “That’s why we, as a society, must keep nature’s fish factory intact.”

To Peterson, that means maintaining clean water, spawning sites, nursery areas, and the vegetation that provides shelter for some species and ambush lairs for others. “If any of these elements are missing from the production line, fish go missing, too,” said Peterson.

He added that Minnesota’s excellent fishing is not guaranteed and cannot be taken for granted. He said anglers can easily see physical changes in habitat - more lakeshore development, more urbanization of watersheds, more removal of underwater logs and brush in the name of swimming and boating - but it is difficult to detect the subtle interactions beneath the surface.

Peter Jacobson, a DNR fisheries research biologist, explains. “The person who peers into the water and sees rocks covered in a green algal slime may think nothing of it, other than don’t step there because that’s slippery. But a fish manager sees a very different thing in those same rocks. He or she sees the outcome of excessive nutrient-loading, the deterioration of walleye spawning habitat that provides Minnesota’s most cost-efficient way to maintain a walleye population, which is for the fish to simply reproduce naturally.”

Jacobson explained certain algae-laden gravel bars are useless as walleye spawning habitat because the eggs are suffocated in the slime.

“The connection between walleyes and water quality cannot be stressed enough, said Jacobson. “In the century ahead, the lakes that will continue to provide the best fishing are those that remain clean, resilient, and contain all the elements of a complex natural system.”

Peterson, the DNR Fisheries Section chief, agrees. He encourages anglers statewide to get involved in local water policy planning, habitat conservation projects and funding initiatives for water-related conservation. Closer to the water, he encourages riparian property owners to conserve habitat, and to take steps that minimize soil erosion or nutrient loading by maintaining buffer strips or planting deep-rooted vegetation. These actions, as well as helping educate others on the importance of habitat, are in the best long-term interests of the angling and fishing-related business community.

“Minnesota has a very popular and effective $3 million-a-year walleye stocking program,” said Peterson. “Yet we should never forget that 85 percent of the state’s walleye harvest is the result of naturally reproducing wild fish. Therefore, we need to keep those natural factories in good shape. They are the low-cost way to produce fish for they require no labor, no trucks and no gasoline to take fish from here from the eggs to the end of your line.”

Upriver sturgeon season

An annual lottery for permits to spear sturgeon on the Upriver Lakes began in 2007. Spearers need to apply for an Upriver Lakes sturgeon lottery tag by August 2 and are notified no later than October 1 if they were successful in receiving authorization to purchase an Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing license.

Group lottery applications of up to four persons are also accepted. Group applications must be submitted through the DNR Online Licensing Center. Spearers who applied for but not authorized to purchase an Upriver Lakes license receive a preference point, and can still purchase a license for Lake Winnebago, but must do so by the Oct. 31 license sales deadline (spearers can only buy one tag or the other, not both). Sales for both Lake Winnebago and Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing licenses end Oct. 31. The Upriver Lakes sturgeon lottery fishery limits participation to 500 tags in 2011 and will have a small sub-allocation of the overall sturgeon harvest cap.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Turtle season opens July 15

MADISON - Turtle season opens statewide July 15 and runs through Nov. 30. The open season does not include those species that are listed as endangered or threatened. The ornate box turtle, Blanding’s turtle and the wood turtle are protected and may not be taken at any time.

Anyone who collects or possess native Wisconsin unprotected aquatic turtles must have one of the following licenses: Fishing, Small Game, Sports, Conservation Patron, Setline, or Set or Bank Pole. See the turtle Wisconsin Amphibian and Reptile Regulations (pdf) pamphlet for more information.

There are also reports in the northern part of the state that turtles are nesting later than the usual May-June period, and motorists are urged to be on the alert for turtles crossing roads and highways.

When turtles are nesting they begin the journey from their aquatic habitat near lakes, wetlands and streams to drier habitats where the female will deposit her eggs.

Although most turtles will stop moving when they feel or see an approaching vehicle, motorists are encouraged to do the following during nesting season:

•Slow down near wetlands;
Stop and help the turtle cross the road if it’s safe to do so;
•Turtles found crossing a road should be carefully moved to the side of the road in the direction they are facing; and
•Use common sense -- and a stick for the turtle to bite -- if assisting a snapping turtle. Slowly pull the turtle across the roadway by its tail.

Turtles are up against tough odds even without highway mortality. Three of Wisconsin turtle species are listed as either threatened or endangered species. As few as 5 percent of eggs laid survive to hatch and of those, only very few may survive to reproductive age. Natural predators of turtles and turtle eggs are many and include raccoons, skunks, fox, opossums, herons, egrets, seagulls, cranes, crows and others.

First sturgeon stocked from renovated Wild Rose Hatchery

Four waters stocked to open new era in restoration
WILD ROSE – Wisconsin's efforts to restore lake sturgeon to inland waters took a leap forward last week as the renovated Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery sent its first sturgeon out the door to new homes in four Wisconsin waters.

On July 7, DNR fisheries crews stocked more than 6,100 tiny sturgeon in the Baraboo River in Baraboo, returning the prehistoric species to that water for the first time since the 1800s, when dams built on the river, along with overfishing and water pollution, helped doom their populations. An audio slide show recording this historic return is available on the Department of Natural Resources website.On July 9, another 7,400 sturgeon, spawned from fish from the Yellow River in northwest Wisconsin and raised at Wild Rose, were returned to that river, to the Clam River Flowage in Burnett County, and to Minong Flowage in Douglas County.
"This is really good news," says Ron Bruch, DNR senior sturgeon biologist and co-leader of the agency's statewide sturgeon team. "We have the Wild Rose facility online and staff have shown they can produce the quality and quantity of lake sturgeon we need to really look well into the future for our population restoration needs."
The second phase of renovating Wild Rose State Hatchery is about complete, giving anglers and the Wisconsin's fisheries program state-of-the-art facilities for raising cool-water fish including lake sturgeon, northern pike, walleye and musky.

Now, the sturgeon can be raised entirely inside tanks in a climate controlled building where water temperatures, dissolved oxygen, food and others aspects are carefully monitored by staff and by computers.
"It's like going from the stone age to the space age," Bruch says. "Before, we had little tanks outside, and little ability to control water temperatures and other factors. It was terrible. Those guys did a really good job considering what they had to work with, but this renovated facility really is state of the art and we expect it will let us stock more waters with more fish."
The renovated hatchery and the staff who run it are already having an impact. Sturgeon weren't scheduled to be stocked out of the facility until this fall, but so many sturgeon hatched and survived that some needed to be removed from the tanks to allow the remaining fish more room to grow, says Steve Fajfer, hatchery supervisor.

"The staff have done a fantastic job learning a whole new system and producing more fish, bigger fish and healthier fish," Fajfer says. About 60,000 lake sturgeon remain at the hatchery and will be raised to the more normal sizes for stocking, about 6 to 9 inches for fingerlings, and 10 to 14 inches for yearlings. The fingerlings will be planted this fall, and the yearlings next spring, Fajfer says.

Waters planned for stocking from Wild Rose are the Menominee River in Marinette County, the Wisconsin River in Marathon County, the Wisconsin River flowage at Stevens Point in Portage County, Upper St. Croix Lake, Eau Claire River, and St. Croix Flowage, all in Douglas County, and the Namekagon River and Trego Lake, both in Washburn County.Other waters being stocked with sturgeon in 2010-2011 include the Milwaukee and Kewaunee rivers, which will receive fish raised at streamside rearing facilities along those waters, and the Fox River in Marquette County from the UW-Milwaukee Water Institute, and the Manitowish River, which will receive fish from DNR's Woodruff Hatchery.

Lake sturgeon are living fossils, relics from the Upper Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era, and they rank as Wisconsin's largest and oldest fish, confirmed again this winter when an Appleton man speared a 212-pound, 3.2 ounce lake sturgeon that stretched 84.25 inches on opening day of the 2010 Lake Winnebago lake sturgeon spearing seasons.Historically, lake sturgeon were found throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin. They flourished in Wisconsin's boundary waters including the Mississippi, Wisconsin and Menomonee rivers, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Dams, pollution, habitat degradation and overharvest dramatically reduced lake sturgeon populations in some Wisconsin waters over the past 100 years, and eliminated them entirely from other stretches of water. Because female fish don't reproduce until they are 20 to 25, and then spawn only once every three to five years, lake sturgeon populations are very vulnerable to overexploitation and slow to rebuild.
"Wisconsin's Lake Sturgeon Management Plan" (pdf) calls for restoring lake sturgeon to many waters in its historic range. DNR will be updating the plan this year and seeking input from people outside the agency interested in sturgeon management. Wild Rose Fish Hatchery will play a key role in that plan, along with protective regulations, research, dedicated funding for sturgeon restoration, and other factors, says Karl Scheidegger, a DNR rivers biologist and co-leader to the state sturgeon team.
"The new Wild Rose cool water propagation facility will give the fisheries program the ability to restore multiple sturgeon populations for many years to come," Scheidegger says. "And that, we hope, means that down the road more people will be able to experience these remarkable fish."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pick it or Ticket...

“Pick it or Ticket.” That’s what will happen if people don’t do their part to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

DNR conservation officers and watercraft inspectors will step-up enforcement of invasive species law over the Fourth of July weekend. They will also be out educating boaters about a new law that goes into effect July 1 requiring boaters to now remove the plug and drain water before leaving any lake and river in Minnesota.

“Our lakes and rivers are too important to take for granted,” explained Larry Kramka, DNR assistant commissioner. “Boaters need to be accountable and personally responsible to prevent the further spread of aquatic invasives.”

The water draining law is intended to help prevent the spread of fish diseases such as VHS, and invasive species such as zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas that cannot be seen when free floating in the water in early life stages.
Boaters are required by law to:
  • Remove aquatic plants and zebra mussels from boats and trailers.
  • Drain all water, including pulling the drain plug, open water draining devises, and draining bilges and live wells.
  • Drain bait buckets when exiting lakes that have been designated as infested with spiny water flea or zebra mussels. Anglers can keep unused bait when leaving infested waters if they replace the water with tap or spring.
The increased enforcement efforts over the holiday weekend will include an increased presence at public water accesses at infested waters where officers will look closely for violators of existing laws who could face fines from $50 up to $1,000.

Minnesota’s water resources are threatened by numerous aquatic invasive species such as the zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas. These species could be easily spread within the state if citizens, businesses and visitors don’t take the necessary steps to contain them.

The zebra mussel populations currently in Lake Mille Lacs, Alexandria chain of lakes
(Le Homme Dieu, Carlos, and Geneva), Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County, Prior Lake in Scott County and Rice Lake near Brainerd are a particular concern as they can be key sources for zebra mussel spread.