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…


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 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 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:

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:

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

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: 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 ( 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: 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

Send email to:

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

Some bodies of water have special regulations for bass. To find special regulations, use the DNR LakeFinder function at the Fish Minnesota site, To buy a fishing license, visit any DNR license agent, buy online via mobile or desktop at, 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

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

The 2014 Michigan Fishing Guide and inland trout and salmon regulations and maps are available online; visit the DNR website at 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 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 –

    • East Lake –

    • Muskallonge Lake –

      • 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 – and – 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.”

      Public invited to comment on bass regulations on 4 Otter Tail County lakes

      The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will hold two public meetings to provide information about the existing bass regulations and ask for public comments on whether the regulations should be continued, modified or rescinded on Jewett, Pickerel, Clitherall and Sewell lakes in Otter Tail County.

      The first meeting will be 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the Fergus Falls DNR Headquarters, 1509 First Ave. N. in Fergus Falls.

      The second meeting will be 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Lakes Area Community Center, 112 West Main St. in Battle Lake.

      Jewett Lake is 8 miles north of Fergus Falls. Pickerel Lake is 12 miles north of Underwood. Clitherall Lake is 5 miles south of Battle Lake. Sewell Lake is 7 miles southeast of Dalton.

      Currently, there is a 12- to 20-inch protected slot length limit for bass on Jewett, Pickerel and Sewell lakes. Clitherall Lake currently has a catch-and-release regulation for smallmouth bass.

      Prior to the meeting, notices will be published in local newspapers.

      Those unable to attend the meetings may submit written comments any time to: DNR Fergus Falls area fisheries, 1509 First Ave. N., Fergus Falls, MN 56537, or via email to or To provide comments by phone, call 218-739-7576. All comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 30.

      Public comments will also be accepted during an open house 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24 at the DNR Central Office, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

      Public invited to meetings on walleye regulation for some Otter Tail County lakes

      The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will hold two public meetings to provide updated information on the existing walleye regulation on North and South Lida, Venestrom and Mud lakes in Otter Tail County.

      The first meeting will be from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 17, at Lake Region Electric Cooperative, 1401 South Broadway in Pelican Rapids.

      The second meeting will be from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Fergus Falls DNR headquarters, 1509 First Ave. N. in Fergus Falls.

      The lakes are located 5 miles east of Pelican Rapids. At the meetings, the DNR will present updated information collected since the regulation was implemented in 2005.

      The existing walleye regulation is: All walleye from 17- to 26-inches must be immediately released. One fish over 26 inches is allowed in possession.

      Those unable to attend the meetings may submit written comments any time to: DNR Fergus Falls area fisheries, 1509 First Ave. N., Fergus Falls, MN 56537, or via email to or To provide comments by phone, call 218-739-7576.

      BOW program celebrates 20 years of connecting women to the outdoors

      Learn how to hunt deer. Tie a fly and catch trout. Call a turkey. Go kayaking. Women and families all over Minnesota are learning these and more skills through the Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

      Minnesota offers more BOW programs than any other state in the nation, with more than 100 family and women-specific offerings. In early May, DNR staff honored volunteers and celebrated two decades of BOW.

      “The program wouldn’t exist without volunteers and their commitment, knowledge and passion,” said Linda Bylander, BOW coordinator with the DNR. “These women share their skills and help each other connect with nature in a supportive environment. And exploring the outdoors is simply more fun with friends.”

      Classes taught in a noncompetitive environment cover a range of outdoors skills, from Fishing 101 to guided sturgeon fishing adventure trips, from firearms safety classes to mentored archery deer hunts. For a list of upcoming BOW classes and events, see

      “The BOW program has long been the gold standard in providing ways for adult women and families to learn outdoor skills,” said Jay Johnson, DNR hunting recruitment and retention supervisor. “Often they learn these skills through multi-session classes that move participants from low to high skill levels.”

      Besides helping to recruit new hunters, BOW fosters a social support system for women looking to make friends through outdoor sports and hone newly learned skills, said Johnson.

      “A great example of this is the Women’s Hunting Archery Series. It’s a collaboration between BOW and the North Country Bowhunters Chapter of Safari Club International. With each class, women have a chance to better their skills and share in each other’s success,” Johnson said.

      DNR partnership expands invasive carp monitoring and detection

      The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), will begin comprehensive monitoring and detection of bighead, black, grass, and silver carp in Minnesota waters this year. Currently, small numbers of bighead, grass, and silver carp are present in Minnesota. 

      The goal of monitoring is to better understand the current status of invasive carp in the waters of Minnesota where habitat may allow them to establish self-sustaining populations. Detecting invasive carp in Minnesota waters is challenging because their numbers are low and they are difficult to catch using traditional sampling equipment.

      The DNR employs a variety of techniques to gather data about invasive carp, including:  commercial fishing contracts, targeted field sampling, eDNA (genetic surveillance), and telemetry. Detecting individual fish and observing changes in overall population, helps inform management efforts and identify ways to prevent the spread of invasive carp.  

      “These efforts are an important element of the Minnesota invasive carp action plan, because invasive carp species are not yet established in Minnesota,” said Nick Frohnauer, DNR invasive fish coordinator. “Expanding our knowledge of their presence and population dynamics is important to establish timelines and direct deterrence measures.”
      Previous monitoring efforts for these invasive carp were focused on the Mississippi River from Hastings to Coon Rapids, St. Croix River to Taylor’s Falls, and the mouth of the Minnesota River. These efforts, combined with additional data from Iowa and Illinois, indicate that for the Mississippi River, the leading edge of established populations of bighead and silver carp is in northern Iowa. As a result, the DNR and partner agencies plan to:

      • Expand sampling into Mississippi River Pools 5a, 6, and 8 (in southeastern Minnesota).
      • Conduct detection surveys of invasive carp on the Minnesota River while also gathering baseline data on native aquatic communities.
      • Maintain sampling stations established on southwestern Minnesota rivers and streams to detect if invasive carp expand into Minnesota via the Missouri River.
      • Continue collaborating with MAISRC on collecting water samples from Lock and Dam 1, Lock and Dam 5, and Taylor’s Falls for future analysis. 

      The DNR is also working on or supporting additional projects to deter the expansion of invasive carp into Minnesota, including: St. Anthony Falls, Lock and Dam 1, Mississippi River Lock and Dams 2, 5, and 8 (MAISRC research locations), and southwestern Minnesota.

      Thursday, May 8, 2014

      2014 Sturgeon Spawn Comes to an End in Shawano

      Posted below is a portion of a collection of photos taken by WCSFO President John Durben on May 8 between Thunderstorms. For those who are familiar with the event, you can see that the water is higher and swifter than recent years.

      For those who are not familiar, the WDNR employees capture, measure, sex, check for previously tagged fish as well as tag first time captured fish. Before being released, a few of the fish were stripped of eggs and sperm to fertilize eggs for a Georgia Hatchery Sturgeon project. According to one of the spectators, the water temperature was approximately 45 degrees. The air temperature wasn’t much better.

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      Click on each for to enlarge


      By: John Durben

      Employees from the US Fish and Wildlife Service from the Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery located in Warm Springs, Georgia came to Shawano, WI., yesterday.  The purpose of their visit to Wisconsin was to gather some Sturgeon eggs to take back to their hatchery in Georgia.

      The Sturgeon population is being threatened in some of the southern states due to over-harvest or the construction of dams which has changed the various water levels or access to spawning areas.

      The Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery has been working closely with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in an effort to reverse this trend. The Wisconsin native fish hatched in Georgia will be released in the Lower French Broad River in Tennessee and the Coosa River in Georgia according to Hatchery Manager, Carlos Echevarria.

      0JED_0015961  JED_0015963

      (L) Sturgeon eggs are treated in a clay solution to keep them from clumping. Note that

      they are being stirred with an Eagle feather. (R) Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery

      Manager, Carlos Echevarra with a pitcher of Sturgeon eggs.

      JED_0015965  JED_0015967

      (L) Sturgeon eggs poured into one of the jars which will eventually be placed in the

      portable hatchery. 

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      (R) The portable hatchery can handle 12 jars of Sturgeon eggs. Six jars on each side.

      Echevarra says he like to put 500 eggs in each Jar.

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      (L)  Kathlina Alford, Conservation Associate from the Tennessee Aquarium

      Conservation Institute works on an egg sample. (R) The portable hatchery

      is equipped with a cooling system as well as a heating system to keep the water

      temperature just right for the eggs on the long trip back to Georgia.


      In the back of the hatchery there is a portable generator to generate electricity

      to operate the hatchery as well.

      Click here to learn more about this joint project.

      WCSFO photos by: John Durben and Carlos Echevarra

      Sturgeon Spawn 2014 - Shawano, WI

      Sturgeon Spawn 2014 on the Wolf River in Shawano, WI. WDNR employees catch, tag and record data on Sturgeon that make the annual spawning run from Lake Winnebago up to the Dam in Shawano. This video catches the efforts of one of the that dove into the 45 degree water to catch the Sturgeon by hand and help nodge them into the large nets to be taken to the processing area. I watched him for several hours, so he had to be cold and tired. (WCSFO video - John Durben)


      Friday, May 2, 2014

      Walleyes for Tomorrow–Shawano Area Chapter Working for the Future

      The Shawano Area Chapter of Walleyes for Tomorrow set up their Portable Hatchery (commonly known as the Walleye Wagon) over a month ago in the village of Cecil on the shores of Shawano Lake. The last three weeks however have been spent working with the WDNR gathering and preparing the valuable gold for the Hatchery. The DNR happened to be performing fish surveys on the Lake this year as well. The fish caught in the nets were recorded and released while some such as the musky were measured, weighed, tagged and had a scale sample taken. (Note WDNR Fisheries Biologist Alan Niebur holding and releasing the muskies in the photos below.)

      The last report indicates that there were approximately 3.75 million eggs gathered for this years project. This is the third year the Hatchery has been operating on this site and the third year Mother Nature has refused to cooperate with a winter season that refuses to give up.

      Preliminary results of the DNR Survey tells us that some of the larger than fingerling walleyes released in 2011 are doing well.

      Click on photo to enlarge

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