Sleep in and don't skip the figure 8!

LA CROSSE, WI - Jordan Weeks has been fishing muskellunge in Wisconsin for a quarter-century and working in fisheries management for the state since 1999.
Based in La Crosse, he shares his secrets to success in landing the state's official fish as anglers ready for the Saturday, May 26, opening of the northern musky zone.

Get ready for the chase
"Spring has finally arrived and soon catching muskellunge will be on the minds of Northern Wisconsin anglers. The northern zone season opens on Saturday, May 26, this year and fishing should be good!
Wisconsin is home to superb and diverse musky fishing opportunities. There are more than 600 lakes and countless rivers and flowages that hold the toothy predators. Whether from shore, boat, canoe or other craft, there are fish to be had.
The famed "fish of 10,000 casts doesn't have to be a reality if you follow a few tips.

Water temperature drives fish activity
Each spring when water temperatures reach 55 degrees muskies spawn. In the northern zone, this usually happens well before the season is open. This year, however, is a bit different. Late ice out and cooler than normal weather this spring have delayed the spawning time for muskellunge. Muskies tend to spawn in shallow warm water over varying bottom types. After they have finished with the annual spawning ritual, these fish quickly begin to feed. This is a great time to be chasing them.
Step 1: Find the warmest water in the lake. If vegetation in these areas is beginning to grow and green up, you have found a winner. If the lake you fish has little vegetation, no worry, look in shallow bays and south facing shorelines, which tend to warm quickest in the spring. Bays tend to be great locations to find muskies in the spring as are large weedy flats adjacent to those bays. Dams tend to congregate fish at this time of year as well. However, make sure to keep safety in mind when fishing these areas.
Step 2: Assess the day. If the weather has been consistently warm and stays that way, fish fast. Covering water quickly with a small bucktail, soft plastic, or minnow bait can yield favorable results. If the water is over 55 you can even try top-water. If the weather turns bad and is cold you may need to slow your approach and use more deliberate lures like gliders, jerk baits and soft plastics.
Step 3: Repeat. If you catch a fish or get a follow, try to repeat the success. Muskies (contrary to popular belief) are not loners. Often many fish will be using the same area. When you find an active fish, chances are there will be more of them around. It is very important to do a figure 8 on every cast. Following fish can be convinced to bite with a well-executed figure 8! Do one every cast!
In spring, warmth is a musky angler's best friend. As water temperatures increase, the fish activity level increases. Fishing during the warmest part of the day can be very productive. No need to get up bright and early. The second half of the day tends to be the most productive for me.

Gear
If you choose to chase muskies, make sure you have the appropriate gear. At a minimum, have heavy bass gear. Ideally though, traditional musky rods in heavy actions are desired. Reels should be robust and line should be at least 65-pound test to handle the fish and throw the large lures effectively. Tied to the terminal end of the line should be a high-quality steel or fluorocarbon leader.
The easiest way to successfully land a musky is to use a large net. Make sure to leave the fish in the water once collected in that net. It keeps the fish from being injured during hook extraction. No one wants a hook-filled muskellunge flopping around the bottom of the boat! Speaking of unhooking a giant toothy fish...you'll need some plyers to help you dislodge the hooks from the jaw (long-handled needle-nose is best). I also use gloves to protect my hands during this process; any thin glove will do.

Lures
When conditions are good and I am fishing fast, I like buck tails, angry dragons, shallow toads and minnow baits. The only top-water I throw early is a Dr. Evil. If fish are sluggish and slow, I use 6-inch rubber-tailed gliders and weighted jerk baits.
Follow these guidelines and the fish of 10,000 casts can be a reality, quicker than you think!

Where to go
While many musky anglers have their go-to waters, DNR's musky forecast in the 2018 Wisconsin Fishing Report can point anglers to good waters to try.
The Wisconsin Muskellunge Waters list of musky waters can also help anglers cast a wider net.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


100 miles of improved trout habitat added to online Trout Tool

MADISON - More than 400 projects improving trout habitat on more than 100 miles of streams are now easier for inland anglers to find and fish.
The project locations and details have been added to the Department of Natural Resources' online T.R.O.U.T. tool, giving anglers a ready resource to help guide them to stream segments where fish populations and angler access are benefiting from the projects, says Joanna Griffin, Department of Natural Resources trout team coordinator.
"These projects occur on trout streams all over the state in inland brook trout and brown trout streams and Lake Superior tributaries," she says. "They would not have been possible without the help and support from our partners."
Griffin says the projects were conducted from 2011 through 2016 and range from brush removal and access to maintenance and larger in-stream habitat improvements. Much of the work is funded through trout stamp revenues. Anglers fishing inland waters for trout are required to buy a $10 inland trout stamp and the resulting revenues are used to support trout habitat improvement and habitat maintenance projects, and trout population surveys.
Increasingly, fishing clubs, other conservation groups and federal, tribal and local entities are playing a bigger role in providing funding and labor. These examples illustrate the importance of these partnerships for fish and anglers, Griffin says:
DNR staff and multiple partners teamed up in 2015-6 to improve fishing access and wild brown and brook trout populations on the Upper Kinnickinnic River. Their efforts resulted in 1,572 feet of riprap along two banks, nine lunker covers installed, one riffle, one plunge pool, 17 root wads installed, and two cattle crossings upgraded.
Trout stamp revenues and fisheries land funds covered about one-third of the cost. Other partners contributing funds included the St. Croix Conservation Fund, Fairmount Santrol, Friends of Wisconsin Trout Unlimited, Patagonia, Embrace A Stream, Carpicide Tournament, and Kiap-TU-Wish chapter of Trout Unlimited. Partners contributed more than 1,200 volunteer hours cutting and burning trees, removing fence, building lunkers and seeding and mulching. Surveys after project completion showed the fish numbers more than doubled in the section with habitat work.
Phase II of the Fall Creek trout habitat improvement project was completed downstream of County Highway T in Pepin County in fall 2017, stabilizing more than 1,700 feet of bank and adding trout habitat including root wads, plunge pools, boulder clusters and riffles. Financial support for this project was provided by Pepin County, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rock Falls Sportsman's Club, Durand Sportsman's Club, Clear Waters Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Xcel Energy. Fisheries biologists expect a similar boost in trout populations to what habitat improvement work immediately upstream yielded: recent survey data found a five-fold increase in brook trout over 8 inches long.
A stretch of Buckhorn Creek in Sawyer County that was the bed of an old beaver pond has been transformed, thanks to the efforts of DNR staff, the Wild River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Lac Courte Oreilles Youth Conservation Corps. The bed of the beaver dam was removed, brush bundles were used to re-channelize the stream and scour out the 6-10 inches of muck that had been covering the old stream bed. Now, native brook trout are moving back into the area and are successfully spawning.
Such partnerships and anglers' purchase of trout stamps have paid off over the years. Habitat improvements have played an important role in increasing angler opportunities and the mileage of Class 1 trout streams from 3,536 miles in 1980 to more than 5,000 today.
To access the online tool, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "trout."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Walleye egg take successful despite squeeze of late ice-out

This spring’s late ice-out meant a shorter window of time for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to take walleye eggs for annual fish stocking, but despite a two-week late start the agency collected enough eggs to meet stocking goals.
“Our crews put in some extra-long days to handle the high numbers of fish this year,” said Chris Kavanaugh, northeast region fisheries manager. “Their work will benefit anglers who fish many of the more than 1,000 lakes stocked with walleyes by DNR.”
This year’s 10 egg-take operations met their goal of collecting 4,100 quarts of eggs. With each quart containing an estimated 120,000 eggs, that’s about 492 million walleye eggs and is comparable to the average taken in past years. The DNR operates the largest walleye hatchery operation in the United States, and stocks 1,050 managed lakes on a rotating schedule that is prescribed by individual lake management plans. After taking eggs and fertilizing them with walleye milt, the eggs are taken to hatcheries where they take about three weeks to hatch in specialized jars. Two-thirds of the fry are stocked directly into lakes within a few days of hatching. Roughly one-third of the fry hatched each year by the DNR are kept in rearing ponds throughout the summer and are stocked as fingerlings in the fall. It takes 3 to 4 years for a walleye to reach keeper size in Minnesota – about 14 to 15 inches.
A vast majority of the walleye caught by Minnesota anglers come from waters where the fish reproduce naturally – about 260 larger walleye lakes and in large rivers. But because of stocking, walleye can be found in an additional 1,050 Minnesota lakes spread throughout the state. This year’s walleye fishing season opens Saturday, May 12.
“Without good water quality, natural habitat and a healthy prey base, even aggressive stocking measures won’t improve walleye fishing on a lake that can’t support it,” Kavanaugh said.
In this season of egg-take operations Cut Foot Sioux near Deer River and Pike River near Tower experienced large numbers of fish in the traps after the first day and both operations were able to meet their goals in three days instead of the normal 6 to 8 days.
Spawning is a naturally stressful activity for fish. Egg take operations are staffed 24 hours a day so dissolved oxygen levels in the water and crowding can be monitored to minimize fish losses.
Fish spawning is triggered by day length and water temperature. The Pike River site has dark water that warms more quickly when the sun shines. Once the ice went out, water temperatures rose and the fish responded very quickly.
This year’s late ice-out could offer a silver lining for future fish numbers and anglers. Later ice-outs followed by consistently rising daily temperatures can be beneficial to developing a strong year class of walleyes. Consistently warming temperatures help create a surge in the zooplankton that provide an important food source for newly hatched fish.
The DNR’s fish hatchery operations are primarily funded by the Game and Fish Fund through fishing license revenues. Anglers can further support walleye management activities by purchasing a walleye stamp when they purchase a fishing license. They and fishing licenses are available for purchase at mndnr.gov/buyalicense.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


La Crosse bass pro bows out early in FLW Qualifier

GILBERTSVILLE, KY - Mark Rose and Tom Monsoor went in opposite directions on Friday.
Rose, from West Memphis, AR, and Monsoor, from La Crosse, shared 64th place after the first round of the FLW Tour Qualifier in Gilbertsville, KY, on Thursday.
Friday was a different story. Rose, the point standings leader with 878 points entering this week’s event, qualified for the semifinal round. Monsoor, in 84th place with 568 points entering this week's FLW Tour Qualifier, fell to 82nd place, failing to make the cut again. Monsoor has made only two cuts in the six tournaments thus far with one remaining. However, he has collected $18,800 in those two tournaments raising his total to almost $900,000 in 15 years on the FLW Tour circuit.
Monsoor caught four fish totaling 12 pounds, 5 ounces on Thursday. However, he managed only four fish weighing 9-4 on Friday for a 21-9 total.
Rose had four bass totaling 12-5 on Thursday, but reeled in five weighing 17-15 on Friday for a 30-4, two-day total.
Randy Haines of Ripley, MS, maintained his lead with 46-2 (26-3, and 19-15).

DNR considering changes to walleye regulations on Leech Lake

A proposal to allow anglers on Leech Lake in northwestern Minnesota more opportunity to keep walleye starting in 2019 will be up for consideration by the Department of Natural Resources.
“We’ve met or exceeded all of our walleye management objectives on Leech Lake in large part due to very consistent production of young walleyes over the past 10 years,” said Doug Schultz, DNR area fisheries supervisor. “For this reason we will be discussing potential relaxation of walleye regulations and asking for public comments on a proposal immediately after our fall survey work wraps up this September.”
Anglers will see yellow signs at public water accesses around Leech Lake on opening day, Saturday, May 12, notifying the public of the upcoming proposal. Details about a formal public comment period during the fall and ways to provide comment to the DNR on the proposal will be provided in the future.
The current regulation requires immediate release of all walleye 20 to 26 inches long with a possession limit of four fish, one of which can be longer than 26 inches. Any potential change would be effective for the 2019 fishing season, and such a change may be temporary based on future assessments of the fishery.
For more information on Leech Lake management go to mndnr.gov/leechlake/index.html.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


La Crosse's Monsoor hopes to continue move up FLW ladder

GILBERTSVILLE, KY - La Crosse's Tom Monsoor tries to move up in the standings on the FLW Tour again this week.
The veteran La Crosse bass pro was in 100th place with 427 points entering FLW Tour Qualifier in Jasper, AL, in late April. Monsoor finished in 60th place and won $8,800. He is now in 84th place with 568 points entering this week's FLW Tour Qualifier in Gilbertsville, KY.
Mark Rose of West Memphis, AR, is atop the standings with 878 points.
Monsoor finished 59th in the FLW Tour Qualifier on Lake Lanier in Gainesville GA, on March 8, earning $10,000. His other finishes this season were 91st, 155th and 73rd.
Monsoor has won close to $900,000 in 15 years on the FLW circuit.
The tournament field, consisting of 186 top pros from around the world, plus another 186 co-anglers fish Thursday and Friday with the winner of the Co-Angler Division crowned late Friday. The pro field is cut to the top 30 for Saturday's semifinal round with the top 10 pros advancing to Sunday's championship round finale.

Minnesota's fishing opener: What people need to know

The tradition of fishing opener in Minnesota centers around roughly half a million anglers going fishing the day the season opens for walleye, sauger, northern pike and trout in lakes – this year on Saturday, May 12. Here are some reminders for the 2018 fishing opener.
Take a mom fishing
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 13, and fishing opener weekend doubles as Take a Mom Fishing Weekend. Mothers who are residents of Minnesota can fish without a license from Saturday, May 12, to Sunday, May 13. Fishing is allowed only for species that have open fishing seasons.
Wear a life jacket
Cold water kills. Anglers are reminded to not just bring it – wear a life jacket. It’s the one action most likely to help in surviving a fall into cold water. Thirty percent of boating fatalities take place in cold water defined as generally below 70 degrees. In spring, this is typically from ice-out until early summer. The cold water shock “gasp reflex” can incapacitate even the strongest swimmer if they aren’t wearing a life jacket. A life jacket gives you a fighting chance in cold water.
To keep pike, measure first
New regulations will be in effect for catching and keeping northern pike on inland waters. The pike regulations have three zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota. Maps, regulations and more information can be found at mndnr.gov/pike.
Anglers who plan to keep pike must be able to reliably measure their fish. To do this, lay the fish flat on its side, squeeze the tail from tip to tip, and measure from the nose or jaw (whichever is longer) to the farthest tip of the tail when fully extended.
Check regulations
Anglers are reminded to check the 2018 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Booklet, especially noting any special regulations that apply to individual lakes, rivers and streams. Regulations as well as lake information through the DNR’s LakeFinder site can be found at mndnr.gov/fishmn.
Ice out at the buzzer?
The lingering cold weather delayed ice-out on Minnesota lakes and rivers, and even if ice does go out on many lakes in time for opener, the delay was making it difficult for DNR crews to have the 1,500 public water accesses it manages ready in time. There are about 3,000 public water access sites statewide and the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division manages about half of them.
Anglers also are advised that some rivers and lakes are at flood levels. Many river access sites are under water and there are some reports of lakes with high water where boaters may be required to proceed at slow or no-wake speeds on the entire lake.
For more information including a map showing where ice-out has occurred, check mndnr.gov/wateraccess.
Possibly break a record
Anglers, who catch and release northern pike, can earn state records through an expansion of a DNR record fish program that previously included only lake sturgeon, muskellunge and flathead catfish in the catch-and-release category. There also is a catch-and-keep category; guidelines for both are at mndnr.gov/recordfish.
Purchase a fishing license
Anglers from the ages of 16 to 89 are required to have a valid fishing license, aside from mothers taking advantage of Take a Mom Fishing Weekend. Purchase licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. Licenses must be in anglers’ possession when fishing or traveling from an area they were fishing. The top two fishing-related regulation violations are for not having a license in possession, and not having a valid license.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR