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 However, that sunset provision will be repealed through additional rule-making if harvest information continues to show that a sustainable fishery can be maintained with the five-fish bag limit, Eggold said.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


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.

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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

Weather a concern for third stop on FLW Tour

Tom Monsoor, a veteran FLW Tour pro from La Crosse, believes weather will play a big role in this week's FLW Tour Qualifier on Lake Lanier in Gainesville GA.
"It's cold and it's going to get colder," said Monsoor on Wednesday.
Anglers practicing on Tuesday faced poor conditions as a huge front gained strength before Thursday's first round.
"After highs of 80 degrees last week, temperatures dropped to 60 on Tuesday.
"It was miserable out there yesterday," Monsoor said. "We got cold and rain soaked. It was just miserable."
Not for Jimmy Houston, though. Houston, a close friend of Monsoor, stopped by Monsoor's hotel room to show him a photo of the 8-pound bass he caught during Tuesday's practice.
"Spinnerbait is what he caught it on. That's what he's famous for. About like me and my swimming' jig," Monsoor said.
Monsoor is currently in 123rd place on the tour with 174 points. He finished in 73rd place in the tour opener in January. However, he slumped to a 155th place finish in the second event in February. Monsoor was in 65th place after the opening round, but had a terrible second day ending his week.
Lake Lanier is known for its huge largemouth bass. However, the exploding population of huge spotted bass is another reason for the heavy limits during practice.
FLW tournament Qualifiers are usually held in summer on Lake Lanier, but with the Tour event this week during the pre-spawn stage, fishing could be super, according to anglers and tournament officials alike if the weather cooperates.
The tournament kicks off at Laurel Park in Gainesville on Thursday, but practice has already produced heavy weights.
Considering the time of year and the pre-spawn stage, tourney officials believe one or more 20-pound limits of spotted bass hit the scale this week.
"I've heard 33 pounds or 36 pounds to make it to Saturday," Monsoor said. "It's hard to say. Maybe 30 pounds for sure. But it all depends on the weather. It's been getting up to 60, but I think the high is supposed to be 40 the next couple of days."

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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

New northern pike fishing regulations coming for fishing opener

New regulations for catching and keeping northern pike will be the most significant change anglers will see when they open up the 2018 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Booklet being distributed throughout the state.
“Anyone who wants to keep pike in Minnesota’s inland waters needs to take a close look at these regulations and be prepared to measure the pike they want to keep starting on the Saturday, May 12, fishing opener,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The new fishing regulations have three distinct zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota. While not designed to manage for trophy pike, the new regulations are meant to restore pike populations for better harvest opportunities across the state for sizes that make good table fare, up to around 28 inches or so.
“It’s almost go-time and we’re happy to be at this point after years of discussion on these issues with pike,” Stevens said. “This has been a long-running topic of conversation and is becoming reality in the 2018 fishing season.”
The move toward new regulations was a response to anglers’ concerns about the over-abundance of hammer-handle pike in much of central to north-central Minnesota, the low numbers of pike present in southern waters, and a desire to protect large pike in the northeastern part of the state.
The new pike harvest regulations apply to inland waters of the state.
* North-central: Limit of 10 northern pike, but not more than two pike longer than 26 inches; all from 22 to 26 inches must be released.
* Northeast: Two pike; anglers must release all from 30 to 40 inches, with only one over 40 inches allowed in possession.
* South: Two fish; minimum size 24 inches.
Darkhouse spearing regulations for pike change slightly and those regulations are listed in the spearing section of the regulations booklet.
Meanwhile, the new pike regulations do not affect border waters fishing regulations and special regulations that cover individual lakes, rivers and streams.
For more information on the new zone regulations, visit mndnr.gov/pike or contact a local area fisheries office. Contact information can be found in the fishing regulations booklet, available online at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR