Kids' Ice Fishing Event set in Winona

WINONA, Minn. – The annual Kids' Ice Fishing Event, co-sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of the Refuge Headwaters, is scheduled Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon at the McNally Boat Landing on Prairie Island Drive, Winona, MN.
Children ages 6 through 13 and their families are invited to join in this free event. Children will be paired with experienced ice anglers who will assist them with a hands-on ice fishing experience.
Bait, tackle and fishing rods will be available. However, participants are encouraged to bring their own ice fishing supplies if they have them and a bucket or folding chair to sit on while watching their bobber.
Children should also be dressed appropriately for ice fishing - hats, mittens, snow pants, boots and winter coats. Hot chocolate and cookies will be provided in a heated tent.
All children must be registered for the event by a parent or guardian. A registration station will be available at the McNally Boat Landing. If the event is canceled due to weather or unsafe ice conditions, an announcement will be made on the Winona Radio Group stations in the morning.
The McNally Boat Landing is located on Prairie Island Road, between Prairie Island Campground and the Minnesota City Boat Club. Parking is available at the spillway parking lot located between the campground and landing. A shuttle will be provided from the parking area to the fishing location. The McNally Boat Landing will be closed to public entry during this event.
For additional information, contact Mary Stefanski at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (507) 454-7351 or visit either www.friendsoftherefugeheadwaters.org or www.fws.gov/refuge/upper_mississippi_river/.  
 
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Common angler question: Does my ice shelter need a license?

As more anglers prepare for ice fishing, the DNR sometimes receives questions about ice shelter licenses.
Minnesota fishing regulations recognize two types of shelters: portable and non-portable. A portable shelter is one that collapses, folds or is disassembled for transportation. Portable shelters only need licenses and identification when left unattended, which is defined as all occupants being more than 200 feet away. In contrast, all non-portable ice shelters must be licensed. Wheeled fish houses are not considered portable and must be licensed.
An annual shelter license costs $15 for residents and $37 for nonresidents, not including issuing fees that may be charged. A shelter license is valid from March 1 through April 30 of the following year, and a shelter license is not required on border waters between Minnesota and its neighboring states (Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota).
Licenses can be purchased in person, by telephone or at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” and DNR ice safety guidelines can be found at mndnr.gov/icesafety.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR, Red Lake Nation renew Upper, Lower Red Lake fishery agreement

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Red Lake Nation and Bureau of Indian Affairs signed a new 10-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Wednesday that outlines continued cooperative management of the walleye population in Upper and Lower Red Lake in northwest Minnesota. The signing took place during a ceremony in Red Lake.
“Red Lake Band members are pleased that our walleye have come back and our fishing community is revitalized,” said Darrell Seki, chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. “We are committed to ensuring that Red Lake walleye are managed sustainably in the future.
“Renewing this agreement will enable the Fisheries Technical Committee to continue its work to help protect this valuable resource,” Seki said. “While the walleye fishery has rebounded, we must now focus our attention on ridding Red Lake of invasive species.”
This MOU provides an opportunity for the parties to address other issues that arise such as the prevention and eradication of invasive species.
The new MOU closely parallels previous 1999-2019 agreements that facilitated restoration of high-quality walleye fishing to Minnesota’s largest inland body of water. The agreement states that each entity will support the Red Lake Fisheries Technical Committee, a joint panel of experts that recommends policies and practices to maintain a healthy fishery.
“We’ve come a long way in the past 20 years,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, noting that the combined state and tribal harvest continues to average around 1 million pounds per year.
“By renewing this agreement, we are reaffirming our commitment to a successful partnership and working together for the future of this outstanding fishery,” Strommen said.
Historically, Upper and Lower Red Lake was a highly productive walleye fishery, but it collapsed in the mid-1990s due to over harvest. The Red Lake Fisheries Technical Committee was formed in 1997.
Since then, the regulations, policies and other actions this joint body has recommended have led to a healthy walleye population and a resurgent walleye fishing economy.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Northern pike anglers and spearers reminded of zone regulations

As cold temperatures continue to make ice on Minnesota lakes, ice anglers and spearers gearing up for winter fishing action are reminded that northern pike zone regulations apply.
The regulations went into effect in May 2018 and created three distinct zones in the north-central, northeastern and southern parts of the state.
The northern pike regulations apply to inland waters but do not affect border waters or individual lakes, rivers and streams that have their own special regulations for northern pike. Special pike regulations are in place on about 95 waters and always take precedence over statewide regulations.
Specific regulation details can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/pike or in the Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet online at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing. Anglers also can find ice safety guidelines at mndnr.gov/icesafety.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Commercial fishing guide permits required in 2020

In 2019, the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge implemented its pilot year of the Commercial Fishing Guide Permit Program.
The refuge waived permit fees and offered a grace period to guides operating in 2019 to allow for a transition into this new program. The 2020 season will be fully enforced and fishing guides operating within the refuge need to apply for and obtain a permit as well as pay applicable fees.  
The refuge has management authority and jurisdiction over lands and waters on the Mississippi River between Reads Landing, MN (lower Pool 4) and Le Claire, IA (Lock and Dam 15). Those that operate a fishing guide business within the refuge (Lower Pool 4 through Pool 14), will need a permit from the refuge.
In 2018, the refuge determined that commercially guided fishing is an activity compatible with the purposes for which the refuge was established. This process, called a compatibility determination, authorizes the continuation of guided fishing on the refuge through a permit system. To learn more about the refuge and refuge compatibility determinations please visit: https://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147614047.
Fishing guides who believe they may be operating on the refuge, or would like to, should contact Wildlife Refuge Specialist Meta Griffin to obtain a copy of the Program Requirements and Stipulations (2019 through 2024) for Fishing Guide Services on the refuge and a permit application.
If you operate a fishing guide service within the refuge, you are encouraged to review this document and submit an application for a permit. Permit applications may be submitted any time between now and March 15, 2020.  
 
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


New stocking plan aims at enhancing Lake Michigan fishing

MADISON, Wis. - To enhance fishing success and opportunities for all Lake Michigan anglers, while sustaining a balanced and vibrant fisheries community, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released a new Lake Michigan fish stocking plan.
"Because of work with key partners in the Lake Michigan fisheries community, Wisconsin will grow as the pre-eminent destination for world-class fishing. This collaborative approach and innovative management strategies will expand our diverse and exciting fishery," said DNR Fisheries, Wildlife, and Parks Director Scott Loomans. "I'm looking forward to big things."
Lake Michigan is home to a world-class fishery, and there are anglers, businesses, stakeholder groups and communities that have a deep commitment to developing management strategies that will benefit this fishery for current and future generations, according to Todd Kalish, Deputy Director of DNR Fisheries Management.
Throughout 2019, DNR fisheries staff conducted an open and inclusive process to gather input on management options for the Lake Michigan fishery.
"Stakeholder input has historically and continues to be a driving force in the development of Lake Michigan management strategies," Kalish said. "A common theme of stakeholder input was a strong interest in developing innovative management strategies and collaboration that acknowledge economic, social and biological factors."
For 2020, 2021 and 2022, chinook salmon stocking numbers will increase to 1,200,000 fish annually, coho stocking will increase to 500,000 annually, steelhead stocking will increase to 460,000 fish annually and brown trout, a popular fish, caught off piers and in harbors, will increase to 450,000 fish annually.
"In meetings and in comments we received about this plan, there was strong interest in increases in stocking not just for chinook salmon but for coho salmon, steelhead and brown trout," said Brad Eggold, Great Lakes District Fisheries Supervisor. "This plan accomplished that goal and contained increases for every type of fishermen."
Fisheries managers will assess potential changes to stocking numbers for 2023 and beyond based on traditional and new data and metrics collected and evaluated in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The DNR will also begin the development of a Lake Michigan brook trout stocking initiative in 2020. Brook trout are a revered native species that could produce critical near-shore angling opportunities. "We are excited to work with stakeholders to pursue re-establishing this native species to enhance angler opportunities and experiences," Kalish said.
"Lake Michigan is a tremendous economic asset, and the fish stocking plan released today by Secretary-designee Preston Cole shows his vision of enhancing our world-class fishery in this great lake, making Milwaukee and the rest of our shoreline a fantastic tourist destination," said Steve Baas Sr., Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
In addition to the 2020-2022 stocking plan, department staff, in collaboration with charter, commercial and sport anglers, plan to:
* Expand salmon and trout net pen projects to maximize the survivability of stocked fish.
* Develop and implement innovative public/private data collection initiatives to better inform future management strategies.
* Enhance outreach and communication by more actively engaging stakeholders in communication initiatives.
* Increase and enhance diverse marketing and outreach strategies.
* Pursue salmon and trout habitat enhancement projects.
"I commend Secretary-designee Cole for his leadership and standing up for Wisconsin sportsmen and our impact on the Wisconsin economy," said Tom Kleiman, President of the Wisconsin Lakeshore Business Association. "Our priority throughout this process is to promote the entire Lake Michigan fishery, including the tributaries, near-shore and open water fishing. This plan addresses short-term needs with a comprehensive plan for future growth to enhance fishing opportunities in this great resource."
To learn more about Lake Michigan fisheries, visit the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR advises people to stay off the ice

Unseasonably cold weather means ice making has begun on many lakes across the state, but Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers advise people to stay off of the still-forming ice.That’s because ice thickness is highly variable and subject to the whims of Mother Nature. Emergency responders already have responded to incidents where anglers have fallen through thin ice or been stranded on ice sheets that broke off from the shoreline due to heavy wind.
Anglers and others who recreate on the ice should stay on shore until there’s at least 4 inches of new, clear ice. Anytime people are on the ice, they should check its thickness every 150 feet.
“For some people, going out onto the ice as early as possible is a badge of honor, but the reality is they’re putting their lives in danger – and the lives of the people tasked with coming to their rescue should things go wrong,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division director. “The risk to you and others isn’t worth the reward.”
It will take another several consecutive days of below-freezing temperatures before enough solid ice has formed to support foot traffic, and even longer before all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles should be on the ice. Once the ice has had more time to form, it’s up to each individual to make sure it’s thick enough.
“Don’t take someone else’s word about the condition of the ice, and don’t assume it’s safe just because that’s what you read on social media,” Smith said. “Check for yourself, and make sure you’re prepared for the worst.”
Each year, unexpected falls through thin ice lead to serious injury or death. Wearing a life jacket is the best way to avert tragedy should you fall through the ice, since the initial shock of falling into cold water can incapacitate even strong swimmers. A good set of ice picks will help a person get out, and a cell phone, whistle or other communications device makes it more likely they will be able to call for help.

General ice safety guidelines
No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:
* Always wear a life jacket or float coat on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
* Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure.
* Check ice thickness at regular intervals; conditions can change quickly.
* Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.
* Don’t go out alone; let someone know about trip plans and expected return time.
* Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:
* 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
* 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
* 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
* 12-15 inches for a medium truck.
* Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.

For more information, visit mndnr.gov/icesafety and mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR