Monday, October 15, 2012

WCSFO 2012 Fall Meeting Announcement

Date: Saturday, October 20, 2012
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Walleyes for Tomorrow Office, 224 Auburn, Fond Du Lac WI

Our main agenda will be dealing with filling vacancies on our Board  of Directors – mainly the position of Secretary.

Club Delegates are urged to attend - All Club Members are welcome

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 31 hearing for proposed wetland general permit

MADISON – A proposed general permit to streamline the wetland permitting process for some residential, commercial and industrial projects impacting wetlands is now out for public comment, and is the topic of a July 31 public informational hearing in Madison, state wetland officials say.

The informational hearing will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 041 at the State Education Building, also known as GEF 3, located at 125 S. Webster St. in Madison.

The proposed statewide general permit - or “GP” - is the first of its kind required under a new law passed earlier this year by state lawmakers. It would enable people who have a project resulting in the unavoidable filling of up to 10,000 square feet of wetland - just under one-quarter of an acre – to get their permit decision more quickly if the project meets the standards and conditions in the general permit.

Right now, all landowners wanting to pursue projects that involve wetland fill must seek an individual permit and lengthier environmental review.

The proposed general permit identifies the location, design, and construction standards and other conditions any project must meet to qualify for the general permit, and to ensure that minimal environmental effects occur. Once in effect, the general permit will be valid statewide for 5 years. When property owners can apply for coverage under the general permit, DNR is required to issue a decision within 30 days.

“This proposed general permit will simplify the permit process for projects that can’t avoid small amounts of wetland fill. By avoiding and minimizing wetland impacts, and designing their project to meet the GP standards and conditions, a property owner can qualify and get their permit decision within 30 days.” says Cami Peterson, Wetland Policy Coordinator.

Projects that involve more than 10,000 square feet of wetland fill or do not meet the GP standards and conditions will continue to require a wetland individual permit, which has a longer process time, greater level of environmental review, and higher permit fee.

To view a copy of the proposed statewide general permit and environmental decision document go to http://dnr.wi.gov/waterways/shoreline_habitat/wetlands.html. Public comments are being accepted through August 16. For more information or to submit written comments on the draft general permit or environmental decision document, contact Cami Peterson, DNR-WT/3, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, or by phone at 608-261-6400.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fishing in the Neighborhood program reels in new anglers

MADISON – Smiles shared, fish caught, and new licenses bought are testimony to the growing success of a partnership to introduce fishing to Wisconsin’s growing number of Latino and Hmong youngsters, state fisheries officials say.High schoolers, buying fishing licenses

These high schoolers, shown buying fishing licenses, have been recruited as “fishing buddies” to help younger kids fish with the Club de Pesca offered by Centro Hispano of Dane County and partners.
WDNR Photo

“Our goals are to welcome new people into the community of anglers, to help them establish a relationship with the resource and adopt Wisconsin’s tradition of stewardship,” says Theresa Stabo, Department of Natural Resources aquatic resources education director. “We’re very excited that our Fishing in the Neighborhood program is growing and that partner groups are getting important recognition and funding to expand their local efforts.”

Centro Hispano of Dane County, one of the partnering groups, recently received a $30,000 grant from the national Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (exit DNR) for its bilingual fishing club, Club de Pesca.

Centro Hispano Executive Director Kent Craig says the organization is very excited about the national grant and the ongoing relationship with DNR and other program partners. “What we’re hoping is to see young people get more opportunity to spend time on water fishing and learning more science,” he says. “In addition to expanding the program, we’re hoping to develop a replicable, culturally competent curriculum for offering fishing clubs in Latino communities.”

DNR has long trained volunteer instructors in how to start their own fishing clubs for youngsters and others new to fishing. In recent years, DNR has focused more attention on working with partners to help start fishing clubs within minority communities, as was successfully done at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee and the Boys & Girls Club in Madison.

This year, DNR has provided angler education training to college interns and is paying them stipends to work with five different youth organizations that serve low-income people of color. Andrea “Tess” Arenas at the UW-Madison Office of Service Learning and Community Based Research recruited the interns and identified organizations willing to partner with the state and supervise the interns.

Bad River fishing partner
A youngster and an intern try their luck during a fishing club offered by the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe in Odanah, DNR and other partners.
WDNR Photo

Interns have been placed at five community centers: Centro Hispano of Dane County, Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Urban League of Greater Madison, Hmong Assistance Association in La Crosse, and the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe in Odanah.

DNR is providing fishing equipment for the interns to use with the youngsters. The interns recruit members for the clubs, instruct the youngsters in basic fishing techniques, set up fishing trips and bring in guest speakers to talk to the participants about aquatic resources topics. In addition to a stipend, they earn college credit for their work.

DNR pays for the costs of the clubs through the Sport Fish Restoration money it receives from the federal government from an excise tax on the sale of fishing equipment. Madison South Rotary Foundation provided additional funding for the Madison groups. It’s welcome seed money, says Centro Hispano’s Craig.

“We wouldn’t have a program without the DNR,” he says. “Getting the national RBFF grant shows it was a wise investment.”

Stabo says that DNR’s Fishing in the Neighborhood initiative recognizes that Latino and Hmong immigrants represent the fast-growing segments of Wisconsin’s population. “We want club members and their families to see fishing as a good choice for weekend or afterschool activities, once summer ends and everyone is back at school.”

Club de Pesca shows how the program seeks to make fishing a good choice by tailoring it to a specific culture. “Having a program which is free, based at a known agency and run by bilingual staff makes fishing much more accessible to the Latino community,” says Jannet Arenas, the intern who is leading the Centro Hispano program.

Another way Club de Pesca fits with the Latino culture is relying on older Latino high school students to teach younger kids how to fish. The older “Fishing Buddies” are paired up with younger students and serve as their coaches during outings. In return, the older students get community service hours.

“Right now, the club meets twice a week and for the first session consists of 25 anglers ages 6-9,” Jannet Arenas says. “So far we have fished at Tenney Park, Vilas Park and Jenny & Kyle Preserve in the Madison area. The last week of the first session features a visit to the local fish hatchery. The next session will be for kids ages 10-13. Both sessions conclude with a graduation in which the participants receive their own fishing rod/reel and parents are invited.”

Jannet Arenas says the national RBFF grant – layered on top of the financial and training support DNR has continued to provide -- has allowed her to get more kids out fishing and to provide them transportation directly to the fishing sites. Last year, club members took the city bus and walked to their fishing spots.

“The participants' feedback has been great -- the kids always show up excited to go fishing,” she says. “My favorite part of fishing club is seeing the kids' excitement when they catch their very first fish. It is a priceless moment and one that I feel blessed to be part of.”

Organizations interested in learning more about how to start a fishing club for new anglers, including Latino and Hmong organizations can contact Theresa Stabo at 608-266-2272.

Drought conditions worsen in southern half of Wisconsin

50 counties now at increased fire danger levels

MADISON – The continued lack of significant rainfall in the southern half of Wisconsin has increased drought conditions and raised the fire danger to extreme, very high or high in 50 southern and central counties.

Coping with drought

The lack of rain is lowering water levels on streams and rivers, making navigation more difficult and increasing the number of fish kills. There have been reports of private wells going dry, and some municipalities are placing restrictions on water use. The hot temperatures and low water levels are increasing the risk of blue-green algae outbreaks and concentrating waterfowl in areas that have been known to have outbreaks of botulism.

