Week of May 21, 2012
|Misc New Fishing-Boating Products|
|Other Breaking News Items|
Misc New Fishing-Boating Products
New Havoc Subwoofer features distinct tail to unique shape
The body of the 4" Subwoofer features a unique cut tail, which displaces plenty of water whether Texas rigged, retrieved in open water like a spinnerbait or loaded on a schooling rig. The compact, 4" design allows this bait to be thrown in the thickest grass or brush piles but also has enough action to attract bass in the wide open.
The Subwoofer is available in 18 colors: Alabama Craw,
Bama Bug, Black Grape, Black Red Fleck, Chartreuse
Gold, Cinnamon Brown Purple, Cobalt, Golden Shiner,
Green Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin Green and Purple, June Bug Red Fleck, Pearl White Silver Fleck, Plum, Pumpkinseed, Smoke Black Glitter, Watermelon Pearl, Watermelon Red Fleck and Watermelon Silver.
About $3.49 per 8-pak
800-237-5539 [email protected]
New Havoc Rocket Craw emulates fleeing crawfish
The new Rocket Craw is equipped with high-action pinchers that stir up the water and ground when worked along the bottom to imitate a fleeing crawfish. With realistic tentacles, the Rocket Craw is an ideal trailer on a jig for pitching under docks or into heavy cover. Rig on a Texas rigged with a 3/0 wide-gap hook and drag along the bottom or timber.
The big, elongated design of the Rocket Craw gives it a profile that bass can easily locate. It doesn't matter if it is in the thickest cover or darkest waters bass will inhale this bait.
The Rocket Craw is available in 10 colors: Bama Bug, Black Blue Fleck, Black Red Fleck, Breen Clear Chartreuse, Green Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin Purple Fleck, June Bug, Pearl White, Perfection Green Fleck and Shady Watermelon Candy.
Large profile jig trailer
Crawfish type action
High action pinchers
800-237-5539 [email protected]
Popular Flicker Shad adds new sizes
The Berkley Flicker Shad has been so popular the development team at Berkley decided two models weren't enough. Now, the Berkley Flicker Shad will be available in 4-cm (1.6 inches) and 6-cm (2.4 inches) versions.
With some design help from our pro team, the 4- and 6-cm models are precisely engineered to deliver the action that anglers demand. These baits feature Mustad Ultra Point Hooks for deep penetrating hook sets and a wide variety of colors to match any conditions.
It doesn't matter if anglers target walleye, bass or inshore specie, the individually tank-tested Berkley Flicker Shad is perfectly designed to fit into any body of water. The 4-cm Flicker Shad has a diving depth of 6 to 8 feet while the 6-
cm version dives 10 to 12' deep.
Available in 14 colors: Black Gold, Black Gold Sunset, Black Silver, Blue Tiger, Chartreuse Pearl, Chrome Clown, Firetiger, Pearl White, Purple Tiger, Racy Shad, Rainbow Trout, Red Tiger, Shad and Speckled Gold Shiner.
Mustad Ultra Point Hooks
Individually Tank Tested
Weight transfer for bullet-like casts
14 fish-catching colors
800-237-5539 [email protected]
Other than a few scattered showers across the Great Lakes basin in the early part of the week, the region has been experiencing fairly dry conditions over the last few days. Temperatures have dropped a bit since Tuesday and are currently near seasonal averages. Expect temperatures to rise with mostly clear conditions over the next couple of days. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are likely to arrive early next week.
LAKE LEVEL CONDITIONS
Lake Superior is near last year's level and Lake Michigan-Huron is 2 inches lower than the level of a year ago. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 9, 7, and 13 inches, respectively, lower than a year ago. Over the next month, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are forecasted to rise 3 and 2 inches, respectively, from their current levels. The water levels of Lakes St. Clair and Erie are expected to fall 1 and 2 inches, respectively, while the level of Lake Ontario is expected to rise 1 inch over the next thirty days.
Lake Superior's outflow through the St. Marys River is projected to be below average for the month of May. Lake Huron's outflow into the St. Clair River and the outflow from Lake St. Clair into the Detroit River are expected to be below average throughout the month of May. Lake Erie's outflow through the Niagara River is forecasted to be above average and the outflow of Lake Ontario into the St.
Lawrence River is predicted to be below average in May.
The water level of Lake Superior is below chart datum and is forecasted to remain below chart datum through July. Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels. Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA)today announced that in 2011 U.S. retail sales for recreational boats, accessories and marine services increased six percent to $32.3 billion, new power and sail boat retail sales increased 0.8 percent to 214,405, and boating participation increased ten percent to 83 million. The recreational boating industry has not seen an increase in retail sales since 2006, and the jump in participation is the largest proportion of adults (34.8 percent) who went boating since 1997, when 35.8 percent participated.
Released today, the NMMA’s annual Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract is the U.S. recreational boating industry’s most comprehensive compilation of statistics and research. The new data signals the beginning of a recovery for the U.S. recreational boating industry.
Leading a recovery are sales of aluminum power boats (primarily fishing and pontoon boats), which were up 4% in 2011. There were 77,150 aluminum power boats sold in 2011. The top ten states for aluminum power boat retail sales were (in order of highest to lowest): Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois.
“Pent-up demand for boats following years of diminished willingness to spend by consumers, improved credit
availability for buyers and boating businesses, positive shifts in consumer confidence and an overall interest in the benefits of the boating lifestyle are steering the industry toward recovery,” notes Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “Americans’ passion for enjoying the boating lifestyle is taking precedent as they put aside concerns about the economy in favor of creating lifelong memories with loved ones.”
Data from NMMA’s Abstract shows the recreational boating industry continues to be predominantly comprised of small boats, which includes the aluminum power boat segment: 95 % of the 12.4 million registered boats in the U.S. in 2011 were 26 feet or less in size. Boats less than 26 feet are most often taken by trailer to local bodies of water, in contrast to boats which are 26 feet in length and larger and typically docked at marinas. The size of the boats Americans purchase is relative to boater income: 83 percent of all boat owners in the U.S. in 2011 had an annual household income less than $100,000.
Anticipating what 2012 will bring the NMMA Abstract points toward continued slow growth: A survey, in conjunction with Foresight Research, of 3,100 boaters and non-boaters from December 2011 shows an estimated 15.2 percent of the 237.7 million adults living in the U.S. are actively engaged in shopping/planning to purchase a boat in 2012. This is an increase from 10 percent in 2010.
A growing industry has emerged in northeast Indiana to help anglers catch muskies, and the local economy is benefiting. About 10-15 professional muskie fishing guides now operate in northeastern Indiana—a direct result of Indiana’s successful muskie stocking program, according to DNR fisheries biologist Jed Pearson.
Combined, those guides generate about $150,000 in annual income. Indirect spending, such as travel, food and lodging add another $20,000 to $25,000 dollars of economic value annually from guided muskie trips. “Although these figures are low compared to traditional muskie states, Indiana’s muskie guiding business is only 10 years old,” Pearson said,
The DNR, began stocking muskies in various waters in the late 1970s to offer anglers a new fishing opportunity in Indiana. As the DNR muskie program developed, angler interest in Indiana muskies gradually grew. Entrepreneurial anglers saw a business opportunity and eventually a professional muskie fishing guide industry arose.
Muskies are stocked annually now in six northeast Indiana lakes The DNR estimates anglers make about 15,000
Indiana muskie fishing trips a year. About 300 to 400 of
those are through professional guides, with anglers paying about $325 per trip. In Indiana, anyone who takes a person fishing for hire must first be licensed by the DNR.
Guides are also required to submit to the DNR daily logs that detail the location, hours fished, and fish caught by their customers. Biologists use these records to help monitor changes in muskie fishing and success of the stocking program.
From 2001 through 2011, muskie anglers booked 2,900 fishing trips. Fifty-six percent were at Lake Webster in Kosciusko County. Another 21 percent were at nearby Lake Tippecanoe, and 17 percent were at the Barbee Lakes. Guided muskie trips were also taken at Loon, Skinner, and Upper Long lakes. “We saw an exponential rate of growth of guided muskie fishing from 2001 through 2008,” Pearson said. “Trip numbers fell in recent years, most likely due to the slow economy, but we think they will rebound.”
Despite fluctuations in the number of trips per year, guided anglers have caught an average of 300 muskies annually at these six lakes during the last eight years.
The Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone the annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 9-10. On that weekend, everyone – residents and non-residents alike – can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.
Since 1986, Michigan has annually celebrated the Summer Free Fishing Weekend as a way to promote awareness of the state's vast aquatic resources and the sheer fun of fishing. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing go hand in hand.
The DNR applauded the Lake Hudson Pheasant Cooperative (LHPC) for its efforts in building a coalition of landowners and others committed to restoring pheasant habitat and revitalizing pheasant hunting in Michigan.
“The Lake Hudson Pheasant Cooperative’s progress illustrates that bringing back Michigan’s pheasant hunting tradition is important to people and that they’re eager to work together to make it happen,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “If we can duplicate what the LHPC has accomplished in other communities – and I believe we can – then we’re well on our way to success with the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative.”
One of the first cooperatives to form as part of the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, the Lenawee County-based LHPC is collaborating with the DNR at Lake Hudson Recreation Area, where multiple Pheasants Forever chapters are providing volunteer labor and funds for habitat improvements that the DNR budget would not allow for otherwise. This work will take several years but will produce prime pheasant habitat containing native grass plantings with wildflowers and food plots. Cooperative members hope that local landowners will continue to join in this effort and connect filter strips, buffers and other blocks of habitat to this site, as well as enhance existing habitat to create a changed landscape that will benefit pheasants
as well as song birds, migratory birds, deer and other wildlife.
The LHPC also recently hosted its first annual meeting for 30-plus members, interested neighbors and partners, bringing local landowners together to learn about and discuss the cooperative’s plans for restoring pheasant habitat.
“This meeting was for those who really do care about quality habitat and bettering the pheasant populations in the area. And this cooperative will help them all get together for a common cause, a common goal,” said Lauren Lindemann, Lenawee Conservation District’s Farm Bill biologist. “This cooperative has a life of its own now. There are passionate people here.”
The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative (MPRI) is a conservation initiative to restore and enhance Michigan pheasant habitat, populations and hunting opportunity on private and public lands. It will accomplish this through public-private cooperatives that improve habitat for pheasants and other wildlife on a landscape level. The MPRI works by acquiring state and federal resources to assist landowners in the cooperatives to improve wildlife habitat on their property and by improving habitat on selected state game areas, recreation areas or other public lands. Learn more about the MPRI at www.michigan.gov/pheasant.
This is to let all avid long-range shooters know there is a new 1000-yard range opening on May 19 in Lake City (Missaukee County), Michigan. It is called the Marksmanship Training Center (MTC), and its website is www.MarksmanshipTrainingCenter.com. Memberships are available, and details are on the website. They also have a Facebook page.
The rifle/handgun ranges include a 25-yard outdoor range with 20 stations for recreation, training, and competition. Coming soon will be 50- and 100-yard ranges. The 1000-yard range has 10 stations, and is a 1000-yard KD and 300-1000+ UKD range. Recreational shooting is
membership based and is unsupervised. Events and
instructional programs are open to the public which will have range safety officer supervision.
Terrain at the range is rugged and may be difficult for people with disabilities. Competitive events at MTC will be traditional, tactical and customized. Visit the DNR shooting range website at www.michigan.gov/shootingranges
If you are a person who likes to shoot long distances, this is the only 1000-yard range in the Lower Peninsula open to the public for certain events! If you have questions, please contact MTC at [email protected].
If House Bill 5334 is passed into law, Michigan hunters and anglers could purchase individual lifetime licenses for hunting and fishing several different types of species. The proposed lifetime licenses include firearm deer, archery deer, small game, restricted fishing, and all-species fishing. Individual
Individual lifetime license fees range from $220 to $285. An all-encompassing lifetime license for small game, firearm and archery deer, all-species fishing, bear, waterfowl, and resident fur harvester would sell for $1,025.
The bill was introduced at the beginning of the year by Representative Richard LeBlanc, D-Westland. At the time of introduction, there was no known opposition or support from outdoor groups. LeBlanc said the bill was inspired by the conversations he had with hunters who possessed lifetime licenses purchased in the short time frame that Michigan offered them (in 1989 and 1990).
Many hunters liked the lifetime licenses and would like to purchase one if it was an option, but DNR officials and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) worry they would negatively impact federal conservation funding and also complicate wildlife management efforts. Legislative Affairs Manager for MUCC Kent Wood said the group hasn’t yet decided on an official position on LeBlanc’s
legislation. In theory, MUCC is supportive of multi-year, comprehensive licenses, but federal funding uncertainties hinder their support.
In an interview with Outdoor News, DNR Wildlife Chief Russ Mason said the licenses would increase revenue for the DNR in the short term, but “there are issues with obtaining federal (funding) match in the out years.”
But DNR Chief Budget Officer Sharon Schafer counters that notion, saying that federal funding wouldn’t be affected by the legislation. The 3,135 hunters and anglers who purchased a lifetime license when it was available in 1989 are counted each year toward the total number of Michigan license buyers whose revenue generated is matched by federal funds.
Schafer said the problem lies in insufficient amounts of revenue generated from the sale of these licenses. A child who obtains a lifetime all-encompassing license in his/her youth would contribute a total of $1,025 for decades of hunting and fishing licenses. “You have to spread it out over their lifetime,” Schafer said.
Rep. LeBlanc admits lifetime licenses could have funding implications, but that not enough hunters or anglers would buy a lifetime license to negatively impact the DNR’s budget.
DNR reminds anglers of fishing
regulation changes for 2012
New regulations for 2012 are listed below along with the page number in the regulations booklet where anglers can find more detail.
Aquatic Invasive Species
The Minnesota Legislature repealed a requirement that watercraft display an aquatic invasive species (AIS) information sticker to avoid confusion when provisions of a new law go into effect in 2015. Although no longer required, placement of stickers on boats is still encouraged as a reminder about important AIS information.
The new law will require operators of trailers transporting watercraft or water-related equipment to complete an online AIS training course, beginning in 2015. When completed, trailer operators will receive a trailer sticker certifying their completion of the course.
Without repeal of the existing AIS sticker requirement, which was approved by the Legislature in 2011, display of both decals would have been required.
New experimental and special regulations were added or modified on six lakes and one stream with quality walleye, sunfish, crappie, brook trout or bass regulations (pages 34-54). Length-based regulations on northern pike were dropped on 21 lakes.
Lakes with key changes include:
Mille Lacs Lake walleye regulations were tightened. All walleye 17 to 28 inches must be immediately released. The possession limit is four fish, with only one longer than 28 inches.
A night fishing closure on Mille Lacs is in effect from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily through Sunday, June 10. Night fishing on Mille Lacs begins at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, June 11. Check online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing for the latest additions or corrections.
Next year’s 66th annual Governor’s Fishing Opener, May 10-11, 2013, will be held in the Park Rapids Lakes Area, a popular destination for outdoor recreation. Located in northwest Minnesota, the Park Rapids area is home to many great fishing lakes, Itasca State Park, the Heartland Trail, Lake Country Scenic Byway, and the Chippewa National Forest.
“The Park Rapids area has a long history as a family vacation destination. Holding the Governor’s Fishing Opener here is a great way to focus on this area’s lakes, family resorts, parks and trails, and excellent fishing. Park Rapids reflects what’s great about fishing and travel throughout Minnesota, and that is what the Governor’s Fishing Opener is all about,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism.
The 2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener will be hosted locally by the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, along with many sponsors and local volunteers. Dennis Mackedanz will chair the committee of volunteers to plan the event.
“The Park Rapids Lakes Area is a great destination to host
the Opener,” said Mackedanz and Katie Magozzi,
executive director of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, in a recent statement. “Our community’s slogan, ‘Now This is Minnesota,’ reflects our focus on outdoor recreation and the natural assets that make Minnesota a great vacation state. Our excellent local fishing, recreational activities, attractions and points of interest are a perfect fit for the 2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener.”
The Governor’s Fishing Opener has been a tradition in Minnesota since 1948. The event was designed to promote the development of Minnesota’s recreation industry, and in recent years, it has served as a kick-off celebration for the summer tourism season. Travel and tourism generate $11.3 billion in leisure and hospitality gross sales in Minnesota annually.
The Opener provides the host community with an opportunity to highlight local fishing and other recreational activities, attractions and other points of interest. Media from throughout the region attend the event, resulting in significant publicity for the host community and Minnesota.
More information is available at: www.mngovernorsopener.com
Minnesota DNR biologists began an eight-year study in 2008 to determine the optimum number of walleye fry that should be stocked back into lakes where eggs are removed for stocking purposes.
The first phase of the study focused on marking walleye fry using oxytetracycline (OTC) to differentiate stocked fry from those naturally produced. The last phase will now focus on determining the growth and survival of these marked fish to catchable size.
“This is a cutting edge fisheries research project,” said Dale Logsdon, DNR fisheries research biologist in Waterville. “It uses technology to better understand biology and to help guide management practices that result in the maximum number of walleyes for the public to catch and enjoy.”
Annually, the DNR collects walleye eggs from 13 different spawning runs as part of a statewide walleye production and stocking program. Lakes supporting these spawning runs represent some of the most prolific walleye fisheries in the state. The importance of assuring that hatchery operations do not have negative impacts on these fisheries has long been recognized.
To compensate for possible impacts of these egg removals, the DNR has historically stocked at least 10 percent of the walleye fry hatch back into those lakes where eggs were removed. However, the effects of these compensatory stockings had never been thoroughly evaluated due to the inability to distinguish between natural and stocked fry. DNR fisheries biologists want to ensure that enough fry are returned to the lakes, but are also concerned that stocking too many fry could result in poor growth and survival of both wild and stocked fish, thus resulting in fewer catchable walleye in the population.
Too many young walleye in the system at one time can result in increased competition for food, reduced growth
rates, increased foraging times, and greater vulnerability to predation, according to Logsdon. “We want to optimize fry abundance to help ensure that we are maintaining the health of the walleye fisheries in our egg-source lakes.”
With the advent of the OTC technology, fisheries researchers are able to mark newly-hatched walleye fry by immersing them in a solution of OTC for several hours, just before they are stocked. The fry absorb a small amount of this chemical, resulting in a harmless mark left on the fish otolith, or ear bone, that can be detected years later using a microscope and ultraviolet light.
“This new technology enables us to determine how many walleye in a population originate from stocking versus natural reproduction,” Logsdon said. “If a florescent mark is present, we know we are looking at a stocked fish.”
Four egg-source lakes – Woman, Winnibigoshish, Otter Tail and Vermilion – are included in the study. These lakes were chosen because of their ecological characteristics and the availability of historical fisheries data.
The study’s has two main objectives are to better understand the natural reproductive processes in these lakes, and to use this information to identify the optimal number or replacement fry to stock in relation to natural changes in spawner abundance.
Fisheries personnel stocked marked fry at predetermined levels during the first five years. Gill net surveys will continue the next three years to learn what fry densities maximize survival, growth and abundance. Achieving these target fry densities will likely require adjustments of historical stocking rates.
This study continues the DNR’s history of implementing research projects that aim to improve the understanding and management of the state’s fishery resource. Minnesota, one of the nation’s top five angling destinations, continues to provide some of the nation’s best fishing.
The Bass Federation (TBF), in partnership with FLW Outdoors, the Ohio Bass Federation, and the Gallia County Convention & Visitors Bureau will host the 2012 Student Angler Federation (SAF) Ohio High School Fishing State Championship on Saturday, June 9 on the Ohio River. The launch will be out of the downtown ramp (public use ramp) located near Gallipolis, Ohio.
The championship is a two person team event for students in grades 9-12. Registration for anglers and their “coach,” who will provide the boat they compete in, is online at HighSchoolFishing.org. Check-in begins at 5:30pm EST on Friday, June 8 at the Gallia County Convention & Visitors Bureau in Gallipolis, Ohio, with a mandatory rules briefing at 7pm EST. We highly encourage all teams to preregister online or by phone in advance to avoid late registration fees.
“We are so excited to be hosting the second annual SAF Ohio High School Fishing State Championship in Gallipolis,” Executive Director of the Gallia County
Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bob Hood, said. “The
majestic hills paint a beautiful backdrop as the stunning waterways open the door for a unique adventure in this southeastern Ohio town. We are making every effort to make sure this experience is a memorable one!”
Students and parents can go to www.HighSchoolFishing.org for details on the Student Angler Federation (SAF) and to sign up. Cost is only $25/ year and includes full TBF and FLW Outdoors benefits, including access to the all-new FLW Outdoors Magazine e-Edition and insurance coverage for students and their club.
If you’re not an SAF member, there’s a $25/per angler fee, which includes full TBF/FLW Outdoors membership benefits for the year, as well as, free entry to ALL SAF sanctioned events!
Another unique feature of an SAF sanctioned event is the “angler testing” component. Anglers can take a free online test at HighSchoolFishing.org about boater safety, conservation and angler ethics, which makes them eligible for contingency awards at their state championship. “It’s an industry first by TBF and a tremendous way to emphasize the importance of education to these student anglers,” SAF Program Manager, Alex Craw, commented.
Recovered from spawning, fish "ready to chase just about anything"
HAYWARD - The northern zone musky season opens May 26 and anglers are likely to find good prospects for catching the official state fish, now that water temperatures are finally climbing and making the fish more active, state fisheries biologists say.
"The start of the 2012 northern musky fishing season should be timed perfectly with an increase in fish activity now that water temperatures have warmed into the mid- to upper 60s throughout most of northern Wisconsin," says Dave Neuswanger, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor based in Hayward. "Most muskellunge completed their annual spawning ritual weeks ago during an early warming period, so they have long since recovered and will be ready to chase just about anything that moves!"
Neuswanger says that jerk baits and even spinners with bucktails should provide good action. "Anglers will find healthy musky populations in traditional waters, but do not overlook some of the smaller, out-of-the-way lakes and streams that often have surprising numbers of fish between 36 and 44 inches long," he says.
Fish in these waters tend to be more naďve than those in heavily pressured lakes, so they are more likely to be encountered and caught. Multiple-fish days on some of the less-pressured lakes and streams are not uncommon. "Also, this is the time of year when anglers targeting bass with spinner baits are subject to surprise attack by muskies, so using a wire leader and keeping some hook-out tools and gloves in the boat are good ideas," Neuswanger says.
Mike Vogelsang, fisheries supervisor based in Woodruff,
reports that musky in his area spawned at least two weeks ahead of "normal," with the peak right around mid-April.
"Water temperatures have been steady and cold for several weeks now, but they are finally beginning to moderate a bit, a trend that should continue through the musky opener. That will make the musky active. Look for them near newly emerged weeds with deeper water nearby -- the transition from weeds to deep water on the edges of bays are key spots."
Weedy open flats that are 5 to 9 feet deep also make for nice "drifts" while casting, Vogelsang says. "Early in the season anglers may also want to scale down the size of their baits a bit -- it's not always necessary to throw those big tandem bucktails or 12-inch jerk baits. For the first couple weeks of musky fishing, smaller bucktails and 6-inch twitch baits can work equally well if not better.
Terry Margenau, fisheries supervisor stationed in Spooner, says that now is an exciting time to be a musky angler in Wisconsin. "Twenty-five years ago our musky populations were growing in numbers but many fish were mid-sized, or 32-36 inches long. However, with the continued practice of live release by sport anglers and more restrictive regulations, there has been a shift toward more larger fish -- what the musky angler wants."
That growing catch-and-release ethic has made a big difference that anglers this year will enjoy, he says. "Over the past several years our crews are seeing more and more 30-plus pound fish in our nets, not to mention that occasional 40 pounder and larger. Some of our populations in the north have more than 50 percent of the adult musky population over 40 inches.
