Monday, December 15, 2014

Tackling the Problem of Ghost Nets

Using money from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Wisconsin Sea Grant partners to educate commercial and tribal fishermen about the dangers of unmoored gill nets in Lake Superior--and what to do when they become entangled in one.

Full Story Click Here

Source: UW Sea Grant Institution

IL Conservation Police arrest commercial fisherman for sale of live Asian carp

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Conservation Police have arrested a commercial fisherman for the unlawful possession and sale of 1,800 pounds of live Asian bighead and silver carp. Randall E. Watters of Hamburg, IL was arrested October 7, 2014. He was charged in Calhoun County for the Unlawful Sale of Live Injurious Species (Class 3 Felony) and Unlawful Possession of Live Injurious Species (Class ‘A’ Misdemeanor). Ronald D. Watters of Hamburg, IL was ticketed for possession of live bighead carp.

 

“Commercial fishermen play a key role in our efforts to control Asian carp, and we make every provision to allow them to deliver fresh product to processing plants,” said Illinois DNR Director Marc Miller. “However, our Conservation Police Officers take the job of preventing the spread of invasive species seriously, and anyone who attempts to transport or sell live Asian carp will be cited.”

 

Rules governing “injurious” species, such as Asian bighead and silver carp, are designed to curtail the spread of these species. The complete rule can be found here: http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/017/01700805sections.html. By state law, fish are considered to be live if they are held in a container with water, are held in a solution of salt, electrolyte, or other substance, or combination to promote health or longevity. The fish cannot be maintained by the addition of oxygen or compressed or supplied air to keep them alive in captivity.

 

A Class 3 Felony is punishable by up to 2-5 years imprisonment plus one-year mandatory supervised release, and up to $25,000 in fines or restitution. A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in prison, fines of up to $2,500, or restitution.

Source: Inland Seas Angler GREAT LAKES BASIN REPORT – GLSFC

Friday, November 28, 2014

Public meeting set for Dec. 1 in Ashland on Lake Superior fisheries management

ASHLAND, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is inviting anglers, commercial fishers, conservation stakeholders and interested citizens to attend a public meeting on Dec. 1 at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland to discuss Lake Superior fisheries management plans including the lake trout harvest outlook for 2015.

For the coming year, lake trout population assessments show lower numbers of fish will meet the minimum size range of 15 inches, although models indicate that relatively strong lake trout reproduction in 2008 and 2009 should result in higher fish numbers and harvest quotas beginning in 2016. Public input is being sought to identify local fisheries issues, opportunities and challenges. The meeting aims to ensure all aspects of the fishery are considered and increase awareness of the resource.

DNR is interested in exploring management options with the public and welcomes diverse viewpoints from stakeholders. The department will use the public comments it gathers as well as the latest scientific findings in working to sustain and enhance the fishery.

For the 2015 season, DNR anticipates reduced limits that will affect commercial, recreational and tribal anglers. A temporary rule will be proposed to cover the season for commercial and recreational anglers while long-term sustainability is discussed among stakeholders.

The Dec. 1 public meeting in Ashland will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, 29270 County Highway G, Ashland, WI 54806. (Agenda [PDF]) In addition to collecting comments at the meeting, citizens may provide feedback by mailing Terry L. Margenau, Lake Superior fisheries supervisor, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 589, 141 S. Third St., Bayfield, WI 54814; or emailing Terry.margenau@wisconsin.gov.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2015 KIDS FISHING CLINIC

WISCONSIN COUNCIL OF SPORT FISHING ORGANIZATIONS

2015 KIDS FISHING CLINIC

 

Holly Glainyk

Waukesha County Parks Program Specialist

515 West Moreland Blvd Rm. AC230

Waukesha, WI. 53188

Dear Holly:

We have begun the planning for our 2015 Kids Fishing Clinics. We are planning on holding the clinics as listed below at your parks. Flyers for these clinics will be made available to your office as soon as we are able to complete the planning for them. Please contact me as soon as possible if there is any problem in reserving the parks for these dates. .

The Kids Fishing Clinics are being held this year on February 14th, and April 11th. We are planning on conducting the WCSFO Clinics on February 14th at Menomonee and April 11th at Muskego, Menomonee, and Foxbrook Parks in Waukesha County. The clinics will start at 9:00 AM and end at 3:00 PM.

The contact people for this years clinics are as follows:

Feb. 14, 2015 Menomonee Park Brenda Rosin Schaff 414-467-6658 Badger Fishermans League

Apr. 11, 2015 Muskego Park Jean Tackes 262-246-1993 Womens Hunting & Sporting Assoc.

Apr. 11, 2015 Menomonee Park Don Camplin 262-392-4183 Wisconsin Houseoutdoorsmen

Apr. 11, 2015 Foxbrook Park Dave Schmitt 262-781-8993 Wern Valley Sportsmen

The instructors teaching the clinics have completed the DNR Angler Certification course and have been certified. I hope as in the past we can have the Park entrance fees waived for the clinics. As you know part of our clinics are class room activities and I would request that an appropriate building for these activities also be reserved at each park.

Thank you again for your support and cooperation in helping to make the Kids Fishing Clinics a success. If you have any questions you can contact me at : # 414-321-0869

Sincerely: Ron Gray, Secretary

Kids Fishing Clinic

 

cc:

Brenda Rosin Schaff, Kids Fishing Clinics Coordinator

Matt Coffaro, DNR Liaison

Ted Lind, WCSFO

John Durben, WCSFO

Jean Tackes, Women’s Hunting & Sporting Assoc.

Douglas Doughty, Wisconsin House Outdoorsmen

Don Camplin, Wisconsin House Outdoorsmen

Dave Schmidt, Wern Valley Sportsmen

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Deadline nears for those seeking to serve on DNR fish work groups

Volunteers who want to join five citizen-agency work groups that will discuss how the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages fish have until Wednesday, Nov. 19, to apply.

There will be individual work groups for bass, catfish, panfish and walleye, and one that will focus on both northern pike and muskellunge.

Each group of 10 to 15 people will include volunteers and DNR staff who meet two to three times per year to discuss new research, population and harvest trends, and fisheries management. Volunteers may apply to one of the five groups and citizens can nominate themselves.

Participants will be selected by the DNR and can serve a term of either two or three years. Meetings average four to six hours including travel time. The groups are advisory and do not make decisions on policy or fish management.

Go online for more information or an application form.

No Asian carp environmental DNA found after additional testing in Lower Fox River

MADISON, Wis. -- Additional tests for Asian carp environmental DNA in the Lower Fox River have come back negative, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials said.

Bob Wakeman, aquatic invasive species coordinator for DNR, said the additional tests were requested after one out of 200 sample collected in June and July from the Lower Fox River tested positive for silver carp. The latest round of testing - by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - included collecting 200 additional samples from the Lower Fox River on two days of sampling in the weeks following the initial results.

"We're pleased that the results came back negative and it's a good indication there are no live silver carp in the river," Wakeman said. "We're particularly grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their work in carrying out the water sampling and analysis. Through continued monitoring and the preventive efforts of Wisconsin anglers, waterfowl hunters, recreational boaters and commercial partners, we hope to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan."

Asian carp pose significant ecological and economic threats to the Great Lakes region and its fishery because they eat voraciously and compete directly with valuable native fish for food. Asian carp species including bighead and silver carp were introduced into the southern United States in the 1970s.

The tests for eDNA are extremely sensitive and can detect genetic material shed in mucus or excrement from fish as well as from birds that have eaten the fish elsewhere. Contaminated bilge water also can carry traces of the fish and the latest negative results suggest the source of eDNA from the summer sampling originated from a temporary source.

While the genetic fingerprints are clear enough to identify specific invasive carp species, the eDNA testing program relies on multiple positive samples over time to indicate the likelihood of live fish. The single positive result among 1,950 samples from Wisconsin tributaries to Lake Michigan in June and July followed by the negative results returned this week recalls a similar situation in 2013. Then, a single positive sample from the Sturgeon Bay area was followed by all negative results.

