New Wisconsin fishing regulations effective April 1

MADISON, Wis. - A suite of updated statewide, regional and local Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fishing regulations will go into effect on April 1, 2020, to provide good fishing opportunities for the public and help fulfill management goals.

Statewide and Regional Fishing Regulation Changes
* A continuous catch-and-release season for bass at all times of the year outside the harvest season will apply statewide, except where refuges or closed areas are in effect. This season will apply to inland, outlying and boundary waters, and no bass may be harvested during the catch-and-release bass season. Waters with a current continuous bass harvest season will not see any changes.
* The daily bag limit for cisco and whitefish will change from 25 pounds and one fish to 10 fish in total. This change will improve consistency in harvest limits among anglers and reduce pressure on inland cisco and whitefish populations.
* The closing date of the muskellunge fishing season will be Dec. 31 on open water in the Northern Zone north of US Highway 10, including Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters and outlying waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay north of Waldo Boulevard in Manitowoc. Open water is considered to include any conditions that do not allow ice to be used as a platform for fishing.
* On the Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters, the musky season will open on June 1 and the minimum length limit for musky will be 50 inches.
* For lake sturgeon fishing on Lake Superior, the minimum length limit will be 60 inches and only one sturgeon may be harvested per year.
* On the Lake Winnebago System, the daily bag limit for walleye and sauger will decrease to three in total, with only one being a sauger. No size limit will apply. The Winnebago System includes Lakes Buttes des Morts, Winneconne, Poygan, Winnebago and all their tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam. This includes the Fox River from Lake Winnebago upstream to the dam above Princeton and all its tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam and the Wolf River from its mouth upstream to the dam in the city of Shawano and all its tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam including Cincoe lake, Partridge Crop lake and Partridge lake in Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago counties.
* In water bodies of Shawano and Waupaca counties, excluding the Winnebago system and in Lake Koshkonong, the Rock River, the Crawfish River and their tributaries, the daily bag limit will also be three walleye, but with a minimum length limit of 18 inches.
For the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage and connected water bodies, including Trude Lake, the Bear River, the Flambeau River upstream of the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage at Murray's Landing, the Little Turtle River, and the Manitowish River upstream of the Flambeau River to the Rest Lake Dam, including Benson, Sturgeon and Vance lakes, the regulation for walleye will be a minimum length limit of 12 inches with only one fish over 15 inches allowed for harvest, and a daily bag limit of three.

Mississippi River Fishing Regulation Changes Effective April 1
* In Pools 3 through 8 of the Mississippi River, the daily bag limit for walleye and sauger will be four in total, with a 15-inch minimum length limit for walleye and none for sauger, and only one walleye or sauger over 20 inches allowed for harvest. In Pools 9 through 12, the daily bag limit for walleye and sauger will be six, with a 15-inch minimum length limit for walleye and none for sauger, a protected slot limit of 20 to 27 inches for walleye and only one walleye over 27 inches allowed for harvest.
* For panfish in Pools 3 through 9, the daily bag limit for white and yellow bass will be reduced to 10 of each with no size limit, while the daily bag limit for sunfish, crappies and yellow perch will be reduced to 15 of each with no size limit.
* The daily bag limit for shovelnose sturgeon in Pools 3 through 9 has been reduced to three, with no size limit.
* The regulation for northern pike in Pools 3 through 9 will be a daily bag limit of three with only one over 30 inches.
* For channel and flathead catfish in Pools 3 through 9, the daily bag limit will be 10 combined with only one catfish over 30 inches.

Local Fishing Regulation Changes
* The refuge for the Mink River downstream to the river's mouth at Rowley Bay in Door County will change to March 1 to June 15. Between these dates, the fishing season will be closed in the refuge.
* Fishing in the Fox River refuge below the DePere Dam in Brown County will be prohibited from March 1 to May 31.
* Additionally, a variety of regulations have changed on local waters and will be described in the 2020-21 Hook and Line Fishing Regulations and Trout Fishing Regulations. To look up the regulations where you plan to fish, visit the DNR website here.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Wisconsin sets catfish bow, crossbow, hand fishing regulations

MADISON, Wis. - A suite of regulations aimed at providing sustainable bow, crossbow and hand fishing opportunities for catfish will go into effect on March 1.
These regulations are part of a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permanent rule that establishes size and bag limits as well as season and gear restrictions for taking catfish with a bow and arrow, crossbow or by hand.
In general, the daily bag limit will be five channel catfish and one flathead catfish with no size limit for either species. The bow and crossbow season will coincide with the rough fish spearing season, which is continuous on most waters. For hand fishing, the season will run from June 1 to Aug. 31, and no special gear, including snorkeling equipment, spawning boxes, hooks, ropes or gaffes may be used to take catfish.
An emergency rule in 2018 was established in response to a change in state law allowing catfish to be harvested with these methods. Previously, only rough fish could be taken by these methods. The size and bag limits, season dates and gear restrictions in both rules aim to protect overwintering and spawning catfish from overharvest while allowing the opportunity to harvest catfish with a bow, crossbow or by hand.
Bullheads and rough fish may also be taken with a bow, crossbow or by hand. For bullheads, the bow and crossbow season runs concurrent with the rough fish spearing season for the specific water body, while the hand fishing season runs from June 1 to Aug. 31. No size or bag limits apply for bullheads or rough fish.
On boundary waters shared with Michigan and Minnesota, bow and crossbow fishing for catfish may only occur during the open rough fish spearing season, and only in the territorial waters of Wisconsin.
Some exceptions to the general size restrictions, bag limits and season dates apply, such as when a specific season and size limit for hook and line catfish fishing are in effect on a certain waterbody. Commercial harvest is also prohibited using these methods. Anglers should consult the Spearing, Netting and Bait Harvest regulations pamphlet for more details.
To learn more about these catfish fishing regulations, visit the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Another Wisconsin sturgeon spearing season in the books

By RYAN KOENIGS
Senior Fisheries Biologist/Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

That's a wrap, folks!
We ended the 2020 Winnebago System sturgeon spearing season with a total of 811 sturgeon harvested.
There were 69 fish registered on Sunday, 60 of which came from Lake Winnebago and 9 from the Upriver Lakes.
The largest fish speared on Lake Winnebago was 122.9 pounds and 72.7 inches by Richard Markowski (pictured)  and registered at Payne's Point. The largest sturgeon harvested from the Upriver Lakes was 55.0 pounds, 59.3 inches by Robert Lange at Indian Point.
We will be reviewing the 2020 season data over the next few days and plan to send a more detailed recap of the season later this week.
We commend the dedicated spearers who spent countless hours on the ice this year honoring one of Wisconsin's most unique traditions. Congratulations to those who saw success and we're already looking forward to 2021!


38th annual God's Country Muskies banquet set March 7

The 38th annual God’s Country Chapter of Muskies, Inc., award and fundraising banquet is scheduled Saturday, March 7, at the Moose Lodge on La Crosse's south side.
God's Country Chapter of Muskies, Inc., raised more than $16,000 in 2019 and hopes to topple that amount this year.
Funds raised are used for supporting local youth and conservation programs, improving regional fisheries through habitat preservation and water quality enhancement, and providing a platform for young anglers to learn about and pursue their interest in fishing. Past accomplishments include Adopt-a-Highway and muskie stocking programs, conducting food drives to help support local food pantries and donating to local charitable organizations.
Donations for the banquet may be mailed to: God's Country Muskies, Inc., c/o Jim and Diane Mazzone, N7023 Bice Ave., Holmen, WI, 54636.
More information about the banquet is available by contacting Mike Wiedemann at 608-792-7722, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or www.lacrossemuskies.com.

Monsoor returning to La Crosse with $7,500

LEESBURG, Fla. - Tom Monsoor is returning to La Crosse, but not without a paycheck.
The 17-year FLW Tour pro moved up 18 spots to finish in 57th place in the FLW Tour Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain on Saturday.
The four-day event was postponed due to high winds on Friday, giving all 150 anglers an extra day on the water before the final day was cut to the top 30.
Monsoor (pictured), caught a five-fish limit weighing 11 pounds, 8 ounces on Thursday's opening day for 75th place. He managed five more bass on Saturday weighing 12-15 for a 24-7, two-day weight. His total was worth $7,500.
"It's better than a poke in the eye," Monsoor chuckled, from his hotel room Saturday night.
Monsoor, a semi-retired commercial fisherman, fished Lake Harris on Thursday, but switched to Lake Dora on Saturday. The strategy didn't go as planned.
"It didn't work out very good. It wasn't what I was hoping for as I caught a 3-pounder and three babies," he said, yawning after a long day on the water.
Fortunately, on his return trip to weigh-in, he caught a pair of 2-3 pounders in Harris Lake to boost his weight.
"I'm happy, but I have to keep moving up in the standings," he said.
Laramy Strickland, from Bushnell, Fla., jumped into the lead with a two-day weight of 31-6.
Is Monsoor heading home Sunday? Oh, no. He and his girl friend, Karen Savik, are going out on the water for two more days of fishing.
"If you don't love fishing, why do it?" he joked. "We're supposed to get a couple days of decent weather here and then it's going to rain. We're going fishing. We'll come back Tuesday."


2020 Wisconsin sturgeon season harvest similar to last year

By RYAN KOENIGS
Senior Fisheries Biologist/Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The dust is starting to settle on the 2020 sturgeon spear fishery on the Winnebago System and many folks are starting to ask how this season's harvest compares to years past.
We are fortunate to have harvest numbers dating back to the 1941 season (80 years) for Lake Winnebago and the 1952 season on the Upriver Lakes that we can compare results from this season.
The 2020 harvest numbers (491 on Lake Winnebago and 320 on the Upriver Lakes) were very similar to the 2019 season (478 on Lake Winnebago and 307 on the Upriver Lakes).  
The difference between the two seasons is when the fish were registered. During the 2019 season, 31.9% of the fish harvested from Lake Winnebago were registered on opening weekend and only 11.9% were registered on the final weekend. The 2020 season, on the other hand, had 15.1% of the harvest from Lake Winnebago coming from opening weekend and 22.0% from the final weekend. The difference between seasons was largely due to improving conditions (both ice thickness and water clarity) during the 2020 season.
Results from the 2020 sturgeon spearing season are also quite similar to the average over the past 5 years. Unfortunately, poor water clarity has impacted each of these seasons and each has gone the full 16 days. The average harvest over this time period has been 514 lake sturgeon from Lake Winnebago and 305 from the Upriver Lakes.
When looking back through more spearing seasons, the Lake Winnebago harvest of 491 fish in 2020 ranks tied for 51st of all time . The lottery fishery on the Upriver Lakes was implemented in 2007 (14 seasons) and the 320 fish harvested this season is the 3rd highest during that time span.
I've been asked a few times how I would characterize the 2020 spearing season. In my opinion, this season was a success for a variety of reasons.
For starters, spearers were able to navigate variable ice conditions to safely participate in the season. Second, there were over 800 spearers that were able to fill their tags. Finally, the 2020 spearing season was another chance for spearers to renew the unique traditions of another sturgeon spearing season. After all, it's the social culture of sturgeon spearing that makes the sport truly unique and special.
I'm hoping that we will have all of the harvest data from the 2020 spearing season entered and proofed by the end of the week. I will send out the successful spearer list along with some general summaries once the data are available.      

Wisconsin sturgeon spearing season enters final day

Only one more day remains in the 2020 lake sturgeon spear fishery on the Winnebago System.  
There were 68 fish harvested on Saturday with 48 coming from Lake Winnebago and 20 from the Upriver Lakes. The 48 fish registered on Lake Winnebago is the largest daily harvest of the season.
The DNR has been hearing from spearers all season that the water has been clearing, and Saturday’s harvest confirms that.
Through 15 days, the season total is 431 fish on Lake Winnebago and 311 fish on the Upriver Lakes.
The biggest fish on Saturday was 107.9 pounds, 73.8 inches and registered at Wendt’s by Wyatt Ziemer (pictured). Randall Sorensen’s fish wasn’t far behind in size. Randall registered his 107.2-pound, 73.3-inch lake sturgeon at Payne’s Point.
The largest fish of the day on the Upriver Lakes was 69.9 pounds, 65.1 inches and registered at Critter’s by Dennis Waters.
Sunday is the last day of the 2020 sturgeon spear fishery.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR