by: Steve Suman
The week ahead, according to the forecast, looks very pleasant for this time of year, starting out with sunshine and temperatures mostly in the upper 30s and into the 40s. Look for somewhat of a cooling trend to start later in the week, but even next weekend the highs will be in the upper 30s.
“We have some ice on a few of the lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but not really enough to consider safe for travel. There are ‘reports’ of up to five inches of ice on some lakes, but be extremely cautious – and again, there is really not enough ice for safe travel.
“Walleye anglers are catching a few fish in and on the edges of deep holes. Most anglers are using walleye suckers and fatheads. Crappie anglers are catching fish on the edges of drop-offs in deeper water.
“During the nine-day gun deer season, hunters did well on does and small bucks, but there were few reports of them taking big bucks. It also appeared there were fewer hunters than usual or at least fewer than last year.”
“There are a few anglers getting out on the smaller and shallower lakes. Ice thickness varies from 1-5 inches on most lakes and the bigger lakes are still not yet safe. As always, check ice conditions very carefully.
“Walleyes are the main target for anglers. They are reporting decent success so far, with most action on walleye suckers under tip-ups, but be sure to try jigging with Jigging Raps and Swedish Pimples. Focus on the primary breakline, as well as on any points. The low light periods offer anglers the best chances for success.
“Northern pike are active in and on the cabbage beds, with shiners on tip-ups providing most of the action.
“Panfish anglers are also starting to hit the ice. For bluegills, use waxies, spikes, and plastics on tungsten jigs, focusing on weed flats in 5-12 feet of water. For crappies, fish a little deeper with small minnows and plastics on tungsten jigs and small spoons.
“There are still good numbers of deer hunters in the woods and the reports are fair so far, though hunters are taking plenty of nice bucks. The muzzleloader season that follows the traditional nine-day gun season is now in progress, offering hunters an additional nine days if they still need to fill their tags.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter defines and discusses zooplankton.
“It is likely that readers of this column and of other scientific writings about freshwater ecosystems have heard the term ‘zooplankton’ used in the past. So what exactly is zooplankton?
“The term ‘zooplankton’ refers to a large and diverse group of microscopic, or near microscopic, organisms that have animal-like traits. Some zooplanktons are exceptionally tiny, such as rotifers and protozoans. Many larger zooplanktons are crustaceans with a calcified external shell.
“Zooplanktons are characteristically poor swimmers, commonly drifting or moving only small distances up and down in the water column throughout the day. Most feed by filtering out particles of algae from the water column. In fact, if there are enough zooplanktons present in a lake, they can filter enough algae to create noticeable differences in water clarity.
“Larger zooplankton plays a critical role in lake ecosystems as an early-life prey item for most fish species. For many predatory species of fish, such as walleye and muskellunge, zooplankton forms the dietary link between a fish’s hatching and when it can start to eat other fish.”
Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area is offering a Carnivore Tracking and Wolf Ecology workshop December 9-10, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Crex Visitor Center. During Saturday’s session, participants will learn tracking skills, identification, and gait interpretation in the Visitor Center, followed by outdoor field training. On Sunday, students will learn about wolf history, biology, and monitoring techniques. Students should dress for winter weather. Crex Meadows provides lunch and materials. The workshops, limited to 40 participants, require pre-registration. For more information, call (715) 463-2739. Lodging is available at Luther Point Bible Camp. To reserve a cabin, call (715) 689-2347.
Flambeau River State Forest’s Lake of the Pines Campground is open through December 15 and winter camping offers lots of peace and quiet, cold nights, drinking hot chocolate around a campfire – and no bugs! The rustic, well-maintained campground is on a bluff overlooking the lake. Be sure to wear blaze orange when hiking during the deer seasons. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.
Wisconsin deer hunters registered 102,903 deer through the opening weekend of the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 64,828 in 2016. More than 582,800 hunters purchased licenses and although the DNR sold 587,440 licenses last year, the number of hunters his year is very close to the number of licenses last year, with approximately 6,200 additional non-residents traveling to hunt in Wisconsin. The DNR has not yet released the preliminary total deer harvest figures for the traditional nine-day gun deer season. You can check the totals, when available, by visiting dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/harvest/deerharvest.html or by searching “weekly totals” on the DNR website. Follow the DNR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram throughout gun deer season for more updates, photos, and stories.
Wisconsin’s nine-day muzzleloader deer season is open from November 27 through December 6.
Fishing activity is still somewhat between the seasons – be VERY careful if you choose to risk ice fishing. Mild and fluctuating temperatures, along with wind and rain, can quickly change the already “iffy” ice conditions!
Musky season in the North Zone closes November 30 – there is still time to catch that trophy!
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with early morning and late afternoon into dark best. Look for fish in/on the edges of deep holes, breaklines, and points. Walleye suckers and fatheads under tip-ups, Jigging Raps, and Swedish Pimples are all producing catches.
Northern pike are active in the weeds, hitting shiners on tip-ups.
Crappies are in deeper water, on the edges of drop-offs, and taking crappie minnows and plastics on small jigs and spoons.
Bluegills are on weed flats in 5-12 feet, hitting jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, and plastics.
Nov. 27-Dec. 6: Muzzleloader deer season.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.
Nov. 30: Seasons close: Musky in North Zone; Turtle.
Dec. 1: Lake Superior lake trout season opens.
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.