By: Steve Suman
Technically, we are in the fourth week of spring. Real-life observations, however, indicate winter decided to extend (over-extend!) its stay. The forecast for this week shows a clearing, warming trend after mid-week and we can only hope it comes to fruition. Sunshine, wind, warm temperatures, and even some rain could go a long way to removing much of the ice (up to two feet or more on some lakes) before the May 5 gamefish opener.
“Most lakes still have more than 20 inches of ice, but use great caution around current areas. There are only a handful of anglers venturing out on the ice, though they offer some decent reports, mostly on crappies.
“The fish are starting to move shallower and are getting a little more aggressive. Keep hole hopping – definitely keep moving shallow – until the fish light up your graph. Waxies and plastics are working just fine.
“Reports from the Superior tributaries say water is still low and clear, but that should soon change. Spawn sacs and flies are producing the best success.
“Turkey hunting starts this week and it might be a challenge for first season turkey hunters!”
Mike at Jenk’s says opening weekend is three weeks away, but there is still plenty of ice on the Chippewa Flowage.
“Reports from some anglers say the average ice depth is around 24 inches – and time is getting a bit short for full open water for opening weekend. However, judging from all incoming weather reports, this past weekend was the last gasp of winter and it will only continue to get warmer.
“Extended forecasts suggest temperatures will begin an ascent into the 40s, get into the 50s by Friday, and next week see temperatures in the low to mid 60s.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses self-sustaining fish populations.
“Long-time Sawyer County DNR fisheries biologist Frank Pratt has an interesting observation that may change how you think about fish populations. He points out that in a stable, self-sustaining fish population, one should only expect each fish to replace itself once, through successful spawning.
“Think about this in the context of a female muskellunge that might lay 100,000 eggs for 10 years of her life, totaling 1 million eggs! In a stable population where the number of muskellunge does not change much, she is a success if just one of those eggs survives to adulthood to replace her in the population.
“Some fish are more successful reproductively than others, of course. A female that is diseased or smaller than average might have worse odds of reproductive success. She may never reproduce successfully and have offspring surviving to adulthood. Another larger, healthy female might be lucky enough to have 10 offspring survive to be adults.
“This is what drives natural selection and evolution – the fit not only survive, but successfully pass on their genes to the next generation.”
Former DNR fisheries biologist Frank Pratt will offer his “Fishing” presentation at Weiss Community Library Saturday, May 5, starting at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.weisscommunitylibrary.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (715) 634-2161.
Anglers planning trips for the general fishing opener May 5 should check out the 2018 Wisconsin Fishing Report available online, in hard copy at DNR service centers, and in Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. The report contains ‘where to fish’ recommendations from fisheries biologists from around the state and forecasts, by species, from DNR fisheries biologists for waters in their area. The forecasts contain a mixture of recent fish survey results on abundance and size, descriptions of habitat projects, reminders on new rules, and many photos of impressive fish captured (and released) during DNR fisheries assessments. For more information, and to view the 20-page forecast online, search “fishing report” on the DNR website.
Stocking trucks from DNR fish hatcheries are now delivering approximately 740,000 catchable-size trout to inland waters just in time for the May 5 opening day of regular inland trout season. The DNR is stocking more than 275,000 rainbow, 200,000 brown, 215,000 brook, and 50,000 lake trout in more than 400 waters. A complete list of 2018 inland waters receiving catchable trout is available by searching “catchable trout” on the DNR website.
Statewide results from the Monday, April 9, spring fish and wildlife hearing and Conservation Congress meetings are now available on the DNR website. Results by county are also available, as is the 2018 hearing questionnaire. More than 6,800 people participated in the DNR hearings and Conservation Congress county meetings. The DNR uses meeting results, written comments, and DNR recommendations to advise the Natural Resources Board (NRB), which will review results at its May 23 meeting in Madison. For more information, search “spring hearings” on the DNR website.
Spring turkey season begins Wednesday April 18 and runs through May 29, and consists of six, seven-day periods that run from Wednesday through the following Tuesday. Spring turkey hunters should check the DNR website for turkey hunting regulations and other helpful information. Spring season regulations are available in the 2017 Small Game Hunting Regulations, the 2017 Fall Turkey Regulations, and the 2018 Spring Turkey Regulations. For more information, search “turkey” on the DNR website.
Turkey hunters can receive from the DNR a free, personalized certificate to commemorate their first wild turkey harvest or hunting experience. Sign-up is easy and done online in a matter of minutes. After submitting an online form, first-time turkey hunters receive a customized certificate with details of the hunt that includes a photo, location, bird’s weight, beard length, and more. The DNR sends the certificates electronically within a few weeks of submission. For more information, search “first certificates” on the DNR website.
Anglers continue to pursue panfish, but recent weather conditions have not been conducive to being on the ice. This past weekend, snowfall pushing the 20-inch range and very strong winds kept fishing interest to a minimum (if it existed!) and travel conditions on the ice are challenging. Still, anglers who do go out are reporting good success for crappies and bluegills. Most area lakes still have ice depths up to two feet (or more) and the fishing opener is less than three weeks distant. Forecasts say warmer weather is on the way, but this spring’s ice-out could cut it very close, at best.
April 30: Seasons close: Beaver and otter trapping in North Zone.
May 4: Early catch and release trout season closes.
May 5: Frog season opens.
May 5: “Fishing” presentation by Frank Pratt at Weiss Community Library (715-634-2161).
May 26: Muskellunge season opens north of Highway 10.
May 18-19: Fishing Has No Boundaries Hayward Annual Event.
May 23: Fishing Has No Boundaries Kids Day at Nelson Lake.
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs for exceptions).
April 18-24: Period A
April 25-May 1: Period B
May 2-8: Period C
May 9-15: Period D
May 16-22: Period E
May 23-29: Period F