Thursday, October 13, 2016

What Happens When a Lake Trout Survives a Sea Lamprey Attack?

Study will help fishery managers understand more about Great Lakes lake trout populations
October 13, 2016
By Marie Zhuikov

Despite close attention by fishery managers, the lake trout population in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior has been declining in the past decade or so. Recently, this led to emergency limits on the number of lake trout that can be harvested by anglers and commercial and tribal fishermen in Wisconsin waters of the lake.

In an effort to get a better handle on population stressors so that more accurate fishing quotas can be set, fishery managers are looking at a variety of factors that might stress this important population. One of those things are attacks by sea lamprey – the eely vampire of the fisheries world.

Although the number of lake trout deaths by lamprey rank behind those from commercial fishing, natural causes and angling, it is estimated that more than 50 percent of lake trout attacked by lamprey survive. It’s long been assumed that lamprey-attack survivors suffer from impaired growth and reproduction rates, but this has never been studied in the lab.

Tyler Firkus, a fish and wildlife Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University (MSU), plans to change that. However, first he has a few obstacles to overcome for this unique project. For instance: how to catch lamprey that are in the relatively short feeding stage of their life cycle, how to keep the lamprey alive until they can be introduced to lake trout, and how to expose the trout to lamprey parasitism just long enough so that it’s not lethal.

“It’s a major project with a lot of moving parts,” Firkus said. “There’s different hurdles and different things that keep popping up because nobody’s ever done this before.”

Of the various types of lake trout, Firkus is studying the siscowets (the fat ones) and lean lake trout. They were chosen for the study for comparison purposes. “There’s some evidence that the siscowet are more prone to parasitism from lamprey and they might actually be buffering the lean lake trout from parasitism,” Firkus said.
Why lamprey seem to prefer siscowets could be because lamprey like their fattier taste, or because they live in the same deepwater habitat that feeding lamprey prefer, or it could just be a numbers game because there are more siscowets in Lake Superior than there are lean lake trout, by a ratio of 15:1 (based on 2006-2011 data).

Firkus is conducting his research at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility (UWSP NADF), a Wisconsin Sea Grant partner organization located in Red Cliff, Wis. The facility currently holds a mature broodstock of both trout types from previous research projects. The UWSP NADF is the only facility in the world that has domestically reared siscowets available. Firkus is just beginning what he suspects will be a four- to six-year project.
As for catching the lamprey, Firkus is getting help from commercial fishermen in the Bayfield area and from the Hammond Bay Biological Station in Michigan, which specializes in lamprey collection and research. So far, he has about 20 lamprey in their feeding stage, with hopes of capturing 30 to 40 total.

As for exposing the lamprey to the research fish, Firkus plans to do this is in a controlled manner, with one lamprey parasitizing one lake trout per tank. For scientific comparison, other lake trout will go into tanks without lamprey.

“We want to look at the sublethal effects of parasitism, “Firkus said. “If the lamprey parasitize longer than five days, it’s likely that the lake trout will die. We will remove the lamprey around three or four days to avoid mortality.”

After the lamprey are removed, he plans to study a number of physical parameters of the fish over the long term. These include growth, reproduction and immune response. He will divide his time between UWSP NADF and MSU depending on whether he needs to collect data, process data or teach.

“The data will be an important tool to refine current physiological and bioenergetics models to better predict how sublethal sea lamprey attacks can affect the lake trout population,” said Greg Fischer, UWSP NADF operations manager. “The information will be vital for proper management strategies in all the Great Lakes.”

Funding for the project is coming from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Project leaders are Cheryl Murphy, Michigan State University; Fischer, UWSP NADF; Rick Goetz, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Northwest Fisheries Science Center; and Shawn Sitar, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Marquette Fisheries Research Station.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

We [Heart] Actinobacteria

Backed by funding from Wisconsin Sea Grant, UW-Madison researcher Trina McMahon has become the worldwide authority on the key bacteria in freshwater lakes.

October 11, 2016

By Aaron R. Conklin
Every ecosystem has a top dog, a species that out-evolves and outcompetes everything else to survive and thrive under a wide range of conditions. In freshwater lakes, that champion is a special group of actinobacteria, small microbes—like, really, really tiny —that make up a superabundant group of bacteria that’s involved in most of what goes on in the freshwater universe.

Nobody knows more about freshwater actinobacteria than University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of environmental engineering Trina McMahon. With the support of Wisconsin Sea Grant, McMahon’s laboratory members have spent the last five years studying the little critters from every imaginable angle—and in the process have become the pre-eminent experts on the topic. What they’ve found has enlarged our understanding of how freshwater lakes function and exist.

“If you think of the lake as an entity, a living breathing thing that cycles nutrients, these bacteria are responsible for half of it,” said McMahon. “They’re very, very tiny, but because of their numbers and their level of activity, they’re driving huge amounts of the carbon cycling and nutrient regeneration,” said McMahon. “We’ve had a special place in our heart for a long time for the freshwater actinobacteria.”

The relationship began back in 2007, with Ryan Newton, one of McMahon’s first Ph.D. students. Newton, who’s now an assistant professor with the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, developed a baseline bar code of actinobacterial RNA sequences that allows researchers to track, classify and enumerate bacteria in lakes. Using that code, Newton and McMahon demonstrated that actinobacteria are the predominant species in inland lakes. 

In 2012, McMahon’s lab used a cutting-edge method to take a single cell of the actinobacteria and sequence its genome. What they found was that the actinobacteria have a rhodopsin protein similar to the protein in the human eye that allows it to sense light. In the actinobacteria, however, the rhodopsin almost certainly does more—converting the light into energy. (Those findings were recently published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal.)

In a 2014-16 funded project with Wisconsin Sea Grant, McMahon and UW-Madison structural biologist Katrina Forest took it further, revealing something even more surprising about freshwater actinobacteria.

“Actinobacteria have the retinal found in most opsin proteins that allows them to harvest light, but we think they also have another light-harvesting structural molecule that allows harvesting of a different wavelength of light, amplifying the energy that gets harvested in a way that not many other bacteria have.”

That extra method of acquiring energy helps explain why they’ve shot to the top of the ecosystem ladder like a supercharged bullet. Currently, a graduate student in Forest’s lab is charting the actinobacterial cell’s biochemical machinery to definitively identify the structure of this second light-capturing molecule. McMahon suggests it might be possible that different groups of actinobacteria harvest different wavelengths of light.

In addition to the light-harvesting mechanism, McMahon’s lab has noted that the actinobacteria also interact extensively with the gunky-green cyanobacteria and algae that often overtake freshwater lakes during the summer months.

“They have in their cell wall/membrane all this machinery to suck up other dead organisms’ parts,” McMahon explained. “We think of them as vultures or scavengers—they wait for other organisms to die and then they eat up their parts. Then they recycle the atoms into carbon dioxide and also into new cell material. They are the foundational recyclers of the lake.”

McMahon said the interactions take a variety of forms—everything from the actinobacteria eating the dead cyanobacteria to sucking up molecules excreted by the cyanobacteria during periods of rapid growth.

“They’re super in one sense but they’re also crippled in another in that they depend on being able to scavenge what they can’t make themselves,” she said. “What’s fascinating is that we haven’t figured out if the actinobacteria help fuel the cyanobacteria blooms or keep them in check,” said McMahon. “There’s some early evidence that maybe they’re actually partners with the cyanobacteria in certain roles, which would mean that understanding actinobacteria might help us control cyanobacteria blooms better.”

McMahon’s well aware that she faces a strong ewwww factor associated with her research—who wants to talk about gross bacteria and smelly, potentially poisonous blue-green algae in our lakes? To get around that, McMahon has begun talking about actinobacteria using the same language people use to talk about the bacteria that live in humans’ guts, performing helpful tasks like digesting our food and bolstering our immune systems.

“People start to feel a little less scared about the bacteria when they think about it that way,” she said. “If we can understand how the actinobacteria function, and all the different ways they get energy and support the ecosystem, then we have that much deeper an understanding of the lake system. Then we can either do some kind of intervention to improve lake quality or at least make a prediction about what’s going to happen if we do make an intervention.”

McMahon’s research focus will now shift to determining how special each of the strains of actinobacteria are. Armed with genome sequences from the Great Lakes, Lake Mendota, lakes in Sweden and other countries around the world, McMahon’s working to determine whether the bacterial strain she’s studied in Madison’s Lake Mendota is endemic to all lakes or has adapted to its specific environments.

“Maybe the cell in Lake Mendota gets carried to a lake in northern Wisconsin, but maybe it can’t live there because it depends on its friends who are in Lake Mendota,” she said. “We would actually prefer if they weren’t too endemic, because we’d like to take what we’ve learned and apply it to all lakes.”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

NEWS RELEASE - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

101 S Webster, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707

Phone: 608-267-2773 TDD: |

DATE: July 13, 2016
CONTACT: Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Parks director, 608-266-2185
SUBJECT: Peninsula State Park Eagle Tower deconstruction delayed

FISH CREEK, Wis. - The deconstruction of Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park originally scheduled for mid-July will be delayed until mid-September due to challenges the Department of Natural Resources experienced obtaining a contractor and necessary equipment. The tower will remain closed until deconstruction begins.

The park closed the tower to public use in May 2015 to protect public safety after an inspection report raised significant concerns over its structural integrity and an inspection by the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory found considerable deterioration of the structural and non-structural wood members.

Current plans are to deconstruct the existing tower and rebuild a new structure to look as similar as possible to the existing tower, while complying building codes, Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and taking into consideration new technologies.

The Friends of Peninsula State Park in cooperation with interested community members has formed a subcommittee, the Eagle Tower Fund Committee, which is raising funds to rebuild Eagle Tower.
The tower will be taken down in sections making all practical efforts to minimize destruction of tower members.. Staff from the Forest Products Lab will assess all remaining wood elements to determine the existing structural integrity and level of deterioration.

The deconstruction and assessment work will require a temporary traffic rerouting of a section of Shore Road within the park close to the tower, as well as some trails near the tower.

Peninsula State Park staff will be coordinating outreach programs during the tower deconstruction and wood assessment, with presentations by park staff and Forest Products Lab engineers.

The kiosk at the entrance station/park office and the kiosk located at Eagle Tower will be updated regularly with information regarding ongoing work. People can also sign up to receive email updates on tower progress by searching the DNR website,, for "Eagle Tower" and clicking on the "subscribe for Eagle Tower updates" email icon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Connect With Wisconsin Fish, and Their Fishers and Growers website relaunches 

June 21, 2016 relaunches today. Newly simplified navigation, bright images and plenty of recipes are in evidence. The site is part of a Sea Grant initiative that educates consumers about the health benefits of seafood consumption, and how to evaluate the safety and sustainability of the seafood they buy.

More than 90 percent of the seafood eaten by Americans is imported from other countries. Sea Grant launched the Eat Wisconsin Fish project in 2014 to help consumers learn more about local fish that are available to purchase in Wisconsin, a state rich in both fishing heritage and water resources. Generations of families have commercially harvested Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior since the 1830s, and Wisconsin fish farmers are leaders in aquaponics, cultivating fish and plants together to efficiently recycle nutrients said project lead Kathy Schmitt Kline, an education specialist.          

The relaunched website has six major areas: fish, why eating local fish is a healthy and delicious choice that also keeps dollars in local economies, and providing a detailed list of Wisconsin’s commercially caught and farm-raised fish; producers, which introduces Wisconsin’s fishermen and fish farmers; recipes; resources, which offers a seasonal buying guide and a Wisconsin map indicating where to get the most fresh fish; events; and about the Eat Wisconsin Fish initiative.

Funding for Eat Wisconsin Fish has been provided by the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant program from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and by the National Sea Grant College Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

DNR seeks feedback on Lake Michigan management strategies

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will convene three public meetings in late June to discuss management strategies and opportunities for Lake Michigan in light of continued challenges facing salmon populations and the alewives they feed on.

The meetings will focus on a variety of potential management actions to ensure continued diverse opportunities for sport anglers. Topics for discussion will include finding the right species mix, use of net pens, hatchery production, habitat restoration and the potential to increase focus on species with the greatest chances of thriving given the record low levels of open water forage fish such as alewives and rainbow smelt.

The initiative represents part of an ongoing effort by DNR to ensure anglers' voices are heard as ecological changes continue to alter Lake Michigan's food web. The meetings follow announcement of a proposal by the Lake Michigan Committee, a multistate organization charged with managing the Lake Michigan fishery, to reduce lake-wide stocking of chinook salmon by 61.5 percent from current levels, beginning in 2017.

This proposed reduction would equate to a 56 percent chinook salmon reduction (from 810,000 to 355,000) for Wisconsin. The other states that border Lake Michigan would also take significant chinook salmon stocking reductions through this proposal. Michigan would go from 560,000 to 200,000, Illinois would go from 230,000 to 90,000 and Indiana would go from 200,000 to 45,000. The fisheries managers across Lake Michigan believe that these reductions are necessary to maintain quality growth rates and healthy chinook for the fishery and to avoid a crash of the alewife forage base of the lake. Stocking has been a critical management tool to control alewives and provide a fantastic fishery over the years and while we have had to make reductions in the past, Wisconsin is still a leader in chinook salmon stocking.

"Since 2011, Wisconsin DNR has held more than 40 meetings, public input opportunities and attended sport and commercial meetings to work with anglers in developing a shared vision for management of our prized Lake Michigan fishery," said Todd Kalish, deputy director of DNR's fisheries bureau. "Recent data, including acoustic and trawl surveys, shows a continued decline in alewife populations and the predator-prey ratio has reached the tipping point. By working with anglers, we hope to preserve the salmon fishery to the greatest extent possible while developing and accessing options to enhance and maintain a diverse fishery. There is a framework in place that informs managers on the appropriate level of salmon and trout stocking numbers in Lake Michigan. This level can go up and down based on the available information that we are continually evaluating and upgrading."

Kalish said economic hardships caused by collapse of the salmon fishery in Lake Huron starting in 2003-04 offer a cautionary tale for Wisconsin given the more than $114.3 million in annual retail expenditures by Great Lakes sport anglers here. By working to preserve Lake Michigan's salmon fishery, DNR and its partners in surrounding states aim to navigate through the current predator-prey challenges to preserve and protect this economically important fishery into the future.

"We are particularly concerned about the many charter fishing operators on these waters and will be working to identify new opportunities to promote the diverse Lake Michigan fishing opportunities," Kalish said.

If this proposal is implemented, Wisconsin fishery managers would continue efforts to ensure a fall salmon run in Lake Michigan Rivers and streams in 10 counties. Anglers attending the upcoming meetings will be asked to provide feedback on Wisconsin's plans to distribute chinook salmon at locations including Strawberry Creek Rearing Facility, Green Bay and Lake Michigan tributaries or ports in Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Kewaunee, Door, Oconto and Marinette counties.

Brad Eggold, DNR southern Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, said that while chinook salmon would remain an essential part of the diverse Lake Michigan fishery, going forward, species that show more adaptability in their feeding preferences may play a larger role. In addition to chinook, each year DNR stocks hundreds of thousands of coho salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout at more than 40 locations along the Lake Michigan coast. The Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan also receive about 800,000 lake trout produced by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Working with anglers, we intend to use a variety of techniques to optimize survival of stocked trout and salmon," Eggold said. "At the same time, we will continue to work with stakeholders on projects to enhance the salmon and trout fishery on Lake Michigan. We also intend to review our management practices to ensure we are able to respond quickly as new information becomes available."

The three meetings are set for 6 to 8 p.m.:
  • Monday, June 27, Lakeshore Technical College, Centennial Hall West, 1290 North Ave., Cleveland, WI 53015
  • Wednesday, June 29, Brown County Library, Auditorium, 515 Pine St. , Green Bay, WI 54301
  • Thursday, June 30, UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, Ballroom, 600 E. Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53204

To learn more about Lake Michigan fisheries management including historic stocking trends visit and search "Fishing Lake Michigan." More information about the meetings can be found here:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sea Grant Advisory Board Member Spearheads Lake Superior Conservation; Group Receives Award

May 16, 2016
Wisconsin Sea Grant today extended congratulations to the Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association (AISA), which received the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’s 2016 Local Conservation Organization of the Year Award last Friday. It was during the congress’s three-day statewide annual meeting.

The award cited the association’s 36-year track record to improve both the fishery and the habitat in the Apostle Islands. Recently, AISA spearheaded an initiative with Wisconsin Sea Grant to alert anglers and boaters to the dangers of so-called ghost nets in Lake Superior. The nets are commercial fishing nets that have broken free of moorings, which then drift—picking up debris and continuing to trap fish. If anglers or boaters become entangled in the nets, they run the risk of damaging boats, equipment or even capsizing. The sport fisherman’s association and Sea Grant have collaborated with Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission on the effort.

“Al House of the Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association spearheaded this safety effort that is protecting property and even lives,” said Sea Grant Fisheries Specialist Titus Seilheimer. “We know the message is getting out there. Just last summer, for example, we heard from the National Park Service that they knew what to do when rangers encountered a ghost net at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Our ghost net education pointed them in the right direction for removal and disposal that cleaned up an area and removed a safety hazard.”

Since 1980, the AISA has engaged in other worthwhile activities, including:

·       Acting as an essential partner in the creation of the Gull Island Refuge to provide protection to the Lake Trout that reproduced on the Gull Island Shoals. This refuge has been one of the most important factors in the successful restoration of Lake Trout in the Apostle Islands.

·       Developing habitat for the Piping Plover, an endangered species that nests in the Chequamegon Bay area.

·       Formulating innovative stocking programs for walleye and chinook salmon.

“It is a great honor to receive this award from the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, an organization which for 82 years has worked to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources for the benefit of all Wisconsin residents,” said Al House, current AISA president. “It is a credit to all past and present AISA members, officers, and board members for their efforts on behalf of the Apostle Islands Fishery. We thank them, as well as all the other organizations, both here and state wide, that work on behalf of our natural resources.”

House is also a longtime member of the Wisconsin Sea Grant Advisory Council.

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress is a statutory body of citizen-elected delegates that advises the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board and Department of Natural Resources.

Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association Website

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2016 Mille Lacs regulations designed to keep walleye fishing open

Regulations designed to protect the fish needed to rebuild Mille Lacs Lake’s walleye population will require that walleye anglers use only artificial bait and immediately release all walleye when Minnesota’s 2016 fishing season opens Saturday, May 14.
“A catch-and-release walleye season allows us to protect future spawners yet acknowledges the desire that fishing remain open,” said Don Pereira, fisheries chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Not allowing harvest is a difficult decision but it provides our best option.”
From May 14 to Thursday, Dec. 1, anglers targeting walleye must use artificial bait and immediately release all walleye caught. Anglers targeting northern pike and muskellunge may possess and use sucker minnows longer than 8 inches but all other anglers must not possess any other bait that is live, dead, frozen or processed.
Other changed regulations for the 2016 season on Mille Lacs include:
  • Walleye: Night closure beginning Monday, May 16, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and continuing through Dec. 1. Muskellunge anglers may fish at night but all baits, live or artificial, in possession must be at least 8 inches long.
  • Northern pike: Five fish with only one longer than 40 inches. All northern 30-40 inches long must be immediately released.
  • Bass: Four fish with only one longer than 21 inches. All fish 17-21 inches long must be immediately released.
“These new regulations reflect the DNR’s commitment to continue providing world-class fishing at one of Minnesota’s premier vacation destinations,” Pereira said.
Last year on Mille Lacs, walleye anglers could use live bait and keep one walleye 19-21 inches long or longer than 28 inches. Walleye fishing closed in August when fishing pressure, the number of fish caught and temperatures combined to push the state over its 28,600 pound walleye limit. Fishing re-opened on Dec. 1, 2015, with a walleye limit of one 18-20 inches or one longer than 28 inches.
This year’s safe walleye harvest level established by the DNR and Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission remains at 40,000 pounds, with 28,600 allocated to state anglers and 11,400 to tribal anglers. Allowing fishing beyond those limits puts the walleye population at risk and a federal court decision requires that walleye fishing be suspended.
“The possibility of closing Mille Lacs to walleye fishing is greater this year than it was last,” Pereira said. “Even with our catch-and-release approach, the risk remains considerable.”
Concern stems from the additional pressure that hooking mortality – an estimate of the number of fish that die after being caught and returned to the water – has on walleye harvest. Hooking mortality rates also increase as water temperatures warm. Both factors are at play in Mille Lacs this year.
The DNR expects more small- and intermediate-sized fish to be caught, including fish hatched in 2013 that biologists are counting on to rebuild Mille Lacs’ walleye population. These immature fish, which are approaching a more catchable but comparatively small size of 14 inches and longer, need to be protected so they can spawn. Ice is opening on lakes earlier this year, increasing the likelihood that water temperatures will warm faster and sooner.
“A low level of allowed harvest doesn’t necessarily mean slow walleye fishing,” Pereira said. “As we saw last year, factors can combine to alter estimates and require adjustments. We believe that allowing no walleye harvest through catch-and-release is a reasonable yet cautious response based on in-depth analysis and citizen input from the Mille Lacs advisory committee.”
As part of a more comprehensive study to better understand and estimate hooking mortality, the DNR will collect a variety of fishing information on Mille Lacs this summer. Temperature sensors will be placed in different parts of the lake at different depths to more accurately record temperatures where walleye congregate. Information on fishing methods and catches will be collected, too. Part of the information collection aspect of the research program will allow Mille Lacs’ fishing launches to be exempt from the live bait restriction.
“Anglers fish close together on launches, making it extremely difficult to safely cast artificial lures rather than dropping baited lines into the water,” Pereira said. “Since the DNR needs more data to refine its hooking mortality standards, asking launches to provide this data will allow a traditional, popular and enjoyable method of fishing on Mille Lacs to continue.”
Launch operators receiving a permit can use live bait provided they agree to participate in efforts to collect data from fishing trips, launch customers and cooperate with the hooking mortality study. Their permits would be suspended if walleye fishing on Mille Lacs has to be closed.
Bass regulations compromise
Anglers can keep four bass in any combination of largemouth and smallmouth, down from last year’s limit of six fish. The new regulations add a requirement that all fish 17-21 inches be immediately released, and the length restriction for the largest fish an angler may keep increased from 18 to 21 inches.
The early harvest offered on Mille Lacs also was eliminated, requiring that – like the rest of the state – all bass caught during the first two weeks of the season be immediately released.
Mille Lacs’ exemption to the statewide fall closure of the smallmouth bass season remains, meaning that anglers may keep smallmouth bass they catch on Mille Lacs through Feb. 28, 2017.
DNR changed the regulation to balance bass angling groups’ call for stricter regulations to protect Mille Lacs Lake’s world-class smallmouth fishery with the desire and need to provide anglers opportunities to harvest fish.
“Bass regulations are a compromise,” Pereira said. “Last year’s regulations were biologically sound but it was important that DNR also factor in the emerging social aspects in this year’s regulations.”
The ability to exempt large bass tournaments from the size regulation and bag limits remains.
Northern pike regulations change
Mille Lacs anglers can keep five northern pike, only one of which can be longer than 40 inches. All fish 30-40 inches must be immediately released.
The five-fish limit was initially enacted last December. The protected slot limit replaces the provision that allowed anglers to keep only one fish longer than 30 inches.
The earn-a-trophy provision that required anglers to harvest two smaller pike before one larger one was eliminated for the 2016 open water season.

More information about Mille Lacs is available on the DNR website at

Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer weekly reports

The reports have been updated. Please follow any of the links below to read the latest report.

District 1 - Baudette area
District 2 - Bemidji area
District 3 - Fergus Falls area
District 4 - Wadena area
District 5 - Eveleth area
District 6 - Two Harbors area
District 7 - Grand Rapids area
District 8 - Duluth area
District 9 - Brainerd area
District 10 - Mille Lacs area
District 11 - St. Cloud area
District 12 - Princeton area
District 13 - West Metro area
District 14 - East Metro area
District 15 - Marshall area
District 16 - New Ulm area
District 17 - Mankato area
District 18 - Rochester area

Wisconsin Conservation Congress Opposes Proposed Legislation That Would Again Lengthen Rule Making Process for Fish and Game Laws

 Racine - The Conservation Congress is calling on the state’s conservation community to contact their state legislators and voice their opposition to SB 168 and AB 251, which are rapidly moving through the legislature. These proposed bills would make changes and additions to the rule making process for state agencies like the Department of Natural Resources, which would lengthen the amount of time it takes to promulgate administrative rules by at least six months.

The Department of Natural Resources uses administrative rules to create seasons and bag limits for Wisconsin’s fish and wildlife. With the passage and implementation of 2011 Act 21, the administrative rule process was modified and lengthened from 12-18 months to promulgate and implement rules to 2- 3 years. These proposed changes would add additional steps and lengthen that process further.

“Fish and game regulation changes that go through the Conservation Congress and the Spring Hearing process have already been extensively reviewed by the public,” stated Rob Bohmann, Chair of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC), “The changes these bills are proposing would be arduous and duplicative of the current public input process already in place. Most of these rule changes are vetted at annual public hearings in each of the 72 counties. It just isn’t necessary or efficient to add additional steps, especially for those proposed hunting, fishing, and trapping rule changes that are relatively minor in nature, have little or no economic impact, or are overwhelmingly supported by the public.”

Though fish and game rules rarely have any significant economic impact on businesses, additional steps proposed by these bills would still be applied to these rules causing a delay in time-sensitive rulemaking. In addition, extensive governor and legislative oversight of fish and game laws that are implemented pursuant to a federal framework serves no purposeful role.

“This legislation will further slow down the process that is necessary to manage the sustainable use of public trust resources. It is impossible to anticipate all of the unforeseen factors such as sudden habitat degradation, winter severity, inclement weather events, or disease outbreaks that play into wildlife population dynamics so that biologists can properly manage the use of sensitive resources three years into the future. Wildlife and fisheries managers need to have the flexibility to change seasons or bag limits to protect our important natural resources. I urge citizens to contact their legislators and share with them your concerns about the negative impact this could have on Wisconsin’s fish and wildlife populations.”

Monday, February 22, 2016

Summary of Kid’s Ice Fishing Clinic

Brenda Rosin-Schaff led the discussion. 167 Kids were at the parks for the clinics. The Lannon quarry unit caught 25 fish for the record. Last year’s coloring books were destroyed, so she is looking for donations to print more, and evenly distributing those we do have. Brenda is looking for extra rods, and some help fixing up a few she has on hand. Matt Coffare, fish biologist for 31 years, and originator of the clinics has retired, and the group has decided to do something for him. Various clubs are raising enough money to have Al build a rod, George turn a handle, and someone buy a reel, and award him with it.

Report from Wisconsin Fishing Club

Wisconsin Sea Grant to Invest $1.96 Million in Science-Based Projects to Enhance the Great Lakes Economy and Regional Quality of Life

February 22, 2016
By Moira Harrington

The University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, which is dedicated to the sustainable use of Great Lakes resources through research, education and outreach, today announced the award of $1.96 million in research dollars for 2016. Sea Grant will fund 19 projects on six Wisconsin campuses, along with a shipwreck exploration project in Lake Michigan in partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society and an education project with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. 

“We often say the Great Lakes are a gift from the glaciers,” said Sea Grant Director Jim Hurley. “This gift is a valuable one—a 2011 study found 1.5 million jobs are tied to the lakes, with $62 billion in annual wages. Just as the lakes fuel our economy, they also enrich our quality of life. That’s why we are pleased that these science-based projects, 15 new ones and three continuing from 2015, can further Wisconsin’s economic, cultural and public health needs as tied to lakes Michigan and Superior.”

Researchers will look into the health of the waterways, better ways to grow tasty walleyes destined for people’s dinner plates, methods to prevent Great Lakes beach contamination, possible ways to lessen the destruction of floods and more.

In all, nearly 100 researchers, staff and students will be engaged in this work, said Hurley. The campuses are La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee and Stevens Point, along with Northland College and St. Norbert College. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Wisconsin Sea Grant Researcher Speaks About Chequamegon Bay Climate Change Projects at UMD

Wisconsin Sea Grant Researcher Speaks About Chequamegon Bay Climate Change Projects at UMD
February 15, 2106

By Marie Zhuikov
Wisconsin Sea Grant Researcher and Northland College Professor, Randy Lehr, was in Duluth on Feb. 2, speaking about his climate change research in the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior and a new integrated assessment project he’s starting for the same area.

Lehr spoke at the invitation of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Anthropocene Research Center along with Peter Annin, with whom he co-leads the new Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation.
Lehr said that the Ashland, Wis., area is the focus of hard rains for some reason -- “Harder than most other places studied in the region.” He said the area can expect warmer, wetter weather in the future. With his Wisconsin Sea Grant funding, Lehr and his team are studying the impacts of these hard rains and warming temperatures on the bay and what tools city and natural resource managers can use to address and adapt to these impacts.

The related two-year integrated assessment he is just beginning, also with Sea Grant’s help, blends social and natural sciences. With this “Integrated Assessment and Climate Change Adaptation Planning in the Chequamegon Bay Region of Lake Superior,” Lehr and his colleagues will survey what the most valuable resources are in the area to people and will prioritize them in terms of their natural/social/ecological importance and how likely they are to be impacted by climate change.
“People love their lakes,” Lehr said. “Even if they move away from Wisconsin, surveys have found they are still willing to support local lake associations in their efforts to care for lakes.”

Community leaders and elected officials will be engaged in conversations as part of the process led by Northland College faculty. Decision tools will be developed to help communities decide what actions to take. Local cities (Ashland, Bayfield, Washburn), towns, tribes, the National Park Service and the Forest Service will be involved.

This type of integration is a first for Wisconsin Sea Grant, and may lead to similar assessments elsewhere in the state. The project will kick off with a meeting where all technical and subject-matter experts interact with community leaders, elected officials and their designated staff members.

The Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation that Lehr co-leads is co-located on the Northland College campus in Ashland, Wis., and in Cable, Wis., at the former summer home of the Burke family, Forest Lodge. Its operation is funded by an endowment by the Burke family and the focus is on aquatic research, communication and leadership on freshwater issues throughout the Great Lakes. The center and its 900 acres are being operated in partnership with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

For more information, please contact Randy Lehr at

DNR wardens seek tips in damaged ice shanty case

The Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Law Enforcement is asking for the public's help in solving a case of property damage and interfering with lawful fishing/harassment. Sometime after close of sturgeon spearing (1 p.m.) on Sat., February 13, and opening of spearing (7 a.m.) on Sun. February 14, an individual had his spearing shack completely plowed in by snow. The amount of snow prevented the individual from being able to spear out of that shanty. Later, it was found that the sides of the shanty were pushed in and damaged, making the shack unusable. This incident occurred on the north end of Lake Poygan near Alder Creek in Winnebago County.

Wardens spent considerable time investigating Sunday and now are seeking help from the public. If anyone has any information on who did this or what vehicle was used, you can confidentially call or text tips to the DNR Hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR (1-800-847-9367).

Wisconsin Fishing Club Notice

The Wisconsin Fishing Club meets every 2nd and 4th Monday during Jan. Feb. March, May, Sept, & Oct, on the 4th Monday in April and on the 2nd Monday the remainder of the months.  We meet at Grainger's, at 3400 W Loomis road in Greenfield at 7:00. We schedule several outings every year, we usually have an informative speaker, and each March we have an annual fishing rod building class and a fishing rummage sale. We always welcome visitors.

Thank you.    Ray Letourneau, Club Secretary

Like us on Facebook

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February River Talk Puts a Dollar Value on the Watershed

The next monthly River Talk is scheduled for Wed. Feb. 24, 7 p.m. at Barker’s Waterfront Grille (Barker’s Island Inn, 300 Marina Dr., Superior, Wis.). Nancy Schudlt, water projects coordinator with the Fond du Lac Band will present, “The Value of Nature’s Benefits in the St. Louis River Watershed.”

The Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant programs and the Lake Superior Reserve have teamed to offer this series of free science cafĂ©-type evening talks about the St. Louis River Estuary. Everyone is invited to these informal “River Talks,” which are held monthly through May. Check the River Talk website for details. If you miss a talk, visit Wisconsin Sea Grant’s “Great Lakes Takes” blog for a summary.