April 21, 2003

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National

Nat'l- Parks and Wilderness Areas Protected in County Road Agreement
Department of Interior and State Agree to Process for Public Involvement

   Vowing to protect Utah's most important scenic, natural areas while securing the state's transportation infrastructure, Governor Mike Leavitt on April 10, joined Secretary of Interior Gail Norton to announce a process to resolve many of the road claims in Utah.

           

   These claims have been disputed for nearly 30 years, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and creating uncertainty for local officials and federal land managers. The agreement, which was formalized in a signed memorandum of understanding, includes no roads in national parks, wilderness areas, wilderness study areas or fish and wildlife refuges.

   "This is a defining moment for rural Utah," said Leavitt, who has spent nearly 10 years working to solve this problem. "This settlement secures the state's transportation system, honors the property rights of local governments and preserves Utah's most important scenic landscapes."

   At issue is the legal title to thousands of roads crossing federal land prior to 1976. These roads, commonly referred to by the federal law that granted the rights-of-way (R.S. 2477), were never fully documented. The result is endless confusion, litigation and divisiveness among those who use, maintain and plan for these lands. Millions of dollars

in legal bills have already been paid, and millions more could be spent without a negotiated alternative.

 

   The Memorandum of Understanding creates an administrative process and framework to openly identify roads to be disclaimed by the Bureau of Land Management. The individual counties of Utah, along with the state, will choose which roads to submit to the BLM. The public will then have a right to review and comment on all applications for a federal disclaimer on the rights to the roads. The process does not eliminate valid existing rights. Rather, it empowers resolution outside of court for roads that meet the agreed criteria.

   The agreement consists of seven touchstones that serve as filter for consideration. To be considered under the process, roads must meet these criteria:

      ► Have existed prior to 1976.

      ► Be able to be traveled by cars and trucks.

      ► Not be in a national park.

      ► Not be in a wilderness area.

      ► Not be in a wilderness study area.

      ► Not be in a fish and wildlife refuge.

      ► Not be expanded (a concept described as "where is, as is).


   "The MOU defines a path for resolving the vast majority of disputed claims," said Leavitt. "This is a common sense, common ground solution that will preserve our natural areas, but give counties the economic certainty they need."


Nat'l- Interior Says No to New Wilderness Areas

   WASHINGTON (AP) - The Interior Department intends to halt all reviews of its Western land holdings for new

wilderness protection and to withdraw that protected status from some 3 million acres in Utah, it informed Congress on Friday.

   By suspending wilderness reviews, the department would limit the amount of land held by its Bureau of Land Management (BLM) eligible for wilderness protection at 22.8 million acres nationwide. "The Department stands firmly committed to the idea that we can and should manage our public lands to provide for multiple use, including protection of those areas that have wilderness characteristics," Interior Secretary Gale Norton said in a letter sent late Friday to members of Congress.

   The wilderness decisions Norton advised Congress about are contained in a legal settlement of a lawsuit brought by Utah. The settlement must be approved by federal judge in Utah, who also has yet to rule on efforts by environmentalists to intervene in the case.

   Norton said in 1976 Congress gave the Interior Department 15 years to inventory wilderness areas, and only those areas identified by 1991 as having wilderness characteristics qualified for protection.  Norton also said she was setting aside the 2001 Wilderness Handbook - a land management policy implemented in the waning days of the Clinton administration - which required the BLM to protect the wilderness qualities of lands that could qualify as wilderness areas.  The requirement created millions of acres of de facto wilderness, even though only Congress can make such designations.

 

   Wilderness areas, as defined by the 1964 Wilderness Act, are those areas "untrammeled by man," and are protected from oil and gas development, off-road use, and   

various types of construction.

 

   The policy changes come as part of a settlement that was filed April 11 in federal court in Salt Lake City. Utah had sued the Interior Department in 1996 over a reinventory of 3 million acres conducted by then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.  Most of the lawsuit was dismissed, and it sat dormant for years until the state amended its complaint last month.

   In Utah, specifically, the announcement means that the department will disregard the results of Babbitt's 1996 reinventory. That inventory identified 5.9 million acres of Utah land that qualified for wilderness protection, 3 million acres more than found in the original inventory during the Reagan administration.

   The BLM had been managing the land to preserve its wilderness characteristics. Now it can be used according to the land-use plans that had been prepared previously by the BLM, which could include mining and recreation. Norton noted that wildness quality areas also could be protected in land use plans without ever being designed as wildness areas.

   "It looks like Interior agrees with me and my Western colleagues that the BLM does not have the authority to designate new wilderness study areas, ... doesn't have authority beyond what Congress gave it," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "Secretary Norton's actions will bring resolution to the illegal activities of the past administration."

 

   This was the second time this week that the department has made a major policy announcement resulting from secret settlement negotiations with the state. On Wednesday, Norton and Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt agreed to a process for transferring disputed roads across federal lands to state ownership.


Nat'l- Researchers: Anglers are Key to Containing Largemouth Bass Virus

Biologists, resource managers share findings at BASS-sponsored workshop

   WILMINGTON, N.C. - New research presented at the 2003 Largemouth Bass Virus Workshop confirms the important role that anglers can play in minimizing the impact of the mysterious ailment on the nation's bass fisheries.  "I can think of a million reasons for anglers not to move fish from one body of water to another and not one good reason to move them," said Tony Goldberg of the University of Illinois, following presentation of his findings.

 

   Goldberg was but one of several scientists who provided resource managers and fisheries biologists with the latest information on the virus, which killed thousands of fish during the late 1990s and first years of this century, mostly in the Southeast. Fatalities since seem to have diminished considerably, but LMBV continues to be found in new waters annually, and scientists as well as anglers worry about the long-range implications of this virus for America's most popular game fish.

 

   "We don't know enough to know what the long-term effects are," said Robert Bakal, a veterinary medical officer for the USFWS Warm Springs Regional Fish Health Center in Georgia. "What we know today probably will be different from what we'll know in two years."

 

   During this fourth annual meeting sponsored by BASS, Goldberg added, "We're not looking to eliminate LMBV. We can't do that. But what we're learning could lead to management regulations that lessen its impact."

Anglers, in fact, can voluntarily lessen that impact right away, the veterinarian and associate assistant professor of epidemiology revealed, by following guidelines that resource managers have recommended for several years: Don't move fish or water from one fishery to another and clean water from your livewell and other compartments before taking your boat from one lake to another. 

 

   Before this past year's research, these guidelines were viewed as precautionary measures based on common sense. Moving fish and water from one place to another can spread exotic nuisance species and pathogens.  But now hard evidence confirms the need for such practices. Possibly most importantly, Goldberg and his associates confirmed that genetically different strains of LMBV exist, some more deadly than others.

"One viral strain killed bass more quickly than the others in the study, and it killed every fish," he said. "We now know that there are multiple strains that may have different effects. You shouldn't move fish even if you know that both bodies of water have LMBV."

 

   University of Illinois researchers also learned that second-generation offspring are more likely to die from LMBV when

pure parental stocks of bass are mixed. The interbreeding, Goldberg said, seems to scramble immune system genes and create "outbreeding depression."

 

   Additionally, the Illinois scientists found that fish carrying the virus die 3.3 times faster at 30 degrees Centigrade (86 degrees Fahrenheit) than they do at 25 C (77 F). "Elevated temperatures do cause greater mortality," Goldberg said.

 

   This finding also confirms what resource managers have advised: Handle bass as little as possible during hot weather, since the additional stress reduces the fish's ability to combat the disease at a time when it's most likely to turn deadly.

 

   Bakal, meanwhile, said that FWS researchers have learned that 1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water will kill the virus in livewells. "It's important to let it dry out," he added. FWS scientists also began work on a non-lethal sampling method, and they determined that LMBV does not seem to be spread through the digestive system of cormorants that eat fish in one lake and defecate in another.

 

   From Auburn University, Andy Noyes reported that a check of bass in several reservoirs with LMBV revealed that the largest bass do not have the highest prevalence of the virus. For years, body counts seemed to suggest that LMBV mostly was a killer of big fish, and resource managers feared that the disappearance of trophy bass in many waters was linked to the virus.

 

   "Is the virus really less prevalent in older fish?" Noyes asked. "Or maybe they've already died.  But we are starting to see a rebound in trophy-size fish." At Mississippi State University, scientists began trying to determine if summer tournaments contribute to higher levels of LMBV and possibly trigger the virus to turn deadly.

 

   For more definitive answers regarding tournament effects and other aspects of LMBV, research must continue. Some states, such as Alabama, Texas, and Florida, are conducting important studies on their own. But much of the work is financed by Wallop-Breaux (Sport Fish Restoration) reverted funds provided by FWS.  Biologists at the meeting universally agreed that such federal money will be needed again in 2003 if progress is to continue in unraveling the mystery of LMBV.

 

   While research was gearing up in the laboratory and in the field, state biologists noted few kills linked to LMBV during 2002. Arkansas reported one at Lake Columbia, while Texas recorded one at Lake Bastrop. But the virus continued to prove that it is not confined to southern waters, as resource managers said LMBV was detected in the Illinois portion of Lake Michigan, as well as in Vermont's Lake Champlain.


Nat'l- An Interview with Steve Williams, Director USFWS

   Many issues were raised at the recent USFWS National Fisheries Leadership Institute held in Washington, DC.  The Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council had the opportunity to ask the Steve Williams, Director of USFWS about some of those issues.

Thomas:  The USFWS has a plan for interstate lawbreakers (Lacey Act), ducks (Migratory Bird Treaty Act), endangered species (ESA) and refuges.  We don't have a plan for fish.  What is the Administration's plan for regional and national fisheries programs?

Williams:  Secretary Norton has joined me in taking a personal interest in reinvigorating the Fisheries Program, and both of us have been firmly behind the solid, workable Strategic Vision that was written with a huge amount of help and work on the part of more than a dozen partners and stakeholders.  That document is in the process of being implemented in the Regions and it's an enormous step for the Fisheries Program.  It was given a grand unveiling at the historic National Fisheries Leadership Conference this past January,  the first time the Fisheries Program has had such a meeting in more than 130 years!  This Administration has asked for the first real increase in the fisheries budget in more than a dozen years " $9 million " and that's an enormous step.  Once we get the Vision firmly in place and hard at work, I plan to address the last sentence of your question.  This is an exciting time to be here.  I'm looking forward to the future.

 

Thomas:   Given the importance of license fees, excise taxes and expenditures incurred by outdoor sportsmen from all natural resources related activities, how do we re-establish the priorities in funding and percent for fish and wildlife user activity programs in the USFWS budget to what it was traditionally in the 50s, 60s and 70s?

 

Williams:  I think a good deal of the answer to that question lies with the Congress, but I will say that it probably is a truism that regardless of how we prioritize expenditures, it's safe to assume that we'll never make everyone happy.  There has been a steady increase in the government's support for wildlife conservation programs since the 1970s and in recent years we've received a major funding increase for the National Wildlife Refuge System, where we offer a wide variety of hunting and fishing opportunities.  I've already mentioned our efforts to strengthen the fisheries program.  I also think it is important for all of us to recognize that many activities for endangered or nongame species also have indirect benefits for game species by restoring habitat, for example.

Thomas:   What proactive steps is the FWS legal division taking to negate the greens, animals rights and lawsuits issues ? issues compromising valuable FWS time and dollars?

 

Williams:  It would be nice to find a way to reduce the number of  lawsuits filed against the Fish and Wildlife Service, but I doubt that we can do a lot in that regard.  Lawsuits are filed against our agency (and many others) over what we are doing and what we are perceived as not doing.  Congress, of course, enacts the laws and we must administer them.  We're always ready to sit down and talk to citizens with grievances ? but there are also many times we are not able to meet all of their demands.  What we can do is make certain that we comply with all procedural and administrative requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, Administrative Procedures Act, and resource protection laws to ensure that when there is litigation, we have a strong case to make.  We have also made a renewed effort to communicate with the public and interest groups from all sides.  Along this same line, the Service reached an agreement in principle with a number of conservation organizations in August, 2001 that enabled the agency to complete work on evaluations of numerous species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.   The Service and the organizations agreed to extend

deadlines for eight critical habitat designations, thereby making funds available for the actions.

 

Thomas:   USFWS wants to expand angler base.  How will that be accomplished?  How can the sportfishing community participate? 

 

Williams:  We're going to expand that base in any way that we can, from helping enhance recreational fishing opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges to working with State hatchery systems, to fully backing annual events like National Fishing and Boating Week and partnering with organizations that encourage recreational fishing throughout the United States, such as the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council as well as the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.  The Foundation, of course, is chartered by Congress to carry out a long-term national outreach program designed to boost recreational fishing throughout the United States.  They are doing very exciting work, and they have our wholehearted support.  The Foundation already has a share of success stories, and survey numbers to show that their national campaign is reaching the intended audiences.  Their work has been absolutely superb, and I look forward to giving them a hand in any way possible.  The Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, of course, has already completed a herculean task with their recommendations for the fisheries program as well as their work that was incorporated into the program's Strategic Vision, and we owe the Council an enormous debt.  We hope many of the other organizations built around sport and recreational fishing will add their names to our partner roster and give us even more advice about what they would like to see us do to help.

 

Thomas:   A major contentious issue for a decade or more has been our federal hatcheries and their perceived role.  Fortunately, under our great new leadership within the Service and the Department of the Interior, the role of our hatcheries has been upgraded.  Yet some feel the most pressing issue is loss of habitat.  What do you perceive as a practical and realistic program for preserving existing habitat and reversing the trend of loss?

Williams:  We can turn our attention to our Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, where we help willing landowners make a few adjustments to their land that accommodates wildlife or fish or plants and we can expand our Fish Passage program, which removes dams and other blockages from streams, expanding the range of fish and restoring historic habitat areas. The Administration asked for $50 million last year to provide grants and other financial incentives to States and private landowners to help them restore habitat; we have the Landowner Incentive Program that includes a number of conservation grant programs to help States, tribes, conservation organizations, private landowners and others; there's the Private Stewardship Grants Program, fostering voluntary conservation efforts on private lands and the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, designed to help states acquire, restore, manage and enhance coastal wetlands.  All of those kinds of efforts ? and more ? are important. People and wildlife have always competed for space. Finding the right balance is a challenge that doesn't end.  But we can make a difference.

Thomas:  What is the status of the National Cormorant EIS?

 

Williams:  A preliminary draft has been completed.  We released a proposed rule on that draft for public comment in March.  I hope to see the final product before the end of 2003.

 

We thanked the Director for his time and to responding to the many concerns and issues confronting resource management in our nation. We saw the team he is building and the selection of Dr Mamie Parker as the new Assistant Director for Fisheries and believe the stewardship of  the nations' fisheries to be in capable hands. Ed

 


Canada

Canada- Manitoba won't prosecute gun-registry offences

"It is a waste of time and resources"

   Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh yesterday confirmed the NDP government will not prosecute Manitobans who fail to register their firearms with the federal government. In cases where registration charges are laid, the federal 

government has the opportunity to prosecute, Mackintosh said. However, if the federal justice department does not prosecute, Manitoba will stay the charges.  There was a suggestion last month that Manitoba may prosecute registration offences in rural areas if federal prosecutors were not available.  Mackintosh disputed that suggestion.

 


General

PETA Exposed

   In The New Yorker (April 14), writer Michael Specter takes a long and revealing look into the bizarre world of PETA Founder and President Ingrid Newkirk.  It reveals, among other things, that Newkirk:

• justifies killing dogs and cats by saying “I couldn’t stand to let them go through that.  I must have killed a thousand of them, sometimes dozens every day.”

 

• describes herself and the rest of PETA as "complete press sluts,"

• has in her will provisions to have part of her body "used for a human barbecue", her skin "made into leather products", and her feet into "umbrella stands or other ornamentation."

• says she was sterilized at age 22 because “I am opposed to having children”.


2nd Amendment Issue - Guns

Guns, murders, and Capital Punishment

   The U.S. Justice Department released 'Capital Punishment 2001,' its latest annual survey of death penalty statistics. The death penalty is available in 38 states and the federal system, yet only 66 convicted killers were executed in the United States last year. That was fewer than the 85 executed in 2000, and fewer than the 98 executed in 1999.

 

   Whatever else might be said about these numbers, a     

far  larger and more disturbing number eclipses them, one not mentioned in the report: the number of murder victims. In 2001, 15,980 Americans lost their lives to murder ― a death toll hundreds of times greater than the small body count of executed murderers. It appears if violent crime is to be curbed, it is only the intended victim who can do it. The felon does not fear the police. Therefore he must be taught to fear his victim.

 


Guns vs gun control

   There are more guns per person in the United States than Canada and more homicides (4.55 versus 1.58 per 100,000 people in 1999, says the United Nations), but most statisticians prefer a sample larger than two and in both countries murder varies wildly between jurisdictions in ways that don't correlate with gun ownership or gun laws. This is true internationally as well: In Switzerland, virtually every adult male has a gun and all those who were officers during compulsory military service a handgun, yet the over  

all homicide rate for 2000 was just 0.96 per 100,000.

  

   In Jamaica, guns have been banned for decades, yet it had more than 1,000 murders this year (and a homicide rate of 33.69 per 100,000 in 2000) and gun battles on the street are commonplace. In Japan, gun ownership is rare and so is homicide (0.50 per 100,000 in 2000) while in Russia, despite strict gun control since Stalin's day, the homicide rate was 19.8 per 100,000 in 2000.

 


Gun Control and felons

   The 1968 U.S. Supreme Court Haynes v. U.S. ruling regarding 5th Amendment protections exempted felons from possessing firearms, from penalties for not registering

any firearms they possess. In fact, when Chicago passed a handgun registration law several years ago, they were forced to change it and exempt felons from complying.

 


Lake Michigan

Researchers find Lake Michigan perch still elusive

   Yellow Perch Task group researchers were out on Lake Michigan April 10, and hauled in about 6 tons of zebra and quagga mussels but few yellow perch. They conducted 28 trawl tows at Muskegon and Grand Haven; and thru the

first 26 tows caught no yellow perch of any size, the last two caught a total of 2 yearling perch, part of a '02 year class.  "It's mighty scarce" said David J. Jude, U of Michigan Research Scientist.  "We also got gobies for the deepest penetration yet of this species, maybe it was lost!"

Chip Porter Lake Michigan show

By Tom Couston

   The Lake Michigan salmon trolling show that I saw recently with Capt. Chip Porter and crew were fishing out of Racine and caught both salmon and lakers.  The TV show overall was well done and entertaining, showing clips of the egg-taking facility on the Root River in Racine.

 

   My concern is it was mentioned on the show that "all salmon are stocked in Lake Michigan", and something to the effect that "taking fish, especially the mature ones, is fine and even encouraged".  First of all, there is significant natural reproduction of chinook salmon in Lake Michigan, which has been  documented since 1982 in Michigan's rivers.  It is estimated that 1-3 million chinook smolt come out of Michigan every year, mostly from the Pere Marquette, Muskegon, and Big Manistee. 

 

   Possibly one in three kings in the lake is wild, often times even more!  Lesser amounts of wild coho and steelhead also get in the lake.  In addition, it is my observation from years of stream fishing Lake Michigan tributaries that overall numbers of both steelhead (and coho) are down in Wisconsin's and Indiana's rivers.  Steelhead in particular are also a river fish and get

pounded almost year round.  There are less of them stocked overall than salmon, and because all do not die after spawning, they are a renewable resource.

 

   Decreased steelhead runs in Wisconsin have narrowed the genetic diversity and could be a cause of some the hatchery problems that Wisconsin  DNR is experiencing.  Of  interest is that apparently the catch rate of coho in 2002 was triple that of 2001 off the Wisconsin shoreline, and we saw and caught fewer coho in the streams last fall.

 

   Wisconsin DNR also has been coming close to not getting enough good eggs for their steelhead program in the past few years.  Even though they are not sure overfishing is the reason, I think it very well could be.  I feel that we really need to look closely at the catch rates and distribution of those catches and see if we need to reduce some bag limits, especially on steelhead.  The future of the steelhead program may depend on it.

 

Couston, of Schaumburg, IL, is a member and former president of the Illinois Steelheaders, as well as a longtime member and present Treasurer of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council.

 


Illinois

IL- Gun Bill Update
   A bill in the Illinois legislature that proposes to ban semi-automatic firearms (SB 1195) had the deadline for a final reading before a floor vote extended from April 4th to December 31st. SB 1195 would negatively impact sportsmen by banning

some of the firearms they use. The Congressional Sportsmen's

Foundation has been working with partner organizations and members of the Illinois Sportsmen's Legislative Caucus to provide information about how SB 1195 would affect Illinois sportsmen.


IL- Chicago & USFWS host Invasive Species conference

   On May 14-15, 2003, the City of Chicago and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service will host a conference on the issue of aquatic invasive species between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes drainage basins.

 

   More than 160 aquatic invasive species have become established in the Great Lakes since the early 1800's. The conference will convene a panel of experts to discuss problems such as the invasion of bighead and silver carp into the Illinois River, aquatic nuisance species exchanges between the two basins and the status of the current electrical barrier designed to stop these exchanges.

 

   These experts will explore methods for severing the

connection between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River drainage basins. They will seek to identify the full range of approaches and technologies that may lead to more permanent and effective barriers, and will use these approaches to establish a starting point for more detailed feasibility studies.

 

   Dan Thomas, President of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council will represent the angling and boating community, and is a permanent member of the Chicago Electronic Waterway Barrier ad hoc committee.

 

   The meeting will be held at the Chicago Hyatt, 500 S Dearborn. For more information contact: Catherine Werner, Chicago Dept of Environment; 312-744-5918 - cwerner@cityofchicago.org

 


Indiana

IN- DNR assesses farm for ecological damage

Manure spill from hog farm found in Little Sugar Creek

   The Indiana DNR has cited Pohlmann Farms for damages of more than $230,000 to Little Sugar Creek in Montgomery County. The demand for damages, in a letter dated April 8, is part of the action being taken by the state in reaction to the manure spill at Pohlmann's farm in March. The damages are for the incident in March and are not related to any problems since then.

 

   The DNR cited Indiana law to make a preliminary estimate of Pohlmann's liability for the value of the fish that were killed in the incident ($1,855.58), the administrative costs of the investigation and follow-up ($1,080.30), as well as lost recreational use and the recovery of injured natural habitat ($227,291.00). Pohlmann has talked to DNR and has begun negotiations to reach a settlement of the matter. If no settlement is reached, the DNR will ask the Indiana attorney general to sue for damages.

 

   "Like the vast majority of businesses in Indiana, most operators of large confined feeding businesses are good citizens and good stewards of our environment," said John Goss, DNR director. "The Pohlmann operation, however, has proved to be a serious problem and they must take full responsibility for their poor management and pay for the damage they have done to the environment."

 

   The DNR letter stated, in part: "On March 24, 2003, (Indiana conservation) officers received a report of blackened water and dead fish on Little Sugar Creek in Montgomery County, in the immediate vicinity of State Road 32, near Crawfordsville. Upon investigation, the officers confirmed the report and determined that the source of the pollution was a discharge from Pohlmann Hog Farms."

 

   The estimated dollar amount is based on the investigation of Indiana conservation officers and an on-site inspection by a DNR biologist. The count of dead fish included a variety of sizes and species that added up to 3,040 fish. The administrative costs include time in the field and office costs. The loss of recreational value

 includes fishing and other associated recreation that will be impossible while the stream is damaged. The recovery of the habitat is based on the estimated time it will take for the 10-mile stretch of the stream to recover and serve as a part of a healthy ecosystem.

 

   Goss explained that the stream also is important to the larger environment. "Little Sugar Creek is an important feeder to Sugar Creek," Goss said. "Sugar Creek, one of Indiana's most popular streams for recreation, is used by thousands of Hoosiers every year and flows through two state parks: Turkey Run and Shades. Without healthy streams to feed into it, to provide new fish and other aquatic creatures, Sugar Creek won't be as vital as it should be. The damage to Little Sugar Creek has important ripple effects, the harm is more widespread than people might immediately recognize."

 

   Goss also said the funds collected for damages caused by the manure spill will be used for restoration activities in Little Sugar Creek or set aside in the state fish and wildlife fund and ear-marked for use in Little Sugar Creek or in the Sugar Creek watershed.

 

   In another action regarding the Pohlmann Farms, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management filed a petition with the Montgomery Circuit Court April 3 to close Pohlmann Farms' swine operations. IDEM charged that in seven separate incidents spanning 14 years, Pohlmann Farms improperly discharged more than one million gallons of manure into Little Sugar Creek, killing more than 56,000 fish.

  

   Among the stipulations filed in the petition, IDEM asked the court to:

● Reduce the facility's hog inventory to zero on or before June 1, 2003, and to conduct no future confined feeding operations at the site;

● Enter a preliminary mandatory and permanent injunction against Pohlmann Farms to prohibit the future discharge of manure into Little Sugar Creek;

● Declare Pohlmann Farms negligent;

● Declare the operation a public nuisance; and

● Impose civil penalties of up to $25,000 a day per violation of past Agreed Orders, as well as the most recent spill.

 


IN- Historic Sites open for season

   Thirteen Indiana State Historic Sites opened this month for the 2003 season. Part of the Indiana DNR' Division of State Museums & Historic Sites, these sites are located throughout Indiana and offer visitors a variety of Hoosier history.

 

Sites include:   

Angel Mounds, Evansville:  812/853-3956

Corydon Capitol, Corydon:  812/738-4890

Levi Coffin, Fountain City (Admission charged) 765/ 847-2432

Culbertson Mansion, New Albany:  812/944-9600

Gene Stratton-Porter, Rome City:  260/854-3790

Grissom Air Museum, Peru 765/689-8011

Lanier Mansion, Madison:  812/265-3526

Limberlost, Geneva:  260/368-7428

New Harmony, New Harmony (Admission charged):800/231/2168

Pigeon Roost, Scottsburg:  812/265-3526

Vincennes, Vincennes:  812/882-7422

Whitewater Canal, Metamora (Charge for boat rides.)765-647-6512

 

   T.C. Steele State Historic Site in Brown County has delayed its opening due to the installation of a fire suppression system, a project that has been on the drawing board for more than 20 years. However, the site's trails and grounds are open and special staff-led garden tours are offered by appointment only. While an opening date has yet to be determined, the work is expected to be complete by summer. For more information, call the site at 812/988-2785.

 

Visit www.indianamuseum.org or call 317-232-0069. For site hours, please contact each site directly.

 


IN- Log on to buy Indiana fishing, hunting licenses

   The shotgun is sighted in. Turkey calls are packed. The fishing rod is spooled with new line, and the tackle box is organized (hooks facing left).  You are ready for the long-anticipated combo turkey hunt/crappie fishing trip, except for one thing -- you forgot to buy your license.

 

   The sporting goods store is closed, and the local superstore is sold out. In the past, you had few choices. You either went without a license or delayed departure until you could find a store open to sell you a license.

 

   This spring, just sit down at your computer any time of the day or night and purchase your license online. Punch in your personal information and credit card number and

 

print out your license from your own printer. You can even print multiple copies -- one for the wallet, one for the tackle box and one for safe-keeping at home -- so you'll never be caught without a license.

 

   "Last year, more than 11,000 hunters and anglers bought licenses online. And when we surveyed those folks, we found that they were extremely satisfied," said Gregg McCollam, Assistant Director of DNR Fish and Wildlife.  "The service is a trip saver - it can save your fishing and hunting trip, and it can save you a trip to the store."

 

   To purchase an Indiana resident and non-resident hunting, trapping or fishing license online, visit the Department of Natural Resources' Web site at: http://www.wildlife.IN.gov 


IN- Lake Michigan coho catch climbs with thermometer

   Indiana DNR biologists stationed on Lake Michigan report that coho salmon fishing has picked up this week.  South Bend-area biologists rate steelhead trout fishing in the St. Joseph River as average.

 

Lake Michigan

   Fleets of trolling fishing boats, ranging in size from bass boats to two-deck deeplake charter boats, paraded up and down the Inland Steel breakwall outside Buffington Harbor last weekend. Most boats reported good catches of coho salmon, and despite the rough water, many charter boats returned to the lake for afternoon forays. Anglers also were boating an occasional big brown trout, steelhead trout, or hefty chinook salmon.

 

   Charter boat captain Mike Orr, known locally to other anglers as "Hardcore Orr," reports his best catches are in hard to reach places.

 

   "Do you want to catch fish, or do you want to be comfortable," he asked passengers as he headed out of a relatively calm harbor into pitching waves and high winds last weekend.  Orr and his passengers landed 12 coho and one 13-pound king salmon in about three hours of fishing.

 

   Most boats at the Buffington Harbor docks report this year's coho are running bigger, with most coho caught between 18 to 22 inches long. Hammond, Ind. salmon fishing guru Tim Wiening guessed the coho had a few more weeks growth on them this year because of a slow lake warm-up.

 

   DNR biologist Janel Palla reports good catches in all the usual places -- along the Inland wall in Buffington Harbor, at the Gary Light, and outside Michigan City Harbor. Palla says anglers planning on fishing near the Michigan City Lighthouse should know dredging could affect nearby

fishing.

 

   Most of Lake Michigan's spring fishing activity in Indiana occurs within a two-mile band of warming water along the shoreline, with coho salmon contributing close to 95 percent of the catch. Last year, Indiana anglers caught 107,000 coho salmon, and 80,000 of these were harvested during spring.

 

St Joseph River

   DNR biologist Bob Bell says St. Joseph River spring steelhead fishing should be about average this weekend. And after this weekend, the fishing should slow as trout swim off spawning beds and make their way back toward the lake.

 

   "The spring steelhead fishing was fantastic before a big cold front moved through two weekends ago," said Bell. "Now, people are still catching a few nice fish. Some of the charter guys are still doing well." Ball reports 2,400 steelhead swam up the South Bend Fish Ladder between March 1 and April 9.

 

   Bell also reminds anglers that small hatchery trout are being stocked this week in several lake tributaries. To facilitate stocking, fishing is closed until June 15 on Trail Creek between the Franklin Street Bridge in Michigan City and U.S. 35, and on the East Branch of the Little Calumet River between U.S. 12 and U.S. 20.

 

Lake Michigan fishing information: http://www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/fish/lkmich/open.html

 

Lake Michigan tributary fishing closure information: http://www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/fish/fishng/michgan.htm#tribu

 

Indiana boating laws: http://www.in.gov/nrc/boat_laws/

 

Indiana charter fishing boat list: http://www.great-lakes.org/in/chartlist.html


Michigan

MI- Public meeting to focus on Maybury State Park

   Director K.L.Cool and Michigan DNR Parks Bureau staff is holding a public meeting to discuss the future of Maybury State Park's living farm. It scheduled for April 26, 10:30 to 11:30 AM at Genitti's Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurant, 108 E. Main St. at Northville.  Local stakeholder groups are invited. 

 

   Following a Feb. 12 fire which destroyed the barn at Maybury State Park's living farm, DNR officials received considerable indications of public support from residents throughout Michigan to rebuild the site. The DNR has no funds for such a reconstruction, but has been approached

by the Northville Community Foundation with an offer to establish a management partnership, similar in concept to the many state-local partnerships used to manage lighthouses along Michigan's coastal shorelines. The Northville Community Foundation has established an endowment fund to raise money for rebuilding and managing the facility.

 

   Director Cool will provide an overview of the farm's past, update residents on the present situation, and field questions, comments, ideas and concerns about the future of the site.

 


MI- DNR seeks partners for linear trail maintenance

   State recreation officials announced they are recruiting assistance to help maintain the five (5) State Park Linear Trails which constitute 174 miles of former railroad right-of-way now serving as Linear Trails throughout Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

 

   Traditionally, the DNR's Parks and Recreation Bureau spends nearly $600,000 each year to provide staff and maintenance to the linear parks managed by the Parks Bureau.  Unlike state parks, the linear trails are not supported by fees collected from Motor Vehicle Permits or camping fees. In light of continued budget strain and personnel shortages at other state parks following last year's round of early retirements, Bureau officials early this month reassigned nine trails staff to work at various state park operations near their previous work locations.  

 

Trails impacted by the shift include:

● The 22-mile Hart-Montague Trail from Hart to Montague.

● The 34-mile Kal-Haven Trail from South Haven to Kalamazoo,

● The 13-mile Van Buren Trail from Hartford to South Haven,

 

● The 92-mile White Pine Trail from Belmont to Cadillac; and

● The 13-mile Lakelands Trail from Pinckney to Stockbridge.

 

   "We are asking volunteers to partner with the DNR to keep these trails open," said DNR Parks Chief Lowen Schuett. "By enlisting the support of individual trail users, 'friends' groups, and even local government units, the trail system can remain available to users and the DNR can focus staff and resources in the most critically-needed areas."

 

   Picking up litter, clearing small limbs, raising funds to maintain vault toilets and repairing washouts are among the tasks groups and individuals will be asked to perform. Serious problems such as large fallen trees blocking the trail or washouts should be reported to the Parks Bureau at 517-373-9900. Small groups are encouraged to form Friends groups or formally adopt portions of the trails. 

 

Anyone interested in volunteering should call the Parks and Recreation Bureau at 517-373-9900.


MI-  Turkey hunters have new harvest reporting option

   With the first hunting period of the 2003 Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Season just a few days away, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds all turkey hunters of the new online harvest reporting option available to them once their hunting season has ended.

 

   Turkey hunters are encouraged to report their hunting activity at the MI DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr . Click on the Hunting link and then go to the Wild Turkey page. The survey is designed to determine hunter success and total harvest, so it's important for all turkey hunters to participate, even if they do not harvest a turkey.

   "The short, online questionnaire is similar to the printed version that we send to a random sample of hunters each year," said Al Stewart, DNR Upland Game Bird Specialist. "Having the survey available online gives every turkey hunter the opportunity to report their hunting activity. This information is used to improve turkey management and ensure decisions regarding future hunting seasons are based on the best information available."

 

   Final results of the survey will be posted on the DNR Web site later this summer, but hunters can visit the site now to find other important hunting-related news and information, including results of turkey harvest surveys from previous years.


MI- Cormorants migrating north

Large flocks impacting fishery

   Hundreds of double-crested cormorants gathered near the mouth of the Pere Marquette Lake April 16. The cormorants are migrating north to their summer breeding

areas. Pere Marquette Lake was stocked by the Michigan DNR with 2,300 brown trout four days earlier.. The lake received a total of 18,700 brown trout this year, most in late March.

 


MI- Coalition working for cleaner forests

   Conservation officials announced a website dedicated to promoting clean forests throughout the state.  The Michigan Coalition for Clean Forests, a coalition of the Michigan DNR, the US Forest Service, the Michigan Forest Resource Alliance and various other corporations and organizations, also announced their new website, www.cleanforests.org .

 

   The mission of MCCF is to eradicate trash that has been illegally dumped on public land.  This is accomplished through physical cleanup, increased law enforcement, improved disposal options and public education.

 

   The new website is interactive, complete with a searchable database to locate and report trash that has been dumped in your county.  The website has pertinent links to environmental laws and similar programs in other

states, suggestions on how to dispose of items properly, as well as a link to wildlife information.  Citizens can use this website as a tool to become active and take a leadership role in their communities.

 

   Once trash sites are reported, they are turned over to law enforcement agencies in the event proof of dumping can be found.  Many of the sites are cleaned up by concerned citizens along with community service workers who agree to work on cleanups in lieu of fines or imprisonment.

 

   For more information, contact Ada Takacs, Volunteer Coordinator, Adopt-A-Forest Program, at 989-275-5151, Extension 2049, DNR Forest, Mineral and Fire Management, Roscommon Operations Service Center, 8717 N. Roscommon Road, Roscommon, MI 48653, or visit the website at www.cleanforests.org


MI- 2003 bear hunting applications due May 15

   The Department of Natural Resources reminds bear hunters that May 15 is the deadline to apply for a 2003 bear hunting license. Hunters may apply for a license at more than 1,700 license dealers statewide, at DNR Service Centers statewide or, for faster service, via the Internet at www.michigandnr.com. The application period is from April 15–May 15, 2003.

 

   Applying for a bear hunting license costs $4, and the nonrefundable fee must be paid at the time of application. Online customers may use MasterCard or VISA to charge their purchase, and they will be able to print their application receipt from their personal computers. There is no application fee for Comprehensive Lifetime license holders.

 

   The 2003 bear season includes the following hunt periods: Sept. 10-Oct. 21, Sept. 15-Oct. 26, and Sept. 25-Oct. 26 in all Upper Peninsula units except Drummond Island; Sept. 10-16 on Drummond Island; and Sept. 19-25 in the northern Lower Peninsula's Baldwin, Gladwin, and Red Oak bear management units. An additional hunt period for bow and arrow only will be held in the Red Oak unit from Oct. 3-9.

   The 2003 Michigan Bear Hunting Guide is available at all DNR offices, license dealers, and on the DNR web site. Online customers also can access a Frequently Asked Questions database to immediately receive the answer to any questions they may have regarding the preference point drawing system, how to apply as a party, or other important details.

 

   Notification of the drawing results will be mailed to all applicants, except those who applied online, by June 13, 2003. Drawing results also will be posted on the DNR web site on June 6, at 10 a.m. EDT.

 

   Successful applicants must go to any license dealer to purchase their bear hunting license and harvest tag. The cost of the license and harvest tag is $14 for residents, $5.60 for seniors and $150 for nonresidents. There is no license fee for successful Lifetime Comprehensive License Holders.

 

   A participation license is required for bear hunters who are not issued a harvest tag but wish to participate in a bear hunt behind dogs. Participation licenses may be purchased at any license agent for the same fee as a hunting license.

 


MI- Giant Sturgeon killed by passing cement boat

   MUSKEGON, MI. (AP) --  A nearly 140 lb,  6 ft-long sturgeon was found floating in the waters of Muskegon Lake, apparently struck and killed by a passing freighter on April 15. The gigantic sturgeon was nicknamed "Muskegon Molly" by a local research group that found and tagged another huge sturgeon, "Muskegon Mary," last 

year in the same waters.

 

   Three fishermen were at the Lake Michigan end of the channel trolling for walleye and "noticed a huge cement boat getting ready to come through the channel," Randy Bandstra, one of the fishermen, told The Muskegon Chronicle for a recent story. "Just after it went by us we noticed a huge fish floating just a few yards away.


Minnesota

MN- Governor's Fishing Opener – May 9-10

   NM Governor's Fishing Opener will be held in the city of Detroit Lakes on Friday and Saturday, May 9 & 10.  Featured will be a community parade and picnic on Friday from 4:00-7:30 p.m. at City Park on the shores of Detroit Lake, with children's activities, entertainment, a short parade, and free picnic dinner; Governor Tim Pawlenty is

also scheduled to participate.  In addition, there will be an Outdoor News Kids' Fishing Contest where two children and their fishing mentors will participate in all events at the Governor's Fishing Opener.  For more information dial 1-800-542-3992, ext 104, or check out www.mngovernorsopener.com 

  


MN- No Commercial Gillnetting Gamefish on Mille Lacs

by Mark Rotz

   In early April, some Wisconsin Ojibwe Bands announced they intend to commercially harvest walleye from Minnesota's premier walleye fishery, Mille Lacs Lake. Although these Bands have no historical ties to the Mille Lacs Lake area, they were parties to the 1837 Treaty and have special treaty privileges in the 1837 Treaty area.

 

   The Wisconsin Bands have stated that they have only marginal interest in  traveling the long distance to take part in spring gillnet fishing in Mille Lacs. They have previously threatened to commercialize their catch in order to pay their travel expenses. To maintain a "presence" in the gillnet fishery, some of the netting by Wisconsin Bands has been done by GLIFWC (Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission) personnel. I

 

   It would seem that delegating the act of harvesting to someone else does little to preserve culture and tradition. GLIFWC is a Federal, taxpayer-funded organization, and we do not believe that GLIFWC employees should be allowed to gillnet, particularly if the fish are to be sold. We wonder whether GLIFWC employees are being paid to do the netting and whether they are using Federal equipment or collecting expenses. But even if they are not, and are netting as band members on their own time, we do not believe GLIFWC employees should be allowed to gillnet. How can one GLIFWC employee legitimately inspect the catch of another to enforce the quota?

 

   PERM is adamantly opposed to any commercial harvest of gamefish on Mille Lacs and all Minnesota public waters.  We understand that Band members desire to preserve tradition, practice their culture, and eat fish at certain religious ceremonies.  Surely these needs can be met without commercial gillnetting.  We also understand and believe that most Band members understand

that subjecting a fishery to the intense pressures of commercial harvest could only lead to destruction of a mutually treasured natural resource.  History has shown that commercialization of a fishery invariably leads to quota violations, rendering the quotas meaningless. The lure of a dollar, and the incentive to make a profit become more important than protecting the resource.  This has been true whether the commercialization has been tribal or non-tribal.  It would be especially likely if GLIFWC is doing both the netting and the monitoring.

 

   We call on the Mille Lacs Band and members of the Wisconsin Bands who are only interested in harvesting what they need for cultural and religious purposes to do the honorable thing: Step forward and oppose the efforts of those who would threaten the future of the Mille Lacs fishery with commercial gillnetting.

 

   We also request that Minnesota DNR officials take a firm and unwavering  stand in opposition to commercial gillnetting for gamefish in Mille Lacs Lake, and to undertake discussions with the Bands to discourage commercial harvest. Though the Bands are now bound by the harvest quotas set by the current five-year plan, allowing a commercial component to tribal fishing sets a bad precedent and would quite likely lead to demands for a full 50% of the safe harvest level after the current period expires. The tribal harvest cap, which is now set at about 100,000 pounds, could become 250,000 to 300,000 pounds. Such a change would destroy the Mille Lacs sport fishery.

 

(Mark Rotz is a board member of Proper Economic Resource Management (PERM), a non-profit conservation club that has been active in the Mille Lacs 1837 Treaty issue for the past decade.  Mark can be reached at 763-441-6869 or by e-mail from the PERM web site at www.perm.org ).

 


MN- State of the Coast Conference - April 28

North Shore's Changes and Land Development -

   State of the Coast 2003, a one-day conference dedicated to sharing insights and generating solutions to challenges along the North Shore of Lake Superior, will be held on April 28 in Two Harbors, MN.

 

   Regional and local elected officials, agency staff, resource planners, business owners, and interested individuals are encouraged to participate in discussions about the region's rapidly changing social, economic and physical landscapes, and to explore ways to address associated issues.  Continuing education credits are pending for Realtors and appraisers.

 

   This year, the annual spring conference of the North Shore Consortium will feature presentations and panel discussions regarding census and workforce data, social issues, and land development along the North Shore.  Attendees will be encouraged to contribute their perspectives throughout the day with interactive polling tools, question and answer sessions, and an audience driven discussion.  Two panels representing socioeconomic and land development experts will outline the challenges they see affecting the North Shore and how these may potentially impact Minnesota's unique coastline.

   North Shore Judge Ken Sandvik and Director of Lake County Social Services Dennis Henkel will join other panelists to discuss socioeconomic changes in the morning.  This morning discussion will be preceded by a review of current census data and information from the Department of Economic Security.  The afternoon's focus is on land use and development with background data provided by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and a panel discussion with some of the region's active developers.

 

   "We're anticipating lively discussions," said Marty Schultz, a North Shore Consortium participant and senior planner at the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission. "The instant feedback we'll be able to generate with electronic polling tools and the nature of our two topics of discussion‹socioeconomic issues and development‹will make the day very interactive.  Our hope is that people will leave with new perspectives, a better understanding of what is going on along the North Shore, and enough information to formulate a vision of what the future of the North Shore might encompass." 

 

   The conference will be held at Superior Shores Resort and Conference Center.  Registration fee, which includes lunch, is $15. Pre-registration is advised.  For more info: www.ardc.org/projects/coastwatch .  218-529-7535


MN- Dove Hunting
   House File 529, which would set up a mourning dove hunting season and create a $5 dove stamp in Minnesota was defeated 10-9 in the House Ways and Means Committee last week. The issue is not dead, however, because MN law allows the bill to be re-considered by the

committee. In addition, there are three other stand-alone

bills and two omnibus game and fish bills in the legislature that contain language allowing dove hunting. Bills that would allow dove hunting in Minnesota have progressed farther in the Legislature this year than they have in the last 30-plus years of trying to re-establish a dove season.


New York

NY- Applications For DEC Summer Camps Now Available

Camps Offer Unique Educational, Outdoor Experiences For Youth

   New York State Dept of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty announced that applications for DEC's 2003 Summer Environmental Education Camps are now available and encouraged families to consider enrolling their children in the program.

 

   "For more than 50 years, DEC's Environmental Education Camps have provided New York's young people with a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy the beauty of our natural resources, while learning the importance of conservation," Commissioner Crotty said. "All our camps offer expert instruction in a fun-filled environment, and will help young people learn how to be strong stewards of our land, air and water."

 

   The DEC Summer Camp Program is in its 56th year of operation, offering week-long adventures in conservation education to State residents ages 12-17. DEC operates three residential camps over an eight-week period during the summer for children ages 12-14: Camp Colby in Saranac Lake, Franklin County; Camp DeBruce in Livingston Manor, Sullivan County; and Camp Rushford in Caneadea, Allegany County.

 

   A fourth residential camp, Pack Forest in Warrensburg, Warren County, runs for five weeks and features a special program of environmental study - The Teenage Ecology Workshop - which is specifically targeted to campers 15-17 years of age.

 

   DEC has also added an additional Returnee Week at Pack Forest for campers ages 12-14. This program is offered during the sixth week of the camp season, August 3rd - 9th.

   Under the guidance of experienced DEC education camp staff, these programs provide a week of activities that will acquaint campers with fields and forests, and streams and ponds, helping them to uncover the interconnected aspects of our natural world. Campers will observe wildlife, discuss and debate environmental issues, sample streams for microscopic life and explore the brilliance of the night sky, while meeting new friends from across the State.

 

   Campers also will have time to pursue and improve their skills in a wide variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, birdwatching, fly-tying, canoeing, hiking, camping, orienteering, and hunter safety education.  The DEC Camp sessions begin June 29, 2003. The cost per camper for a one-week stay is $225. Applications and an up-to-date number of "Open Slots" for each camp can be obtained via the Internet at: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/education/edcamps.html . (On the DEC home page click on "Highlights." Then, in the green banner on the left side of the page click on "DEC camp application." Finally, click on "Youth Camps".)

 

   Info is also available at: DEC Camps, 2nd Floor, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4500; 518-402-8014. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

A schedule for the Summer Camps is listed below.

Week 1: June 29 - July 5 All Camps Open

Week 5: July 27 - August 2 (END of Pack Forest for 15 -17 yr olds )

Week 2: July 6 - 12

Week 6: August 3 - 9 **

Week 3: July 13 - 19

Week 7: August 10 - 16

Week 4: (Returnee Week, All Camps): July 20 - 26 NO FIRST YEAR CAMPERS

Week 8: August 17 - 23 END of Colby, DeBruce & Rushford Camps

 


Ohio

OH- Poor hatch bodes ill for Lake Erie walleye

   Fishing for Lake Erie's walleye and yellow perch should be good this year, if you can get out. However, the weather won't be the determining factor on how great the fishery will be, it's the hatch. The fisheries are going to take a hit in 2004 because of a poor hatch for walleye in 2002.

 

   "The 2002 walleye hatch was the absolute worst in history," said Roger Knight, Lake Erie program manager for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.  Knight said that it will be mid-summer before assessments are complete and a decision is made whether to further reduce the current "four-and-six" daily creel limit for walleye - four in March and April, six the rest of the year. But the lack of a class of two-year-old fish - the 2002 class - is a good indicator of some rough times ahead for Lake Erie's prize game fish next year.

   According to recent science reports given at the recent Great Lakes Fishery Commission annual Lake Erie Lake Committee meeting in Port Huron, MI, Ohio has been catching nowhere near its annual allotment of 1.7 million walleye, about half the lakewide total, during a three-year GLFC conservation plan.

 

   Anglers took just 700,000 fish last year and about a 1,000,000 the previous year. Fisheries managers expect a dramatic reduction in next year's recommended allowable harvest (RAH). Invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels and the round goby may not be helping matters.  Another growing concern is the lack of a closed season to protect those big spawners that make up the large brood stock population needed to perpetuate this great but seemingly fragile fishery.

 


OH- Observing and participating in Lake Erie's 2003 CoastWeeks

   TOLEDO -- Environmental organizations, schools, libraries, community groups and individuals throughout the Lake Erie region are encouraged to begin planning now for the 2003 Coastweeks observance, August 23 to September 21.

 

   Ohio's Coastweeks, coordinated by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission, is part of a nationwide effort to educate the public about the importance of restoring and maintaining America's coastlines as valuable natural resources. Beach walks and cleanups, nature programs, and shoreline conferences are examples of the popular and successful Coastweeks activities that take place each year around the country.

 

   Organizers are encouraged to tie events to pre-existing community activities - especially those that involve families and students. Local businesses can often supply additional support for Coastweeks events in the form of promotions, funding and positive public relations.

   Registering an official Coastweeks event with the commission assures organizers of assistance with general media relations and a listing on the commission's official web site. Registered cleanup events will also receive Coastweeks supplies such as trash bags, pencils and data cards. Events registered by May 23 will also be publicized in an upcoming issue of the North Coast Newsletter.

 

   Ohio Coastweeks 2003 registration forms are available by calling 419-245-2514 or through the Ohio Lake Erie Commission web site at www.epa.state.oh.us/oleo

 

   The commission was established for the purpose of preserving Lake Erie's natural resources, protecting the quality of its waters and ecosystem, and promoting economic development of the region. The director of the Ohio EPA serves as the commission's chairman, while the director of the Ohio DNR serves as secretary. Additional members include the directors of the state departments of transportation, health and agriculture.

 


Pennsylvania

PA-Sea Lamprey Control on Conneaut Creek

Introduction
   The USFWS conducted a sea lamprey control treatment beginning April 10 in Conneaut Creek in Crawford and Erie Counties, Pennsylvania. The treatment involved use of a product known as TFM to kill immature sea lampreys. The Conneaut Creek TFM treatment was initiated by the USFWS south of Conneautville near Fish Road on April 10. The lamprey control treatment later flowed down the creek, through areas where the PFBC had stocked adult trout and into Ohio. The treatment started on April 10 and continued downstream on April 11, the day before the opening of the 2003 Pennsylvania trout season.  This caused some concern for trout anglers and raised questions regarding whether or not trout that were stocked in Conneaut Creek on April 11 and caught from that water could be safely eaten.

 

   The USFWS was issued a permit to apply the TFM lampricide to Conneaut Creek on March 24, 2003.  The permit application indicated the treatment would occur during April.  Conversations between USFWS staff and PFBC staff indicated the treatment would be done on April 8 or 9.  However, the USFWS was delayed by a couple of days, and this put the treatment into conflict with the preseason stocking of Conneaut Creek and the opening day of trout season.  Such conflicts between lampricide applications and periods of heightened fishing interest should be avoided.  The permit application contained no indication that the lamprey control would take place so close to the opening of the 2003 Pennsylvania trout season.  To avoid conflicts in the timing of future lampricide treatments, permits issued for sea lamprey treatments will contain a time restriction to specifically prevent conflict with trout stocking and the opening of trout season.

 

Background
   Conneaut Creek is the largest producer of sea lampreys on the U.S. shore of Lake Erie.  The USFWS estimated that over 4,300 parasitic-phase sea lampreys could leave 

Conneaut Creek in 2003 and inflict serious damage on Lake Erie fish without treatment of the stream with lampricide.  The goal of TFM treatment is to kill sea lampreys in streams – such as Conneaut Creek – where they live for 4 to 7 years in an immature stage. Control in the tributary streams reduces the number of lampreys that migrate to Lake Erie, where they mature and prey on sport fish. TFM is applied to selected streams at a dose of 1 to 6 parts per million, which kills lampreys, but not other fish. In the recent past, lampricide treatments occurred on Crooked Creek (2002 and 1999), Raccoon Creek (2001) and Conneaut Creek (2000).  Past treatments raised no issues about conflicts with stocking schedules, fishing seasons or consumption of fish.

 

Fish Consumption
   At the time of application, the USFWS began advising anglers that a “common sense” approach would be to not consume fish that had been exposed to the chemical in the prior 24-48 hours. After learning of the USFWS precautionary advice about fish consumption, the Commission staff echoed that advice to anglers, including those who turned out for the trout season opener.

 

   TFM is not subject to any specific fish consumption advisories.  Testing performed recently during the TFM registration process indicated that test animals showed no ill effects from TFM concentrations higher than levels that would be taken up by fish from treated waters in Conneaut Creek.  The EPA publication on this substance notes that there is rapid dissipation of residues in fish and water and that "tolerances have not been established and are not required for TFM" dietary exposure.  TFM does not bioaccumulate in fish flesh or fatty tissue in the same way as some other substances.

 

Future Direction
   The state of Ohio plans to install a barrier to lamprey migration near the mouth of Conneaut Creek and Lake Erie, which will eventually eliminate the need for treatment.

 


Wisconsin

WI- Fishing forecasts by DNR Region – and county

Northern Region

Northeast Region 

Southeast Region 

South Central Region 

West Central Region

NORTHERN REGION

   The 18 northernmost counties in Wisconsin are poised to provide plenty of quality angling experiences for the 2003 season. Protection and improvement of habitat on many miles of trout streams in the region through beaver control and habitat restoration projects over the past year have made an already good resource even better. Bass fisheries, both smallmouth and largemouth, are really doing well in the region and have seen significant gains over the past decade. This is the heart of musky and walleye country. Many of our best fisheries for these species are supported entirely by natural reproduction, but we do need to stock in some waters. We have embarked upon major efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our stocking programs for both species. Read on for forecasts on a more local note. - Steve AveLallemant, fish expert, Northern Region

 

Lake Superior

   The spring trolling fishery starts up as soon as the ice melts. Trout and salmon provide the most action and are usually caught trolling with surface lures. Starting in 2003, the 15-inch minimum size limit has been eliminated for all salmon. This new regulation will allow anglers to keep small coho and chinook salmon caught during the spring fishery. Anglers also can catch brown trout and splake while trolling. Steelhead fishing on tributaries has improved dramatically since implementation of the 26-inch minimum size limit.

 

   Anglers should find plenty of action on area streams. Anglers fishing Chequamegon Bay will find plenty of action for walleye, northern pike and smallmouth bass. Larger fish are available to the angler due to conservative regulations that have been in place for several years. This fishery takes place in relatively protected waters and doesn’t require a large boat.

 

   Summer is the best time to troll for lake trout. Based on our creel survey, the average lake trout caught by anglers averages 22 inches. Wild lake trout made up 83 percent of the harvest last year, indicating continued increases in natural reproduction and successful sea lamprey control programs. Wild spawning lake trout continue to increase in abundance at Gull Island Shoal, a fish refuge established in 1976. Abundance of spawning lake trout at Devils Island Shoal increased dramatically following an egg seeding experiment using fertilized lake trout eggs placed in astro-turf bundles.

 

   If you don’t own a boat large enough for Lake Superior waters, contact one of several charter captains. Their success rate at catching lake trout is much higher than the average angler’s. Wind and water temperatures change daily and will impact fish activity, so check with local sport shops to get the latest conditions.

 

   As water temperatures start to cool down in the fall, trolling action off river mouths for trout and salmon heats up. Brown trout, chinook and coho salmon begin entering rivers at this time. Walleye and smallmouth bass action is still productive in Chequamegon Bay. - Stephen Schram, fisheries supervisor, Bayfield

 

Bayfield and Douglas counties

   Bayfield and Douglas counties contain many beautiful lakes and streams that support some outstanding fish communities. Good musky action can be found in northern Douglas County and the large lakes of Bayfield County. A survey was started on Namekagon Lake in 2002 and showed strong populations of walleye, musky, large and smallmouth bass, northern pike and panfish. Namekagon Lake has a 50-inch length limit on musky and there is no length limit on walleye, but only one fish over 14 inches is allowed. Many other lakes in these two counties also have good walleye, largemouth bass and northern pike fisheries. Panfish species also have a home in this area and can be found by anglers in good numbers and size ranges.

 

   Managed trout lakes and spring ponds provide a great opportunity for trout angling. Some of these waters are stocked annually and open every year while others are stocked and open for fishing every other year. Make sure you check the trout regulations for a listing of when they are open. These lakes include Anderson Lake in Douglas County and Bearsdale Springs, Beaver Lake, Johnson Springs, Little Star Lake, Mimi Lake, Nymphia Lake, Overby Lake, Perch Lake, Spring Lake and Wanoka Lake in Bayfield County.

 

   Bayfield County also supports an exceptional inland stream trout fishery for both brook and brown trout, with opportunities for trophy-sized fish. Several surveys were completed in 2002 that showed healthy populations of both brown and brook trout with good size structures.– Scott Toshner, fisheries biologist, Brule

 

Burnett County

   Based on initial survey results, five small offshore walleye spawning reefs installed in 2001 on Middle McKenzie Lake, Burnett County, contributed to natural reproduction. The habitat project was a joint effort with the McKenzie Lakes Association to restore the native walleye population. Although the natural fingerling counts are still very low, fall fingerlings averaged 7.8 inches long. That’s a good inch more than typical for northern Wisconsin lakes. Large size fingerlings are characteristic of the native walleye strain in this system. - Larry Damman, fisheries biologist, Spooner

 

Forest, Florence, Lincoln, Oneida, Langlade, some Vilas counties

   The area experienced a "typical" winter this past season, so lakes and creeks should be at normal levels. Since panfish is open year around on the area lakes, the "early trout season" will be your first opportunity at trying for gamefish. Be advised that this is catch and release, and all trout water in the basin is not open to the "early season." Please consult the 2003-2004 Trout Regulations Guide for details. Ice-out on area lakes will occur anywhere from mid- to late-April this year, so anglers should expect to find panfish seeking warmer bays and channels prior to the opening of the general gamefish season.

 

   Fishing in general should be good for 2003. Reports from local guides are positive and they have been particularly happy with walleye and musky fishing over the past year. Musky fishing on a few key waters could be enhanced by instituting "quality regulations." A committee made up of local guides, Conservation Congress members, resort owners, and DNR fisheries staff have been working together to explore raising the minimum size limit for musky to 50 inches on these key waters. Good recruitment of largemouth and smallmouth bass in recent years has resulted in excellent fishing for these species. Panfish opportunities abound in this area as well, so one should have no problem finding these species as they head out to area waters.

 

   Fall 2002 electrofishing surveys showed fair to good year classes of walleye produced on lakes having natural reproduction. Such natural reproduction lakes account for the majority of waters in the DNR geographic management unit known as the Headwaters Basin. On average, anglers catch three times more walleye while fishing lakes maintained entirely by natural reproduction. In lakes where walleye are maintained entirely through stocking, survey crews found very little survival. Last spring these lakes were stocked with fingerling walleye that were marked with a fluorescent dye so that biologists could distinguish hatchery fish from any that may have resulted from natural reproduction. In most cases, we found only a handful of fingerlings that survived in these stocked-only waters. Walleye stocking appears to be most beneficial in lakes where a combination of natural reproduction and stocking occur. Evaluations of this type will continue in the future to help biologists stock where it is most beneficial.

 

   Many surveys and habitat projects were also conducted on area trout waters, with some work done in cooperation with Trout Unlimited. DNR fisheries crews used electrofishing equipment to survey fish populations along segments of streams on many of the Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Florence, Lincoln, and Langlade county streams. Generally speaking, the trout fisheries in all of the area streams appear to be doing well. Population estimates on several of the streams indicated a stable number of fish compared to past years, with a few streams showing improved numbers. More than a dozen habitat projects occurred in the basin that will improve trout fishing. To highlight one particular project, DNR crews placed structures in the streams to create 29 pools, three runs and 27 riffles. In addition, the crews placed 187 boulders and 170 whole cover logs to create refuge for trout. Spring pond dredging has continued to be an effective tool in applicable waters, restoring brook and brown trout spawning habitat and providing refuge areas. A dam removal also occurred this year that will provide cooler water in a tributary to the Popple River. An inland lake trout plan also has been developed to ensure these native strains continue to thrive. The plan will include the propagation and stocking of Trout Lake (Vilas County) strain lake trout in Clear Lake and Big Carr Lake in Oneida County. Eggs will be manually taken from a sample of Trout Lake fish by the Art Oehmcke Hatchery staff and reared into fingerlings, after which they will be stocked into the "brood" lakes. This will ensure the unique inland strain will be available in other water sources. – Mike Vogelsang, fisheries supervisor, Woodruff

 

Polk County

   With cooperation from landowners, DNR crews installed a walleye spawning reef on Ward Lake in Polk County in response to declining walleye recruitment. Follow up surveys will evaluate effectiveness of this habitat enhancement.

 

   Long-time fisheries biologist Richard Cornelius retired in 2002. Rick pioneered aeration systems in this part of the state. His cost-effective techniques made it practical for local units of government, lake associations, sportsman groups and individuals to take on the responsibility of operating lake aerators to prevent winter fish kill. As a result, 14 lakes totaling almost 3,000 acres of public water in these counties have stable productive fisheries where no fish, or just boom and bust populations, existed before. - Larry Damman, fisheries biologist, Spooner

 

Price, Taylor, and southern Rusk counties

   DNR fishery surveys over the past few years have shown some excellent smallmouth and largemouth bass populations in many waters in these "north central" counties of the DNR geographic management unit known as the Upper Chippewa Basin. In more than 30 years of looking at these lakes and rivers, I can’t remember a time when we’ve had such good bass fishing across the board. River smallmouth and lake/flowage largemouth bass fishing should be excellent in 2003 on the heels of four to five years of very high natural spawning success.

 

   The 2002 year class of bass was also good and that should keep the run going for an even longer time. Many anglers have been rediscovering some great river smallmouth fishing on the forks of the Flambeau and Jump rivers that run through these counties as well as a few other medium-sized rivers: the Yellow and Black rivers in Taylor County and Chippewa in Rusk County.

 

   In 2003, work will continue with a Trout Stamp-funded improvement project on the South Fork Main Creek in Rusk County. This wild brook trout stream in the central part of the county has been worked on by DNR crews for several years. As a State Fishery Area, it offers improved access through landowner easements along much of its length.

Speaking of trout stream fishing, DNR fishery and land agents have just recently completed some nice additions to the Big Rib River Fishery Area in Taylor County. An outright purchase of one parcel and a fishing easement on an adjoining piece will give trout anglers even better access to the best stream in the county.

 

   Even though the walleye hatch of 2002 was mediocre at best in many of the area’s lakes, some great hatching success and a strong stocking program in the recent past should make for high success rates for walleye anglers come May 2003. Musky tournament anglers on a number of waters reported excellent catches of this State Fish in 2002, and being catch-and-release events, those same fish will be back and even bigger in 2003! - Jim Lealos, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

 

Northern Rusk and Sawyer counties

   The two big continuing trends in these waters are increases in numbers and size of smallmouth bass and trophy-sized (50+ inches) muskellunge. For excellent smallmouth try Round, Connors and Grindstone lakes in Sawyer County, plus the Flambeau and Chippewa rivers in both counties. A few of the hot trophy muskellunge lakes include Lac Courte Oreilles (50-inch minimum size limit), Chippewa Flowage (45-inch minimum size), and Dairyland Reservoir, with a 40-inch minimum size.

 

   There is no clear trend for walleye. Their populations are up, down, or stable depending on the water. A few "up" waters include Round, Chetac, and Grindstone lakes. One of the "down" lakes is Sand Lake in Sawyer County. On this water, we have embarked on a crash stocking program, coupled with a 28-inch minimum size to preserve spawning stock. The stocking of large fingerling walleyes is being used to improve panfish populations on Black Dan and Island Lakes in the Winter area of Sawyer County. As a result these lakes also have a 28-inch minimum limit.

 

   Bluegill and crappie size structure is improving on those waters where a 10 bag is now in place, most notably Nelson and Chetac in Sawyer County. Look to these two for the opportunity to catch really large gills in the near future. Historically, both produced trophy panfish before overharvest took its toll. Wild brook trout seem to be mounting a comeback in the Blue Hills streams (Devils Creek, Weirgor system). The Namekagon remains one of the best wild, trophy brown trout streams in the East. (Brook trout are also increasing in some reaches of the Namekagon). DNR and the U.S. Park Service will embark on a major habitat restoration project on Schultz Springs/Cap Creek in summer 2003. This is major brook trout nursery area for the upper Namekagon. Management trends for stream trout have shifted to a greater emphasis on wild strain management.

 

   The stocked trout-only lakes continue to provide good fishing, and an occasional large hold-over, too. Some of the better trout-only lakes in this region include Camp Smith Lake in Sawyer County and Three Lakes in the Blue Hills region of Rusk County. Two-story management is very successful in Ashegon Lake near Couderay in Sawyer County. This unique lake provides opportunity for five trout species, as well as bass, walleye, and panfish! We have started experimental two-story management on Round Lake, too. (Stay tuned - there is a good chance that this one could hit big for browns and/or rainbows.) – Frank Pratt, senior fisheries biologist, Hayward

 

Washburn County

   Fourteen new trout lakes await anglers on public land in the Washburn County Forest. It’s not the usual put-and-take deal. Two-inch long fingerling brook and rainbow trout are stocked in April. Growth is excellent and by September they reach a nice pan size of 7 to 10 inches. Since catchable size trout are most abundant in fall, the lakes have an extended fishing season. However, you won’t find them listed in the regulation booklet. Most don’t even have an official name. A new base regulation, unique to Washburn County, allows trout fishing through March 1 on these lakes which have no outlet streams. To find these backwoods jewels, check www.co.washburn.wi.us/departments/forestry/ for links to specific lake information and trail maps. Some of these small lakes are just a stone’s throw from the road while others may require as much as a 2-mile hike. - Larry Damman, fisheries biologist, Spooner

 

NORTHEAST REGION

   The Northeast Region of Wisconsin provides diverse, high quality and abundant angling opportunities. Region waters include a large portion of Lake Michigan; Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest inland lake; Big Green Lake, Wisconsin’s deepest inland lake; 1,000 small lakes; several large river systems including the Fox, Wolf, Oconto, Peshtigo and Menominee rivers; and more than 2,000 miles of trout streams.

 

Door County

Lake Michigan and Green Bay, including tributary streams - Nearly 4.5 million trout and salmon are stocked in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay each year. The Lake Michigan trout and salmon fishery off Door County was better than usual in 2002 and included a mixed bag of steelhead, brown and lake trout, coho and chinook salmon. Chinook fishing was exceptional. The chinook fishery started early and continued strong throughout the summer. Fishing even improved considerably around the northern tip of the county, including Washington Island. The chinook fishery of 2002 will be a tough act to follow, but anglers are hopeful for a repeat performance. The chinook program on Lake Michigan has recovered from the Bacterial Kidney Disease problems that devastated the fishery a decade ago.

 

   During fall 2002, a record 11,000 chinook were harvested at the Strawberry Creek weir near Sturgeon Bay, providing all the eggs needed for Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan and Lake Superior chinook fishery programs. The salmon harvest and egg collection effort continues to benefit from a 3/4-mile long pipeline installed by state fisheries crews in 2000. The pipeline delivers 1,500 gallons of water per minute to supplement the flow of Strawberry Creek. This assures that in coming years the Lake Michigan chinook salmon program will not be in jeopardy due to low flow and low water levels.

 

   Smallmouth bass populations along the Door County shoreline remain strong and should provide exciting fishing in 2003. The strong 1995 year class of bass will continue to provide abundant fish in excess of 18 inches. Trophy-sized fish above 20 inches from older year classes are not uncommon. Fishing for northern pike should continue to provide action for both open water and ice fishermen.

 

   About 2000 Great Lakes spotted musky were stocked for the first time in Sturgeon Bay in 2002. The stocking was part of the decade-long effort to re-establish reproducing populations of this native species in Green Bay. Bragging-size muskies have already been reported caught in Green Bay in recent years, adding to the already sizable mixed bag of sport fish available in the Lake Michigan and Green Bay waters around Door County.

 

   Lake Michigan and Green Bay water levels recovered slightly but remained below average in 2002. Current projections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are for the lake level to remain below average throughout 2003. Many of the smaller boat launch access points will probably be unusable again this coming summer. In Door County, this could include access points like Shauer Park, Whitefish Bay ramp, and Murphy Park. Others along the Lake Michigan coast also will be unusable. Anglers planning to fish the lakeshore are advised to check with local municipalities before going to a particular launch. Many structures that were normally just below the water surface of Lake Michigan and Green Bay are now exposed and areas that were safe to transit in the past may have new obstructions lurking just below the surface. Lake Michigan and Green Bay boaters are advised to use caution when navigating unfamiliar waters.

 

   The low lake and bay levels also affect access of trout and salmon into Door County’s tributary streams. Whitefish Bay and Heins creeks are stocked annually with steelhead. Runs of adult steelhead and other trout and salmon into these and other Door County tributary streams in spring and fall depend heavily on the amount of runoff from snow-melt and rain. Call the Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center (920) 746-2860 before making the trip to get the latest information on fish runs and current stream conditions in Door County. - Paul Peeters, fisheries biologist, and Mike Toneys, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay

 

Fond du Lac County

Long Lake - Near Dundee, this is the lake of choice in eastern Fond du Lac County. The lake provides many opportunities for most of the common warmwater fish. Long Lake has a very good population of nice sized largemouth bass as well as a healthy panfish population. Walleye action also can be good due to the stocking efforts of the Long Lake Fishing Club and DNR. - John E. Nelson, senior fisheries biologist, Plymouth

 

Green Lake County

Big Green Lake - Wisconsin’s deepest inland lake provides unique fishing for both warm and cold water species. One of only three inland lakes to hold lake trout, this unique fishery has provided outstanding action for generations. Native cisco populations are doing well and provide a great addition to the cold water fishery, particularly in the fall and winter. Warm water species such as northern pike, large and smallmouth bass, walleye, white bass and panfish are all native to this lake and provide excellent fishing at many times during the year.

 

Lake Puckaway - This lake, including the Fox River, continues to provide anglers with plenty of action for northern pike and walleye. This high-density pike population, which contains many fish in the high-20 to low 30-inch range, is the result of the 32-inch size limit with a bag of one. Real opportunity exists for high catch rates and a possible trophy. Walleye are available most of the year in the Fox River system with the best action occurring in the spring and fall. The Fox River also has tremendous catfishing for both channel and flathead species. - Dave Bartz, fisheries biologist, Montello

 

Kewaunee and Manitowoc counties

Lake Michigan waters - Anglers in 2003 should again enjoy good success in catching Lake Michigan trout and salmon from local ports. Chinook fishing was excellent in 2002 with many large fish caught and this trend is likely to continue this year. Steelhead and brown trout angling should be similar to the past year with very good action when favorable wind patterns develop.

 

Lake Michigan tributary streams - It is likely that low water conditions in tributaries will result in a slow spring steelhead run in 2003. Heavy fall rains or winter snow may result in a stronger run. However, if conditions are poor with low flows, the best bets for steelhead action will be in the larger tributaries. Northern pike runs should be good in the Manitowoc and Twin rivers. Sucker runs should also be good, although low water may reduce the number of these fish entering streams. Smelt runs will continue to be very poor because of a very low lakewide population. It is likely the fall run of chinook salmon in 2003 will be smaller than the record return seen in 2002 but should still provide anglers many opportunities to catch these large fish. - Steve Hogler, fisheries biologist, Mishicot

 

Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Calumet county inland lakes and rivers

A variety of fishing opportunities exist in these counties. Each county has one inland lake stocked with rainbow trout (Krohns Lake, Kewaunee, Round Lake, Calumet and Horseshoe Lake, Manitowoc) with an open season that runs from the first Saturday in May through March 1. Other inland trout opportunities exist in Scarboro Creek, in the East and West Twin rivers, and in several of their tributaries that are stocked with brown trout. An inland trout stamp is required for lakes and inland streams when fishing for trout. Other fishing opportunities on the inland lakes include black crappie and bluegill, which are always a good bet early in the season, with largemouth bass fishing improving later in the summer. - Steve Hogler, fisheries biologist, Mishicot

 

Marinette and Oconto counties

Green Bay waters - Three public workshops were held during 2002 to discuss issues related to the yellow perch decline in Green Bay waters. Recommendations from those sessions will be worked on during 2003 and include the formation of a Green Bay Fisheries Research Team. Anglers are reminded that the 10-bag limit remains in effect for yellow perch in Green Bay waters. This regulation will provide protection to the spawning population and improve the chances for recruitment of young perch to the population. Surveys during 2002 showed a slight increase in the number of young yellow perch entering the population compared to the past decade, although not as good as the 1998 year class. The fishery, both commercial and sport, is still relying heavily on the 1998 year class, which is the only good year class produced since the late 1980s.

 

   Fishing for brown trout and splake has been consistent and is expected to continue in 2003. In July 2002 the new state record splake was caught in Green Bay just south of Marinette. The fish weighed in at a whopping 17.9 pounds and a length of 32 inches.

 

   The 2002 fall run of chinook and coho salmon to the Oconto, Peshtigo and Menominee rivers was helped by improved water depth and flow, due to above normal precipitation. We expect good spring and fall runs of trout and salmon in 2003 if water levels increase or remain the same as in 2002.

 

   Anglers report catching and releasing spotted musky greater than 40 inches in length from the Menominee, lower Fox and other areas of the bay. These are the result of a stocking program initiated in the late 1980s with the help of local musky clubs to reintroduce the native musky species to Green Bay. Effective April 1, 2003, there is a regulation change on muskies in Green Bay waters and its tributaries (excluding the Menominee River); the new minimum length limit will increase to 50 inches.

 

   A white perch contaminant study that started in 2001 was completed during 2002. This study showed that the average concentration of PCBs in white perch was at 0.77 parts per million, which is lower than past samples which exceeded the 2 parts per million level. In 2002, the regulation for sport harvest of white perch in Green Bay was changed from cannot keep to an open year-round season with no daily bag limit or minimum size. - Justine Hasz, fisheries biologist, Peshtigo

 

Marinette and Oconto county lakes and streams

Caldron and High Falls flowages on the Peshtigo River are expected to provide good muskie fishing, with the potential to provide a trophy or two. Northern pike populations on the flowages are also in good shape and can provide anglers with an exciting fishing experience. Large and smallmouth bass populations remain in good condition and will also provide anglers with hours of enjoyable fishing on some very scenic waters. Bluegill and black crappie on Lake Noquebay provide anglers with good catches of quality-sized fish. Lake Noquebay also supports good populations of largemouth bass, northern pike and smaller populations of walleye and muskie, that offer lake anglers a diverse and challenging fishing experience. Northeastern Wisconsin has numerous small lakes that support good populations of northern pike, largemouth bass and an assortment of panfish.

 

   The area is also well known for the miles of quality trout water which attract the adventurous angler. Trout anglers are reminded to carefully look over the Trout Regulation pamphlet this year. There have been a number of changes including the base trout regulation for Marinette County streams. The base regulation is now a 7-inch minimum size with a five fish bag limit. This is the same base regulation as Oconto County and has been in place for several years.

 

   There are a few streams with higher size limits and lower bag limits to provide the angler with a chance to catch larger trout, so check the 2003 Trout Regulations Guide before fishing. Beaver control and dam removal on trout streams by DNR crews continues to protect the excellent trout habitat in this area. Habitat protection, combined with the fishing regulations, provide the trout enthusiast with a variety of opportunities, from the chance to catch a meal of trout to an enjoyable catch and release experience. - Russ Heizer, fisheries biologist, Peshtigo

 

Marquette County

   Marquette County contains a variety of small "pot hole" lakes with excellent largemouth bass and panfish populations. Most contain adequate access, from improved boat landings, to unimproved carry in access. Take your pick to have the fishing experience of your choice. Marquette County is also home to some of Wisconsin’s finest trout water. Acres of state ownership allow easy access to a number of class I and class II waters. Native brook, brown and rainbow trout populations combined with a variety of regulations provide action for any type of trout angler. - Dave Bartz, fisheries biologist, Montello

 

Shawano County lakes and streams

   Shawano Lake will continue to provide excellent largemouth bass and panfish angling opportunities this year. In addition, good numbers of walleye are still present from the large 1998 year class and will provide harvest opportunities this summer. Shawano County trout streams had normal to above normal flows due to recharging of the groundwater during 2002. This should benefit trout populations in 2003. Catfishing in the Wolf River was slow in 2002 due to colder temperatures and higher flows in May and June, however, look for better opportunities in 2003. - Ross Langhurst, fisheries biologists, Shawano

 

Waushara and Waupaca county lakes and streams

   Numerous opportunities are available for catching native brown and brook trout. Unique populations of rainbow trout also exist in Chaffee, Mecan and White stream systems. Miles of state ownership along some of Wisconsin’s best trout streams provide for ample public access to a number of different waters. Ongoing habitat improvement funded by Trout Stamp sales and land acquisition are constantly improving this already outstanding fishery. Specific regulations apply to individual waters and provide for a variety of trout fishing opportunities. Recent trout stream surveys have shown excellent size structure and abundance. Small lakes in the area, including the Waupaca chain, will provide largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch and crappie action similar to the past. Abundant numbers of northern pike on White Lake in Waupaca County could provide excellent action in 2003 with harvest of fish less than 24 inches encouraged. Trophy-sized pike are also present in some of the mill ponds – Scott Bunde, fisheries technician, Wautoma

 

Winnebago System

Lakes Winnebago, Poygan, Butte des Mortes and Winneconne - Despite low water flows, poor to no water levels on the spawning marshes, and rapidly fluctuating water temperatures, walleye in the Winnebago system were able to pull off an average year class last spring. Despite the poor spawning conditions, DNR and volunteer crews were able to capture, tag and collect data on a total of 1,642 walleye from the system during last spring’s spawning run. Males ranged in size from 13 to 22 inches, with an average size of 16.9 inches and 1.8 pounds. Females ran from 15.5 to 26.5 inches with an average of 20.7 inches and 4.2 pounds.

 

   The bulk of the males lie in the "medium" range (15 to 18 inches), with about 15 percent of them over 18 inches. Females were not as tightly bunched, with about two-thirds of them under 21 inches, and one-third over that. These medium-sized females are mostly fish from the 1996 year class. That year-class is the dominant one in the lake right now. These will be joined in two to three years by the huge 2001 year class, which will be another major contributor to the walleye stock.

 

   All things considered, the walleye population in the Winnebago system is in excellent shape and getting even better! Anglers can again expect good numbers of medium-sized walleye in the rivers during the spring run and out in the lakes in early summer. One look at the tournament catches from 2002 confirms this. The average length of more than 1,300 walleye measured by DNR personnel at June tournaments last year was 19 inches! And while less abundant, large walleye (greater than 24 inches) are still regularly caught, offering anglers chances for a "wall hanger."

 

   These good growth rates should continue, as index trawling from August 2002 again showed a plentiful food base. "Too plentiful!" as some anglers have groused when mid-summer arrives. The average number of trout perch, or "grounders" as they are locally known, was down slightly in 2002 over the previous two years, but was still the third highest catch recorded in 17 years of sampling.

 

Bass

   Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing continues to be good throughout the system as well. Bass anglers reported catching 2,800 bass during permitted tournaments in 2002. During an early June tournament, largemouth ranged from 14 to 19.3 inches, and smallmouth ran up to 18.8 inches. The majority of the largemouth are smaller, with about 75 percent under 16 inches. Bigger fish are present but in small numbers at this time. Only about 2 percent of the largemouth were over 18 inches. Regardless, good numbers of smaller fish should keep bass anglers interested. Look for largemouth in the channels and protected bays on the lakes, and in the marshy areas on the lower rivers. Traditional bass baits and methods work well, especially plastics.

 

   Anglers are reminded to maneuver gently around all vegetation on the system, as it is a valuable and scarce habitat. Smallmouth are more common in the upper rivers near faster current and rock or gravel areas. Don’t overlook the Little Wolf and Embarrass rivers. Smallies also can be found on the lakes along rock/gravel exposed shorelines or on the offshore reefs, especially on Winnebago. Work a jig tipped with a leech in these areas or troll the edge of the reefs with a crankbait. Both are productive methods. The best part is you’re just as likely to hook a walleye in these areas - sort of "two for the price of one" fishing!

 

Northern pike

   Northern pike numbers remain good on the system, although numbers of large fish (greater than 30 inches) are still not increasing to what we feel they could be. Two areas were fyke netted in the spring of 2002 to further assess our northern pike populations: Pages Slough off Lake Poygan and Partridge Lake on the Wolf River in Fremont. Both are good northern areas, especially for spawning. Between the two areas, more than 950 northern were netted during their spawning run.

 

   It was estimated that 1,400 northern pike use Pages Slough for spawning and that roughly 6,000 use the Partridge Lake area! The fish ranged in size from 9 to 40 inches. Females averaged 23.4 inches and 25.1 inches in Pages and Partridge, respectively. In Pages, 28 percent of the females were at or over 26 inches, the legal minimum length on the system. That same number was almost 40 percent in Partridge. Among males however, less than 4 percent exceeded 26 inches. We feel that the reduced bag limit of two per day has done much to rebuild the number of northern pike in the system but are concerned that the minimum size limit is forcing anglers to crop off the bigger individuals, especially females, preventing the average size from increasing. Efforts will continue to evaluate what rules would be best for northern pike on the Winnebago system. Anglers are reminded to please promptly report any tagged fish to the nearest DNR office.

