Deep snow, cold winters increase instances of fish kills
Cold winters with abundant snowfall can lead to fish die-offs and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has already taken reports of this process, known as winterkill, occurring in lakes near Brainerd, Hinckley and the Twin Cities area. “While seeing lots of dead fish can be disconcerting, we remind people that winterkill is normal and happens every year to some extent,” said Neil Vanderbosch, DNR fisheries program consultant. Once a lake is capped with ice, the amount of dissolved oxygen present in a lake depends on how much oxygen is produced by aquatic plants. Winterkill occurs when snow and ice limit the amount of sunlight reaching aquatic plants. Without adequate sunlight, plants produce less oxygen. If vegetation dies from lack of sunlight, plants start to decompose, a process that further depletes oxygen dissolved in the water. Trout species require high dissolved oxygen levels and may begin dying off when a lake’s dissolved oxygen falls below 5 parts per million (ppm). Bluegill and largemouth bass are also sensitive to low oxygen levels. Walleye, yellow perch, northern pike, carp and crappie can tolerate dissolved oxygen levels as low as 2 ppm. Winterkill rarely results in the death of all fish in a lake, but lakes with frequent winterkill events tend to be dominated by bullheads. Winterkill can have some benefits. In lakes with overabundant panfish, occasional winterkill can increase growth rates of fish that survive. Winterkill can also greatly reduce carp abundance, which leads to increased water quality and more successful stocking efforts. People who see numerous dead fish after the ice melts should report their observations to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency at 800-422-0798.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR
West Salem's Hammes receives honor on 2018 Bassmaster High School All-State Fishing Team
BIRMINGHAM, AL - Mitchell Hammes of West Salem, WI, was named to the 2018 Bassmaster High School All-State Fishing Team presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The students were selected for the honor based on their success in bass tournament competition, academic achievement and leadership in conservation and community service. “We’re proud to be investing in the next generation of anglers with the Bassmaster High School All-American program,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “This project highlights the best young anglers in the nation, and the resumes of the students nominated for All-State and All-American honors proves just how valuable this generation will be to sportfishing.” To be considered for the All-State Fishing Team, a student must have been nominated by a parent, coach, teacher or other school official. Students currently enrolled in grades 10-12 with a current-year grade point average of 2.5 or higher were eligible. B.A.S.S. received more than 465 nominations from across the nation, a more than 100 percent increase since the inception of the program. From these, judges selected 64 student anglers from 38 states to make the All-State Fishing Team. Fifty-six students were also chosen as Honorable Mentions — recognized for their tournament success as well as community service and academic achievement. “Our All-State team is such a strong group of anglers who have tremendous fishing accomplishments, as well as extensive conservation and community service, and academic achievements,” said Hank Weldon, senior manager of the B.A.S.S. High School program. “We are extremely honored to see this program flourish, and we congratulate these student anglers on their success on and off the water.” A second panel of judges will review nominations of the 64 All-State team members and select the 12 members of the 2018 Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. As in All-State judging, criteria include success in high school fishing tournaments, involvement in conservation efforts and other community service activities. The 12 finalists will compete in a one-day Bassmaster All-American High School Bass Tournament held during the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department event, a fan-favorite festival that will be held May 17-20 on Lake Travis out of Jonestown, TX. Elite Series anglers will serve as teammates and coaches of the student anglers in the tournament. The high school standouts will be honored on the main Texas Fest stage at the weigh-in.
Wisconsin and Minnesota anglers honored were: WISCONSIN Bailey Bleser, Burlington Tyler Cory, Amherst Jacob Bigelow, Cecil - Honorable Mention Mitchell Hammes, West Salem - Honorable Mention MINNESOTA Ben Provost, Prior Lake Mason Raveling, Prior Lake Tyler Fitzner, Farmington - Honorable Mention Solomon Glenn, Lakeville - Honorable Mention Jared Haugen, Plainview - Honorable Mention Jack Mulholland, Elgin - Honorable Mention
DNR to change trout stocking in Lake Superior
To protect Lake Superior’s naturalized rainbow trout population, genetically screened steelhead-strain fish, originating from wild runs in the big lake itself, will replace the hatchery-raised Kamloops trout strain the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources now stocks to bolster fishing opportunities near Duluth. New advances in genetic testing confirm Kamloops interbreed with wild rainbow trout. When that happens, fewer young survive and the overall steelhead population is reduced. The change from Kamloops to stocking wild-sourced steelhead lets fisheries managers improve fishing opportunities on area streams while continuing the rehabilitation of the wild fish population. “We have worked hard to develop a solution that respects what our diverse group of rainbow trout anglers have told us is important to them – harvest opportunities in both the stream and the boat fishery, as well as high quality catch-and-release opportunities for wild steelhead,” said Cory Goldsworthy, the DNR’s Lake Superior area fisheries supervisor. Since 1976, the DNR has stocked the Kamloops strain of rainbow trout in Lake Superior’s waters near Duluth. Stocking increased angler opportunity and reduced harvest pressure on wild steelhead. The action helped Lake Superior’s wild rainbow trout recover from the detrimental effects of invasive sea lampreys and overfishing. Despite only localized stocking, the stocked Kamloops genetics have shown up in samples taken from many North Shore streams, the Wisconsin Bois Brule River and Michigan waters of Lake Superior. “These discoveries confirm that interbreeding is widespread well beyond Minnesota waters,” Goldsworthy said. “It would be irresponsible for the Minnesota DNR to keep stocking these fish that research has shown negatively impact Lake Superior’s steelhead population.” Numerous genetic studies on the North Shore all point toward the negative impacts of interbreeding on wild steelhead populations, but DNR researchers were never able to confirm genetic interbreeding in the wild even with genetics work done as recently as the 1990s. “With new tools, we now know without question that we can’t have a goal to rehabilitate wild steelhead populations while at the same time stock the Kamloops strain for harvest,” Goldsworthy said. The steelhead the DNR stocks will have an adipose fin clipped off, just like Kamloops did. That process, which doesn’t harm the fish, allows anglers to easily determine what can be harvested. Unclipped, wild steelhead will continue to remain catch-and-release only – as they have been since 1997. Because of this, the stocking change means anglers will see the same harvest regulations. The 1995, 2006 and recently revised 2016 fisheries management plans for the Minnesota waters of Lake Superior all discuss the need for continued monitoring for interbreeding between Kamloops and wild steelhead as well as re-evaluation of using the Kamloops strain should interbreeding be confirmed. More information about the Lake Superior fishery, including the 2016 Fisheries Management Plan for the Minnesota Waters of Lake Superior can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/areas/fisheries/lakesuperior.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR
Anglers can fish year-round for Lake Michigan lake trout
MADISON, WI - The lake trout fishing season on Lake Michigan is now open year-round and the bag limit is five fish per day under rules effective March 17, 2018. The five-bag limit and continuous open season make regulations for lake trout consistent with season structure and bag limits for other Lake Michigan trout and salmon, according to Brad Eggold, Great Lakes district fisheries supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The rules, adopted Feb. 28, by the state Natural Resources Board and effective upon publication March 17, seek to allow increased sport harvest opportunities for lake trout and maintain a sustainable population while pursuing restoration goals. The increased bag limit reflects enhanced lake trout populations in certain areas of Lake Michigan and responds to anglers' repeated requests to allow increased fishing opportunities for lake trout. Anglers made the requests over the course of 2016 and 2017 during DNR's extensive stakeholder outreach and engagement to help determine the fish stocking plan for Lake Michigan trout and salmon from 2018-2020. The rule establishes a sunset clause in 2021 reverting the season framework back to a two-fish bag limit with fishing allowed from March 1, through Oct. 31. However, that sunset provision will be repealed through additional rule-making if harvest information continues to show that a sustainable fishery can be maintained with the five-fish bag limit, Eggold said. For more information regarding lake trout fishing on Lake Michigan, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "fishing Lake Michigan."
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Public meetings scheduled for state walleye pike management plan
OSHKOSH, WI - The Department of Natural Resources has scheduled three public meetings on a proposed update to the Winnebago Walleye Management Plan. The meetings will also offer the public an update on the status of the Winnebago System walleye population. Each meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with the first occurring Monday, March 19, at the JP Coughlin Center, 625 E. County Road Y, Oshkosh. The second public meeting is set for Wednesday, March 21, at the Engler Center for the Performing Arts, 530 W. Main St., Chilton, and the third is set for Wednesday, March 28, at the Mosquito Hill Nature Center, N3880 Rogers Road, New London. The Winnebago system is well known both for its healthy, self-sustaining walleye population and the decades-long history of public input in support of fisheries management. This is the first major update to the plan since it originated in 1991. Winnebago System waters include lakes Poygan, Winneconne, Butte des Morts and Winnebago and all their tributaries, including the Wolf and upper Fox rivers, from their mouths upstream to the first dam.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Catch-and-release summer walleye season set for Lake Mille Lacs
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today announced plans for the 2018 walleye fishing season on Lake Mille Lacs that seek to maximize fishing opportunities for anglers while protecting the health and sustainability of Mille Lacs’ improving walleye population. When anglers hit the water on Mille Lacs for the fishing opener on Saturday, May 12, catch-and-release only regulations will again be in effect. The lake’s spawning walleye population has improved from last year, so no mid-season closures are planned. Similar to prior years, night closure for the 2018 walleye fishing season will be in effect on Mille Lacs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Monday, May 14. The night walleye closure remains in effect throughout the entire open-water season, which ends Nov. 30. The catch-and-release summer season and night walleye closure are part of the DNR’s continued strategic efforts to understand and improve the walleye population in Lake Mille Lacs. The population has undergone a decline over the past two decades that has coincided with significant aquatic system changes including increased water clarity and decreased walleye productivity; the introduction of zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny water fleas; a changing zooplankton community that may be altering the aquatic food web; and declines in certain forage species, including tullibee. “Improving the walleye population on Mille Lacs is a top priority for the DNR,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “We want to see as much walleye fishing on Mille Lacs as possible this year. Anglers have had a very good winter walleye season on the lake and we will be able to continue that trend into the open-water season with no mid-season closure planned.” DNR Fisheries Chief Don Pereira said DNR analyses as well as external review indicate that the walleye spawning stock has increased significantly in Mille Lacs and the lake can support a larger safe harvest level of walleye in 2018, as long as a catch-and-release rule is in place. “Implementing a catch-and-release policy this season is important not only for the sustainable growth of Mille Lacs’ walleye population, but for area anglers, businesses and Mille Lacs area communities,” Pereira said. “We want anglers to get out and enjoy the abundant fishing opportunities on Mille Lacs.” Pereira added that a catch-and-release season should also allow the state to account for a portion of the excess walleye kill in 2016 and 2017. With catch-and-release measures in place this summer, some of the fish caught and returned to the water may die, a condition known as hooking mortality. The likelihood of fish suffering hooking mortality increases as water temperatures warm. Fish that die as a result of hooking mortality are counted against the state’s harvest allocation.
State and tribal allocations The state of Minnesota and Chippewa bands that cooperatively manage Lake Mille Lacs have yet to set the safe harvest level for 2018 and discussions are ongoing. These discussions follow the process outlined in protocols and stipulations arising from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1999 to uphold the bands’ treaty rights.
Seeking new solutions to improve and sustain walleye fishery In June 2017, the DNR announced that a new external review team of scientists would take a fresh look at Lake Mille Lacs walleye fishery. Led by walleye expert Dr. Chris Vandergoot of the U.S. Geological Survey, this review showed that the DNR’s survey methods met or exceeded accepted best practices, and that interpretations of changes in the lake are correct. A summary of the team’s conclusions and recommendations will be available later this year. DNR staff are currently exploring the feasibility of implementing some of these recommendations.
Bass, northern and muskellunge regulations In addition to walleye, the DNR encourages all Minnesotans to visit Lake Mille Lacs to fish the other abundant species that the lake has to offer. The lake is nationally recognized as one of the nation’s top smallmouth bass and muskellunge fisheries. In 2017, Mille Lacs was named the number one bass fishing lake in the nation by Bassmaster Magazine. The lake hosted the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship in 2016 and 2017. Bass season opens Saturday, May 12, but is catch-and-release only through Friday, May 25. Beginning on Saturday, May 26, Mille Lacs’ bag limit will be four bass per angler. All smallmouth and largemouth bass between 17 and 21 inches must be immediately released. Anglers may keep only one bass over 21 inches. Lake Mille Lacs has special regulations that exempt it from the new statewide northern pike zone regulations. The northern pike season opens May 12 and anglers may keep up to five fish. All pike between 30 and 40 inches must be immediately released. Only one northern over 40 inches may be included in the bag limit of five. For muskellunge, the season opens on Saturday, June 2, with the statewide rules of a one fish bag and a minimum length of 54 inches. Beginning June 2, anglers may fish for muskellunge and northern pike at night, but may only possess and use artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. Bowfishing for rough fish also is allowed at night, but possession of angling equipment is not allowed and only rough fish may be in possession. More information about fishing on Lake Mille Lacs, ongoing DNR management and research, and Mille Lacs area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR
Monsoor wins $10,000 in chilly FLW Qualifier
Tom Monsoor of La Crosse cashed in for the first time on the FLW Tour this season. Monsoor finished 59th in the FLW Tour Qualifier on Lake Lanier in Gainesville GA, on Friday. His 25-pound, 14-ounce total was just enough to get him a $10,000 check. "Finally... I got a check," he said. "And I just made it, too." Only the top 60 finishers earn paychecks in each of the seven qualifiers featuring 184 of the world's top professionals. The 31st through 60th finishers in the Pro Division earn $10,000 each, while the top 30 advance to Saturday's final round with a chance to win more. Sunday's field is reduced to the top 10 anglers with more than $100,000 going to the winner. Monsoor said the weather remains cold in Georgia with temperatures in the 40s. However, it was below freezing for the Friday morning takeoff. "I had ice in my reel guide the first couple of hours, it was that cold," he said. "It was freezing, but within the first couple hours I had a limit. Thursday it took me until about 10 or 11 to catch a limit." Monsoor caught his limit both days, with 12-12 on Thursday and 13-2 on Friday. All 10 fish were spotted bass. His 25-14 total weight was 2 ounces more that 61st place. It was by far Monsoor's best finish this year. He finished in 73rd place in the tour opener in January. However, he slumped to 155th in the second event in February. Monsoor's girlfriend, Karen Savik of Minnetonka, MN, earned $1,000 competing in the Co-Angler Division, which is only a two-day event. Savik caught four fish weighing 9-12 on Thursday, then caught three on Friday (9-13) for a 19-9 total and 35th place finish. Both Monsoor's fish and Savik's fish were all caught on Monsoor's patented white swimming jig. "That's the only swim jigs we'd use, and we went through enough of them," he said. "We took about two dozen with us and we only have two left. "You just lose so many on rocks and brushpiles," he added. So, guess what Monsoor will be doing when he returns to La Crosse Sunday morning? As for Saturday's plans, Monsoor and Savik and his yellow lab, Jigs, were headed out fishing on Lake Lanier one more time before packing up and heading north.