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

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.


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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2012 Lake Sturgeon Spawning

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.

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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. (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.