“The drought is affecting everyone – with farm crops in jeopardy, fire danger, and well impacts, and more,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. “DNR is doing everything it can to share information and expedite approvals for wells and pumping when we can without endangering the long term health of natural resources. Our hearts go out to people struggling with the dry conditions.”

The Department of Natural Resources has launched a new Web page intended to help the public find drought-related DNR information and assistance. People can go to dnr.wi.gov and search for the keyword drought.”

Fire conditions

Fire danger levels as of July 17 were at extreme in 25 southern counties and very high or high in another 25 central counties. DNR fire control officials have been responding to 10 to 15 fires a day, and since June 1 there have been more than 275 fires. A 40-acre fire closed a westbound lane of Interstate 90-94 Monday. An Army National Guard helicopter assisted in fire suppressing the fire with water drops.

“With these tinder dry conditions, equipment caused fires have become the number one cause of fires, mostly with hot vehicle exhaust systems or farm equipment,” says Trent Marty, DNR fire prevention director.

Emergency burning restrictions remain in place in all or parts of 19 counties. The restrictions prohibit any outdoor burning -- outside of fire rings in campgrounds -- smoking outdoors or disposal of ash or charcoal. In addition, even campfires within fire rings have been banned at four state park and forest properties including Southern and Lapham Peak units of Kettle Moraine State Forest, Richard Bong State Recreation Area and Big Foot Beach State Park. Park officials caution that without rain soon, the fire prohibitions may be expanded to other properties.

Water concerns

DNR officials are receiving and reviewing applications for emergency permits to pump water for crop irrigation from lakes and rivers. DNR is approving permits for irrigation from lakes and rivers where the withdrawal will not have a negative impact on fisheries or other aquatic life or on other users of the waterway.

The agency has been receiving six to 10 applications a day for new high capacity wells for irrigating crops and is approving the applications where the new wells will not have a negative impact on other private wells. To date there have been numerous reports of private wells going dry, but as of yet no reports of municipal wells going dry.

State dam safety officials are notifying dam operators of their responsibility to maintain a minimal flow of water below dams, as some operators have reportedly begun to hold water back to maintain water levels on lakes, flowages and impoundments.

“Dam operators need to ensure they maintain minimal flow from their dams to ensure fish health and to ensure there is adequate flow for the dilution of wastewater from municipal treatment plants and other industries and operations downstream,” said Bill Sturtevant, state dam safety engineer.

Fish kills

State fisheries biologists have entered more than 31 verified fish kills since the beginning of June, with more being investigated.

“The earlier fish kills were primarily due to low water levels resulting in low dissolved oxygen levels,” says Paul Cunningham, DNR fisheries habitat coordinator, “but lately we’ve seen more thermal-related fish kills. The water has just gotten too hot for many of our cold-water species like northern pike.”

Fisheries biologists have started to deny some applications for chemical control of aquatic weeds, because of the additional stress the control may have on fish populations.

Beach and swimming concerns

The hot, dry weather is fueling excessive algae growth as the increased water temperature speeds up cell growth and division. Blue-green algae, which are found naturally in Wisconsin lakes and can produce toxins that pose a health threat to people, animal and pets, are becoming a problem in waters with a history of blooms, like Lake Winnebago and Tainter/Menomin lakes, but are in places where blooms are normally not a problem, DNR water leaders report.

DNR staff are fielding more calls on the algae Cladophora from property owners and beachgoers all along the Lake Michigan coast, says Steve Galarneau, who directs the DNR Office of the Great Lakes. The algae, naturally found in Lake Michigan, breaks off from the rocks on the lake bottom and washes ashore, where it smells and looks foul as the algae and aquatic life it carries decompose.

Zebra mussels and quagga mussels proliferating in Lake Michigan are helping create the conditions for more of the algae to grow, along with the warm water temperatures and sunny skies. “Cladophora has been a problem for decades. There are good blocks of time and bad blocks of time during a year, and this is a particularly bad period of time,” he says. “We empathize with people concerned about how it looks and smells. We encourage people to avoid swimming through cladophora or coming in contact with the algae that’s washed ashore because it may harbor harmful bacteria.”

Boating safety

With low water levels on lakes and rivers (USGS Wisconsint streamflow) (exit DNR), boaters need to be especially cautious of navigational hazards that may not have been apparent with higher water levels. Stumps and sand and rock bars may all be closer to the surface, especially on river systems. The Rock and Wisconsin rivers in particular are very low and navigation is difficult in some stretches.

Wildlife health concerns

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff have collected approximately 50 dead birds, primarily mallards, wood ducks and teal as well as pelicans, shore birds, and great blue herons on the northern end of Horicon Marsh. Specimens have been submitted to the National Wildlife Heath Center for confirmation, but officials highly suspect that botulism is the cause. They will be conducting daily monitoring of other state and federal wildlife areas where botulism has caused waterfowl deaths in the past.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brancel Encourages Participation in Aquaculture Day

MADISON Fish are not just for the Friday night fish fry anymore. Wisconsin aquaculture is an important agriculture industry and offers a healthy product to enjoy year-round. Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Ben Brancel encourages consumers to join him in visiting their local fish farm on Aquaculture Day July 21 to learn more about this fishy business.

“Aquaculture Day offers a unique experience to learn more about the production of the farm-raised fish in Wisconsin by taking a tour, participating in fishing, seeing cooking demonstrations and hearing educational talks,” said Brancel. “By learning more first-hand, consumers will have a greater appreciation for the aquaculture industry, which continues to innovate and grow to meet the demand of the marketplace.”

Brancel will visit Nelson and Pade, Inc. in Montello to commemorate Aquaculture Day. Nelson and Pade, Inc. specializes in aquaponics and controlled environment agriculture. Six fish farms across the state will be open to the public on July 21. Details on the six host farm locations and their activities are available at www.wisconsinaquaculture.com, under “Events.”

Fish are high in protein and potassium and low in fat, calories and cholesterol. When buying locally-grown fish, consumers are supporting their local farms and local economy. Wisconsin aquaculture has a $21 million economic impact with more than 2,400 fish farms across the state. Fish farms in Wisconsin raise fish for food, stocking and bait. Our state ranks first in the Midwest for aquaculture production.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Record heat may be contributing to fish kills in Minnesota lakes

Record-setting heat may be contributing to fish kills in lakes across the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Natural summer fish kills are not unusual,” according to Brian Schultz, DNR assistant regional fisheries manager. “In the past several days, however, we’re getting increased reports of dead and dying fish in many lakes from around the state.”

Unusually warm weather has raised water temperatures of many shallow lakes. Schultz has received reports from DNR field staff of surface water temperatures in some lakes reaching 90 degrees, with temps at the bottom only a few degrees cooler where maximum depths are less than 10 feet. “Those are some high readings and northern pike are especially vulnerable when the water gets this warm,” Schultz said. “They are a cool water species and just can’t adjust to the high temperatures when sustained for more than a few days.” Warm water temps can also impact other species such as walleye, yellow perch and bluegills.

Should the high heat continue, there may be die-offs of both northern cisco (tulibee) and lake whitefish in central and northern Minnesota lakes.

Oxygen depletion can be another factor contributing to fish kills of a broader range of fish species. Heavy rains earlier in the summer caused unusually high runoff from fertilized lawns, athletic fields, golf courses and farm fields, starting a chain reaction of high nutrient loads in some lakes.  

The runoff carries nutrients into the lakes, which combined with hot weather, can accelerate the growth of algae. Hot, dry, sunny and calm weather can cause algae growths to suddenly explode, according to Craig Soupir, DNR fisheries habitat specialist.

“Aquatic plants remain relatively stable over time, but algae have the ability to rapidly increase or decrease under various conditions,” Soupir said. 

Algae produces oxygen during the daylight hours, but it uses oxygen at night. This can create drastic daily changes in lake oxygen levels. These daily changes can result in complete saturation of oxygen during peak sunlight and a near complete loss of oxygen during the night.   “All of this can add up to stressful conditions for fish,” Soupir said, “and even summer kill events.” Fish don’t seem to sense when oxygen depletion occurs and may suffocate in isolated bays, even when another area of the lake contains higher levels of oxygen.

Disease may also be a contributing factor to some fish kills. Schultz explained that when lake temperatures rapidly change, fish can become more susceptible to bacteria and viruses that naturally occur in the water. Columnaris is one of the most common diseases. 

The bacterium is always present in fish populations but seems to affect fish when water temperatures are warming rapidly and fish are undergoing some stress due to spawning. Fish may die or be seen weakly swimming along shores. Species affected are usually sunfish, crappies and bullheads and occasionally, largemouth bass and northern pike.

“It is difficult to pin a summer kill on just one cause,” Schultz said, “and although it is a natural occurrence, it can be disturbing.” 

Fish kills are usually not serious in the long run.  Most lakes contain thousands of fish per acre and the fish kills represents a very small percent of that total. 

Some positive effects from partial fish kills is that it creates an open niche in the fish population, allowing the remaining fish species to grow faster with less competition.  

Minnesota lakes are resilient. The DNR has documented these conditions many times over and lake conditions and fish populations do return to managed expectations, either naturally or with the help of stocking if necessary.

If people see strange behavior, they should contact the local DNR fisheries office immediately. “If we can sample fish before they die, we may be able to learn what’s going on in the lake,” Schultz said.  “Once the fish are dead it can be difficult to determine what happened.”

Get specific advice for specific waters online and with one search

New search feature debuts with updated 2012 fish consumption advice

MADISON – It’s now easier than ever for anglers fishing Wisconsin waters to make sure their catch is safe to eat: Wisconsin's updated fish consumption advice for 2012 is available online and features a new search tool that delivers anglers simplified consumption advice for fish from specific waters to limit exposure to environmental contaminants that may be in the fish.

See Full Story

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tracking Davidson’s Goliaths: Marine Archaeologists to Survey Wrecks of Australasia, Adriatic in Whitefish Bay

Preliminary dives begin this week on the latest chapter in Wisconsin shipwreck history.

June 20, 2012
By Aaron R. Conklin

At a time when everyone else had switched to iron and steel, James Davidson steadfastly clung to wood, building some of the largest wooden schooners ever to sail the Great Lakes, and becoming a legendary shipbuilding titan in the process.

Beginning this week, Tamara Thomsen and Keith Meverden, a pair of maritime archaeologists with the Wisconsin Historical Society, will dive beneath the waters of Lake Michigan to begin surveying and cataloguing the wrecks of two of Davidson’s most famous ships—the Australasia and the Adriatic. The two-year project is funded in part by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.

 

And it begins with the Australasia, a wreck that was only discovered a few years ago by jet-skiers in the waters off Whitefish Dunes State Park in Door County.  The ship sank in 1896 after catching fire and burning to the waterline.

 

“We really believe it’s a time capsule,” said Thomsen, who has been chronicling Davidson wrecks with Meverden for much of the last five years. “Everything that went down with the ships was salvaged over many years, but there’s a lot of components, a lot of really interesting items that were aboard the ship when it sank that still remain on the bottom.”

 

The 282-foot Australasia is a great example of the evolution of technology and techniques the master shipbuilder used, harnessing truly massive oak beams together with a sturdy metal skeleton. Launched in 1884, it was the fifth Davidson vessel constructed in Wisconsin, capable of carrying 3,000 tons of cargo.

 

“As his ships got larger and longer, he was actually refining his techniques to allow him to do that,” explained Meverden.  Meverden and Thomsen plan to explore the Australasia both from a cultural standpoint and then from a structural one.  UW Sea Grant videographer John Karl will capture underwater video of the archaeologists at work. 

 

Preliminary dives begin this Wednesday, June 20. This weekend, weather permitting, several special events will help bring the project into focus for the public.  On June 22-25, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., residents who own marine radios will be able to listen in on the dive, while others can visit the Whitefish Dunes Amphitheater to view the dive vessel through a spotting scope and get Great Lakes Shipwrecks questions answered by Paul Bentley, a diver who volunteers with WHS.

 

On Saturday, June 23, Thomsen and Meverden will present “Australasia: Lost and Found” a multimedia look at the current survey work featuring images from the wreck. The show begins at 7:30 pm at the Whitefish Dunes Nature Center Auditorium, 3275 Clark Lake Road in Sturgeon Bay.

 

In 2013, Meverden and Thomsen will shift their focus to Davidson’s Adriatic, one of the earliest self-unloading schooners ever to sail the Great Lakes. Meverden calls the ship, which was retrofitted with a conveyor belt mechanism and an unloading boom, “one of the grandfathers of modernism.”   The wreck currently abuts the shipyard in Sturgeon Bay, occupying valuable docking space.  Community members are hopeful that survey efforts may shed light on a strategy to move the wreck while preserving its role as a cultural resource.

 

UW Sea Grant will be providing updates on the dive and survey through the organization’s social media channels.  Look for multimedia updates on the UW Sea Grant Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/UWiscSeaGrant) and the UW Sea Grant Twitter feed (@UWiscSeaGrant).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Boat Safety Saturday: Boat check, classes may save insurance costs -- and lives

Tomorrow is Boat Safety Saturday in Dane County. Boaters will learn key safety tips that will help keep water trips safe and fun -- and also possibly save boat owners insurance dollars.

A team of boat experts from the Department of Natural Resources, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and several fire departments from Madison, McFarland, Maple Bluff and Middleton will be making the rounds to boat landings to visit with boaters about their vessel equipment, safety classes and the importance of always wearing a life jacket.

It’s all part of National Safe Boating Week, which starts Saturday and leads in the Memorial Day weekend.

The participating agencies will have their equipment on display for you to enjoy. As time allows, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be offering free vessel safety checks for trailered boats only. Some insurance companies offer discounts on vessels certified by such inspections. Others give discounts for boaters who complete certified boat safety classes. Ask your company!

The schedule for Saturday’s safe boating kick-off is:

  • 8 to 9:30 a.m. – Babcock Park boat landing, US Highway 51 in McFarland
  • 10 - 11:30 a.m. – Olin Park boat landing, John Nolen Drive in Madison
  • Noon to 2 p.m. – Warner Park boat landing, Northport Drive in Madison

Of the 23 boating fatalities in Wisconsin last year, 13 were due to drowning and none of the victims was properly wearing a life jacket. From 2007 – 2011, there were 67 people who drowned in boating incidents in Wisconsin and 91 percent of them were not wearing life jackets.

Please stay safe as you enjoy Wisconsin’s 15,000 lakes and 84,000 miles of rivers. Get your boat checked, take a class and always wear your life jacket. New styles are comfortable! “The belief you will be able to get the jacket on as you fall over the boat’s side for whatever reason is unrealistic,” DNR Boating Law Administrator Roy Zellmer says. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search boat.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Inland fishing season opens May 5

Early warm-up means many fish done spawning and ready to feed

MADISON -- The early ice-out across Wisconsin lakes and rivers is good news for anglers venturing out for the May 5 inland fishing season opener: many game fish are done spawning or wrapping up and ready to take the bait, state fisheries biologists say.

“This has been the most extended spawning season I've experienced in nearly 30 years as a fish biologist,” says Terry Margenau, Department of Natural Resources fish supervisor based in Spooner. “This year the water temperatures hit 45 degrees and went backward. The result was a greatly protracted spawning period for fish in many lakes. Regardless, I expect that by the season opener fish will be active and feeding and we'll see a very good opener.”

The 2012 Wisconsin Fishing Report gives anglers a line on the size and numbers of fish populations in many of their favorite waters, but anglers may need to change tactics and where in that water body they fish.

Anglers may need to look in deeper water for walleye and in shallower water for bass than normal at this time of year, says Bob Hujik, fisheries supervisor for west central Wisconsin. “We got so warm and then everything stabilized and spawning dragged on,” he says. “But my gut is telling me our fish are still two weeks earlier than normal.

Click Here – to see full story

Third highest coho harvest on record, best since 1982

MILWAUKEE -- Lake Michigan anglers in 2011 recorded the highest harvest of coho salmon in three decades and the third highest on record since the state started stocking salmon and trout in the 1960s, according to recently released results from angler surveys.

"Coho fishing for Wisconsin anglers on Lake Michigan last year was the best it's been since 1982," says Brad Eggold, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor for Southern Lake Michigan. "Boaters were fishing hard for coho from April to early August and focused on these abundant and easily catchable fish."

The 2011 season for coho salmon ran much longer than previous years and the fish were close to shore and easily accessible by most boat anglers, Eggold says. Those factors helped propel this year's estimated harvest to 157,367 coho, more than triple the 42,445 coho harvested the previous year.

The coho harvest total also was the third highest ever recorded in Wisconsin since DNR started stocking Pacific strain salmon and trout in the 1960s to control populations of alewife, a nonnative species that was washing ashore and collecting in huge, rotting piles on Lake Michigan beaches.

Angler harvests of rainbow trout and lake trout were also up in 2011, while chinook and brown trout harvests were down from 2010. Wisconsin anglers in 2011 harvested 75,442 rainbow trout, up from 49,121 in 2010, and 17,788 lake trout, up slightly from 17,483.

The chinook harvest was down with 169,752 fish caught in 2011, about half of the previous year's harvest of 315,294 and lower than the 10-year-average of 300,000 fish, Eggold says.

"Since the coho salmon fishery was so successful in 2011, many anglers opted to fish for them instead of for chinook salmon, which were found in deeper water farther offshore," he says. "Once anglers located the chinook in mid-August, most of the summer fishing season was over and that contributed to the lower harvest."

Eggold says that the number of chinook returning to the weir DNR operates on Strawberry Creek in Door County was above average, and in fact was up almost 100 percent from the previous year, which indicates that fewer fish were harvested by anglers.

The lower harvest also reflected in part that there are fewer chinook in the lake. Stocking reductions lakewide were implemented in 1999 and 2006 to better match the number of chinook in the lake with available forage.

May 1 and May 8 meetings to address concerns over forage base and stocking

While the lake-wide chinook stocking reductions have helped better balance game fish and prey fish populations, biologists believe those reductions have not been enough and are concerned that the forage base is weakening. The need to keep the number of predators stocked in line with available forage will be the topic of public meetings in Milwaukee May 1 and Green Bay on May 8.

Recent surveys indicate that older alewife are becoming scarce in Lake Michigan, the year-class produced in 2011 was not good, and computer modeling done by Michigan State University researchers predicts a potential mismatch into the future, Eggold says.

Despite such concerns, however, the near-term fishing prospects look good, Eggold says. "Early fishing reports for 2012 are showing that anglers are catching good numbers of brown trout, coho and chinook salmon, so the fishing season is off to a good start," Eggold says. "We're asking anglers now to help us make some decisions to keep their fishing strong in the future."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bighead caught in St. Croix underscores urgency around Asian carp

The discovery late last week of another Asian carp at the mouth of the St. Croix River underscores the need to move ahead with efforts to stop their spread, according to officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
On Thursday, April 19, commercial fishermen working near Prescott, Wis., netted a 30-pound bighead carp from the St. Croix River where it flows into the Mississippi. One of several nonnative species of Asian carp that can cause serious ecological problems, bighead carp have been working their way north in the Mississippi River.


Thursday's catch was the second time this year Asian carp have been found by commercial fishermen in Minnesota waters. In March, a bighead and a silver carp were netted on the Mississippi River near Winona. Last April, another bighead was taken from the St. Croix near Prescott. While no established populations of bighead or silver carp are known to exist in Minnesota, environmental DNA (eDNA) testing last year suggests the fish may be more common in Twin Cities segments of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers than either agency or commercial netting have been able to confirm.

"This latest discovery – the third in the last year – underscores the urgency surrounding Asian carp," said Steve Hirsch, director of DNR's Division of Ecological and Water Resources. "These invaders have huge potential to wreak havoc on Minnesota's fisheries and aquatic ecosystems, so we need to do everything we can to stop them from spreading, and we need to do it now."
Hirsch said the highest priority action now is for Congress to authorize closure of the lock at Upper St. Anthony Falls. Bills to that effect have been introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Keith Ellison, with other members of Minnesota's congressional delegation as co-sponsors. Those bills also would increase federal support for Asian carp control efforts in the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which has until now been limited to the Great Lakes.
As part of an Asian carp control plan, the DNR also is working on several other measures to halt or slow their spread:

  • Obtain funds for a carp barrier at Lock and Dam #1 in Minneapolis.
  • Continue eDNA monitoring and increase contract netting by commercial fishing operators.
  • Do a vulnerability assessment to evaluate the risk Asian carp pose to Minnesota waters statewide.
  • Support research to develop control techniques.
  • Restore habitat for native fish species to increase ecosystem resiliency in the face of invading carp.

Populations of bighead and silver carp are established in the Mississippi River and its tributaries downstream of Dubuque, Iowa. Bighead carp can weigh up to 110 pounds and silver carp, which leap from the water when disturbed, can grow up to 60 pounds. They are voracious eaters, capable of consuming 5 to 20 percent of their body weight each day. They feed on algae and other microscopic organisms, often outcompeting native fish for food. Scientists believe Asian carp could severely disrupt the aquatic ecosystems of Minnesota waters.


More information about Asian carp is available on the DNR's website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/asian-carp/index.html.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 Lake Sturgeon Spawning Update Wednesday, April 11th

Sorry I didn't get a report out last evening - but yesterday (Tuesday 10 April 2012) was a very long, but very historic day in the Winnebago Lake Sturgeon Management Program. We not only captured and tagged the most sturgeon in one day (565 fish) since spawning assessment operations began in the early 1950s, but Ryan Koenig's and Kendall Kamke's crew (the crew of young guys) captured the largest sturgeon we have ever handled in any spawning assessment operation. After our two crews (the "Young Guys Crew", and my and Dan Folz's crew - the "Old Guys Crew") worked all day at the spawning site, Ryan Zernzach, one of our Fisheries Technicians, made one last dip with his net to capture the last fish of the day. He came up with a fish that will likely be the subject of folklore and song for decades - an 87.5 inch fish weighing approximately 240 pounds (the fish was partially spawned out and would have been about 30 pounds heavier had she still had all of her eggs). See the DNR photo with the "Young Guys Crew" and the record shattering fish below.

Largestlakesturgeon_shawano

WDNR note: “probably made first spawning run during WWI.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2012 Lake Sturgeon Spawning

SPAWNING UPDATE
Monday, April 9, 2012

We accomplished a tremendous amount of good sturgeon work today at the Shawano spawning site and beyond………

  • dip netted, captured, and PIT tagged almost 300 lake sturgeon;
  • collected sperm from about 75 males and eggs from 15 females for various restoration projects;
  • conducted river-side seminars on sturgeon biology and life history with over 100 interested publics and several school classes;
  • completed interviews with 2 Television crews, 1 radio crew, and a couple of newspapers on the 2012 sturgeon run; and
  • finished all of the tagging, egg taking, seminaring, and interviewing in time to drive up to 2 hours to represent Fisheries at the annual Spring Conservation Congress meetings in 10 counties in our work unit (10 of our crew including myself).

The sturgeon came into the Shawano site consistently all day and it appears they may spawn out in a couple more days or by mid to late week. Fish also moved into a couple of other sites downstream from Shawano so this thing isn't over yet. I expect fish could show up at other sites as well and extend the season even beyond the big push at Shawano

We're ready to roll tomorrow with the full crew at Shawano capturing and tagging spawning lake sturgeon. The images on the "Sturgeon Cam" tell us it should be another big day. Check them out...

Wolf River Cam at Shawano Dam - underwater (exit DNR)

Wolf River Cam at Shawano Dam II- above water. (exit DNR)

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

Sturgeon Guard
Track the Rivers
Lake Sturgeon Spawning/Viewing Locations on the Wolf River

Maps open to larger images. Sites are listed from North to South.

Opens to larger image
Shawano Dam in Shawano - Parking available on the east side of the river at the end of Richmond Street.
Opens to larger image
Bamboo Bend at Shiocton - on County Highway 54. Parking available on the north side of County Hwy. 54.
Opens to larger image
Wolf River Sturgeon Trail (near New London) - about 2 miles west of New London on County Highway X. Parking available on the south side of the river about 1/2 mile from the spawning site

During mid-April to early May, Lake Sturgeon travel upstream to their spawning grounds, giving the public a prime opportunity to see these
ancient ones up close.

Sturgeon spawning is dependent on water temperature and flow. During seasons when water flow is high and water temperatures rise slowly, spawning begins when water temperature reaches 53 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, during seasons of low water flow and more rapid water temperature rise, spawning does not begin until water temperatures reach 58-59 degrees Fahrenheit. (End – WDNR release)

Photos below taken and posted by John E. Durben, President, WCSFO. Click on photos to enlarge.

April 9, 2012

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The tails from the Spawning Sturgeon resemble a scene from the movie Jaws as they’ve come to a Dead-end at the foot of the Dam in Shawano, WI.  Members of the WDNR crew haul a fish up the west bank of the Wolf River to check to see if it has been tagged. If  it isn’t tagged they will tag it before they release the fish. Other information about each fish is gathered as well.

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Another fish is caught in the landing nets to be processed for tagging and release. This guy is riding the slide back down to the River after being released.

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The water churns while the fish perform their annual ritual. The right photo shows the Dam which is the end of the line for this journey. Many others have spawned down river by this time.

April 10, 2012

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The crew moved to the center of the Wolf River today. The fish are all around them which makes it easier than tripping over the rocks on the river bottom or carrying those heavy fish up the hill as they did yesterday.

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Although you can barely see the constant mist from the water flowing through the Dam, you can’t see the occasional snow flakes blown around by the wind. It had to be cold out there. The guy in the center is wrestling a Sturgeon to the platform to get measured and tagged. One of the Sturgeon has a Lamprey hitchhiking on it’s back.

Kids’ Fishing Clinic

Saturday April 14th, 2012

9:00 am to 3:00 pm

 

Mill Pond in Grant Park

(Mill Road and Oak Creek Parkway, South Milwaukee)

 

In cooperation with:

Wisconsin Council of Sport Fishing Organizations; Milwaukee County Parks; City of South Milwaukee; Milwaukee County Parks Fish Hatchery; and the Department of Natural Resources.image

Click Here – for more information!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Walleyes For Shawano Lake…

By: John E. Durben, President WCSFO

The Shawano Chapter of Walleyes for Tomorrow (WFT) has taken it upon themselves in cooperation with the Local Wisconsin DNR and and the Village of Cecil to set up one of their portable fish hatchery wagons on Shawano Lake. This particular hatchery is set up at the campground situated on the Cecil end of Shawano Lake.

The results of testing as well as documentation being gathered during the process of this project so far indicates that the female Walleye population in Shawano Lake are mature females who could be up to 20 years old and there is little natural reproduction.

The Walleye project began about two weeks ago with members of the Club that was formed about a year ago taking on the challenge of setting up the nets used to catch the fish that will provide the fertilized eggs and act as Foster Mothers until the eggs have hatched and the small Walleye fry are released into the depths of Shawano Lake.

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The Hatchery (above left) is situated at the mouth of Pickerel Creek. Members of (WFT) bring back adult Walleyes that were caught in nets that were placed in various spawning areas on the Lake.

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When the fish are taken from the tanks on the boat they are sorted by sex in holding tanks near the hatchery.  WFT Chairman Mike Arrowood strips the eggs from one of the female Walleye that is considered ripe (the eggs are ready to be released.)

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Eggs gathered from at least two female Walleyes. Mike milks one of several male Walleye into the dish to fertilize the eggs.

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Water is added to the mixture and the eggs are then stirred as pictured above by one of the local spectator kids for about two minutes to aid in fertilization.

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Another step includes putting the fertilized eggs in a clay solution to allow them to sit and double there size and harden up before they are placed in the hatchery jars. The fish are measured and released.

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More of the area kids get involved in helping out with the process. The inside of the portable hatchery shows the tubes that hold the eggs until they are hatched. Water is pumped into the tubes holding the eggs in order to keep a constant slow roll of the eggs to keep them circulating. If they eggs weren’t constantly moving, they would clump together and the center eggs would suffocate and the entire tube of eggs would die. Also shown in the above right photo the WWF member is adding a measured amount of hydrogen peroxide which drips from the  white bottles on the shelf above the tubes. This aides in protecting the eggs during the process.

At the time of this photo, the amount of eggs in the tubes is estimated to be over 2.1 million eggs. History of WTF involvement in hatching the eggs shows that they normally get about an 85% success hatch rate from the eggs collected. Chairman Arrowood stated that this is a numbers game. They hope to get .5 to 1 percent of the fish to grow large enough to spawn or be caught in 3 to 4 years. .5 percent would be about 12,000 fish and 1 percent would be twice that or 24,000 fish. (There goal is to get at least 3 million eggs.)

WFT, the DNR and the Village of Cecil have agreed to make this a three year project. At that time tests will be conducted through netting, creel census, and some harmless die that the fish are also treated with.

Walleyes for Tomorrow currently operates 7 such hatcheries throughout Wisconsin each Spring. They have 15 Chapters throughout Wisconsin.

Photos by: John E. Durben – Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Future of Salmon and Trout Stocking in Lake Michigan

Five species of salmon and trout support a world-class recreational fishery in Lake Michigan. Stocking has played an important role in maintaining the balance between predators and baitfish, such as the non-native alewife, since the late 1960s. If too many salmon and trout are in the lake, baitfish decline and salmon starve or fall prey to disease. If too few salmon and trout are in the lake, the non-native alewife could foul beaches and affect native species.

Ongoing research is being used to investigate the possibility that changes to stocking policy could improve fisheries and limit the risk of predator-prey imbalance. Fisheries managers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana will set a stocking policy for Lake Michigan salmon and trout by fall of 2012.

Lake Michigan Salmon Stocking Workshop
Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor, Michigan
Saturday, April 14, 2012
1:00–4:30 PM (Eastern)

This half-day workshop is open to the public at no charge. Participants will learn more about specific options for stocking policy and have the opportunity to speak with fisheries managers about the future of Lake Michigan fisheries.

Additional Resources

Source: WDNR, Michigan Sea Grant

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012 Lake Sturgeon Spawning Saturday, March 24, 2012

SPAWNING UPDATE

I am sending out my sturgeon spawning report early today (and cancelling any thought of heading to Vegas). As good as we think we are in predicting what these fish are going to do and when they are going to spawn, the fish always win. The cold and abundant rain yesterday caused the water temperatures to drop a couple of degrees and the fish that were spawning finished over night and we found no new fish in to carry on the heavy 2012 spawning activity today. The crew mopped up about a dozen fish at Bamboo Bend this morning and are working fish at a couple of other private sites in the Shiocton area. The heaviest concentration of fish today seems to be below the Manawa dam on the Little Wolf River - this is a site where the public can also get a good look at the fish. Looking at the weather forecast and the behavior of the fish this spring, my next best guess as to when things will pick up again at the spawning sites that still need to come in from Shiocton to Shawano, is that fish won't come into these sites for a few days - perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday or later. It is entirely possible that Shawano could come in earlier or later than Wednesday - we'll keep an eye out and let you know.

The start, stop, and start again spawning behavior is typical of our lake sturgeon and probably other sturgeon species as well. Each female is on her own biological clock and will ovulate when she is finally ready, not before; and once she starts spawning she will keep spawning for the next 8-12 hours until she is finished. Water temperature is important, but the rate of warming is critical with the fish not only spawning at a wide range of temperatures (so they do not all lay their eggs at the same time), but not until they are ready to spawn (the females that is). Males are pretty much ready all the time once the females start showing up, and they will remain ready for weeks to take advantage of an ovulating female that arrives at a spawning site. Males also will not only spawn with many females over 4-5 weeks, but also will spawn at numerous sites - wherever they can find females that are ovulating or waiting to ovulate.

Once females finish spawning they will "rest" for a few hours perhaps at the spawning site before they move out - they are quite exhausted and ready to individually drift back downstream to the Winnebago lakes. The males don't head back until the full spawning season is in the books. As such the sex ratio, typically 6:1 males to females, is much more heavily tipped to males if there are "second" and "third" runs.

Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 Lake Sturgeon Spawning

SPAWNING UPDATE
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The 2012 sturgeon spawning season on the Wolf River has officially begun. Sturgeon are now spawning along the Sturgeon trail west of New London on County Highway X. We captured and tagged 75 fish there this afternoon in about 3 hours. To our knowledge this is the only site with active spawning at this time, but there were fish on shore this evening at Bamboo Bend west of Shiocton and, although they were not actively spawning, will likely be spawning there by tomorrow afternoon if not sooner. There are also fish below the Shawano dam, again they don't appear to be spawning there yet either, but their numbers are beginning to build in the river below the dam. I expect spawning could commence in Shawano and numerous other sites on the river system sometime in the next 4 to 5 days.

Many people have asked if we have ever seen the fish spawn this early before. We have only been keeping records since 1950 and since that time we have not seen the sturgeon spawn this early before (the earliest since 1950 would have been the first week in April). But - old weather records indicate that 1938 was also very warm in mid to late March and it is very possible that sturgeon may have spawned in March that year as well. In fact we have some adult sturgeon in our population spawning this year that would have also spawned in the early warm spring of 1938! These would be the 90 to 100 year old and older females or the 180+ pound fish we have in our population.

Wolf River Cam at Shawano Dam - underwater (exit DNR)

Wolf River Cam at Shawano Dam II- above water. (exit DNR)

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

Sturgeon Guard
Track the Rivers
Lake Sturgeon Spawning/Viewing Locations on the Wolf River

Maps open to larger images. Sites are listed from North to South.

Opens to larger image
Shawano Dam in Shawano - Parking available on the east side of the river at the end of Richmond Street.
Opens to larger image
Bamboo Bend at Shiocton - on County Highway 54. Parking available on the north side of County Hwy. 54.
Opens to larger image
Wolf River Sturgeon Trail (near New London) - about 2 miles west of New London on County Highway X. Parking available on the south side of the river about 1/2 mile from the spawning site

During mid-April to early May, Lake Sturgeon travel upstream to their spawning grounds, giving the public a prime opportunity to see these
ancient ones up close.

Sturgeon spawning is dependent on water temperature and flow. During seasons when water flow is high and water temperatures rise slowly, spawning begins when water temperature reaches 53 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, during seasons of low water flow and more rapid water temperature rise, spawning does not begin until water temperatures reach 58-59 degrees Fahrenheit.

April 1 marks start of open period for 2013 fishing tournament permit applications

MADISON – Organizers planning fishing tournaments for 2013 can apply for their permits starting April 1, 2012, and should do so before June 30 to have the best chance of securing the date and water they want, state fisheries officials say.

There is a cap on the maximum amount of tournament fishing pressure allowed on some waters, so to give tournament organizers a fair shot at reserving their spots, the Department of Natural Resources runs an open application period from April 1 through June 30.

Permit applications from tournament organizers applying after June 30, 2012, for events in 2013 will be considered on a first-come first-served basis, according to Jon Hansen, the DNR fisheries biologist who coordinates the fishing tournament permit system.

All applications for 2013 events DNR received during the open period will be reviewed by Aug. 1, 2012, and in the unlikely event that another tournament conflicts with an organizer’s choice of dates or waters, DNR fisheries biologists will discuss options with the tournament organizers, Hansen says.

In 2011, 559 applications were approved from the 603 submitted. None of the applications were denied but some applications were withdrawn and some events cancelled.

Organizers can still apply for 2012 tournaments

Tournament organizers can still apply for 2012 tournaments, but the DNR must receive completed applications at least 30 days before the start of the applicant’s tournament, Hansen says. These applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the caps have been reached.

Tournament organizers will need a permit if the tournament:

  • involves 20 or more boats, or 100 or more participants;
  • targets any trout species on waters classified as trout streams;
  • is a catch-hold-release tournament with an off-site weigh-in;
  • will have fewer than 20 boats but participants will cull bass; or
  • has total prize value of $10,000 or greater.

An application fee must accompany all permit applications. The fee will vary depending on the type of tournament and the value of prizes awarded. For more details on the tournament rules and fee structure, to submit an application, or to view a tournament event calendar, visit the DNR website and search for fishing tournaments.

Tournament numbers down, but fishing hours and fish caught up in 2011

The number of fishing tournaments with permits declined in 2011 but anglers participating in those tournaments caught more fish and spent more time fishing than did tournament anglers in the previous two years, DNR statistics show.

Hansen speculates that the decrease in tournament applications, and thus permitted tournaments, largely reflects the fact that the tournament rules are now three years old and that organizers of smaller tournaments are learning they may fall under the thresholds necessary for a permit and so are not applying.

The 559 permitted tournaments drew more than 75,000 anglers and awarded prizes totaling nearly $3.2 million. Anglers fished 1.58 million hours and caught 98,205 fish and released about 48 percent of them, down from previous years.