In addition to the federal eDNA monitoring, DNR fisheries team members conduct a variety of netting, electroshocking and trawling operations in state waters. To date, these efforts have not captured any Asian carp in any waters of the Lower Fox River, Green Bay or Lake Michigan.

DNR encourages anglers and others to review Asian carp identification materials, to report any sightings of Asian carp and to make sure that bait buckets don't inadvertently contain the fish because young Asian carp resemble popular bait species. Photo identification tools and more information on Asian carp can be found on DNR's website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching "Asian carp."

Public invited to weigh in on Lake Superior fisheries management at Ashland meeting Dec. 1

Lake trout harvest outlook, fish population data among topics on agenda

ASHLAND, Wis. -- Anglers, commercial fishers, conservation stakeholders and interested citizens are encouraged to attend a public meeting hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Dec. 1 at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland to discuss Lake Superior fisheries management plans including the lake trout harvest outlook for 2015.

For the coming year, lake trout population assessments show lower numbers of fish will meet the minimum size range of 15 inches, although models indicate that relatively strong lake trout reproduction in 2008 and 2009 should result in higher fish numbers and harvest quotas beginning in 2016. Public input is being sought to identify local fisheries issues and discuss management objectives as well as opportunities and challenges. The meeting aims to ensure all aspects of the fishery are considered and increase awareness of the resource.

"We look forward to exploring management options with the public and we welcome diverse viewpoints from stakeholders," said Bill Cosh, DNR spokesman. "We appreciate the vital role lake trout play in the region's economy as well as Lake Superior's ecology and we will use the public comments and latest scientific findings in our continuing efforts to sustain and enhance the fishery."

For the 2015 season, DNR anticipates reduced limits that will affect commercial, recreational and tribal anglers. A temporary rule will be proposed to cover the season for commercial and recreational anglers while long-term sustainability is discussed among stakeholders.

The Dec. 1 public meeting in Ashland will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center (exit DNR), 29270 County Highway G, Ashland, WI 54806.

For more information about the Lake Superior fishery, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "fishing Lake Superior."

River Talk to Focus on Wisconsin Point

By Marie Zhuikov
The next monthly River Talk is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 20, 7 p.m. at the Red Mug (916 Hammond Ave., Superior, Wis.). Bob Miller, a Lake Superior Ojibway tribal member, will present, “What’s the Point? Ojibway History and the Unique Value of Wisconsin Point.”

Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) have teamed up to offer this series of science cafĂ©-type evening talks about the St. Louis River Estuary. These informal “River Talks” are held monthly through May. Grab a mug of coffee or maybe a glass of beer and join us! 

Check the Lake Superior NERR website for details about upcoming talks. If you miss a talk, visit the Wisconsin Sea Grant’s “Great Lakes Takes” blog for a summary of the discussion.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Minutes from 2014 Fall Meeting (October 18)

Attached are the minutes from our 2014 WCSFO Fall Meeting.

CLICK HERE to review them

Thursday, October 16, 2014

WCSFO 2014 Fall Meeting

WCSFO’s “Fall Meeting” is scheduled for Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the Walleyes for Tomorrow home office. The Office is located at: 224 Auburn St. in Fond du Lac, WI. and scheduled to begin at 10:00 am.

Members (and nonmembers are welcome) to attend to voice their opinions and concerns.

Click here for the proposed agenda.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

DNR to provide highlights of Lake Michigan comments at Fisheries Forum event

CLEVELAND, Wis. — Leaders from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries team will summarize high priority comments and seek additional feedback on the Lake Michigan Integrated Fisheries Management Plan at Wednesday’s (Sept. 17) meeting of the Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum.

The event, free and open to the public, runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at Lakeshore Technical College, 1290 North Avenue, Cleveland, Wis. The meeting will be in the Cleveland Training Room.

The Lake Michigan Integrated Fisheries Management Plan will guide fisheries management of the lake for the next 10 years. While much has been accomplished through the previous 10 year plan, major ecological changes including the arrival and proliferation of aquatic invasive species such as the quagga mussel have made the lake less productive.

Input from anglers and other stakeholders is critical in developing the plan and the public comment period has been extended. Brad Eggold, Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, said the Fisheries Forum meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss the high priority comments already received and solicit additional feedback.

“The Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum’s connection with the Sea Grant Institute provides an opportunity for participants to share their wealth of knowledge about the lake,” Eggold said. “We anticipate the Fisheries Forum members will offer some innovative insights into the opportunities and challenges ahead.”

The Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum provides members with the latest in research, management news and trends affecting the lake. The forum is facilitated by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and operates independently from DNR. Representatives from major sport fishing clubs on Lake Michigan and Green Bay, commercial fishers, the Conservation Congress and the University of Wisconsin System are formal members of the forum. Meetings are open to the public.

Comments on the Lake Michigan Integrated Fisheries Management Plan can be sent by email to DNRLakeMichiganPlan@wisconsin.gov or by mail to: Wisconsin DNR, Attn: David Boyarski, 110 S. Neenah Ave., Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235. Details of the plan can be found on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov by searching for keywords "Lake Michigan plan."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ice, Ice, Baby

Using WRI funding, Steve Loheide looks to chart the occurrence of a unique stream dynamic across Wisconsin.

September 10, 2014
By Aaron R. Conklin

It was just supposed to be a routine groundwater monitoring exercise on a little stream in Barneveld, Wisconsin. Instead, it opened up an unexpected research project on an unrecognized hydrologic process.

A couple of years ago, Steven Loheide, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering with the University of Wisconsin-Madison,  and his then-undergraduate student Matthew Weber went out to a stream in Barneveld to collect some general data on its flow.  

They noticed something unusual almost immediately—the stream stage was unusually low compared to the remaining ice that was attached to the stream banks at a height more than double the current water level.

“It made us wonder—what’s going on?” Loheide asked.

Several weeks of observation and data collection gave them the beginnings of an answer. The stream’s dynamics were being heavily influenced by frequent ice formation and ice melt. It turned out that the formation cycle was occurring one out of every four days between December and February, and it was causing the stream depth to increase more than 100 percent as the ice cover slowed down the in-stream water velocity.

‘We weren’t out there to study this,” said Loheide. “This is a process unrecognized in the literature. It’s a big gap. We don’t know the full importance, but we know it’s definitely affecting in-stream hydraulics and potentially inducing hyporheic exchange.”

Loheide is referring to the hypoheic zone, a mixed zone in a stream bed where surface and groundwater mix, creating critical chemical exchanges that have an impact on both the stream itself and the surrounding aquifer by filtering out contaminants and providing habitat for benthic organisms.

According to Weber, who’s now a student in California, it’s possible these exchanges could be significantly altered by the frequent fluctuations in stream stage, and those changes could impact everything from sediment transport to benthic insect populations in spring.

“Because it’s happening in winter, we wouldn’t expect this to have a big impact on nutrient cycling,” said Weber. “But if it’s happening frequently—as it seems to be –the stage fluctuations will have an impact on streambed morphology and potentially affect benthic organisms like overwintering fish eggs and macroinvertebrates in the stream itself.”

The dynamic could also be creating positive impacts.  One possibility is that increased winter ice regimes could be backing water up into the landscape, creating a reservoir and making more water available for ecosystems long after the ice is gone.

On larger rivers, this type of ice-formation process creates troublesome ice dams and ice jams that can wreak havoc on docks and shoreline structures. In a small stream like the one in Barneveld, the effect isn’t nearly as easy to see.

“The question we’re pursuing is, how does it affect surface-groundwater connections?” Loheide asked.  “We [scientists] haven’t looked at how ice level affects that.”

Having discovered the phenomenon in a single small stream, Loheide and a new graduate student will use funding from the UW Water Resources Institute to see if it occurs—and if so, how often and how it varies--in other geographic areas around the state.

“The new project looks at the bigger picture,” said Weber. “What are the other conditions that allow for this to occur?”

