Stocking advances spotted musky reintroduction project

WILD ROSE, WI - Efforts to establish a self-sustaining population of spotted musky in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan waters got a boost this fall when 7,000 musky fingerling averaging 17 inches were stocked into the Fox River, several Green Bay tributaries, Lake Winnebago and three inland lakes.
The fingerlings were raised for a year in cool water ponds at Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery. They now weigh about a pound and average 17 inches in length, although some were pushing 19 and 20 inches.
Department of Natural Resources fish crew members stocked roughly 1,350 fish into the future broodstock lakes of Anderson and Archibald Lakes in Oconto County and Elkhart lake in Sheboygan County, according to Jesse Landwehr, hatchery supervisor. The three inland lakes will serve as the source of brood stock in future years. Beginning in 2019, the DNR tentatively will spawn spotted muskies in an effort to ramp up production in the hatcheries.
Historically, spotted musky were native to Lake Michigan and its tributaries in Wisconsin, but habitat destruction, pollution and over-exploitation during the early to mid-1900s decimated their populations. The DNR, in cooperation with several local musky clubs and the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin, started to reintroduce the Great Lakes strain musky into Green Bay waters of Lake Michigan in 1989.
They stocked fish that were hatched from eggs collected from Michigan waters where spotted musky still are found, and raised them at Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery. Those stockings have helped create a popular fishery in Green Bay with anglers reeling in many 50-plus-inch fish, but the ultimate goal of the project - creating a self-sustaining population - has been elusive.
DNR staff have worked in recent years to diversify the genetic pool in hopes of seeing better natural reproduction. Michigan had been providing 5- to 6-inch fingerlings to Wisconsin hatched from disinfected eggs and Wisconsin has been sending northern Wisconsin musky fingerlings to Michigan in return. Creating broodstock lakes will enable Wisconsin to spawn its own fish.
All the fish going into the three brood lakes were fin-clipped and PIT tagged so the DNR can identify individual fish and their parentage.
"This enables us when we are spawning on the brood stock lakes in the future to maintain genetic diversity," Landwehr says.
For the rest of the fish going into the Green Bay system, 20 percent were tagged and clipped to help local biologists identify individual fish and assess their growth rates.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Lake sturgeon hook and line season opens Sept. 2

MADISON, WI - Anglers interested in pursuing a big, hard-fighting fish will want to try their hand at fishing for lake sturgeon - armed with a stout rod and heavy line.
The hook and line season for lake sturgeon opens Sept. 2 and runs through Sept. 30, on several major river stretches for a fish that can grow to more than 6 feet long and exceed 150 pounds. The world record taken by hook and line was a 170-pound, 10-ounce lake sturgeon pulled from Yellow Lake in Burnett County in 1979.
While anglers can purchase a carcass tag to harvest one fish per season of 60 inches or greater, the growing catch and release opportunities for this fish are what's exciting many anglers, said Lori Tate, a fisheries biologist and member of the Department of Natural Resources sturgeon team.
"There's definitely still an interest in harvesting sturgeon in the state, but we're also seeing anglers enjoy catch and release opportunities for lake sturgeon," Tate said. "Sturgeon fishing opportunities are improving as a result of the more protective length limit we implemented in 2007."
"We're very lucky. I don't think there is any other place in North America where you can fish for lake sturgeon like anglers can in Wisconsin rivers."
Wisconsin offers a hook-and-line season on several major inland waters, including sections of the Chippewa River, Wisconsin River, Flambeau River, Jump River and Yellow River.
All anglers fishing for lake sturgeon must have a valid Wisconsin hook and line fishing license. Anglers need to purchase a harvest tag if they intend to keep a sturgeon. The harvest tag is available throughout the season and costs $20 for residents and $50 for nonresidents. Anglers who harvest a legal-size fish must immediately attach the harvest tag to the fish and take it to a registration station by 6 p.m. the next day for registration.
Find a list of harvest waters, harvest registration stations and instructions for properly tagging a harvested fish on the Lake Sturgeon Hook and Line Season page of the DNR website.
Ryan Koenigs, the fisheries biologist who chairs DNR's sturgeon committee, offers these tips for anglers wanting to fish for lake sturgeon during the hook and line season.
* Use a good sturdy rod and reel and heavy tackle including high pound test line.
* Use a large gob of night crawlers as bait. Cut bait can be effective as well.
* Present the bait along the bottom in either deep holes or areas with swift current, making sure to use an adequate amount of weight to hold the bait in place.
* Try fishing in the tailraces below dams, as fish are drawn to current.
* Use special care after landing the fish if you plan to release it.
* Take any photos or measurements quickly and release it quickly to reduce stress on the fish. If it is a large fish, consider leaving it in the water when taking your photos. Do not tether or tie the sturgeon by the tail to weigh it or lift it by the head as this can damage the fish. If a smaller sturgeon is caught, simply hold the fish under the belly when handling.
The Chippewa River is home to a healthy lake sturgeon population. In 2017, 196 lake sturgeon were captured by the DNR fisheries crew out of the Eau Claire office. The fish ranged from 13 to 67 inches and weighed up to 56 pounds, so there are trophy fish out there to be caught. Last year, eight sturgeon were harvested from the lower Chippewa River and anglers reported catching numerous sub-legal fish. Most anglers use night crawlers or cut bait and fish downstream of the dam or in deep holes of the river. Anglers should be prepared for a hard fighting fish, so a stout rod is needed along with heavy line and a large landing net. - Joseph Gerbyshak, fisheries biologist, Eau Claire, 715-839-2877
Lake Wisconsin, starting above the Prairie du Sac Dam and including the main lake and the Wisconsin River up to the Kilbourn Dam in Wisconsin Dells, holds a lake sturgeon population that is completely self-sustaining. The adult sturgeon population in the lake (those greater than 50 inches) currently sits at around 1,600 individuals, and has remained stable for many years. Although no fish have been harvested from this section of lake/river since 2012, anglers continue to catch and release many fish each hook and line season, with the upper end of the main lake and the segment of river just below the Kilbourn Dam in Wisconsin Dells being two popular places to fish, said Nathan Nye, fisheries biologist in Poynette.
The Wisconsin River below the Prairie du Sac Dam remains a very popular place for sturgeon anglers to fish as well, and all of the sturgeon harvest from the Wisconsin River since 2012 has occurred below the Prairie du Sac Dam, with nearly all of the harvest occurring from the tailrace down to the Highway 12 Bridge at Sauk City. The tailwater adult population is generally between 150 and 200 fish in a given year, and since the 60-inch minimum length limit was instituted for the 2007 fishing season, harvest has averaged around eight fish per year. Typically, more fish are harvested later in the season as adults move up from points further downriver and concentrate in the deeper areas immediately below the dam, said  Nye.
DNR crews sampled 105 adult sturgeon that averaged 55.2 inches and 41.3 lbs in 2017 in the Yellow River. All fish were captured upstream of Yellow Lake in the Yellow River during their spawning migration. The largest fish this season was 72.8 inches and 106 lbs. Yellow Lake anglers traditionally do very well during the September hook/line season and are generally catch and release anglers with very few fish harvested. Harvest last season was four fish and the 2015 season had one fish registered. Overall, anglers can expect to see a good hook and line season with cooler water temperatures going into September, said Craig Roberts, fisheries biologist in Spooner.
The section of the Menominee river upstream from Grand Rapids Dam is open to hook and line with a 60-inch minimum size limit. DNR has stocked the 10 miles of upper Menominee River from Sturgeon Falls Dam to Quiver Falls since 1982. Crews just surveyed the river and caught a fish over 60 inches near the Sturgeon Falls dam. It's the first fish in that size range that has been caught in that section of river. If the public wants to try a new section of the river they could explore that area, said Mike Donofrio, fisheries supervisor in Peshtigo.
Veteran sturgeon anglers as well as newcomers to hook-and-line sturgeon fishing should find plenty of catch-and-release opportunity for sublegal-size fish in the Flambeau and Upper Chippewa rivers, along with an occasional chance to harvest one far exceeding the 60-inch minimum length limit. Of the eight sturgeon harvested from these river segments in the 2016 open season, two were 74 inches long. Popular shore fishing spots include the tailwaters of most hydroelectric dams and the deeper pools in the free-flowing river reaches, though some sturgeon anglers prefer to fish from boats in the impoundments. Some prefer cut bait or prepared stink baits, but many sturgeon anglers use a gob of night crawlers. Fishing is always prohibited in the fish refuges immediately downstream of the Turtle-Flambeau Dam and the Upper Park Falls Dam on the North Fork Flambeau River and below the Arpin Dam on the Chippewa River, said Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist in Park Falls.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

All hands on deck to stop aquatic invasive species

MADISON, WI - Thousands of Wisconsinites will take to the water this fourth-of-July weekend for the state's busiest boating holiday, and many will be greeted at boat landings by volunteers sharing a simple but powerful message: You have the power to protect lakes and rivers from aquatic invasive species.
The weekend will be host to the ninth annual Landing Blitz, a statewide effort to remind boaters and other water lovers to take action to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, which pose great risks to the health of our lakes and fisheries.
"This campaign has become a mainstay of our prevention efforts, since the holiday draws both frequent and infrequent boaters to the water, allowing us to empower a lot of people," saID Bob Wakeman, statewide aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Volunteer inspectors will be on hand at landings around the state from June 30 through July 4 to give demonstrations of the prevention steps or answer questions about invasive species. Their efforts will build on the success of last year's campaign, when volunteers inspected over 14,000 boats and spoke with over 32,000 people.
"One of the most exciting things about this campaign is the strong volunteer effort. Every year hundreds of concerned citizens participate as volunteers to help us raise awareness and empower boaters," Wakeman said.
New this year is a coordinated way for boaters to share the campaign's message. For those who use social media, they can help spread the word about the importance of aquatic invasive species prevention by posting photos and messages using the hashtag #CleanBoatsCleanWaters.
Boaters can also contribute to a crowd sourced Story Map that will showcase their photos and messages about how they protect Wisconsin's waters from aquatic invasive species. Contributions can be made at this link:
Invasive plants and animals, like Eurasian watermilfoil, spiny water fleas and zebra mussels, can spread easily by hitching a ride on boats and other equipment, including trailers, anchors, livewells, buckets and bilges. But boaters can also easily prevent this by taking the following simple steps before they leave a boat landing:
* Inspect your boat, trailer and equipment.
* Remove all attached plants or animals.
* Drain all water from boats, motors, livewells and other equipment.
* Never move live fish away from a water body.
* Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
* Buy minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer, and use leftover minnows only if you will be using them on that same water body or if no lake or river water or other fish have been added to the container.
Following these steps also helps boaters comply with Wisconsin state law, which prohibits the transport of aquatic invasive species.
To learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin's waters and economy, visit and search "invasive species."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Sparta's Gann wins BFL tourney in La Crosse

Brandon Gann of Sparta, WI, captured first place in the Bass Fishing League Tournament in La Crosse, WI, on Saturday.
Despite high water from Wednesday 6-7 inches of rain in the Coulee Region, Gann weighed in the heaviest catch in the Pro Division with three fish weighing 10 pounds, 14 ounces. Gann pocketed $5,401.
Ettrick's Kevin Kevin Anderson won the Co-Angler Division with three bass totaling 10-4 for $2,436.


1. BRANDON GANN, SPARTA, WI 10-14 (3) $5,401
2. TODD HANCOCK    , ROTHSCHILD, WI 10-13 (3) $2,670
3. MIKE FELDERMANN, GALENA, IL 10-7 (3) $1,514
4. BOB BUNGARD, HOLMEN, WI 10-0 (3) $1,060
5. FERNANDO LOBATO, SPARTA, WI 9-15 (3) $908
6. JASON SKUTT, MENOMONIE, WI 9-14 (3) $833
7. TOM HOWLAND, RICEVILLE, IA 9-11 (3) $757
8. TOM MONSOOR, LA CROSSE, WI 9-9 (3) $681
9. KYLE MEYER, BLAINE, MN 9-5 (3) $537

1. KEVIN ANDERSON, ETTRICK, WI 10-4 (3) $2,435
2. DONALD ROSCOVIUS, TOMAH, WI 9-11 (3) $1,235
4. NICK GIFFORD, CAMERON, WI 9-2 (3) $530
5. TONG LOR, LA CROSSE, WI 8-13 (3) $454
6. CRAIG FANNING, ELWOOD, IL 8-10 (3) $416
9. CODY HACKETT, STODDARD, WI 8-0 (3) $334

Get hooked on fun over July 4th holiday

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin's $5 first-time buyer resident fishing license or a reduced price one-day fishing license may be just the ticket for fun for family, friends and visitors getting together for the coming July 4th holiday, state fisheries official say.
"Wisconsin fishing licenses are always a great value and these introductory licenses make it even easier to get your family, friends and visitors out on the water to give fishing a try," said Justine Hasz, Wisconsin's fisheries director.
A $5 first-time buyer's license is available for Wisconsin residents who have never purchased a fishing license before or who haven't purchased a Wisconsin fishing license in at least 10 years. Nonresident first-time licenses are $25.75. This license is good for the entire fishing year, which runs through March 31, 2018.
A one-day fishing license costs $8 for residents and $10 for nonresidents. The purchase price of that one-day license can be credited toward purchase of an annual license.
Wisconsin residents and nonresidents 15 and under always fish free in Wisconsin, as do residents born before Jan. 1, 1927. Wisconsin resident members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty and on furlough or leave may obtain a free fishing/small game license at any license agent by providing proof of active service and presenting their furlough/leave papers.
People 16 to 89 years old need a fishing license to fish in any waters of the state and Wisconsin has a variety of licenses to suit all needs, including the one-day and first-time buyer's license. If a person is eligible for the first-time buyer's license, that license will be the first listing on his or her computer screen after logging into GO WILD, and it's also what the license agent will see when an eligible buyer comes in seeking to purchase a license.
People can buy fishing licenses in two convenient ways: over the Internet through GO WILD or at any authorized license agent.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Mille Lacs walleye fishing closed from July 7-27

Mille Lacs Lake walleye fishing will be closed July 7-27, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural of Resources.
Fishing for all other species, including bass, is open. Mille Lacs was recently named the No. 1 lake for bass fishing in the nation by Bassmaster.
With the ban on night fishing already in place for the season, walleye fishing on the lake effectively closes at 10:01 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, and re-opens at 6:01 a.m. on Friday, July 28.
The walleye fishing closure is to prevent fish from dying after being caught and released.
“Conserving the Mille Lacs walleye fishery is a top priority for the DNR and the closure is happening when fish are most vulnerable to stress from warm water and high fishing pressure,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief.
The tendency for caught fish to die after being released is called hooking mortality, which increases as water temperatures warm.
The decision to close walleye fishing in July was first announced in March. The closure is expected to help extend the fishing season through Labor Day.
During the period walleye fishing is closed, anglers can fish for all other species in the lake including bass, muskellunge and northern pike. When fishing for other species, only artificial baits and lures are allowed in possession, except anglers targeting northern pike or muskie may fish with sucker minnows longer than 8 inches.
A ban on night fishing remains in place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Nov. 30. However, anglers can fish for muskie and northern pike at night, but can only use artificial lures longer than 8 inches 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.
Following the July walleye closure, anglers can catch and release walleye through Labor Day. Walleye fishing will then be closed from Tuesday, Sept. 5, through Thursday, Nov. 30.
More information about Mille Lacs, including progress toward the level of walleye that can be safely harvested in 2017, ongoing DNR management and research, and area opportunities is available on the DNR website at

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

4 anglers set Wisconsin catch and release records

MADISON, WI - Four Wisconsin anglers have reeled in their place in fishing history by establishing the first state records for fish caught and released live.
Rod Eberly of Appleton submitted the first ever application under the new live release state record fish program launched earlier this year by the Department of Natural Resources. Eberly's historic catch was a 17.75-inch white bass caught and released May 8 from the Fox River in Brown County.
Eric Amenda from Germantown caught and released an 8.25-inch pumpkinseed sunfish on May 28 from Pleasant Lake in Waushara County.
Dennis Wilkerson of Twin Lakes caught and released a 10.5-inch rock bass on June 10 from Powers Lake in Kenosha County.
Ben Halfen of Prairie du Sac caught and released a 10.5-inch bluegill on June 16 from Reynard Lake in Bayfield County, establishing the first live release state record for bluegill.
"We've heard from anglers over the years that they wanted an opportunity to get recognized for catching and releasing trophy fish, so we're happy to say we have our first live release records on the books and look forward to many more," said Justine Hasz, DNR fisheries director.
DNR recognizes live release records by length for specific fish species meeting qualifying lengths. The angler is required to submit an official record application and photos showing the fish beside a ruler or other measuring device, and with the angler. The photos and application are reviewed and certified by DNR fish biologists. New live release records must exceed the existing record by at least 1/4 inch.
The new live release records program is part of a larger effort to promote quality fishing and encourage the careful release of trophy-size popular sport species. Similar efforts have found success in other states and among some national record-keeping organizations.
Anglers in the traditional state fish record categories landed six new records - and some even better fish tales - in the first half of 2017. The DNR recognizes anglers who have legally taken the largest fish on record by hook and line, as well as those fish that have been taken by alternate methods including spearing or bowfishing.
Among the record setters is a pair of brothers, a Madison teenager who set his second state fish record after a frenetic race for the golden shiner record in 2011, and a Denmark angler who broke his own record. Traditional categories are determined by fish weight, with anglers needed to have the fish weighed on a certified scale. DNR recognizes anglers who have legally taken the largest fish on record by hook and line, as well as those fish that have been taken by alternate methods including spearing or bowfishing.
Tanner Derusha of Odanah submitted the initial record for a 10.5-inch, 5-ounce rainbow smelt caught on March 5 from Chequamegon Bay in Ashland County.
Brad Geisthardt of Germantown bettered the existing common shiner record with an 8-inch, 4 ounce fish caught on April 23 from the Mukwonago River in Waukesha County.
Keeping it in the Geisthardt family, brother Eric of Milwaukee set the initial record for an alewife with an 8 1/8-inch, 2.4 oz. fish caught May 19 from Lake Michigan in Milwaukee County.
MaxField JonasKrueger of Madison notched his second state fish record with the 19-inch, 2-pound 13.4 ounce golden redhorse he caught May 29 from the Rock River in Jefferson County. As a 13-year-old, JonasKrueger a new record for golden shiner with a 9.75-inch, 4.8 ounce fish from Fowler Lake in Waukesha County. His record was eclipsed 10 days later, and then that record was broken again in successive days a month later by a Watertown woman and then by her fiance.
Xavier Vang of Milwaukee erased an almost 20-year shovelnose sturgeon record with a 37.5- inch, 7-pound, 13.1 ounce fish caught May 28 from the Mississippi River in Vernon County.
Shawn Schmidt of Denmark bettered his own record with a 9.5-inch, 13-ounce pumpkinseed speared on May 13 from Silver Lake in Washington County.
For more information on state record fish and the process anglers should take if they have caught a fish that might be a state record by weight or under the new live release program, visit and search "record fish."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR