ONALASKA, Wis. - The 61st annual Brice Prairie Conservation Association Ice Fishing Derby is scheduled Saturday, Feb. 6, from sunrise-3 p.m., on Lake Onalaska. Entry fee is $5 per angler. Fishing and raffle tickets are available at Schafer’s River Rentals on Brice Prairie, Emma’s Bait Shop in Onalaska and Island Outdoors on French Island. There will be five fish categories - northern pike, bass, crappie, perch and bluegill - with payouts of $50 for first place, $30 for second, $20 for third and $10 for fourth. Derby registration is at the North American Squirrel Association at Mosey Landing on Brice Prairie. COVID-19 distancing guidelines will be observed. For more information, contact www.BricePrairieConservation.org.
Another Walleye Management Plan meeting set in eastern Wisconsin
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
2021 sturgeon spearing season features year of change
OSHKOSH, Wis. – Every year, thousands flock to Lake Winnebago and Upriver Lakes to participate in the sturgeon spearing tradition. With the 2021 sturgeon spearing season fast approaching, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reminds both seasoned pros and first-timers that there are some important changes to this year’s registration process. The 2021 season on the Winnebago system begins Feb. 13 and runs a maximum of 16 days or until any pre-determined harvest caps are met. For the upcoming sturgeon spearing season, the DNR is implementing a contact-less registration process at registration stations. To ensure the safety for the public and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, all DNR registration stations are now drive-thru only and have been relocated to boat landings, city parks and government building parking lots for the 2021 season. To help with the new registration process, the DNR is asking spearers to place harvested sturgeon on tailgates or in an easily accessible location and remain in their vehicles throughout the registration process. This change allows the DNR to collect the critical data necessary to effectively manage the Winnebago system sturgeon fishery while keeping spearers, spectators and staff safe. Data collected from harvested fish help implement the harvest cap system and set caps for future seasons. The DNR remains committed to returning registration station locations to local businesses for future seasons following the pandemic. The 2021 season will also be the first year where spear size and tine arrangement will be restricted. A new regulation limits the maximum spearhead width to 18 inches, and tines can only be arranged in a single plane. Additional information can be found in the 2021 sturgeon spearing regulations. Home to one of the world’s largest, self-sustaining lake sturgeon populations, Wisconsin’s Winnebago system has an estimated 42,000 adult lake sturgeon. Approximately 12,200 sturgeon spearing licenses were sold for the 2021 season. Harvest caps for the 2021 Winnebago system spearing season are set at 430 juvenile females, 950 adult females and 1,200 males. The deadline to apply for an Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing permit was Aug. 1, 2020. Spearing licenses for the fishery on Lake Winnebago needed to be purchased before Oct. 31, 2020. Spearers must carry a paper copy of their sturgeon spearing license while spearing. A receipt of purchase, driver’s license or GoWild card will not be accepted as proof of a spearing license. Any harvested sturgeon must be presented by the spearer at a DNR-operated registration station by 2 p.m. on the day the fish was speared. To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe and healthy, spearers and spectators are reminded to wear a mask, wash their hands, carry hand sanitizer and staying 6 feet apart. More information on the 2021 Winnebago system sturgeon spearing season and the DNR’s response to COVID-19 is available on the DNR website. For specific information regarding COVID-19, we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
DNR issues new smelt consumption advisory for Lake Superior
MADISON, Wis. – Based on recent sampling results, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health Services (DHS) are recommending a PFAS-based fish consumption advisory for Lake Superior. Due to the high levels of PFOS found in the samples, the DNR and DHS are updating the recommended rainbow smelt consumption advisory from an unrestricted amount to one meal per month for Lake Superior. The sampling completed by the DNR found elevated levels of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), particularly the compound PFOS, in rainbow smelt in Lake Superior. PFAS are a group of over 5,000 human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers and stain-resistant sprays. These legacy contaminants have made their way into the environment in a variety of ways, including spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams. The risk of health problems increases with the amount of contaminated fish you eat. Following this advisory will help protect you from excess PFAS exposure found in fish. The advisory could change in the future as the DNR and DHS continue to learn more about the health risks from eating fish caught from this area and more fish data become available. As part of the DNR’s statewide PFAS monitoring efforts to monitor fish tissue and water chemistry at select sites around the state, smelt were collected from two locations in Lake Superior in 2019 approximately 30 miles apart at sites near the Apostle Islands and off Port Wing. PFAS was detected in samples from both locations. Rainbow smelt are a small, silver fish that are non-native to Lake Superior. Some anglers will catch smelt through the ice, but the majority of smelt harvest occurs in the springtime as the fish migrate into nearshore areas to spawn. “The smelt migration run starts as spring arrives and winter ice cover dissipates which creates a popular local tradition of harvesting smelt for fish fries,” said Brad Ray, Lake Superior Fisheries Unit Supervisor. “It’s important for consumers to understand the potential risks associated with this new advisory.”
Fish Tissue Results In mid-December, the DNR received results from the contaminant samples taken from Lake Superior. Rainbow smelt, a popular sport fish and prey species for many predator fish and various bird species, had a high level of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), one of the many types of PFAS contaminants. “Eating fish that have high levels of PFAS may increase your risk for certain health effects,” said Dr. Jonathan Meiman, Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist for Occupational and Environmental Health at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. “Limiting your exposure by choosing fish that are low in PFAS is the best way to reduce your risk while still maintaining the health benefits of fish consumption.” Some health risks associated with PFOS, one of the thousands of PFAS compounds, include lower birth weight, possible links to increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer, harm to the immune and reproductive systems, increased cholesterol levels, and altered hormone regulation and thyroid hormones. The DNR also received sample results from bloater chub, cisco/lake herring, lake whitefish, lake trout and siscowet lake trout in Lake Superior and crappie, yellow perch, channel catfish, carp, northern pike, walleye and musky from the St. Louis River. The PFOS levels found in those fish do not warrant a consumption advisory change at this time. Currently, the DNR and DHS are unaware of any other PFAS-based consumption advisories for other fish species in the Great Lakes. For consumption advice for other Great Lakes fish species based on toxic substances, such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) or mercury, please refer to the statewide safe-eating guidelines. Additional consumption advice can be found on the DNR’s fish consumption webpage. To learn more about PFAS and fish, visit the DNR’s PFAS webpage. For more information on PFAS and associated human health effects, visit the DHS’s PFAS webpage.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Minnesotans fish free with kids Jan. 16-18
Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend is Saturday, Jan. 16, through Monday, Jan. 18. During the weekend, Minnesota residents age 16 or older can fish or dark-house spear without an angling or spearing license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing or spearing. “Ice fishing is lots of fun and is another way to enjoy the outdoors,” said Benji Kohn, volunteer mentor program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “If you’re looking to start ice fishing, check out our helpful information online.” Check the DNR’s learn to ice fish page for more information about ice fishing. Additionally, the DNR’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman program is presenting an ice fishing webinar from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14. During the webinar, pro angler Mandy Uhrich will teach the basics of ice fishing and demonstrate the equipment and techniques used for this winter tradition. The webinar is free, open to the public and registration is required. Ice conditions vary and there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice. Always check local ice conditions before heading out to a lake or river. Visit mndnr.gov/icesafety for ice safety guidelines.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR
Cast your line during Winter Free Fishing Weekend
MADISON, Wis. – Grab your gear and get fishing Jan. 16-17 during the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Winter Free Fishing Weekend. This event is a great time to discover the fun and excitement of winter fishing without a license or trout stamp. Anglers can fish any water bodies in the state where there is an open season. All other fishing regulations apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species. As a reminder, anglers cannot fish spring trout ponds during the Winter Free Fishing Weekend. Please review the trout regulationsand 2020-2021 Hook and Line regulations for more information. All other fishing regulations apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species. If you plan to keep your catch, be sure to consult the DNR's Safe Eating Guidelines to stay informed of potential consumption advisories impacting some water bodies throughout the state.
Helpful Reminders This year, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, there will be no scheduled events to coincide with Free Fishing Weekend. "Free Fishing Weekend is a do-it-yourself adventure this winter," said DNR R3 Coordinator Theresa Stabo. "Although this is not a time to share your shanty with people from outside your household, you and a family member or roommate can still venture out for a brisk walk and drop a line on that weekend. Stay six feet from the nearest angler or passerby, and keep a mask handy in case you need it. That mask will also keep your face warm." When considering safety on the ice, understand that no ice is 100% safe. Check with local bait shops for current ice conditions in the area you plan to fish. Stay safely on shore if ice conditions are questionable and if open water is within casting distance, give that a try. Always tell someone where you are going and when you'll return. Lastly, dress for winter comfort, and don't forget your safety gear such as: * Warm layers that are water-resistant. * Sturdy waterproof boots with spike-style creepers for traction. * Extra hat and gloves. * Rescue throw rope. * Ice claws. Want to purchase a license to keep finding your fishing adventure after experiencing Free Fishing Weekend? Buy yours today on the DNR website. Mark your calendar. The next Free Fishing Weekend is June 5-6, 2021.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Walleye management meeting scheduled in eastern Wisconsin