More specifically, beginning in fall, the new student will pore over raw historical data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey using stage and ice regime changes to identify long-term trends. The second stage of the study, which won’t begin until next winter, will involve measuring the ice regimes at five different sites in Wisconsin, looking specifically at the quantity of water exchanged between the stream and the adjacent aquifer. Finally, Loheide and his student will take what they’ve gathered back into the lab and model it.   Given that the stream dynamics are tied to the length and severity of winters, which in turn is tied to the discussion on climate change, Loheide’s work takes on an added significance.

“The exciting part of this project is that it’s so new, Loheide said. “This is not like working out the third decimal point of a discovery that’s already been documented. This is an entirely new process.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Walleyes for Tomorrow–Shawano Chapter Banquet

The Shawano Chapter of Walleyes for Tomorrow will host their Annual Fundraising Banquet this Thursday, August 14 at The Gathering in Shawano. Doors open at 5:30, and dinner starts at 7. Proceeds go to help fund the “Walleye Wagon” hatchery on Shawano Lake, a kid's fishing day with the Pro’s, and  upcoming rock projects for habitat on Shawano Lake. Tickets are $50, and Walleye Bucks are available for $100, which gives you $150 for raffles. So, for $150 you get dinner, your annual WFT membership, and $150 in raffle tickets. Not a bad deal! Message us on Facebook for your tickets. Hope to see everyone there!

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Click on poster to enlarge.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Reminder: Public meetings kick off Aug. 4 for Lake Michigan fisheries management plan

MADISON — The state is revising its long-term fisheries management plan for Wisconsin's Lake Michigan waters and citizens are invited to provide input through a series of four meetings set for the week of Aug. 4.

Lake Michigan has seen drastic ecological changes in recent years and the new Lake Michigan Integrated Fisheries Management Plan will guide fisheries management from 2015-2024.

Hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the meetings run from 6 to 8 p.m. and are set for:

  • Monday, Aug. 4, Green Bay - Wisconsin DNR Green Bay Service Center, 2984 Shawano Ave.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 5, Cleveland - Lakeshore Technical College, 1290 North Ave.
  • Thursday, Aug. 7, Milwaukee - at UW-Milwaukee GLRF-SFS, 600 E. Greenfield Ave.
  • Thursday, Aug. 7, Peshtigo - Wisconsin DNR Peshtigo Service Center, 101 N. Ogden Road.

Wisconsin’s DNR manages Lake Michigan fisheries in partnership with other state, federal and tribal agencies and in consultation with the public, particularly sport and commercial fishers. The draft plan was developed in consultation with a variety of stakeholders and included previous opportunities for public input.

People who are interested in commenting can find the draft plan and summary information on the DNR's website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching for "Lake Michigan Plan." In addition to providing verbal comments at the public meetings, written comments can be sent to a special email address created for the plan: DNRLakeMichiganPlan@Wisconsin.gov. Written comments also can be mailed to: Brad Eggold, Department of Natural Resources, Great Lakes Water Institute, 600 E. Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee, WI, 53204.

The Department will use the comments received at the August meetings and through other contacts this summer and fall to complete a final draft plan ready for final department administrative review by December.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Night fishing on Mille Lacs Lake opens July 21

Mille Lacs Lake anglers may fish at night beginning Monday, July 21 at 10 p.m., according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“We’re pleased we can open the lake to night fishing,” said Brad Parsons, central region fisheries manager for the DNR. “Evening and night launches can resume operation, and boats can travel and fish at night. In addition to walleye, anglers can again seek muskellunge and bow fish during prime nighttime hours.”

In past years, the Mille Lacs Lake night closure, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., began the Monday after the May opener and continued through mid-June. This year’s regulations extended the closure to Dec. 1 to help ensure state-licensed anglers did not catch more walleye than the lake’s safe harvest limit allowed. If that limit was reached, anglers would have had to release all walleye instead of being allowed to keep two. The possession limit is two fish 18- to 20-inches. One fish may be longer than 28 inches.

“So far, anglers have caught about 10,000 pounds of walleye,” Parsons said. “That number will increase once night fishing resumes, but catch rates have been low enough to alleviate concerns that anglers will catch more than the 42,900 pounds of walleye the harvest limit allows.”

Anglers have caught fewer walleye because walleye are feeding on an abundance of perch in Mille Lacs this year and reduced fishing pressure. Cool temperatures and rain have kept the water temperatures down, which lowers mortality of released fish. Fish are more likely to die after being released in warmer water even if properly handled.

“The DNR is not removing the night closure because Mille Lacs Lake has recovered,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries section chief. “More young walleye still need to survive their first year and keep growing from year to year into larger walleye. Conditions this year combined for a slow bite, allowing DNR to re-open an activity that helps the Mille Lacs area economy and is a tradition among many fishing families.”

For more information, visit the Mille Lacs Lake Web page at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake. People interested in receiving email updates about Mille Lacs Lake can subscribe to the Hooked On Mille Lacs Update list at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslakenews.

Wisconsin drinking water systems still top-notch

Wisconsin drinking water systems still top-notch
MADISON – Wisconsin public water supply systems continued their excellent record of serving water that met all health-based standards in 2013, a recently released report shows.  -  Read Full Article

Comments sought on Lake Michigan fisheries management plan update

MADISON — The state is revising its long-term fisheries management plan for Wisconsin's Lake Michigan waters and invites citizens to provide input during a second round of public review. Lake Michigan has seen drastic ecological changes in recent years and the new plan will guide fisheries management through the next 10 years. 

“We listened to what the public said during an initial public input session and incorporated some of those ideas along with our own thoughts in this draft 10-year plan,” said Brad Eggold, Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “Now, it’s time to see whether we are on track with the expectations and desires of the public. We’re planning a second round of meetings in early August to give stakeholders additional opportunities for input." 

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Fishing/lakemichigan/LakeMichiganIntegratedFisheriesManagementPlan.html

The meetings are set for:

  • Monday, Aug. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., Wisconsin DNR Green Bay Service Center, 2984 Shawano Avenue, Green Bay, WI, 54313
  • Tuesday, Aug. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lakeshore Technical College, 1290 North Avenue, Cleveland, WI, 53015
  • Thursday, Aug. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at UW–Milwaukee GLRF-SFS, 600 E. Greenfield Avenue, Milwaukee, WI, 53204
  • Thursday, Aug. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Wisconsin DNR Peshtigo Service Center, 101 N. Ogden Road, Peshtigo, WI, 54157

Wisconsin’s DNR manages Lake Michigan fisheries in partnership with other state, federal and tribal agencies and in consultation with the public, particularly sport and commercial fishers. The draft 2015-2024 Lake Michigan Integrated Fisheries Management Plan focuses on five areas or visions for the future: 

  • A balanced, healthy ecosystem. This vision focuses on protecting and maintaining habitat while minimizing the effects of invasive species.
  • A multi-species sport fishery. This vision includes sustaining a salmon and trout species mix that supports sport harvests. Other elements include improvements to the statewide fish hatchery system that produces fish for Lake Michigan and enhanced near-shore fishing opportunities.
  • A sustainable and viable commercial fishery. This aspect of the plan centers on maintaining the current number of commercial fishing licenses at 80 while adjusting harvest limits to sustain viable populations of key commercial species such as lake whitefish, yellow perch, round whitefish, rainbow smelt and bloater chubs over time.
  • Application of science-based management principles. This vision recognizes the ongoing need for staff training, the ability to employ continually evolving tools and modeling technologies, inter-jurisdictional cooperation and the involvement of trained scientists as well as public stakeholders.
  • Effective internal and external communication. This vision focuses on maintaining a full and open exchange of information and ideas among the public, elected officials, fisheries managers and neighboring states.

“Over the last 10-year planning cycle, we have made good progress and accomplished much of what we set out to do in our previous plan," Eggold said. “We’ve managed chinook salmon populations to fuel a decade of fantastic fishing. Supplies of trout and salmon for stocking have been enhanced following renovation of the Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery while sturgeon and musky stocking also has improved. In addition, we’ve removed some barriers to fish passage and constructed a natural fish passage on the Milwaukee River.” 

However, over the last decade Lake Michigan has undergone major ecological changes and is less productive due to the arrival and proliferation of the exotic quagga mussel. These small freshwater mussels remove large quantities of plankton as they filter the water, short circuiting the food chain and ultimately leaving less for prey fish to eat while negatively impacting some important fish species such as yellow perch. 

Beyond the difficulties caused by invasive species, an additional challenge is the need to maintain, update and operate the state’s fish production system, including renovating the Kettle Moraine Springs State Fish Hatchery in Sheboygan County, which produces all the steelhead rainbow trout stocked in Lake Michigan. 

"Given the challenges and opportunities before us, input from anglers and others is critical in developing a plan that keeps Lake Michigan healthy and reflects the interests of sport and commercial anglers," Eggold said. 

People who are interested in commenting can find the draft plan and summary information on the DNR's website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching for "Lake Michigan Plan." In addition to providing verbal comments at the public meetings, written comments can be sent to a special email address created for the plan: DNRLakeMichiganPlan@Wisconsin.gov. Written comments also can be mailed to: Brad Eggold, Department of Natural Resources, Great Lakes Water Institute, 600 E. Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee, WI, 53204.

Monday, July 14, 2014

4th Annual Kids Fishing Day–Sponsored by Shawano Area Walleyes for Tomorrow

The Shawano Area Walleyes for Tomorrow Chapter sponsored their 4 Annual Kids Fishing Day yesterday. The event involved almost 100 area kids aged 5 to 15. Participants were given a quality Rod and Reel for fishing, a meal ticket for a lunch when they returned, and most important to some – about an hour of fishing with a Pro Fisherman in their boat. (Many of them got to go one on one with a Pro in their boat.)

The area Pro’s – donated their time and boat for the event. It was a great time for all.

Walleyes for Tomorrow photos can be seen at the URL below:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.694572187265004.1073741830.160295267359368&type=3

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sea Grant Helping Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species in Wisconsin Waters

In 2013, 13,000 People Heard Clean, Drain, Dry Messages; Inspectors Are On Pace to Talk With That Many People This Summer at Great Lakes Boat Landings

July 8, 2014

With the Fourth of July holiday now behind summer-lovers, perhaps it feels as if the recreational boating season is really revving up. That could lead to the inadvertent spread of aquatic invasive species from one water body to another. Sea Grant, however, is doing its part to help prevent that spread this summer by putting in place a boat landing inspector on the Great Lakes.

When a plant or animal hitches a ride on a recreational boat from one habitat to another, and flourishes, it could disrupt the health and well-being of the species already in that spot. In Wisconsin, some problematic aquatic invasive species are Eurasian milfoil, which crowds out native plants, and spiny water fleas and quagga mussels. The waterfleas and mussels eat a lot of the virtually microscopic organisms on the lower end of the food chain, denying other creatures a meal.

Boat landing inspectors approach boaters as they leave the lake and educate them on the best way to avoid transporting creatures like Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas to inland lakes. That’s done by sharing the messages of inspecting the boat for hitchhiking plants and animals, then, suggesting that boaters clean, drain and dry their boats before going into the water again. The ultimate message is one of education on the impacts these non-native species can have on the invaded waterbodies.

There are nine summer 2014 employees who work 20 hours a week—weighted more heavily to weekends when more people are boating.

The inspectors record boaters’ answers (keeping the sources anonymous) about their inspecting, cleaning, draining and drying practices on a form that is sent electronically to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for processing. In 2013, Sea Grant inspectors reached nearly 13,000 people and checked about 6,000 boats for AIS.

“We can’t force people to talk with us,” said Titus Seilheimer, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s fisheries specialist and the one who oversees the seasonal boat inspectors. “The inspectors are there for education, not enforcement. We want to get people to the point of: Do they understand why this (aquatic invasive species removal) is important. You want it to be more than them just saying ‘yes’ because a boat landing inspector is standing there staring at you. We won’t always be there so they need to make clean, drain, dry and never move a part of their routine.”

Seilheimer is refining the inspection and education process this year. With help from a group of county-based and DNR personnel, he has reworked the script to, for example, acknowledge when an individual boater may have already spoken with an inspector earlier in the season. “In general, people appreciate what the inspectors are doing. It can get a bit old, though, later in the season if they have talked to someone three times and they’re being approached for a fourth time,” Seilheimer said.

There are some successes from the effort. Quagga mussels, which number in the trillions in Lake Michigan, have not made it to inland lakes in any appreciable—and destructive—way.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

DNR-requested independent probe results in charges against former warden

By: Joanne M. Haas/Bureau of Law Enforcement

A former Department of Natural Resources conservation warden was charged in Sauk County Circuit Court with felony theft and felony misconduct in public office following an independent State Capitol Police investigation requested by DNR officials.

Monroe County District Attorney Kevin Croninger, who is serving as the special prosecutor in this case, filed the charges against Dave Horzewski, who was a conservation warden based in Sauk County until his termination in July 2013.

DNR officials found evidence of misconduct following Horzewski’s termination and requested the State Capitol Police conduct an independent investigation.

Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller said Horzewski’s alleged actions are not acceptable to the public or the law enforcement community and do not align with the values of the Wisconsin Conservation Warden Service.

“We are accountable for our actions – period,” Schaller said. “When the potential misconduct was discovered, we turned it over to State Capitol Police for investigation.”

Schaller, a warden for 25 years before being named chief in January, said the DNR is unable to comment about the case as it is pending in court. He referred all questions to Monroe County District Attorney Croninger.

“The wardens consider the public their partners in protecting the natural resources and the people who enjoy them,” Schaller said. “Maintaining the public’s trust is our highest priority. We take that responsibility seriously.”

A criminal complaint is a document accusing a person of a violation of criminal law -- merely a formal method of charging an individual and does not constitute inference of his or her guilt. The public is reminded an individual is presumed innocent until such time, if ever, that the government establishes his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

DNR: Protect yourself and Minnesota waters

After a long winter, Minnesotans are ready to hit the water for the official start of the boating season — Memorial Day. The Department of Natural Resources is reminding everyone to protect themselves and state waters.

“Think zero — zero aquatic invasive species violations, zero new infestations and zero boating deaths,” said Lt. Adam Block, DNR conservation officer.

DNR inspectors working at public accesses around the state have found that most people are following aquatic invasive species (AIS) laws. But already this year they have stopped over 40 boaters who were entering or leaving lakes with zebra mussels attached to boats or equipment.

And so far this year, one person has died in a boating accident. Last year, 13 people died in boating accidents. If all boaters in Minnesota wore life jackets, 10 lives could be saved each year.

“Minnesota’s lakes and rivers are precious resources and we are asking people to do their part; wear a life jacket every time you step on a boat and always clean and drain your boat, so everyone can continue to enjoy our waters,” Block said.

More than 500 Minnesota — rivers, lakes, wetlands — are designated as infested with AIS. That leaves more than 10,000 bodies of water to protect.

A few simple steps can make a big difference from a good day on the water to a bad day.

Boaters should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

Before leaving a water access, boaters are required to:

  • Clean off all aquatic plants and animals.
  • Drain all water from bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs.
  • Leave the drain plug out when transporting.
  • Empty bait buckets and dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash.

Walleye bag limits to increase on 447 northern lakes

Inland waters not listed below have a total daily bag limit of 5, unless listed in the regulation pamphlet as a special regulation water. THESE BAG LIMITS ARE EFFECTIVE FROM May 23, 2014 TO MARCH 1, 2015 INCLUSIVE.

Click here – for revised Walleye Bag Limit List

Remember them this Memorial Day…

Memorial_Day_picture

Work set to start on $3.7 million education center additions at Horicon Marsh

Visitor center to remain partially open during construction but DNR service center will temporarily close starting June 1

HORICON, Wis. -- A charging woolly mammoth, old-fashioned hunting camp and talking Clovis point will soon greet visitors to the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center, thanks to a $3.7 million public-private effort to depict the wetland's dramatic history.

Construction of the new educational displays and hands-on exhibits will take over the center's main level on June 1 and continue in phases through August 2015. The exhibits will occupy portions of both the first floor and lower level, which opens onto a trail system winding through the 11,000 acre state marsh.

"We're grateful for the support we've received and excited to get this project underway," said Bret Owsley, Horicon area supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "We think the result will truly benefit the community as our visitor numbers are projected to increase from the current 50,000 per year to 150,000 within the first three years. In addition to growing numbers of school groups, we anticipate seeing more families and individuals interested in Wisconsin's natural heritage."

Although restrooms and some public spaces in the building will remain open, the construction will force the temporary suspension of DNR counter service from June 1 to approximately July 7. Alternatively, many businesses in Dodge County offer hunting and fishing licenses sales as well as vehicle and boat registrations. For a complete list, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "sales locations" or contact the DNR Call Center toll free at 1-888-936-7463.

In the meantime, work on the enhanced education center will continue. The existing structure was completed in 2009, but portions of the building were left largely unfinished until the planning for the interpretive displays was completed.

Owlsey said nearly $1 million in private donations from the Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center helped leverage state support to reach the $3.7 million goal. The new education and visitor amenities will build on two existing classrooms and an auditorium already in use for lectures and public events.

As part of the nation's largest freshwater cattail marsh - the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area borders an additional 22,000-acre Horicon National Wildlife Refuge (exit DNR) managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - the history of Horicon spans some 12,000 years. In the new exhibits, that story will be eloquently narrated by a Clovis point arrowhead.

"The arrowhead points us to important events in the history of the marsh, from the time the glacier receded through today," Owsley said. "The Clovis point has witnessed these changes and survives to share the story of the marsh with new generations."

Horicon Marsh started as a network of rivers and wetlands left behind by receding glaciers and grew into the world's largest man-made lake after early settlers built a dam to power a sawmill in the 1840s. When the state Supreme Court ordered the dam removed in 1869, the marsh quickly returned and began drawing huge flocks of migratory waterfowl and other birds.

After market hunting depleted the bird populations, a short-lived attempt to ditch and drain the marsh for farming from 1910 to 1914 ended in failure. Then, during the 1920s, conservation-minded citizens pressed the Legislature for support and started a restoration process that continues to this day.

Drawing on this history, highlights of the new exhibits include:

  • An area depicting the receding glaciers, complete with a mammoth charging out of the wall and examples of the flint-knapped Clovis points found in these early hunting grounds.
  • A walk-through glacier that creates a chill in the air as visitors learn more about the Ice Age and origins of the marsh.
  • A private hunting lodge, similar to those of the late 1800s. Interactive, hands-on displays will show the effect of market hunting on wildlife during this time period and highlight the role of local hunting clubs in trying to create the first set of hunting regulations.
  • Hand-carved decoys produced by local artisans who established stylistic techniques that remain distinguishing features today.
  • A hands-on water control structure that shows how water levels are managed within the marsh today.
  • An area with an airboat simulator that provides a narrated tour of the marsh and offers an opportunity to see and feel the rush of operating an airboat at Horicon.
  • Numerous bird and animal mounts as well as examples of common marsh plants.

"Thanks to input from a variety of stakeholders, we believe the exhibits will offer something for everyone while encouraging people to explore the marsh itself," Owsley said. "We look forward to welcoming the public once the work is completed in late summer of 2015. And we appreciate everyone's patience with the temporary service center changes."

Members of the public are encouraged to call ahead to 1-888-936-7463 to obtain contact information before planning to meet with regional DNR personnel as some staff members will be stationed in other offices during the construction process.

Public comment period open for invasive species rule changes

MADISON - A proposal to add more than 80 new species to the list of restricted and prohibited invasive species in Wisconsin is now open for public comment and will be the subject of two public hearings to be held in June. The comment period is open until June 30, 2014.

In April, the state Natural Resources Board approved a request from the Department of Natural Resources to take proposed revisions to the state's invasive species rule, Chapter NR 40 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, to public hearings. Revisions include adding the new species to the list and changing the regulatory status of several species including emerald ash borer for the state.

Currently, the emerald ash borer, a beetle, responsible for the destruction of tens of thousands of ash trees in Wisconsin, is classified as a prohibited species. Under the rule, prohibited species are those that are not widespread in the state and whose spread can be prevented or limited to certain areas using eradication methods. Since the first discovery of EAB in Wisconsin in 2008, and its listing as a prohibited species in 2009, it has spread to 19 counties prompting a proposal to change EAB regulatory status to restricted.

Restricted species are those already found in the state and may be more widespread. Eradication is improbable but the spread can still be managed. Measures to manage the spread of EAB will still be used, such as Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection quarantines and DNR firewood transportation restrictions. Under the proposed revisions to NR 40, possession is not prohibited and control is not required for restricted species.

The proposed rule and supporting documents, including the fiscal estimate, may be viewed and downloaded from the Administrative Rules System website.

The public hearings will be held:

  • Tuesday, June 17, Madison - 4 p.m. in the State Natural Resources Building, 101 S. Webster St., Room G09. The public hearing in Madison will be webcasted live for those who are unable to participate in person. To request a webcast link, please contact Terrell Hyde by noon on June 16, 2014 at invasive.species@wisconsin.gov or call 608-264-9255.
  • Wednesday, June 18, Green Bay - 4 p.m. at the DNR Green Bay Service Center, 2984 Shawano Ave., Lake Michigan Room.

Wisconsin, other Great Lakes states team up to fight aquatic invasive species

CHICAGO - A tri-state public service announcement is just the latest example of Wisconsin teaming up with neighboring states to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

While Wisconsin continues to work with its partners at home to meet the challenges of aquatic invasive species in its inland waters, the state is forging ahead with new regional efforts aimed at pooling resources and efforts to better and more efficiently protect the Great Lakes from new invaders, state environmental officials say. In turn, those efforts will better protect inland waters as well.

"Stopping aquatic invasive species

is all about shutting down pathways and it must be a focus for our nation, the Great Lakes region and Wisconsin," says Department of Natural Resources Water Administrator Russ Rasmussen. "This is something we can all unite behind. Together, we can work smarter, more efficiently, and more effectively to achieve our common goals."

Examples of such recent regional collaboration include:

  • Wisconsin and other states are working together to apply for federal funding to develop an interstate effort to systematically look for, and respond to, early signs of new invasive species within the Great Lakes themselves. Federal agencies like the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now have some monitoring efforts underway but the states aim to increase the level of monitoring of the Great Lakes.
  • Late last month, Gov. Scott Walker and counterparts from other Great Lakes states signed a mutual aid agreement [PDF] committing the states to share staff and equipment to respond quickly to serious threats to the basin from aquatic invasive species and to encourage more cooperative actions to combat aquatic invasive species.
  • Earlier this spring, Wisconsin and other states called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement immediate interim steps to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes and committed themselves to work together to reach a consensus for long-term actions.

Wisconsin has for decades been working with states and federal agencies involved in managing the Mississippi River and Great Lakes to address aquatic invasive species, including keeping Asian carp from getting established in the Upper Mississippi River and in the Great Lakes. The two basins are artificially connected through the Chicago waterway system.

The new regional efforts are aimed at protecting these regionally important waters from Asian carp and other new invasive species and by default, will better protect states' inland waters as well, says Bob Wakeman, DNR's aquatic invasive species coordinator.

Since the 1800s, more than 180 aquatic invasive species have been documented in the Great Lakes, and 30 of those species have been spread to Wisconsin inland waters. Wisconsin research has shown that boaters are the primary way that aquatic invasive species spread from one water to another.

Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota launch campaign to prevent spread of aquatic invasive species

MADISON - Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota share many of the same boaters and anglers - now they're sharing the same message to help protect their iconic waters from aquatic invasive species such as Eurasian water-milfoil, zebra mussels and spiny water fleas.

The states are teaming up on a new public service campaign to help carry a consistent message encouraging boaters and anglers to take steps to avoid accidentally spreading zebra mussels, spiny water fleas and other invasive aquatic species when they travel among states.

A 30-second television spot began airing May 19 on fishing shows across the region. The spot is available on WIDNRTV, Wisconsin's YouTube channel, and on Minnesota DNR, and also is embedded on the agencies' web pages and shared by a network of partner groups across the states.

(Click Here to see 30-second television spot)

"We share a common goal of stopping aquatic hitchhikers to keep our Great Lakes and our inland waters healthy," says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "By pooling our resources we can help reach more people with an important reminder as they travel back and forth."

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr says the Minnesota DNR "welcomes every opportunity to work with other states on AIS prevention measures and this multi-state production is a fitting example. It offers a consistent message and a coordinated approach to effectively address the tough issue of AIS."

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant invites partner organizations and individuals to share the video to spread awareness. "We encourage boaters to take action by cleaning equipment to prevent the spread of invasive species in our states."

Wisconsin and other Great Lakes states have been increasingly trying to work across the region to meet the challenges of invasive species, nonnative species that can cause environmental or economic harm or harm to human health. Outreach was fertile ground for such cooperation, says Bob Wakeman, who coordinates aquatic invasive species efforts for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and who had the idea for the tri-state public service message.

"With the help of our partners and on-site recruiting, we were able to capture a wide diversity of people who enjoy our waters," Wakeman says. "We think it's one of the strengths of the video: seeing and hearing average Wisconsinites, Minnesotans and Michiganders on why they love their waters and why it's important to protect them."

Marjorie Casey, Minnesota DNR aquatic invasive species information officer, says the multi-state public service announcement "is a good reminder for everyone to read and understand local AIS laws wherever they travel.

"The prevention requirements are slightly different across the three states, and the AIS laws for each state are available online."

Michigan's Wyant says that by taking a few minutes to clean boats, trailers, and other fishing equipment and drain water from their boat and fishing equipment, "we can all help keep our Great Lakes healthy and protect our inland waters."

Yellow Perch Summit update

The Illinois DNR and Great Lakes Fishery Commission recently hosted a Yellow Perch Summit at the U of Illinois Chicago campus to consider that question.

The natural resources agencies, organizations, and individuals who were there are committed to working together on lakewide efforts to sustain the perch fishery in the lake. Lake Michigan fish populations know no state or other boundaries. Their management requires cooperation among all of us. Presentations by invited experts at the summit detailed the status of yellow perch in Lake Michigan, and why fewer perch than decades ago may be the new “normal.”

Offshore productivity in Lake Michigan is much lower today than it was during the last “heyday” for perch fishing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Productivity is now very similar to Lake Superior, the larger and colder Great Lake to the north. The food web for yellow perch in Lake Michigan also has changed due to the presence of invasive mussels, spiny water fleas and round gobies. Changes in productivity and the food web mean less food is available, which affects perch recruitment, or the number of fish reaching reproductive age. Low or inconsistent recruitment means fewer perch are available for anglers to catch. Clearer water in the lake also may mean adult perch spend less time near-shore in the summer, another factor that can affect perch fishing success.

Since the early 1990s, when yellow perch populations declined rapidly in Lake Michigan, fisheries managers have closed commercial fishing, and implemented restrictions to protect yellow perch from further declines. For sport fishing in Illinois, those restrictions include a 15-fish daily limit, and a closure for perch fishing during July (except for youth under age 16, who can catch up to 10 perch a day during the July closure.

These management efforts may have prevented a total collapse of the perch fishery, but data presented at the summit show lakewide perch abundance remains low. The option of stocking perch was discussed, but is likely impractical because stocking larger fingerlings that could survive in today’s Lake Michigan would be incredibly expensive. There is also a danger that stocking might introduce new diseases or poorly adaptive genetic traits to existing perch stocks.

We heard calls from Illinois anglers for easing or eliminating the July closure of perch fishing in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan, and instead closing fishing during the spring spawning season. These changes in management are under consideration.

Though easy fixes may be elusive, IDNR remains dedicated to the pursuit of management efforts we hope will lead to recovery of yellow perch in Lake Michigan. That means using sound science, sharing data, and working toward consensus among all partners on coordinated management goals and strategies to improve perch fishing and other Lake Michigan fishing for future generations.

If you missed the summit, the presentations and other information are archived online at this link: http://www.glfc.org/lakecom/lmc/yellow_perch_videos.html.

Source: Great Lakes Basin Report

MN researchers plan on fighting Asian carp with underwater speakers

Researchers at the U. of Minnesota have a bold plan to use sound to contain the spread of Asian carp in the Mississippi River. According to WCCO 4, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center intends to place underwater speakers in key sections of the Mississippi River, but they have to act fast.

“Just a few months ago, it was announced, somewhat surprisingly, that their eggs were just found south of the Minnesota border,” said Peter Sorenson, a University of Minnesota professor and director of the center. Sorenson’s plan is to install the acoustic barriers at Lock and Dam Number 8 near Genoa, Wisconsin. The center is now scrambling for funds to build the custom speakers, estimated to cost $60,000, before the carp arrive. In March, scientists from the US Geological Survey (USGS) announced that Asian carp have penetrated as far north in Wisconsin as Lynxville, which is about 150 miles from Genoa. Since acoustic barriers only deter carp rather than kill them, researchers will have to work fast to get the speakers in place before the invasive fish pass the barrier.

Asian carp have spread quickly since the species first arrived in the Mississippi River in the late 1960s. The fish can now be found in 31 states and are considered to be highly detrimental to native fish and plant life. Carp have very good hearing, up to 100 times better than some other fish species. This is especially true of bigheaded carp, which are easily disturbed by changes in water flows. The underwater speakers work by emitting a low-frequency sound in conjunction with high velocity water jets that repel Asian carp. Sorenson’s team is not the only group of researchers studying acoustic tools to use against the fish; the USGS’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center is also developing its own sound barriers.

Researchers admitted that sound barriers are not guaranteed to stop Asian carp in their tracks, but said the technology compliments other deterrence methods well. More traditional barriers include screened flow gates, electric barriers, and fish-killing treatment plants. The center is currently accepting donations.

Source: Great Lakes Basin Report –(Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council)

Join the Grand American Fish Rodeo in Lansing

Grand American Fish RodeoLooking for something fun to do in mid-Michigan this June? Visit Adado Riverfront Park in Lansing June 12, 13 and 14 for the inaugural Grand American Fish Rodeo!
This event is centered on Michigan’s rich heritage of water and aquatic life and features a variety of activities. The Department of Natural Resources is involved in the Grand American Fish Rodeo as part of the Educational Tent which will offer numerous activities for those in attendance.
A few things you can see and do if you visit the tent:
•    Hands-on learning and craft activities for all ages
•    Casting a fishing rod
•    Tying knots and learning how flies are tied
•    Seeing live sea lamprey and lake sturgeon
•    Seeing how a boat washing unit works
•    Viewing a fish stocking truck and air boat up close
•    Taking your picture with “Primo” from Preuss Pets
Check out the Fish Rodeo Educational Tent flyer to discover all the fun that will be offered! The educational tent will be open Friday, June 13 from 12 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There are also many more events featured at the Rodeo, so check out their website for all the details: www.grandamericanfishrodeo.com.

Fish for free in Michigan June 7 & 8

The annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend is scheduled for Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8. On that weekend, everyone – residents and non-residents alike – can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.
Michigan has been celebrating the Summer Free Fishing Weekend annually since 1986 as a way to promote awareness of the state's vast water resources. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 11,000 inland lakes, and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams, fishing and Michigan go hand in hand.
To encourage involvement in Free Fishing Weekends, organized activities are being scheduled in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of individuals, organizations, constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others. To find an event in your area, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Winter weather possible cause of fish kill on Black Earth Creek

CROSS PLAINS, Wis. - Fishery biologists doing routine population monitoring work on Black Earth Creek downstream of Cross Plains have documented a drop in fish populations from South Valley Road downstream about 0.8 miles. On-stream reports from early season trout anglers support this observation.

"We can't say with any certainty what the cause of the drop might be," said Scot Stewart, the Department of Natural Resources district fishery supervisor. "There are several possibilities including the very cold winter, an unknown runoff event of some kind or even last year's floods which greatly reduced the size of the 2013 year-class of fish in the creek. We simply don't have any solid evidence that points to any one clear cause.

"The good news is that this creek has high quality trout habitat, is very productive, and will recover naturally in two to three years. We can say this with confidence because we've experienced fish kills here before and the creek has recovered nicely within the two to three year timeframe."

Even some of the possible causes are somewhat lacking in probability say fishery experts. A sustained and very cold winter would make a runoff event less likely and there is no record of any such event taking place. A single reduced year class alone would not completely explain the preliminary estimate of a 70 percent drop in fish population in this stretch of stream.

"Winter is a stressful time of year for trout in streams, and this past winter was colder and longer than what we typically experience," said Matt Mitro, a DNR cold-water fish research scientist. "Our monitoring of water temperatures in nearby streams showed near-freezing temperatures from early December through March in areas of streams away from springs. Trout streams are usually not that cold for that length of time."

Biologists have already taken steps to ease the impact to the popular stream fishery by stocking 300 surplus wild brown trout from brood stock and additional rainbow trout into the affected stretch of stream.

Biologists will continue routine seasonal population monitoring in the area but will add some additional summertime monitoring as current work schedules allow.

"We've worked to build populations in this outstanding stream but something has happened," adds Stewart, "we don't know what, but we've taken action to soften the impact to anglers and we expect the stream to fully recover as it has done in the past."

DNR: Rest Lake Dam Public Information Meetings on June 27,2014

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will host two public information meetings on Friday, June 27, prior to determining a new operating order for the Rest Lake Dam.  The meetings will start at 12:30 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. at Manitowish Waters Town Hall, near the intersection of Highway 51 and Airport Road, Manitowish Waters, WI  54545.

The meeting format will include a brief presentation followed by a comment period.  After the 12:30 p.m. meeting, comments will be collected until 5 p.m.  After the 6 p.m. meeting, comments will be collected until 9 p.m. 

Speakers at the meetings will be encouraged to focus on providing new information, including comments that relate to environmental and economic concerns.  DNR will give equal weight to written comments, which can be submitted by email to:  DNRRestLake@Wisconsin.gov or mailed to DNR Service Center, Attn - Rest Lake Dam, 2501 Golf Course Road, Ashland, WI  54806.

The draft order will be posted to the DNR website (http://dnr.wi.gov/water/basin/upwis/restlakedam/) in late May to provide a full month for public review.  Environmental and economic comments provided by citizens and stakeholder groups during previous information-gathering stages of the project continue to inform development of the draft operating order.     The upcoming June meetings follow the postponement of those scheduled for August 2013.  Those meetings were postponed due to a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in July 2013 that has now been fully reviewed. 

DNR appreciates the involvement of multiple stakeholders in the process and anticipates issuing an order that balances the ability to protect and manage the area's natural resources while supporting the economy and the well-being of the community.  Please return to check the website for periodic updates and we invite you to subscribe to e-newsletters using the information listed.

How to Receive Updates

Updates on the Rest Lake Dam operating order will be posted to this DNR Web page:  http://dnr.wi.gov/water/basin/upwis/restlakedam/ and distributed by email using GovDelivery distribution lists.  A link is provided on the DNR Web page to sign up for Rest Lake Dam updates using the GovDelivery service.

Contact Information

If you have questions about the status of the Rest Lake operating order, contact:

John Spangberg
715-685-0431

Send email to: DNRRestLake@Wisconsin.gov

Mail to:

DNR Service Center
Attn: Rest Lake Dam
2501 Golf Course Road
Ashland, WI  54806

Statewide bass season opens May 24

Anglers can catch and keep bass starting Saturday, May 24. Anglers can generally keep six largemouth and smallmouth bass combined. A guide to telling the difference between the two can be found on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at www.mndnr.gov/fish/bass.

Some bodies of water have special regulations for bass. To find special regulations, use the DNR LakeFinder function at the Fish Minnesota site, www.mndnr.gov/fishmn. To buy a fishing license, visit any DNR license agent, buy online via mobile or desktop at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or call 888-665-4236.

After the bass opener, next up for anglers is the muskie opener on Saturday, June 7. 

Multiple openers in Upper Peninsula kick fishing season into high gear

The Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers to get ready for the fishing seasons that open Thursday in the Upper Peninsula. Seasons for walleye, northern pike and muskellunge and the catch-and-immediate-release bass season for all Upper Peninsula waters, including the Great Lakes, inland waters and St. Marys River, all open May 15.

The possession season for bass opens statewide Saturday, May 24, except for Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River, which opens Saturday, June 21.

Michigan’s bass fishing is considered world-class, as exhibited by Bassmaster magazine's 100 Best Bass Lakes of 2014 where six of the state’s waters were listed. To see the full list, visit www.bassmaster.com/top100.

The new license season began April 1, so anglers need to be sure they have purchased a new fishing license for this fishing season. The 2014 fishing licenses are valid through March 31, 2015. Licenses are available at retailers or online at www.mdnr-elicense.com.

The 2014 Michigan Fishing Guide and inland trout and salmon regulations and maps are available online; visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/fishingguide for more information.

Select anglers asked to report what they caught and kept in statewide “creel” survey

MADISON -- In an effort to learn more about statewide catch and harvest numbers for popular Wisconsin fish, state fisheries researchers are mailing monthly fishing logs to randomly selected license holders and asking them to record where they fished and what they caught and kept and to mail the report card back at the end of the month.

"The goal of the fishing creel survey is to get a firsthand representative account from anglers on fishing trends, catch and harvest rates and to see what kinds of fish species are favored in Wisconsin," says Jordan Petchenik, research sociologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "This useful information will ultimately help the agency to make more informed decisions about managing our fisheries."

The creel survey will run from May 2014 until April 2015 with more than 1,000 surveys sent each month to a new group of license holders. The DNR has completed two surveys in the past in 2006 and 2001.

"The survey is entirely voluntary and can be a fun way to keep track of your fishing outings over the course of a month, while helping to improve our fisheries," says Petchenik.

Northern zone musky season opens May 24

Anglers will find ice off, spawn in progress, more big fish

MINOCQUA - The northern zone musky season opens May 24 with water temperatures warming up quickly and anglers likely to reap the benefit of more than 20 years of improvement in musky sizes and numbers.

"We had a late ice out but it's warming up quickly," says Steve Avelallemant, longtime DNR northern district fisheries supervisor. "I think it will be a pretty normal opening. Spawning will be a little bit behind but not weeks behind."

Avelallemant expects the musky action to be good for anglers, and chances are getting better that anglers will find themselves fighting and boating bigger fish.

"We've looked at a variety of measures and we've definitely seen an increase in the last 20 years in the number of muskies 45 inches and larger," says Tim Simonson, a DNR fish biologist who chairs DNR's musky committee.

musky chart
Click on image for larger size.

The number of 45-plus inch fish registered by Muskies, Inc., members, and the size of the largest fish caught by participants in the National Championship Musky Open in Eagle River in August and during the Vilas County Musky Marathon, a season-long competition, have all been increasing over the past 20 years, Simonson says.

"Things are definitely getting better," he says. "Most of it is due to the voluntary release of fish by avid musky anglers in combination with more restrictive regulations through time." Background on this trend is detailed in "Long live the kings," a Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article.

A 40-inch size limit in effect statewide since 2013 is expected to help increase the number of larger fish even more, Simonson says. "We know from our evaluations that it takes at least 10 years to see any population level effects, but based on what we've seen on waters that have had the 40-inch limit, we can expect to see continued improvement in size structure."

The 40-inch limit applies to 94 percent of musky waters in Wisconsin. There are 41 waters that continue to have either lower size limits or higher size limits. Starting this year, waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan north of Highway 10 carry a 54-inch minimum size limit. The bag limit is 1.

Check the Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations for specific waters or check DNR's online regulation database to find size limits on the inland lake you plan to fish for musky.