"This is an exciting time to be a musky angler in Wisconsin -- expect some big things with a little hard work in 2012!"
Anglers can rely on the new version of an old "friend" -- the 2012 version of the Wisconsin Muskellunge Waters book [PDF] -- to help lead them to the waters offering the potential to catch a monster musky or the prospect of lots of action.
The 35-page booklet is available online and can be downloaded and printed off. Hard copy versions are available by contacting a local DNR service center and asking for a copy of publication FH 515 (2012).
The printing of the booklet was paid for by the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin, along with its individual member clubs. Funding was also provided by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration program.
Tim Simonson, the DNR fish biologist who chairs DNR's
musky committee and edited the book, says the update is
the first since 1996. Some smaller, minor lakes have been taken off the list of musky waters as well as some lakes that had been stocked in the past but hadn't produced fisheries.
The book also updates the status of waters as far as whether they are Class A, the premier musky waters providing the best musky fishing, Class B, waters that provide good fishing, or Class C, waters with musky present but not of major importance to the overall fishery.
About 47 percent of the 667 classified musky lakes in Wisconsin are Class A Waters and 29 of the 100 classified river segments are Class A.
"By all measures, musky fishing has continued to improve," Simonson says. "The percentage of large fish -- over 45 inches continues to increase in our sampling surveys."
A new 40-inch size limit is in effect statewide and applies to 94 percent of musky waters in Wisconsin, Simonson says. There are 41 waters that continue to have either lower size limits or higher size limits. Waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan north of Highway 10 carry a 50-inch minimum size limit. The daily bag limit for muskellunge is 1 on all waters statewide, except Yellowstone Lake, Lafayette County (daily bag limit is 0), and Escanaba Lake, Vilas County (no daily bag limit).
The Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations lists the wrong size limit for musky on those waters. Otherwise, consult the guide for information about specific waters or check DNR's new online regulation database to find size limits on the inland lake you plan to fish for musky.
Simonson says the new size limit, increased from 34 inches last year, will allow musky populations to better reach their full biological growth potential. "Angler harvest is low, but even low harvest of the larger fish still impacts the average size of fish in a musky population," he says.
The growth potential of muskellunge easily exceeds 40 inches on the vast majority of muskellunge waters in the state, except in a few, high density, slow-growing populations typically found in smaller lakes, Simonson says.
Creel surveys indicate that the length of muskellunge harvested over the last few years have averaged 38.7 inches, with 62 percent of harvested fish less than 40 inches. The new 40-inch size limit will reduce musky harvest by up to 60 percent statewide every year, which is expected to continue to improve the size-structure of populations, Simonson says.
A recent evaluation of the 40-inch minimum length limit on 24 lakes in Wisconsin over a 15-year period showed a significant increase in fish 34 inches and larger, as well as a significant increase in the percentage of fish 40 inches and larger, compared to lakes that had remained under the 34-inch minimum length limit in place statewide until this year, he says.
Down the road, the increased size limit also will help better meet the expectations of musky anglers in Wisconsin in terms of the size-structure of populations. State mail surveys of anglers indicate that most anglers consider a trophy musky to be 50 inches or greater. Among avid musky anglers, the proportion considering 50 or greater a trophy has increased from 44 percent in 1989, to 62 percent in 1999, and to 77 percent in 2011, Simonson says.
More information on musky can be found by searching for “musky fishing” on the DNR website.
Tournament fish would be only measured and digitally photographed and released
In the face of increasing state regulations of fishing tournaments and community concerns about the impact of competitive angling on local fisheries, a group of innovative, conservation-minded anglers have adopted a novel strategy for conducting weekly walleye tournaments on a set of lakes and rivers in western Wisconsin. These events do not require fish to be transported in livewells to an off-water weigh-in at the end of the event; rather, the length of each fish is documented with a digital photo before it is quickly released back into its native environment. This catch-record-release format ensures that the events have minimal impact on the overall health of the fisheries by eliminating fish mortality associated with livewell transport. Moreover, the 100% release format without an off-water weigh-in, coupled with limitations on the number of competitors, allows the leagues to operate without direct intervention from state regulators. The founders of these western Wisconsin walleye leagues envision this format taking hold in other areas where regulatory or community concerns have negative impacts on club-level competitive angling.
Dr. Jeremy Frigo, one of the founders of the Menomin-Tainter Walleye League , explains how the league was established in 2011: “The original inspiration for starting a walleye league came from the idea of melding the love of walleye fishing with the idea of local competitive fishing. Local multispecies leagues already existed, but nothing specific to walleye. We chose the “catch-record-release” format, introduced by Anglers Insight Marketing (AIM) for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s the best thing for the fisheries. The fish are caught, measured, photographed and released. This is not any different from normal fishing in which catch and release is practiced. Second, since all fish are released immediately, we are not tied to any size limits, culling restrictions or daily bag limits. This allows great flexibility. Third, since all fish are immediately released and not brought back to a weigh-in, the process is greatly simplified on a number of fronts,” by eliminating the need for fish handling and weigh-in facilities.
In the Menomin-Tainter Walleye League, each fish is measured on a standardized, league-supplied tournament ruler, and digitally photographed using a league-supplied SD card. Competitors only have access to the rulers and cards while the events are underway, ensuring that any fish registered in the weekly events are caught, photographed, and released during the 3-hour, weeknight competitions. The winners of each night’s competition are determined by the cumulative length of their four longest fish. Since fish are released immediately after being measured and photographed, anglers need not worry about the impact of bag limits or restrictive harvest “slot” limits. The relatively short time commitments, close-to-home locations, and modest weekly entry fees make the competitions accessible to a wide variety of anglers, some of whom still travel over an hour to join in the camaraderie of the league events.
Involvement of young anglers and partnerships with local communities are paramount to the health and growth of these walleye leagues. Dr. Frigo explains, “One of our utmost important goals of the league is to involve young anglers. Last year, we agreed that the greatest example of our success was the fact that parents felt comfortable enough to bring their children and involve them in our activities. As a result, some of these kids have absolutely turned into fishing machines! Not only do the parents have a chance to take their kids out for a great night of fishing, they also get to introduce them to the world of competitive angling in a fun, friendly format that just breeds enthusiasm.” Moreover, “community feedback to our league has been very positive. Essentially, the bad rap (mostly unjustified) was that fishing tournaments kill fish due to the stress of the weigh-ins. Whether this was justified or not, we totally removed that variable from the equation. Overwhelmingly, support came due to conservation of the fisheries being kept at the forefront. That is something we all can feel great about. Last year we caught A TON of walleyes—all which went back to be caught another day.”
Another testament to the success of the catch-record-release format for weekly competitions is that this same format has now been adopted by two other regional walleye leagues. Dr. Frigo explains that these other leagues, “are almost mirror images of our format. Jesse Krook, who fished our league one night with us last year on Lake Tainter, has now established the St. Croix Valley Walleye League. He loved our format so much he begged, pleaded and bought us 5 cheeseburgers each to help him establish a similar league near Hudson, Wisconsin. The response to that league has been huge as well. Likewise, Jason Sullivan and his committee members recently started the Chippewa Valley Walleye League, based out of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Since all of our formats are nearly identical and have such common goals, it will allow for future growth in the direction of uniting the local leagues under one basic entity. In my crystal ball, I see a possible local weekend tournament series, formation of new local leagues and seminars. Essentially, the door is wide open.”
While professional-level bass and walleye tournaments, held on expansive bodies of water with traditional off-water weigh-ins, are likely here to stay, the catch-record-release format adopted by the Menomin-Tainter Walleye League is an excellent adaptation for local events where reducing impacts on smaller fisheries is of paramount importance. In this format, anglers can still enjoy the thrill of the competition and share in each others successes, while still maintaining a strong, 100% live release, conservation ethic. We look forward to watching the Menomin-Tainter Walleye League, and other similar organizations, continue to grow and prosper in years to come.
Dr. Jason Halfen is a multi-species guide and teaching pro based in Wisconsin. For more info www.JasonHalfenOutdoors.com.
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