Top counties for permitted tournaments included Winnebago County, with 50, Oneida County with 28, Waukesha and Polk with 25 each, and Vilas County with 22, Hansen says.

Fish egg collection facilities start operating March 20

Public invited to watch Lake Michigan fish

KEWAUNEE -- Recent warm weather has state egg collection facilities up and running earlier than usual to produce the next generation of Lake Michigan trout and salmon. The public is invited to come along and watch the process and see the fish up close through viewing windows as they “climb” the fish ladder into the facilities.

The C.D. Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility in Kewaunee County along with the Root River Steelhead facility in Racine County are both checking fish for the first time March 20. Watch the video showing the egg collection process.

Both facilities turned on the pumps last week to send river water through the fish ladder and facilities in preparation for egg collection and juggled getting fish out the door at some hatcheries from last year before getting ready for this year's take.

“Everything is on the fast track this year,” says John Komassa, southeastern Wisconsin Hatchery group leader for the Department of Natural Resources. “At the Root River, we're about a week ahead of normal.”

At the Besadny facility, they're starting operation a week ahead of what's normal and three weeks ahead of when they turned on the pumps in 2011 during a cold and late spring, says Mike Baumgartner, facility manager.

“The recent warmer weather made the ice go out sooner and because the ice was going out and the snow was melting, the water levels in the river went up,” he says. “That’s a trigger that attracts the fish, as well as daylight and water temperatures.”

Lake Michigan trout and salmon do not successfully reproduce in the warmer temperatures and fluctuating water levels found in Wisconsin tributaries to Lake Michigan. So DNR gives them a hand. Once the eggs and milt have been collected from the fish, the fish are released back to the rivers for anglers to catch. The eggs are fertilized on site and sent to state hatcheries where they are incubated, hatched, and stocked back in the river more than a year later.

This year, the Besadny facility turned on its pumps March 15 and overnight had about 100 fish move into the collection ponds, Baumgartner says. “We are scheduled to sort through our fish Monday for the first time and then at least weekly, more often if the run is strong enough, through about mid-April to continue sorting and spawning fish from the length of the run.”

The Besadny facility is located at 3884 Ransom Moore Lane, off of County Highway F, west of Kewaunee, on the west bank of the Kewaunee River. The site is open daily, dawn to dusk and the building is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Baumgartner says that people who want to watch the egg processing will want to call ahead (920) 388-1025 to make sure it's going on that day and to come between 9 a.m. and noon.

The Root River facility is located on the Root River, inside Lincoln Park, in Racine. After March 20, DNR will be processing fish at the facility on Mondays, and thanks to a Salmon Unlimited volunteer, the viewing window is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Komassa says. People can call ahead to (262) 594-6218 to confirm the processing is occurring.

CLICK HERE to see uTube video regarding the Hatchery.

U.S. Asian carp official to speak at Wisconsin Lakes Convention

GREEN BAY—The nation’s top advisor on efforts to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp will speak at the annual Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention April 10-12 in Green Bay.

Asian Carp Director John Goss of the White House Council on Environmental Quality will talk about the administration's recently released 2012 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework. That plan outlines 58 action items and more than $50 million in investments to keep Asian carp from establishing self-sustaining populations in the Great Lakes. Goss also will provide an update on actions to prevent the invasive fish from entering the Great Lakes (exit DNR).

“Asian carp in the Mississippi and some of its tributaries represent the single biggest threat to the fisheries and ecologic balance we now enjoy in Wisconsin inland waters,” says Paul Schumacher, a board member of Wisconsin Lakes, a nonprofit statewide lakes group that is co-sponsoring the conference along with the Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin-Extension.

“We're very pleased to have Mr. Goss come to Wisconsin to update us on the actions underway and those planned to prevent Asian carp from entering our waters,” Schumacher said.

Several species of Asian carp, voracious eaters that compete for the same food as young fish and other aquatic life, have on occasion been found in Wisconsin waters (pdf) of the Mississippi River and Asian carp environmental DNA has been found above the electric dispersal barriers in Lake Calumet, seven miles from Lake Michigan on the Indiana-Illinois border.

Lakes convention speakers include John McKnight, an internationally renowned community development expert with Northwestern University, and Darby Nelson, author of 2011 book, “For Love of Lakes,” that some reviewers have hailed as the lakes counterpart to Aldo Leopold's classic, “Sand County Almanac.” Nelson, a former Minnesota lawmaker and professor, is a 2012 Minnesota Book Awards nominee in the category of Memoir and Creative Nonfiction.

Convention attendees also will hear from DNR Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney, Wisconsin Wildlife Executive Director George Meyer, Lisa Conley, a long-time lake advocate and former president of the North American Lake Management Society, and State Assembly Rep. Cory Mason.

“These speakers will not only talk about our love affair with lakes, but they will also help us understand our roles as individuals and community members in protecting and restoring lakes,” says Eric Olson, who leads the UW Cooperative Extension effort for lakes education.

Conference details

The convention, set for the KI Convention Center in downtown Green Bay, is one of the nation’s largest gatherings of lake enthusiasts. It is sponsored by the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership, comprised of DNR, Wisconsin Lakes, and the University of Wisconsin-Extension. The event’s 2012 theme, “Partnering for Lakes,” focuses on how different groups can join together to better care for Wisconsin’s 15,000-plus lakes, Olson says.

People can attend all three days of the conference or select one or two days to attend, Olson says. In-depth workshops will cover subjects ranging from the basics of running a lake organization to aquatic plant identification methods. Participants can also take part in more than 40 concurrent sessions about topics including shoreland restoration, algae, climate change, and invasive species.

For more information on the convention or to register, go to www.uwsp.edu/cnr/uwexlakes/conventions or contact UW-Extension Lakes at (715) 346-2116.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Program to increase lands for hunting, fishing and trapping enrolls 30,000 acres

Voluntary Public Access program to expands into 12 new counties

MADISON – Since becoming available in August 2011, Wisconsin landowners have enrolled more than 30,000 acres in a program intended to increase the amount of land available for public hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife observation. Now the state is expanding the program into 12 additional Wisconsin counties.

The Voluntary Public Access program provides incentive payments to private landowners who voluntarily open up their land for public access. Grassland, wetland, forestland, and in some cases, agriculture land, are eligible. Land enrolled in conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), and Managed Forest Law (MFL) may also be eligible under VPA.

“We are excited to expand into additional counties,” said Melissa Keenan, who coordinates the program for the Department of Natural Resources. “The expansion gives private landowners the opportunity to earn additional income by leasing their land public access.”

The program is being expanded into Columbia, Sauk, Juneau, Adams, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Jackson, Clark, Polk and Barron counties.

Funding for the Voluntary Public Access program was authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill and Wisconsin received $1.9 million to implement it. Annual payment rates are based on the type of land (agriculture land at $3 per acre, grassland/wetland at $10 per acre, and forest land at $15 per acre). Lease lengths are up to two and a half years. An upfront lump sum payment would be made at the beginning of the contract. Priority will be given parcels greater than 40 acres in size with at least 25 percent usable cover and that are located near properties currently open to public hunting and/or fishing.

Under state statutes, landowners are generally immune from liability for injuries received by individuals recreating on their lands. Also, the department agrees to provide compensation for damages to property or crops that occur as a result of opening the land to public access. For more information about the program or to find VPA properties open to public access, visit dnr.wi.gov and search “VPA.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

WCSFO Annual Spring Meeting

(Revised)
Date: Saturday, March 17, 2012
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Gander Mountain
6939 S 27th St
Franklin WI

For complete meeting agenda – click here

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Department of Natural Resources Annual Spring Fish & Wildlife Informational Hearing & Wisconsin Conservation Congress Annual Spring County Conservation Meeting

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, April 9, 2012, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress will hold its election of county delegates in each county. Upon completion of the delegate elections, the joint Spring Department of Natural Resources Informational Hearing and Conservation Congress Meeting will convene to take comments on the department and Conservation Congress advisory questions.

NOTICE IS HEREBY FURTHER GIVEN that the Department of Natural Resources will take public input on advisory questions relating to hunting, trapping, and the management of department lands.

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY FURTHER GIVEN that the Department of Natural Resources will take public input on advisory questions relating to fishing on the inland, outlying, and boundary waters of Wisconsin.

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY FURTHER GIVEN that following the completion of the advisory questions from the department and the Conservation Congress, the Conservation Congress will hold town hall meetings to get input from citizens on ways to simplify regulations and identify barriers to hunting and fishing participation.

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY FURTHER GIVEN that the informational hearings/meetings will be held on Monday, April 9, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at the following locations:

Click Here – For the 2012 Spring Hearing Questionnaire

Important time sensitive issues:

FCC extends comment period on GPS decision to March 16

Comment Period for Cormorant Management ends April 6 Here are two issues that are of importance to us in the Great Lakes region, issues that could impact our fishery resources and our GPS finding capability. Your action is important on both.

 

Dan Thomas, President

Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council

Glsfc444@gmail.com FCC extends comment period on GPS decision to March 16

 

BoatUS recently cautioned that America's boaters weren't out of the woods yet with the possibility of the country's sole electronic navigation system failing as the result of radio signal interference issues from a newly proposed cellular broadband network.

 

The Federal Communications Commission extended the public comment period to the network's proposed builder, LightSquared, allowing comments through March 16. Boaters and all users of GPS are urged to submit comments to the FCC to ensure that the nation's system of global positioning devices keeps Americans safely on course.

Here is how to file comments to the FCC through its online comment form:

 

Click here for the FCC online Comment form: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/hotdocket/list

• Select ―Proceeding Number 11-109.‖

• Enter contact information.

• In the box that says ―Type in or paste your brief comments,‖ here are some points to select from:

• Explain how you use GPS in your life — on the water, on land or in the air.

• What would happen to your business/personal life if GPS became unavailable or unreliable?

• Wireless broadband service is important, but it should not come at the expense of GPS.

• All of the studies show that LightSquared's proposed network would cause interference and that there are no remedies.

• Tell the FCC that you rely on it to protect the integrity of the GPS signal and that you support its recommendation to stop LightSquared's current proposal.

• Click ―Continue.‖

• If the review page is correct, click ―Confirm.‖

 

Comment Period for Cormorant Management ends April 6

 

Click here to submit comments: http://www.regulations.gov/#!searchResults;rpp=25;po=0;s=FWS-R9-MB-2011-0033%252B

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requesting public comments to guide the preparation of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement related to revising regulations governing the management of Double-crested Cormorants.

 

USFWS requesting input

 

These latest comments will update the original 2003 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS): Double-crested cormorant management in the United States (USFWS 2003, 208 pp). USFWS is requesting comments to help them determine future national policy for effective management of double-crested cormorant populations in the United States.

 

One group, the Lake Huron Citizens Fishery Advisory Committee is supporting the Michigan DNR’s recommendation to amend the 2003 Final Environmental Impact Statement to incorporate a regional approach. Managing the cormorant population at the Flyway level ensures that the cormorant population is protected and significantly increases efficiency and flexibility for the action agencies (State fish and wildlife agencies, federally recognized Tribes and State Directors of USDA Aphis Wildlife Services). The cormorant take for each state would be determined by discussions between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and each Flyway Council with the goal of each State maintaining breeding cormorant abundance above minimum thresholds while reducing bureaucratic hindrances within each State.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fishing slump, the Internet and casting an umbrella skeleton

I’ve just gone through a brief period of nothingness comparable to going fishing and catching nothing. My computer reminded me of what it’s like to have fishless outings. I had signed on, signed off, rebooted, only to have been met by a less responsive computer each use.

I tried all kinds of techniques that should have brought success to my methods.

Nothing!

Read More

L. A. Van Veghel, Milwaukee Fishing Examiner

Thursday, January 19, 2012

WI State HS Ice Fishing Championship

The Second Annual Wisconsin State High School Fishing Championship is coming up fast. WCSFO supports programs like this because we want to see the younger generation get involved in our Sport. They are our future. We need more programs like this.

-------------------------

The purpose of the tournament is to support and promote students respectfully enjoying the outdoors.

Feb 25. Menomonie Park, Oshkosh, WI. This tournament is in conjunction with Battle on Bago.

1. High School students form teams of 5-10. $25/team. There is no limit to the number of teams per school.

2. Your team rosters, registration and $25/team must be received by Wednesday Feb 22. Email Greg Franzen at franzengreg@aasd.k12.wi.us to get the registration form. Fill it out, write checks to Oshkosh SW Rotory and send to: 

 

Greg Franzen

Appleton West HS

610 N. Badger Ave.

Appleton, WI 54914

3. All students must be from the same school.

4. Each team must have an Adult School Approved Chaperone/Coach that is present during the whole tournament and prize distribution. Teams must be predetermined and are allowed to fish together, but please keep their catches separate.

5. Students must catch and land all fish that are registered. Setting the hook, fighting and landing the fish must be done by students. Chaperones are not allowed to physically assist in anyway in the landing of a fish.

6. Chaperones are allowed to fish as long as they keep their fish separate at all times from the students’ catch.

7. Fishing for the HS tournament will be from 7:00am-1:30pm. You do not need to stop at the park before fishing.

8. Be in line to register fish by 2:00pm at the Tent at Menomonee Park in Oshkosh. You can weigh in 10 fish/team. Fish must be walleye, panfish(perch, bluegill or crappie), white bass or burbot.

9. The awards and prize drawings will begin at approximately 2:30pm.

10. The top three teams, based on weight, will receive a small trophy. The top 3 teams will get to pick a door prize in the order of finish. The remainder of teams’ names will be put into a drawing to pick a door prize. A list of door prizes will be sent out before Feb 25.

11. Teams are encouraged to sell raffle tickets for Battle on Bago. Schools will be reimbursed 60% of their raffle ticket sales. A check will be made out to the schools outdoor club fund and is meant to be used to promote students in the outdoors, especially fishing. The check will be sent out before the next school year. The tickets are to be sold for $5/each or 5 for $20. Make sure the stubs, extra tickets and money to Greg Franzen (see address above) by Wed Feb 22.

12. If for some reason, the HS portion of Battle on Bago gets cancelled, we will put all teams into a drawing at noon on Feb 25. We hope one advisor from each team can make it to Oshkosh to pick up the door prize.

13. Battle on Bago or its organizers can not ensure the safety of any participant. Going onto the ice can be dangerous and deadly. Safety is not the responsibility of Battle on Bago. Please exercise extreme caution on the lake. Lake Winnebago can be a very dangerous lake with unstable ice.

14. Ties will be decided by length of longest fish.

15. Teams are to take their fish with them and make every effort to clean and eat the fish.

16. Hotel information can be found at http://www.battleonbago.org/general-information/lodging.

-- REGISTRATION FORM – Click Here