 

Panfish

   Finally, anglers pursuing palatable panfish continue to be pleasantly surprised on the Winnebago system. Bluegill and perch have both responded well to the increase of rooted aquatic vegetation in areas around the system. Evidence of this is the 800-plus bluegill and 500 black crappie netted in Partridge Lake during northern pike spawning assessment in 2002. Bluegill ranged from 4 to 9 inches with an average of 6.6 inches. Crappie ranged from 4 to 14 inches, with an average of 10.2 inches. Yellow perch had another good hatch in Lake Winnebago in 2002 for the second year in a row. It was the third highest average catch-per-effort of fingerling perch in 17 years of sampling; the highest ever was recorded in 2001. So for perch anglers, things are pretty good and looking even better for the future. - Kendall Kamke, senior fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

 

SOUTHEAST REGION

Kenosha County

   Vern Wolf Lake - Located in the Bong State Recreation Area, this lake was drawn down and chemically treated in fall 2001 to eradicate undesirable carp and bullheads that had dominated the fish community. The lake was stocked with panfish and gamefish in spring and summer 2002. A fall 2002 electrofishing survey turned up lots of yellow perch, bluegill, and black crappie. Northern pike also are abundant. These fish are on the small side now, but growth should be rapid and quality-size fish should become available to the angler in a couple of years. Largemouth bass are common and walleye are present. Because Vern Wolf Lake lies within the Bong State Recreation Area, its shoreline is undeveloped. Anglers will enjoy an aesthetically pleasing fishing experience as well as having lots of catch-and -release action for panfish and gamefish in 2003. Statewide fishing regulations apply here until March 31, 2003, when the fish community will be managed with special fishing regulations. The aggregate daily bag limit on panfish will be 10, and largemouth bass will have a minimum size limit of 18 inches and a daily bag limit of one. Northern pike have the standard 26-inch minimum size limit and two daily bag limit, and walleye have the standard minimum size limit of 15 inches and a daily bag limit of five.

 

Lake Andrea - This is a 110-acre quarry lake with a maximum depth of 45 feet and an average depth of 15 feet. It was created in the early 1990s when a gravel pit was abandoned and allowed to flood. It is located within Prairie Springs Park in the Village of Pleasant Prairie, just south of Kenosha. During the last five years DNR and the Village of Pleasant Prairie have stocked northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, and black crappie. Anglers can launch their boat at the ramp off 93rd Place at the northeast end of the lake where parking is available for about four car/trailer units. Statewide fishing regulations apply.

 

Powers Lake -Powers Lake is a good bet for nice yellow perch and bluegills. Anglers can get on this lake by using the public boat ramp on the north side of the lake off of County Highway P.

 

Silver Lake - We have stocked 94,700 walleye into Silver Lake over the last four years, 8,300 of them extended growth fingerlings between 5 and 10 inches long. This has made for some good fishing which should become even better in 2003. Our annual muskellunge stocking program has made this lake a regular for anglers after 40-inch-plus fish. Bucktails and suckers seem to work best. This also is a good lake to try for largemouth bass in the 18- to 20-inch range. A renovated DNR boat launch with ample parking is located on the west side of the lake off of County Highway B about 3/4 mile south of State Highway 50.

 

Other Kenosha County lakes and rivers

   Camp, Center, and Mary Lakes all have public boat ramps and are good bets for bluegill, crappie, bass, northern pike, and walleye. The Fox River is a great place to fish if you like a mixed bag not typically found in most of our lakes. White bass make spring and fall runs and anglers catch lots of them on jigs or minnows. Channel catfish and sheepshead are common in the river. -Doug Welch, senior fisheries biologist, Sturtevant

 

Racine County

Eagle Lake - This lake supports an excellent largemouth bass population. Work the shoreline with minnow imitation lures in the morning or evening in May, early June, and fall. Bass are managed with a special 18-inch minimum size limit and one daily bag limit. We also stock this lake with northern pike and walleye. Recent fish surveys turned up northern pike to 32 inches and walleyes to 25 inches.

 

Browns Lake -The 16-inch minimum size limit on largemouth bass in Browns Lake has produced an abundant crop. Anglers should have fun catching bass on plastic worms and surface plugs early in the morning all summer long. Northern pike naturally reproduce here and provide good action for ice anglers using shiners. We stocked 40,000 walleye fingerlings in 2002 and are hoping this and subsequent stockings will provide additional angling opportunity in the future. Anglers can get on this lake by using the boat launch and parking lot in Fischer Park off Highway 11 east of the city of Burlington.

 

Rockland Lake - For anglers with canoes or cartop boats, this is a good choice. Rockland Lake is a small 40-acre lake that supports nice largemouth bass and bluegills. What makes this lake unique is its undeveloped shoreline. YMCA’s Camp Maclean and the city of Burlington have left the shoreline largely undisturbed except for a recreational facility and high school to the southwest. When you look up from your bobber or lure you will see upland and lowland forest and a wonderful variety of aquatic plants including water lilies, bullrushes, and cattails. Anglers using minnow imitation lures and plastic worms will do well on bass. The 12- 16 inch protected slot size limit on this lake means anglers can harvest bass under 12 inches and over 16 inches. Carry-in access is available through a city park on Highway 11 just east of Burlington. Parking is available on the south side of the highway.

 

Other Racine County lakes and rivers

Tichigan, Wind, and Waubeessee Lakes all have public boat launches and are stocked with northern pike and walleyes. Bluegill, crappie, and yellow perch provide good angling for pan fishermen on all three lakes.

The Fox River below Rochester and Burlington provides excellent smallmouth bass fishing. Wading anglers do well using nightcrawlers and spinner baits. Stink bait and chicken livers work well on nice channel catfish for anglers fishing in Bushnell Park off of Highway 142 in Burlington. Channel catfish have no size limit and a 10 daily bag limit. We also stock both walleye and northern pike in the Fox River. Another nice thing about fishing this river is that you don’t need a boat. Many anglers fish from shore or wade the shallower stretches with slower currents. The fishing season is open year round on the river except for muskellunge, lake sturgeon, trout, and paddlefish. - Doug Welch, senior fisheries biologist, Sturtevant

 

Sheboygan County

Inland fishing on small lakes in Sheboygan County is expected to be similar to years past. Occasionally good panfish action can be found in Crystal, Little Elkhart and Ellen Lakes. Crystal and Random Lakes should again provide very good fishing for largemouth bass. Elkhart Lake is the best county lake for walleye and an occasional musky. The lower Sheboygan River downstream from Johnsonville to Sheboygan Falls can provide very good opportunities in summer for smallmouth bass. - John E. Nelson, senior fisheries biologist, Plymouth

 

Walworth County

Bluff/Whitewater Creek - This is a 4.8 mile spring-fed, coldwater trout stream located south of Whitewater. It is one of the best trout streams in southeastern Wisconsin. Our trout stocking and trout habitat improvement work, together with help from Trout Unlimited, has greatly enhanced the trout population in this stream. We began habitat improvement work in 1980-1981 with 1,320 feet of brush bundles, boom covers, current deflectors and half logs. Next, wild brown trout were transferred to Bluff/Whitewater Creek from Crooked Creek in 1986 and 1987. Believe it or not, we captured one of these old, smart, wild fish in 1999 at which time it was AT LEAST 15 years old! We also stocked the stream with hatchery-strain brown trout between 1988 and 1996. A second habitat improvement project was initiated in 1995; 700 feet of boomcovers and 408 feet of LUNKER structures have been installed since. Last year, 41 of these structures were added along 328 feet of stream. Only wild brown trout have been stocked since 1997. The stocking and habitat improvement program has reaped dividends for trout anglers who report consistent catches of brown trout between 12 and 16 inches. Our electrofishing surveys have turned up brown trout 22 inches and larger. The minimum size limit on this stream is 12 inches for brown and rainbow trout and 8 inches for brook trout. The daily bag limit is three trout. Anglers can access Bluff/Whitewater Creek at County Highway P and downstream at Millis Road.

 

Delavan Lake - Walleye fishermen will continue to fill the large parking lot off Highway 50 on the north side of Delavan Lake in 2003. Walleye up to 32 inches and 10 pounds have recently been caught here. This special regulation lake has a minimum length limit of 18 inches and a daily bag limit of three. Recent DNR fish surveys show good numbers of legal-size walleyes with 21 percent of the population now exceeding 18 inches! Go after them with a jig and a minnow. Leeches also work well. Increased stocking of fingerlings should keep this lake a walleye hotspot for years to come. We also stock muskellunge annually, with 4,144 muskies stocked in 2002. Musky anglers go after fish up to 48 inches long using suckers and large minnow imitation lures. The minimum size limit on musky is 40 inches and the daily bag limit is one. Naturally reproducing northern pike are plentiful and big in Delavan Lake. The minimum size limit is 32 inches and the daily bag limit is one. Trolling spoons and minnow-type lures, or soaking shiners should produce 11 pounders and larger. Big bluegills still swim these waters despite a 25 daily bag limit. Gills can be caught using leaf worms or grubs in the spring, and dragon fly nymphs in the summer. Foot-long yellow perch can be caught off the bottom using nightcrawler pieces and minnows.

Geneva Lake - Tons of mimic shiners support excellent northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and lake trout populations in Geneva Lake. Night fishing along the shoreline and out to 18 feet of water with minnow imitation lures will catch big walleyes. Stepped up fingerling stocking in recent years should maintain an excellent walleye fishery that should provide anglers with

plenty of action in the future. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are abundant and healthy and can be caught using nightcrawlers, leeches, plastic worms, and minnow imitation lures. The 32-inch minimum size limit and one daily bag limit is increasing the number of quality-size northern pike. Northerns reproduce naturally in Geneva Lake and provide plenty of action using shiners or chubs in 15 to 30 feet of water. Lake trout feed on mimic shiners and cisco and are in excellent condition. Go after them along the shoreline with downriggers in spring and minnow- type lures in summer. The season for lake trout runs through September 30 with a daily bag limit of two and a minimum size limit of 17 inches. We have also introduced Seeforellen-strain brown trout to Geneva Lake in 2001. These trout grow to exceptional size and should provide an additional angling opportunity. Who knows, maybe the state inland record for brown trout, held by an angler who caught an 18-pounder from Geneva Lake in 1984, will be broken sometime in the future by one of these Seeforellens!

 

Lake Beulah and Whitewater Lake - These lakes are good bets for quality size largemouth bass. A protected slot size limit on Lake Beulah means anglers cannot keep bass that are 12 inches to 16 inches in length. Surface lures or plastic worms used along the shoreline early in the morning or in the evening when the surface of the water is like glass is an exciting way to catch bass on these lakes.

 

Lauderdale Lakes - The 841-acre Lauderdale Lakes (Mill, Middle, and Green) are full of largemouth bass. Best times to fish them are during the week and early in the morning. Nice size northern pike also swim these waters. We stocked smallmouth bass here in 2001 and 2002 and plan to stock more in the future to provide another angling opportunity. Across the road from the Lauderdale Lakes is 155 acre Pleasant Lake. This is a beautiful, no- wake lake with lots of undeveloped, wooded shoreline. Anglers go after largemouth bass, bluegills, and walleye here. Access is off highway 67 to a launch ramp and parking lot for 6 car/trailer units. - Doug Welch, senior fisheries biologist, Sturtevant

 

Washington County

Big Cedar Lake - This waterbody has the best potential in Washington County to produce trophy walleye and northern pike. Northerns are restricted to a 40-inch minimum size limit and one daily bag limit. We have caught walleyes up to 12 pounds here in our netting surveys. The thermocline usually sets up near 30 to 35 feet in Big Cedar Lake during summer, so walleyes and other gamefish are often found quite deep in this lake. Pike Lake is the lake of choice for good walleye action. This lake has an entirely natural population of walleye that is abundant and features good quality-size fish. Early mornings during the work week seems to be the best time to troll for walleye in the lake. Good early season panfish action can usually be found at the very north end of Big Cedar Lake and parts of Little Cedar Lake. Good opportunities to stream fish for smallmouth bass are usually available in summer throughout the Milwaukee River downstream of West Bend. - John E. Nelson, senior fisheries biologist, Plymouth

 

Waukesha County

   Fifteen Waukesha County Lakes are stocked biannually with walleyes, half of them each year. Some are stocked to supplement natural reproduction while others provide walleye fishing where there would otherwise be none. Several lakes have been providing great walleye action.

 

Pine Lake - Pine Lake, in the northern part of the county, has a natural walleye population that we supplement every two years with stocked fingerlings. Pine provides a tremendous amount of structure and variety of habitats from quiet, shallow bays to sharp drop-offs into 40-foot water. Walleyes move into the shallows in evening to feed. Try fishing just outside the east and west shore bays after sunset.

 

Oconomowoc Lake - This lake on the Oconomowoc River chain has had great walleye action early and late in the season after dark. The west shore, which has some man-made cribs, and the east basin just outside the narrows, are good places to start.

 

Pewaukee Lake - Find consistent walleye action here, mainly early morning and late evening into dark, when the lake is quiet. East of Rocky Point is a good place to try. This goes for ice fishing season, as well. - Sue Beyler, senior fisheries biologist, Eagle

 

Other Waukesha County lakes and streams

   A number of smaller lakes are stocked with walleyes and are a good choice for days when the big lakes are too rough or crowded. Denoon, Fowler, Silver and the Phantom lakes can provide a good catch, and are easy to get around in a small boat. Waukesha County lakes get heavy boating use on weekends and nice weekdays. Walleye anglers benefit from the fact that lakes grow quiet in the evening, just when that big one gets hungry!

 

   As we surveyed more and more of the county’s streams, we began to find trout populations that we did not know existed. Early in 2002, we formally classified 12 of these streams, offering 44.5 miles as Class I or Class II trout streams. Before this, only two Waukesha County waters were classified trout streams. Classification is based on habitat, existing and potential trout populations, and it affords these streams added regulatory and environmental protection and opens the door to management opportunities.

 

   These new streams will be listed in the 2003 Trout Fishing Regulations and Guide that you can get when you purchase your trout stamp. Most of these streams are very small and run through private land. They are accessible to the public only at road crossings. To avoid trespass on private land, anglers should follow the "keep your feet wet" rule. Streams on private land have not had any habitat enhancements or stream bank brushing. Some are difficult to navigate and fish. Please use your best judgment, and always ask permission before crossing private land. - Sue Beyler, senior fisheries biologist, Eagle

 

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION

Columbia County

   Crystal Lake - Located on the border of Dane and Columbia counties, this 527-acre, shallow, eutrophic seepage lake has become known as a premier bluegill factory. The 2002 angling season noted good ice fishing for bluegill, which had usually not been the case. This was followed by rather poor spring/summer success due to heavy plant growth. As a result, anglers in 2003 should find even higher numbers of bluegill. An extremely high density of largemouth bass under the 14 inch size limit help control the bluegill population, thus allowing for higher than average growth. A study in 1999 found there to be 187,000 bluegill over 5.5 inches present in April, with harvest of 91,000 during May and June. Harvest was comprised of 25 percent of fish over 7 inches, with 5 percent over 8 inches. The heavy harvest makes room for greater production.

 

Lake Wisconsin / Wisconsin River - Annual DNR monitoring of the walleye and sauger year classes found higher-than-average walleye reproduction this year – the best year class observed since 1997. Sauger recruitment is typically more stable, though it was down significantly in 2002. A protective, no harvest 20-28 inch slot size limit for both walleye and sauger became effective in 2002 upstream from the Prairie du Sac dam. Anglers were definitely releasing 20+-inch walleye this year from three years of high reproduction in the mid-1990s. Time will tell whether this regulation, which anglers requested, is working. A minimum size limit of 15 inches exists on walleye and sauger. The lake is open year round for all species, except musky and lake sturgeon. Bluegills on the lake are underfished and excellent growth provides for plentiful 8-inch fish. Smallmouth bass and flathead catfish numbers have been increasing.

 

Swan Lake - The 406-acre lake is a natural widening of the Fox River. Stocked walleye and musky are well established with abundant 15- to 18-inch walleye and good numbers of musky, which carry a 40-inch minimum size limit. Help evaluate whether stocking fall fingerlings or spring yearlings results in better fish survival by reporting to DNR the tag number and length of any musky you catch. Gizzard shad provide a plentiful forage base for these predators. Large and smallmouth bass, northern pike, catfish, crappie, bluegill and yellow bass round out this fishery. Bowfin and longnose gar are also abundant predators. – Dan Fuller, fisheries technician, Poynette

 

Dane County

Lake Mendota - Madison’s’ largest lake was surveyed intensively in 2002. A full-scale comprehensive survey included spring fyke netting for walleye and northern pike, spring electrofishing for population estimation, summer fyke netting for panfish young-of-year, and a late fall electrofishing index run. Spring nets caught 675 northern pike with an average length of 24.4 inches. The largest northern sampled measured 44.4 inches and tipped scales at 23 pounds. Females outnumbered males 339 to 253 with 83 unsexed fish. The average female measured 29.7 inches compared to her average male counterpart at 20.5 inches.

 

   The spring walleye catch was impressive with 4,097 fish captured. The majority of fish were males (3,335) averaging 16.6 inches while the 735 females sampled averaged 21.0 inches. The largest walleye sampled in Mendota was 29.6 inches and weighed 11.6 pounds. Population data calculated from 1998 estimated .25 northern pike per acre and 3.8 walleye per acre in Mendota. Legal walleyes (greater than 18 inches) were determined to number .65/acre. 2002 survey data suggest similar densities of legal fish and better than average abundance of sub-legal fish.

 

   Mendota largemouth and small mouth populations are typically under-sampled by spring methods. However, 2002 largemouth numbers were strong with fish up to 22 inches showing up in nets. Bluegill and crappie populations look promising with strong catches noted and quality-sized fish commonplace. Perch numbers from summer netting show a continuing cooling off from the strong showing of 2000. Catches of both adult and young perch were low in 2002.

 

   Productive areas on Lake Mendota are the University Bay and campus waterfronts for panfish and largemouth bass. Smallmouth fans will find the shores on the east side of the lake from Warner launch to Governors Island productive. Walleye anglers can find good action in spring off the rocky shorelines from second point west towards spring harbor. Once water warms, deep weedlines are consistent producers. Northern fisherman should look for their quarry in spring at stream mouths and off quickly deepening points. Summer fish are harder to find but fall fish are aggressive and bucktails over weeds in areas of good access to deeper water should produce. The Yahara River below Tenney park locks provides excellent white bass and walleye opportunities, especially beneath bridge crossings and on the shoals at the inflow to Monona.

 

Lake Monona - Anglers seeking largemouth bass will find plenty along this 3,274-acre lake’s northern shore. 2001 and 2002 spring electrofishing runs caught between 55 and 64 fish per hour (all sizes) with legal fish being sampled at between five and nine per hour. Legal fish comprised from 8 to 16 percent of all fish caught. Fall 2002 samples were similar, with catch rates and proportion of legal fish similar to spring runs. The largest bass recently sampled was 21.6 inches and 6 pounds 2 ounces. Pan fish numbers were robust in 2002 and are expected to stay strong. Squaw Bay, Monona Bay, the "triangle" area, and the south shore should be consistent producers. Some nice walleye and pike were sampled by fisheries crews along John Nolen drive and the bridges west of the terrace. Musky can be found frequenting the weed edges along the west shores. Monona fish are robust for their size, with fish in the upper 30s fairly common.

 

Lakes Waubesa and Kegonsa - Lake Waubesa has excellent opportunity for walleye, panfish, northern pike and musky. Excellent weed edges, rock bars, spring seeps and natural shoreline provide cover for healthy populations. Walleye and northern pike abundances have steadily increased from the mid –1990s with a corresponding increase in average size and proportion of legal fish as well. Kegonsa enjoys similar quality-size structure for walleye and northern pike although the lakes’ uniformity of depth makes it difficult to pattern fish. Anglers can expect good action by concentrating their efforts off the lakes’ many points and at the inflow and outflow of the Yahara River in the zones where waters mix. Both lakes are very fertile and summer algae quickly reduce water clarity. The "little brother-little sister" companion lakes are Upper and Lower Mud lakes, respectively. These widenings of the Yahara River can be "sleepers," providing quick panfish action as they warm more quickly in spring. Patient anglers who "prospect" weed edges will be rewarded with quality bluegills and the occasional lone walleye or northern.

 

Lake Wingra - Densities of musky, Wingra’s signature fish, remain very high in this 340-acre, slow-no-wake waterbody. Set in the middle of urban Madison, anglers can enjoy fast action from the bank or by small watercraft along what is a largely publicly owned shoreline. Surveys in 2002 caught many quality fish, with many exceeding the 40-inch length limit. Weights to 16.5 pounds were sampled. Panfish are numerous but run small, making Wingra a great location to take beginning anglers. Boat rentals are available on the lake’s north shore.

 

Dane County Trout streams - DNR survey crews sampled 12 Dane County streams at 36 different locations during summer 2002. Trout have responded extremely well to habitat improvement projects. Degraded stream corridors have undergone weed tree removal, shaping and sloping of banks, and placement of underbank structures, which cumulatively improve stream flow and cover. Excellent reproduction of native fish and resurgence of natural brook trout were noted on many systems. Anglers can find plenty of solitude and waiting fish by looking to smaller streams and creeks that have experienced adjacent and upstream set aside of agricultural land. Many streams are under easement by the state, county, or sportman’s clubs. Anglers are urged to ask landowners for access and to leave only footprints. Dane County also has four stocked ponds where novice anglers can enjoy catching their first trout. – Kurt Welke, fisheries biologist, Madison

 

Dodge County

Beaver Dam Lake - The severity of winter of 2003 will determine the fate of upcoming fishing on Beaver Dam Lake. Volunteers from the Beaver Dam Lake Improvement Association operate the aeration system on the lake and will be prepared for installation if weather dictates. Crappie fishing continues to be a highlight of fishing, with the majority of fish 10 to 13 inches in length. Angler reports also indicate good bluegill fishing as well. Sightings of large schools of small fish, thought to be carp, during the summer of 2002 prompted a brief shoreline seining survey for young-of-the-year (YOY) fish species. Fortunately, results indicate that the majority of fish sampled were YOY pumpkinseed and bluegill. The large number of small fish of these two species should translate into future panfish fishing opportunities on Beaver Dam Lake.

 

Lake Emily - Anglers report decent catches of northern pike and largemouth bass through the summer of 2002 and into early fall. Lake Emily should continue its tradition of quality panfish fishing in late spring and early summer of 2003.

 

Fox Lake –Young-of-year walleye fingerling numbers from fall 2002 boomshocking on Fox Lake were comparable to numbers found in 2001. Overall, walleye fingerling numbers remain low relative to the annual stocking of 130,000 small fingerlings per year. The total number of walleye sampled during fall 2002 sampling doubled to 23.6 per hour, compared to 2001’s rate of 11.1 per hour. As in most years, anglers continue to report good crappie fishing, as well as good bluegill fishing, with bluegill averaging 6 to 9 inches. Fall surveys in 2002 produced large numbers of small crappie and bluegill, which should provide continued angling opportunities for panfish in the upcoming years. - Laura Stremick-Thompson, fisheries biologist, Horicon

 

Jefferson County

Rock Lake - Despite stocking of the larger extended-growth walleye during fall 2001, annual fall boomshocking surveys on Rock Lake in 2002 show low numbers of young-of-year (YOY) and yearling walleye. Results indicate no increase in walleye numbers caught in 2002 compared to 2001. The extended growth walleye stocking was attempted on a trial basis since the walleye fry traditionally stocked into the lake showed very little survival into their first fall. While the walleye population may be struggling, Rock Lake continues to be a producer of decent-sized largemouth and smallmouth bass, with fall survey results showing catch rates comparable to those in 2001. - Laura Stremick-Thompson, fisheries biologist, Horicon

 

Lake Ripley -This lake is a consistent provider of largemouth bass and panfish angling action. There are opportunities for some large northern pike and walleye. The DNR has been finding several year classes of smallmouth bass and this could be the year that the older fish will be of legal size.

 

Red Cedar Lake and Hope Lake - Both of these smaller lakes are rather shallow and prone to be over grown with aquatic vegetation by mid-summer. But for those who persist and figure out how to overcome the "sea-weed" there are plentiful and at times surprisingly large bass and panfish to be found. There is no public access on Hope Lake, but a private landowner allows access for a modest donation. Blue Spring Lake, Upper and Lower Spring Lake: These three, smaller lakes harbor good numbers of largemouth bass and panfish. Hold on fast on Blue Spring Lake for it will give up a northern pike on occasion. - Algis Byla, fisheries biologist, Janesville

 

Rock County

Lake Koshkonong and Rock River - For the first time in a number of years, the Indianford dam is fully functional and the operating orders for the winter drawdown are in full compliance. With spring precipitation, the strong current from the Rock River should provide for a good walleye and sauger run. The Indianford dam operating orders shift into the summer mode on May 1, and this means white bass and channel catfish numbers will be on the rise. Northern pike, bass and walleye will be in the lake, waiting for an opportunity to hit your bait.

 

Gibbs, Storrs and Clear Lakes - All three of these smaller lakes have good public access for the angler, and are a haven for panfish. At times, aquatic weeds can be a bit of a nuisance, but the persistent angler should have plenty of action with an occasional largemouth bass tugging at your line.

 

Allen Creek and Spring Creek: These streams located in the northwest corner of the county are category 3 trout streams. Natural reproduction in these waters is limited, but annual stocking keeps the creeks supplied with brown trout. - Algis Byla, fisheries biologist, Janesville

 

Sauk County

Devils Lake - The two-story brown trout fishery continues to grow in popularity. About 20 percent of the catch is comprised of two-year-old trout (14 to 17 inches) that have survived one summer by seeking out a 4-foot layer of oxygenated water just under the thermocline. Stocked at 9 inches in April, they grow to 12 inches the following fall. Open season is from the first Saturday in May until March 1, size limit is 9 inches, daily bag is three and an inland trout stamp is required. Many anglers are enjoying ice fishing for the trout using fathead minnows. The lake touts a trophy northern pike fishery with its 32-inch size limit. Many fish 32 to 42 inches were netted by DNR crews last spring. Largemouth, smallmouth bass and jumbo bluegills also are present. Only electric motors are allowed. This past summer DNR installed a 24-inch siphon to withdraw phosphorus from the bottom of the lake before the lake turned over in the fall. Over 10 to 15 years, the goal is to return the lake to a more pristine state, which will be most noticeable to lake users by less filamentous algae and increased water clarity. Slower fish growth will be the likely trade-off.

 

Dutch Hollow Lake - This is another subdivision development lake in northwest Sauk County that was created by a 42-foot high dam. It has excellent water clarity making fishing hard during the daytime. This is because water leaks from the lake, requiring groundwater pumping to maintain its level. A good walleye fishery is maintained by stocking and the largemouth bass population has increased to that present in the mid-1990s, which will help reduce high numbers of small panfish. The lake has produced state record crappie and bluegill. Two public landings provide boat access.

 

Lake Delton - This 267-acre lake is created by a dam on Dell Creek and lies between Mirror Lake and the Wisconsin River in the highly developed Wisconsin Dells. The best opportunity to fish is in the spring and fall to avoid heavy use of other recreational water activities. The lake supports an excellent walleye and largemouth bass fishery that seem to concentrate along the south shoreline in the fall. Abundant white crappie and yellow bass provide angling for panfish enthusiasts.

 

Lake Redstone - This scenic, 600-acre impoundment in northwest Sauk County continues to provide excellent fishing. It will continue to provide excellent fishing for 8- to 11- inch crappie, especially during the spawn. Walleye fishing should be fantastic in the near future with excellent survival of stocked fish now providing a good population of 12- to 18-inch fish. The lake has also become renowned for musky with several legal fish noted (40-inch minimum size limit). Good size structure of largemouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill round out the fishery. Recent efforts to reduce phosphorus in the watershed have helped increase water clarity. Sauk County Parks maintains a beach and picnic area on the south end of the lake and three public boat landings are present.

 

White Mound Lake - This 104-acre reservoir lies entirely within the Sauk County Park located in the west central part of the county. A parking lot, fishing pier and renovated boat launch provide access to this excellent largemouth bass and bluegill fishery.

 

Baraboo River - The last of 11 dams was removed in October of 2001, allowing the river to become the longest free-flowing stretch of water in the nation (115 miles). This will allow natural fish movement to occur again, and has already been evident based on tagged fish observations. Diversity of fish species also has increased. Five miles of rock riffles within the City of Baraboo have now become available to again provide spawning habitat for downstream Wisconsin River fish such as walleye, sauger, catfish, lake sturgeon and suckers. Lake sturgeon have already been sighted and anglers have reported increased fishing success for smallmouth bass.

 

Narrows Creek - A great deal of effort has been directed by the Sauk County Land Conservation Department to improve water quality in this heavy, agricultural watershed and by DNR fisheries with streambank and fish habitat improvement on three miles of the upper stream reach. This 18-mile tributary to the Baraboo River had been known for its excellent smallmouth fishery until the mid-1970s. Improvements in phosphorus and sediment reduction will meet the established watershed reduction goals when the construction phase ends in 2004. Recent fish surveys find 5-year classes of smallmouth bass and populations to be at a five-year high in both habitat improvement areas and control areas. This summer a tagged smallmouth bass from the lower Baraboo River was recaptured in upper Narrows Creek. Eventually, summer migrations of bass, catfish and walleye will likely venture into the Narrows, since the door has been opened on the Baraboo with the removal of the 11 dams. – Dan Fuller, fisheries technician, Poynette

 

Sauk and Columbia County trout streams and kids’ fishing ponds

   The stocking of wild strain trout has shown better survival and increased numbers in most streams. About 80 percent of the streams are stocked, with the others sustained by natural reproduction. The better streams in Columbia County are Rowan and Lodi, while in Sauk County, try Dell and Rowley. During late May and early June the following ponds receive a planting of panfish by local sportsmen’s clubs. Try Plenke Pond in Reedsburg, Deppe Pond in Baraboo and Pauquette Pond at Portage. – Dan Fuller, fisheries technician, Poynette

 

WEST CENTRAL REGION

Mississippi River

Walleye and Sauger - These species continue to be the most sought after recreational fish on the Mississippi River. There are good numbers of walleye ranging from 15 to 20 inches as well as good numbers of fish below the 15-inch size limit. Sauger can be just as plentiful, ranging from 12 to 17 inches. Larger walleye and sauger are also prevalent in the river. Trophy anglers realize the Mississippi River consistently produces walleye over 10 pounds. Certain stretches produce sauger near 20 inches.

 

Bluegill - Current bluegill populations are rated by many as good to excellent. The size structure appears strong from top to bottom; 7-inch fish and larger are available to anglers. As evidenced by ice anglers’ catch during December 2002, great numbers of smaller fish are also waiting to become part of the fishery. Given their fast growth rates, in three or so years these fish will be large enough for the frying pan. Anglers should find bluegill in seasonally productive spots. In most cases, bluegill will be found in slack water habitats during the winter, migrating to flowing channel cover during summer and returning to backwater habitat in late fall.

 

Crappie - Crappie populations in the river have been stable through the mid- to late-1990s and exceptional fishing can occur. Fyke net surveys during the fall of 2002 found good numbers of 10- to 13- inch crappies.

 

Smallmouth bass - Smallmouth bass are fast becoming a favorite of many Mississippi River anglers. Great numbers of fish, both above and below the 14-inch size limit, can be found up and down the river. Larger smallmouth bass in the 3- to 5-pound range are not uncommon. With catch-and-release positively impacting the smallmouth fishery, a handful of 6-pound-plus fish are caught each year. Their size structure should remain solid. Fishing near rock is always a good bet for tying into a hard-fighting bronzeback.

 

Largemouth bass - Largemouth bass populations are extremely dependent upon habitat, especially habitat for the younger fish. The late 1980s and early ‘90s were difficult for young largemouths due to decreased aquatic vegetation. The middle to late 1990s brought vegetation resurgence that continued through 2002. Largemouth bass responded to this change, and we started sampling more young fish. Over the past few years, largemouth bass numbers have dramatically increased. The current largemouth population, above and below the 14-inch size limit, is good. There’s no doubt there will be a lot of legal fish for several years to come. Local anglers favor working wood and vegetation with a white spinnerbait or black and blue jig.

 

White bass - White bass populations are generally good in the Mississippi River. They’re a fast growing species, getting to 12 inches in three to four years. Larger fish in the 14- to 18-inch range are common.

 

Northern pike - Although the number of northern pike may currently be considered fair, decent fishing is still expected. This is because of fast growth rates, and the fact that few anglers specifically target northern pike. While some inland water bodies produce countless 16- to 20-inch hammer handles, pike on the river are generally larger and more dispersed. Fast growth rates and plentiful food make northern pike nearing 40 inches common. Fyke net surveys during 2002 produced pike that averaged 27 inches. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits around shoreline cover are often effective in summer, when pike are on the move. Tipup fishing in backwaters is effective throughout the winter.

 

Channel catfish - Growth rates are good while angler exploitation is low. Channels in the 2- to 5-pound range are quite common, with fish nearing 10 pounds often found in the creel. Summer fishing can be quite productive in main channels or running slough habitat. Natural or prepared baits are both commonly used. - Brian Brecka, fisheries biologist, Alma

 

Black, Buffalo, Trempealeau rivers (Buffalo, Clark, Jackson, and Trempealeau counties)

   For the past four years, Black River Falls fish crews surveyed trout populations in all area categorized streams. Preliminary results indicate most are producing at or in excess of past levels. In a nutshell, anglers should find plenty of fish waiting for them when they head out to their favorite streams this season.

 

   Trout crews continue to restore habitat in area streams. The latest project is in Pine Creek, a 6.5-mile tributary to the Buffalo River. Pine Creek is located in Trempealeau County between the communities of Osseo and Strum. The majority of the stream bank is either owned by the state or the state has easements — providing ample fishing access to both the lower and upper portions of the stream. Trout work will continue in Pine Creek in 2003.

 

   Fall monitoring surveys of the lower Black River show fish populations to be in good shape. The sport fishery of the lower river consists of walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskellunge, and catfish. Like many lakes, the lower river is closed to early season fishing to provide extra protection during spring fish spawning activities. The Black River Falls fisheries management crew intends to conduct spring population surveys, especially of walleyes, in the near future to further assess the potential benefits of the closure. Flowages in the Black River Falls area are providing excellent largemouth bass fishing. Many are located in either the state or county forest. – Dan Hatleli, fisheries biologist, Black River Falls

 

Dunn, Pierce and St. Croix county lakes and streams

   Anglers fishing Dunn County should find wild brook trout plentiful in the headwaters of Wilson Creek, Gilbert Creek, Knights Creek and the South Fork of the Hay River. Abundant wild brown trout can be found throughout Elk Creek. Dunn County offers numerous small, less accessible streams with moderate densities of wild brook trout. First-time anglers can try one of the stocked trout streams, such as middle- to downstream-reaches of Bolen Creek, Eighteen Mile Creek, Wilson Creek, Gilbert Creek, South Fork of the Hay River, and Otter Creek.

 

   Pierce County streams will continue to provide outstanding brook and brown trout fishing. The Kinnickinnic, Rush, Trimbelle, and Eau Galle rivers, and Plum, Cady and Isabelle creeks are doing well and are good choices during the 2003 season.

 

   In St. Croix County, the Kinnickinnic River will continue to provide outstanding wild brown trout fishing. Recent surveys of the Kinnickinnic show the average trout size is greater than most years. Parker Creek has fully recovered from a fishkill, and once again provides quality brook and brown trout fishing. Those fishing in the Glenwood City area should find Tiffany and Beaver creeks excellent choices for wild brook trout. Those first-timers, or folks looking for public land opportunities, should try the Willow River at Willow River State Park, the Apple River in Star Prairie Village Park, and the Eau Galle River in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Eau Galle Reservoir Park.

 

   Lake investigations in the area show largemouth bass populations to be in great shape with excellent size structure. Look for excellent bass fishing opportunities in some smaller lakes and flowages throughout the area. In Pierce County try Nugget Lake or Spring Valley Reservoir. In St. Croix County try Little Falls Flowage, Lake Mallalieu, Glen Lake, Squaw Lake, or Bass Lake. In Dunn County, try Lake Eau Galle and Lake Menomin. In Lake Menomin look for largemouth bass in the numerous backwaters and weedy bays.

 

   Several lakes and river systems in the area have high quality smallmouth bass populations. In St. Croix County, Lake St. Croix provides abundant smallmouth bass fishing opportunities.

 

   Walleye reproduction in the area has remained strong for many years. Anglers should anticipate good action. For the best results on the St. Croix River, fish during spring and fall when recreational boating is light. Anglers fishing the Red Cedar River system will find the best fishing upstream of Lake Tainter in the spring and in Lake Tainter during the fall.

 

   Northern pike fishing will remain spotty. However, natural reproduction was strong this year and trophy pike can be found throughout the area. Big pike can be found in the Tainter Lake and St.Croix River systems. Lake Menomin and Little Falls Flowage contain the best densities in the area. Small winterkill lakes in northern St. Croix county will continue to produce excellent northern pike action during winter. - Marty Engel, senior fisheries biologist, Baldwin

 

Lower Red Cedar and Chippewa rivers (Eau Claire, Dunn, Pepin, and Buffalo counties)

   Smallmouth bass are the most abundant gamefish on the lower rivers with a fair number of fish greater than 14 inches. Best locations to catch smallmouth are riprapped shorelines or near large woody debris. Anglers can expect to see lower numbers of walleye and sauger on the two rivers due to weaker year classes from 2000-2002 but there are still a modest number of walleye from a strong year class in 1998 that will be near 21 to 23 inches this coming summer. Most walleye and sauger can be found in deep water near in-river cover.

 

   Recent highwater events over the past two springs have lead to near optimal northern pike spawning conditions. Expect to see large numbers of northern pike from 18 to 24 inches. The best northern pike fishing can be found in and near the many backwater bays and sloughs throughout the lower rivers. Mskellunge numbers on the rivers are low, but recent surveys have documented a modest number of fish greater than 40 inches in length throughout the lower Chippewa River. Best muskellunge opportunities are in and near the Eau Claire area on the Chippewa River.

 

   Numerous state threatened and endangered species can be found in the two rivers. Some of the more common fish that anglers may accidentally catch are paddlefish, river redhorse and blue sucker. If you catch one of these fish, you are required to release this fish by Wisconsin law. - Heath Benike, regional rivers specialist, Eau Claire

 

Dun, Pepin and Buffalo county streams

   Anglers can expect to see low to moderate densities of native brook trout on many of the smaller tributary streams that drain into the lower Chippewa River. Best streams to target this spring in the local area are Arkansaw, Bear, Little Bear, Plum and Bogus creeks. The potential to catch a quality sized brook trout greater than 12 inches exists due to ample forage and excellent growth rates.

 

   In addition, DNR, Pepin County Parks and the Arkansaw Fur-Fish and Game completed an 1,800-foot brook trout habitat restoration project on Arkansaw Creek near the village of Arkansaw. It is expected that the adult brook trout fishery will increase more than 300 percent in the next few years due to the completed habitat restoration work. - Heath Benike, regional rivers specialist, Eau Claire

 

Chippewa County

Elk Creek - This creek supports the best brown trout fishery in this area. In recent years, approximately 1.5 miles of the stream have undergone habitat improvements with Trout Stamp funds and donations from Trout Unlimited. Look for these improvement areas upstream and downstream of County Highway M, upstream of County Highway N, and downstream of State Highway 29. Habitat improvements have increased the quantity and quality of spawning habitat and cover for trout. In fall 2002, large brown trout were observed on redds in one of the improved sections – a promising and rewarding sight. Anglers looking for brook trout will find better populations in the small, spring-fed tributaries to Elk Creek. Opening day of 2003 anglers will experience a new trout regulation for Elk Creek. Trout from 10-14 inches may not be kept. The daily bag limit will be three trout and only one of these can be over 14 inches. This regulation has been very successful in the section of Elk Creek immediately above Elk Creek Lake. The new regulation will simplify the two previous regulations used on Elk Creek into one that will improve the quality of the entire fishery.

 

Duncan Creek- Our best brook trout stream in this area, also has undergone recent habitat improvements with the use of Trout Stamp dollars and Trout Unlimited donations. Approximately 3/4 mile of Duncan Creek below State Highway 64 has had major improvements in cover and spawning habitat, which along with a protected-slot size, aided in an improved size structure and higher average weights for individual fish. For the 2003 season, Duncan Creek upstream of the Bloomer dam will have a new protected-slot size. Trout from 10-14 inches may not be kept. The daily bag limit will be five, and only one of these fish can be over 14 inches. This stream, especially in the improved section, has the potential of producing brook trout of exceptional size.

 

McCann Creek - Historically, this creek has been an excellent brook trout stream. However, problems with land use and beaver created temperature and migration problems for brook trout. In 2001 and 2002, DNR, in cooperation with the Ojibleau Chapter of Trout Unlimited, initiated steps to correct these problems. Three private farm crossings were acting like dams in the stream. Trout Unlimited purchased new culverts for the landowners and Department staff installed them to lower the grade of the crossings, thereby decreasing the backwater effect. This resulted in improved current and substrate conditions for trout. Upstream of this area, habitat improvements were initiated on about 1/4 mile of stream on DNR land adjacent to State Highway 40. Brook trout were observed spawning in this area in fall 2002. More improvements are planned for the future to restore McCann Creek to a high quality brook trout stream. – Joe Kurz, fisheries biologist, Chippewa Falls

 

Holcombe Flowage – This flowage continues as a premier water for musky fishing. A 40-inch minimum size limit enacted in 1992 has provided an excellent fishery of catches greater than 40 inches and an occasional 50-plus inch fish. In fall 2002, an angler caught and released a 49 1/4-inch fish estimated in excess of 30 pounds. This fish was tagged in spring 1994 when it was 38.7 inches, 17 pounds and 7 years old.

 

Lake Wissota – This continues to be one of the most improved walleye fisheries in west central Wisconsin. The 2001 walleye year class appeared very strong during a spring 2002 survey. These fish, which were around 10 inches in fall 2002, will provide good angling action in 2003, but may not be of a desirable size for harvest until fall. The 14-18 inch protected slot size has improved the walleye size structure. Anglers are catching more fish greater than 18 inches than before this limit. Only one fish over 18 inches may be kept per day. Some anglers report the walleye fishing on Lake Wissota is the best in more than 30 years.

 

   Another great comeback for Lake Wissota is its bluegill population. Spring 2002 surveys found many bluegills 7 inches and larger. Little Lake Wissota and the Yellow River area provide the best panfishing opportunities, however, anglers should not overlook the fish cribs in the main body of the lake. Crappies remain the staple panfish in the lake. Many crappies over 9 inches were caught during spring surveys. Anglers reported excellent crappie fishing in 2002, particularly in the spring. Smallmouth bass fishing has been improving steadily; 38 percent of the fish caught in our survey were over the 14-inch minimum size limit. For smallmouth bass, anglers should work rip-rapped shorelines, fallen timber along the shoreline or the riverine portion of the flowage below the Jim Falls dam. Largemouth bass fishing is minimal in the lake but a few lunkers are caught every year. 2002 marked the first year of a three-year effort to restore largemouth bass populations in the lake. With improving populations of aquatic vegetation and the elimination of late-winter drawdowns, this stocking effort is expected to produce a quality fishery in a few years.

 

Sand Lake - A comprehensive survey of Sand Lake on the Chippewa-Rusk County line was conducted in 2002. Sand Lake is stocked with walleye and muskellunge in alternate years. Both species are doing well in the lake. The density of adult walleye is one fish per acre. This may appear low, but it is within the density range for stocked populations. Excellent growth rates and an 18-inch minimum size limit aid in producing a quality walleye fishery. Our survey catch yielded 55 percent of the walleyes above the minimum size limit. Sand Lake is a clear, deep lake with a cisco forage base. This makes for difficult walleye fishing during summer. Some of the best fishing for walleye is in the spring during late evening. Good growth rates also are evident in the musky population. The largest fish, 49.2 inches and 30.5 pounds, was only a 12-year-old. Black crappies are the panfish of choice in Sand Lake, with many fish over 9 inches. The lake also has abundant, slow-growing populations of largemouth bass, bluegill and yellow perch. – Joe Kurz, fisheries biologist, Chippewa Falls

 

Eau Claire County

Lake Eau Claire – This lake also exhibited a strong 2001 year class of walleye. Few fish over the 15-inch minimum size limit were caught during a spring 2002 survey. However, at the time of our survey, most adults were upstream of the lake spawning in the Eau Claire River. The lake has good populations of bluegill, yellow perch and black crappie. Very few quality-size perch and crappies were caught, but bluegills 7 inches and larger were common.

 

Lowes Creek - This creek has been stocked the past four years with a wild strain of brown trout instead of the domestic strain that had been stocked previously. No surveys have been conducted yet to evaluate this stocking effort, however, anglers who have reported catching these wild fish have high praise for the quality of these fish. We hope that survival rates for these wild fish will be greater than for domestic trout strains, and that the fishery’s quality will improve. If funding is available, a survey will be conducted in 2003 to evaluate this stocking effort. – Joe Kurz, fisheries biologist, Chippewa Falls

 

Jackson County

A fishing opportunity that once was lost is now available in Jackson County. After sitting almost dry since the flood of 1993, the Hatfield power canal and associated backwaters are full of water. Hatfield Hydropower reconstructed banks of the power canal that washed out in the 1993 flood and consequent power generation has filled the backwaters up. The area previously provided good fishing for a variety of game and panfish species. Migrations of fish from the upper and lower watershed are naturally repopulating the fishery with walleyes, black crappie, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and muskellunge. Supplemental rehabilitation stocking of the canal occurred in spring 2001 when more than 400 pounds of bluegills, crappies, yellow perch, northern pike, and largemouth bass were transferred in from Lake Como in Chippewa County. The fish transfer was a cooperative effort between Bloomer and Eau Claire and DNR’s Black River Falls fisheries staff. Local anglers are already reporting catches of all fish species and this success should continue in 2003. – Dan Hatleli, fisheries biologist, Black River Falls

 

Trout fishing in La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford and Monroe counties

   Trout fishing continues to improve in many of the coulee streams due to a combination of improving land use practices, aggressive habitat restoration efforts, numerous stream surveys and the wild trout program.

In 1976 there were 545.5 miles of classified trout water in our four-county area. By 2000, stream surveys found another 264 miles of trout water to add to the "Trout Stream Book," bringing the total for the four counties to 809.5 miles of classified water. We anticipate an additional 50-75 miles being added by the 2003 season as a result of surveys conducted in the last two years.

 

   The real bright spots have been the increasing numbers of wild brook trout streams in the area. As potential waters are identified through the survey process, wild brook trout are either transferred to the stream or put on quota to receive "feral" trout from our statewide hatchery system. Growth rates on these fish has been phenomenal, with fish stocked at 5 inches reaching 9 to 12 inches in one year. In 2002, several brook trout over 18 inches were taken from area streams. To protect these harvest- sensitive species, a numbers of streams will be designated as Category 5 streams in 2003, which means catch-and-release only, and use of artificial baits.

 

   For anglers who may be looking for trophy brown trout there are several waters in the area that 40 years ago were considered "nontrout" but are now producing brown trout in excess of 25 inches. Three brown trout greater than 27 inches, along with many more greater than 18 inches, were caught in area streams in 2002.

 

   For anglers looking for a few fish for the frying pan, several streams with high densities of brown trout will have more liberal bag limits to encourage some harvest in 2003. The daily limit on these waters will increase from three to five fish but the size limit will change to a maximum of 12 inches. Any fish caught exceeding 12 inches in length must be immediately returned to the stream. Anglers should read the trout regulation pamphlet for a listing of these changed waters.

 

   There are numerous streams with public access in the four counties thanks to an aggressive angler access program. In the last 30 years, almost 200 miles of public access has been secured either through streambank easements purchased from willing landowners or from numerous small state owned properties. County "plat" books purchased at many county seats will identify state owned properties. – Dave Vetrano, fisheries supervisor, La Crosse

 


Ontario

ON- Lakes Erie and St. Clair Angler Outreach Meetings

OMNR schedules for input - Apr 26 & 29, May 1, 6 & 7

   The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources  has scheduled the following meetings to get and get input from anglers regarding the fisheries in Lakes Erie and St. Clair.  Those dates are:

 

SIMCOE  - April 26 – 1 PM, Travelodge, Hwy #3 (part of Long  Point  Bay Anglers Association annual mtg,)

PORT COLBORNE - April 29 - 7 PM, St.Patrick's Hall, 123 King St.

BRANTFORD - April 30 - 7 Pm, Brant Park Inn, Gretzky Pkwy and  Hwy 403

LONDON  - May 1 - 7 PM, Ramada Inn, Wellington Rd and 401

WINDSOR - May 6 - 7 PM, Windsor Sportman's Club, 2401 Dougall

WALLACEBURG - May 7 - 7 pm, Oaks Inn, 80 McNaughton Ave.

Agenda includes:

* Your chance to ask staff from the MNR' Lake Erie Management Unit questions and offer comments and concerns about fishing and the fish stocks of Lake Erie, Upper Niagara River, Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and St. Clair River

* Status of Lake Erie fish stocks, especially walleye and yellow perch

* Lower Grand River and Eastern Basin restoration program updates

* Results from angler creel survey on Detroit River and Lake St. Clair

* Musky disease update

* Fish and waterfowl die-offs and botulism update

* Enforcement Update

* Angler Diary program

* Refreshments provided

 

For more information, call:

John Cooper, MNR - Lake Erie Management Unit, London, Ontario 519-873-4613, john.cooper@mnr.gov.on.ca


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