Find where to fish for trophy musky or fast action waters, along with information on safely releasing musky, and musky management in Wisconsin, by searching dnr.wi.gov for "musky

Musky forecasts in Wisconsin for 2014

Fish biologists from across the state filed musky forecasts for some of their more popular waters where recent surveys revealed fish size and abundance information. Those forecasts are found in the 2014 Wisconsin Fishing Report musky forecasts.

Musky Fast Facts
  • Wisconsin lawmakers named the muskellunge the official state fish in 1955.
  • More world records have been landed in Wisconsin than anywhere else. The state and world record is a 69 pound, 11 ounce fish taken from the Chippewa Flowage. Also credited to Wisconsin is the world record hybrid musky, 51 pounds, 3 ounces from Lac Vieux Desert.
  • Fishable populations of musky are found in 667 lakes and 100 rivers in 48 counties. The heaviest concentration of lakes with musky is found in the head water regions of the Chippewa, Flambeau, and Wisconsin rivers.
  • Musky densities are very low, even in the best waters, because muskies are large top predators that tend to choose vulnerable spawning sites. Good musky waters average one adult fish for 3 surface acres, compared to up to 12 to 15 adults per 3 surface acres in good walleye lakes.
  • Musky fishing continues to grow in popularity. The number of participants has more than quadrupled over the last 50 years. An estimated 456,000 anglers pursued muskellunge in Wisconsin in 2001, the latest year for which survey results are available.
  • Catch-and-release, protective regulations and DNR's stocking program have helped turn the famed fighter from the "fish of 10,000 casts" into the fish of "3,000 casts" in Wisconsin. It used to take two guys in a boat 25 hours to catch a fish. Now it is closer to 12 hours and 3,000 casts each.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Avelallemant 715-365-8987; Tim Simonson, 608-266-5222 or local fish biologists

June 7, 8 is Free Fun Weekend

MADISON - For two days in June, Wisconsin residents and visitors alike can enjoy some of the country's best outdoor recreation for free.

On June 7-8, people can fish for free anywhere in Wisconsin, hike or bike state trails for free, ride public ATV trails for free, and, new this year, enjoy free admission to state parks and forests on both days as well.

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Fishing in Michigan

Looking for something fun to do in mid-Michigan this June? Visit Adado Riverfront Park in Lansing June 12, 13 and 14 for the inaugural Grand American Fish Rodeo!Grand American Fish Rodeo

This event is centered on Michigan’s rich heritage of water and aquatic life and features a variety of activities. The Department of Natural Resources is involved in the Grand American Fish Rodeo as part of the Educational Tent which will offer numerous activities for those in attendance.

A few things you can see and do if you visit the tent:

• Hands-on learning and craft activities for all ages

• Casting a fishing rod

• Tying knots and learning how flies are tied

• Seeing a live sea lamprey and lake sturgeon

• Seeing how a boat washing unit works

• Viewing a fish stocking truck and air boat up close

• Taking your picture with “Primo” from Preuss Pets

Check out the Fish Rodeo Educational Tent flyer to discover all the fun that will be offered! The educational tent will be open Friday, June 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, June 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Angler input sought on various Upper Peninsula fisheries

    The Department of Natural Resources today announced that Nawakwa Lake in Alger County and East and Muskallonge lakes in Luce County will be included in angler survey efforts this spring. The surveys are designed to help evaluate northern pike fisheries on the three water bodies.

    Two options are being offered to provide input. First, survey cards are available at each location, and anglers are asked to fill out one card per person, per trip. The survey cards are self-addressed and can be mailed free of charge. The other option is to submit the information by completing the surveys online at:

    • Nawakwa Lake – www.surveymonkey.com/s/nawakwalakesurvey

    • East Lake – www.surveymonkey.com/s/eastlakesurvey

    • Muskallonge Lake – www.surveymonkey.com/s/muskallongelakesurvey

      • These surveys are being conducted by the Eastern Lake Superior Management Unit of the DNR's Fisheries Division.

        All three surveys are focused on northern pike fisheries in each lake with questions about the type of bait used, the number of days anglers fish for northern pike at each location, and angler preferences regarding northern pike fisheries. Participation in these survey efforts is key to proper fisheries management.

      Safety first, for fun times on the water

      There seems to be some disagreement among folks about when a new week begins; the calendar says it’s Sunday, though many believe it’s when they return to work on Monday. For the boating industry, the week begins on the weekend and Saturday, May 17, marks the beginning of National Safe Boating Week in America.

      An older man and young girl wearing safety gear on a boat.The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is on board with that decision and fully endorses the theme of this year’s campaign: “Ready, Set, Wear It.”

      “One of our biggest concerns is making sure people understand the importance of wearing PFDs (personal flotation devices),” said Lt. Andrew Turner, the DNR’s boating law administrator. “The Coast Guard estimates that 80 percent of boating fatalities could be prevented by wearing life jackets.”

      Though all boaters are required to have PFDs on board for all boat passengers, generally only those younger than 6 years old are required to actually wear them.

      “In an emergency, people don’t have time to find them and get them on,” Turner said. “Today’s PFDs are not the old bulky orange vests that everybody remembers as a kid. Now they’re lighter and more comfortable. They’re designed to be worn all the time. There are inflatables available now that are very low-profile, comfortable and suitable for many activities.”

      Many, but not all activities, Turner continued. Personal watercraft operators – or people being towed behind vessels, such are skiers – are required by state law to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD, but inflatables are not approved for those and some other uses.

      Boating is getting safer in Michigan, Turner said. Last year there were 20 fatal accidents – resulting in 22 fatalities – down from 32 fatalities five years earlier.

      “I think we can directly link that trend to boating safety training,” Turner said.

      A state law, passed in 2012, requires that anyone born after July 1, 1996, is required to attend (and be certified in) safe boating training in order to operate a motorboat. The change in the law – which once required only those younger than 16 years of age to be safety-trained – means that over time everyone who operates a motorboat will have received the training.

      “The leading age group for boating accidents is people in their 50s,” Turner said. “We wouldn’t think of letting someone drive a car without driver’s education, but many people simply don't consider getting boater's safety training before operating a vessel.”

      A Michigan conservation officer conducts a boating safety class in Commerce Township.Boating safety training is available from a number of sources, including the DNR, which partnered with the Michigan Boating Industries Association to hold classes at the Detroit Boat Show this year. Training is also available through county sheriffs’ departments (82 of Michigan’s 83 counties offer the training through their marine programs), volunteer groups, and online. The online option makes it easy for anyone, Turner said.

      “There are two great programs – boat-ed.com and boaterexam.com – that allow people to earn their safety certification completely online,” Turner said. “Students can print their certificates when they successfully complete the course. There is a fee, but most people don’t mind paying it because of the convenience.”

      Turner said boaters should familiarize themselves with safety equipment and make sure they have it and it is in good working order. Boats with a permanently installed fuel tank or enclosed compartments are required to have a fire extinguisher on board, for instance. The DNR also recommends that boaters have a marine radio – or at least a cell phone – to use if their vessel becomes disabled or they otherwise need assistance.

      Boating under the influence remains a big issue for Michigan as well as the rest of the country.

      “It’s a serious concern,” said Turner, noting that about 10 percent of boating accidents list alcohol as a contributing factor. “Just as it is with motor vehicles, it’s dangerous and unlawful to operate a vessel under the influence."

      Turner said boaters should also keep a sharp eye out, and be aware that there are increasingly more personal watercraft (PWC) out on the water. PWCs, which make up only about 8 percent of the registered boats in Michigan, are involved in roughly a third of boating accidents.

      “PWCs are fast, very maneuverable and can turn on a dime," Turner said. "The operational characteristics of PWCs vary a great deal from traditional vessels and this underscores the importance of training,” Turner said.

      Michigan is about as big a boating state as there is, Turner said.

      “We’re second only to Florida in terms of the number of registered vessels,” he said. “We have tremendous resources. We want people to enjoy those resources – but we want them to do it safely.”