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


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

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.

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Shawano Dam in Shawano - Parking available on the east side of the river at the end of Richmond Street.
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Bamboo Bend at Shiocton - on County Highway 54. Parking available on the north side of County Hwy. 54.
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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 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 and search “VPA.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

WCSFO Annual Spring Meeting

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 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:

• 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:!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.