By: Steve Suman
This week’s Hayward forecast – up to Friday – includes many “mostly sunny” days. Temperatures will spread across quite a range, often accompanied by some very strong winds. This Friday shows a high in the mid-40s, but with chances of various forms of precipitation. This is definitely one of those times when “If you do not like the weather, just wait a bit” for weather perhaps more to your liking!
The DNR will make preliminary deer registration totals for the 2017 nine-day gun deer hunt available online Tuesday, Nov. 21, and Tuesday, Nov. 28. The DNR will make detailed registration data for all deer hunting seasons available after all 2017 deer hunting seasons close. For more information, search “weekly totals” on the DNR website. While there, check the Wisconsin Deer Metrics System, information used to measure or evaluate various aspects of deer management. For the county of your choice, this system offers the most up-to-date information on deer harvest figures, population trends, deer impacts on agriculture and forest resources, herd health, and hunter dynamics.
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses eels in Wisconsin.
“Did you know there is a species of eel native to Wisconsin? These are actual eels, not lampreys (an eel-like fish), and an easy way to tell the difference is the eel’s fully developed jaws, while lampreys have just a suction cup mouth. Eels are carnivores that feed nocturnally on other fishes and invertebrates, sometimes even venturing into very shallow water to capture frogs.
“Reports of American eels in Wisconsin are exceptionally rare, with just a few dozen observed in the last century, but they do make their way to Wisconsin as a part of a remarkable life-cycle journey.
“Freshwater eels actually spawn in saltwater in the Sargasso Sea, thousands of miles from Wisconsin. Eggs hatch at sea and larval eels make their way towards the coast. Once encountering freshwater, they begin to transform into their adult form.
“Typically, only females make the longer migration into freshwater, with males staying behind in brackish tidal areas. The journey upstream is remarkable both in distance traveled and obstacles they overcome. Eels sometimes move overland to get around barriers or swift sections of current and as a result, sometimes end up in lakes that appear to have no connection to a river or stream.
“Female eels have historically reached Wisconsin through the Mississippi River and St. Lawrence Seaway that connects the ocean to the Great Lakes. Once fully mature, the female makes the long journey back to the sea to spawn. Females are typically around three feet long, though documented up to four feet long, and can carry 5-20 million eggs.
“For fans of The Princess Bride, American eels can make several different sounds including chirping and high-pitched ‘screams’ that you can hear outside of the water!”
Early in November, DNR fish biologists conducting lake trout spawning surveys on Gull Island Shoal Fish Refuge on Lake Superior hauled in a lake trout that biologists originally caught and released in 1981 on the same fish refuge. According to DNR fisheries supervisor Terry Margenau, people often think of a fish’s life span as relatively short, maybe 10 years, but lake trout are slow growing, with a longevity that rivals that of the ancient sturgeon. When first tagged in 1982, this lake trout measured 27.3 inches. During the November 2017 capture, the fish measured 35.5 inches, showing growth of only 8 inches in 36 years – less than 1/4-inch per year. Crews caught this fish seven more times over the years, each time on the same fish refuge. This shows the importance of the protection refuges afford spawning lake trout. Gull Island and Devils Island fish refuges in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior do not allow any type of fishing. Every lake trout DNR survey crews handle receive a numbered, colored tag. Anglers who catch a tagged lake trout and intend to release it should write down the tag number and contact the Bayfield DNR office to get the capture history.
On Flambeau River State Forest, bucks are in rut, deer are very active during all hours of the day and night, and hunters on the Forest report seeing groups of elk. Forest staff remind hunters pursuing deer on the Forest to be aware that elk calves are about the same size as adult deer. Make sure of your target to insure the safety of the protected elk.
The DNR’s Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is a great opportunity for hunters to tell wildlife staff what they see during their hunting trips and biologists encourage hunters to record all activity, even if there are no wildlife sightings during a hunt. These hunter reports help DNR staff track population changes and improve management decisions, especially for difficult to monitor animals. Participation is easy and you can submit observations by smartphone, desktop computer, or regular mail. At the end of each year, participants receive personalized summaries of all recorded wildlife. The current survey period ends in January. For more information, search “deer hunter wildlife” on the DNR website.
Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer season continues through this Saturday and combined with poor fishing conditions, there is little angler interest at this time. Musky season remains open in the North Zone through November 30 and game fish season for most species is open (check the regs) through March 4. There are reports of anglers tempting fate on thin ice forming on shallow bays, but this is neither advisable nor safe, particularly with the fluctuating temperatures! Mark your calendars for Free Fishing Weekend January 20-21.
Nov. 15: Trout and salmon fishing closed on Lake Superior tributaries (see regs).
Nov. 16: Crow season closed.
Nov. 17: Fall turkey season closed in zones 6 and 7.
Through Nov. 26: Traditional nine-day gun deer season.
Nov. 21: Duck season closed in North Zone.
Nov. 24-Dec. 30: Hayward “Lure of Lights” (715-634-0333; 634-0901).
Nov. 27: Muzzleloader deer season opens.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.
Nov. 30: Seasons close: Musky in North Zone; Turtle.
Dec. 1: Lake Superior lake trout season opens.
Dec. 2: Breakfast with Santa at Lakewoods Resort 9 a.m.-noon (715-794-2561).
Dec. 6: Seasons close: Muzzleloader deer; Bobwhite quail.
Dec. 7-10: Four-day antlerless hunt.
Dec. 8: Ruffed grouse season closes in Zone B.
Dec. 16: North Exterior Zone Canada goose season closes.
Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt – farmland units only.
Dec. 25: Period 1 Bobcat season closes.
Dec. 26: Period 2 Bobcat season opens.
Dec. 31: Seasons close: Pheasant; Fall turkey zones 1, 5; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping; Frog.