Wisconsin spearers take 35 lake sturgeon on Day 4

Tuesday was Day 4 of the 2020 sturgeon spearing season, meaning that 25% of the season is now complete.
There were 35 lake sturgeon harvested with 15 fish coming from Lake Winnebago and 20 from the Upriver Lakes.
The Upriver Lakes harvest included 4 adult females, bringing the season total to 44. We are now 42 adult females away from the 90% trigger meaning that this fishery will continue for quite some time, quite possibly the full 16 days. A breakdown of the number of fish registered at each station can be viewed on the DNR site.
The largest fish in Tuesday's harvest was 104.7 pounds (72.8 inches) and registered at Stockbridge Harbor by Lance Olson (pictured).
The largest fish from the Upriver Lakes harvest was 75.4 pounds (66.3 inches) and registered at Critter's by Mayson Muche.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Sturgeon spearers take 32 fish on Day 3

There were 32 lake sturgeon harvested during Day 3 of the 2020 Wisconsin sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System.
The 13 fish registered from Lake Winnebago on Monday bring the season total to 87 fish, while the 19 fish registered on the Upriver Lakes bring that season total to 143 fish. The southern registration stations on Lake Winnebago continue to see the highest registration numbers.  
The largest fish registered on Lake Winnebago was 90.1 pounds (70.7 inches) and brought into Payne's Point by Patrick Roggow.  The largest fish taken from the Upriver Lakes was 84.1 pounds (66.9 inches) and registered at Boom Bay by Jayme Prey.
Due to the slow pace of the 2020 spearing season, we will be closing our registration stations at Quinney, Jerry's Bar, Payne's Point and Boom Bay for the remainder of the week (Tuesday-Friday). We anticipate re-opening these stations for Saturday and Sunday of weekend No. 2.
Successful spearers can register their fish at Waverly Beach, Stockbridge Harbor, Jim and Linda's and Wendts on Lake Winnebago, and at either Critter's or Indian Point on the Upriver Lakes.
Sturgeon spearing is a sport that requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Every year our staff working at registration stations are excited to hear stories of spearers who have been waiting for years, sometimes decades, to harvest their first fish.  
Kaitlyn Ortlieb registered her first sturgeon at Stockbridge Harbor on Sunday and her story went well beyond the 61.2-pound (60.6 inch) fish itself. Kaitlyn recalls sitting with her father since she was roughly 5 years old. She's now 29. In all those years, she recalls seeing one fish speared while she was sitting with her father. Things changed on Sunday and it was her turn to throw the spear. Ironically, Kaitlyn was not sitting with her father and she says she may never sit with him again after getting her first fish this past weekend!  
Congratulations Kaitlyn on your first fish!   

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR approves 10-year trout management plan

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently approved its first statewide trout management plan. The plan provides direction for inland trout management in Wisconsin and will be in effect from 2020 to 2029.
The plan covers brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and lake trout in inland lakes, ponds and streams of Wisconsin, including tributaries of the Great Lakes upstream from impassible barriers such as dams and naturally occurring falls.
The inland trout management plan includes four primary goals:
* Protect, enhance and restore sustainable cold-water aquatic habitats and ecosystems.
* Protect, develop, enhance and restore trout populations and trout angling opportunities for the diverse preferences and needs of our participants.
* Collect, develop and use the best science to guide trout management decisions.
* Maintain and expand partnerships and engage diverse anglers, stakeholders and the general public on trout management and angling opportunities.
The Wisconsin DNR trout team developed the trout management plan with the input of a stakeholder team composed of individuals representing various groups across the state, such as anglers, landowners and farmers. The trout team met twice with the stakeholder group at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to create the plan, and the stakeholder team also reviewed the draft plan.
In spring 2019, the DNR released a draft of the plan to the public and presented it at statewide public meetings for additional public input. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved the plan at the October 2019 meeting. The final version of the plan will be used to guide trout management in Wisconsin over the next 10 years.
This plan can be accessed on the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Snow, snow, and more snow!

Day 2 of the 2020 Wisconsin sturgeon spearing season was highlighted by snow storm Eleanor and big fish.
The largest fish on Sunday was 142.3 pounds, 80.0 inches, and registered at Wendt's by William Thern.
Andrew Dumask's 139.3-pound, 78.2-inch sturgeon was the 2nd largest fish harvested from the Winnebago System and the 3rd largest fish registered this season.
A total of 30 fish were harvested from Lake Winnebago on Sunday bringing the season total to 74 fish. At this point, it's clear the season on Lake Winnebago will last the full 16 days.
There were 23 lake sturgeon harvested from the Upriver Lakes on Sunday bringing the season total to 124 fish. Only 2 of the fish registered on the Upriver Lakes were adult females, bringing the season total to 31 adult females. After two days, we are 55 adult females away from the 90% trigger on the Upriver Lakes. Barring a substantial increase in harvest of adult females, the Upriver Lakes fishery may go 16 days as well.
A more detailed break down of Sunday's harvest can be viewed on the DNR website.
Good luck to the spearers that will be heading out during the upcoming week!

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Public hearing on Lake Superior Emergency Rule set Feb. 12

ASHLAND, Wis. - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff will hold a public hearing starting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12, about a recently adopted Lake Superior commercial fishing emergency rule.
The hearing is at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, 29270 County Hwy G, Ashland, WI 54806.
The emergency rule is effective as of Dec. 30, 2019, and DNR staff will bring the permanent rule to the Natural Resources Board in the next few months. An emergency rule hearing after the effective date is required by Wisconsin law.
"This emergency rule is designed to continue the implementation of the changes discussed with hearings and meetings during 2019," said DNR Lake Superior Fisheries Supervisor Bradley Ray. "We will continue to rely on sound biological principles for managing the Lake Superior fishery as this rule is implemented."
The rule implements portions of the 2018 - 2028 Lake Superior Fishing Agreement, which is an agreement between the state of Wisconsin and the Red Cliff and Bad River bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa tribes.
This is a similar rule to the emergency rule in place last year. A second emergency rule is needed to maintain continuity of rules while a permanent rule is under review.
The rule maintains the updates from the previous emergency rule in regards to:
* Total allowable commercial harvest for lake trout.
* Requirements for using and marking nets and other gear.
* Modification of certain areas in which commercial fishing is allowed.
* Minor revisions to harvest reporting requirements and the timeframe for returning unused trout tags.
Members of the public may also submit comments via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or U.S. mail to the Department of Natural Resources, Attn: Meredith Penthorn, P.O. Box 7921, 101 S. Webster Street, Madison, WI 53707-7921 through Feb. 12, 2020.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin's sturgeon spearing opener goes as expected

Day 1 of the 2020 spearing season went about as expected.  
Due to variable ice conditions throughout Lake Winnebago, the DNR was anticipating a reduction in spearing effort for the opener. Further, the unfavorable water clarity was expected to result in a reduced harvest.
Saturday's opening day shanty count of 2,439 shanties was 47% lower than observed during the 2018 spearing season (4,625 shanties), and Saturday's harvest of 44 fish was the lowest opening day harvest on Lake Winnebago since the 2013 season.
A breakdown of the number of fish registered at each station is available on the DNR sturgeon spearing website.
A total of 101 fish were harvested from the Upriver Lakes, which is the lowest opening day harvest since the lottery system was implemented in 2007. Saturday's harvest reached 30% of the adult female harvest cap. With 20% of the spearers on the Upriver Lakes now tagged out, it looks like the Upriver Lakes fishery will go well into the upcoming week, or possibly longer.   
The largest fish of the day (140.0 pounds, 75.0 inches) was registered at Critter's by Vincent Catania (pictured). The largest fish from Lake Winnebago was 107.3 pounds, 75.2 inches and registered at Jerry's Bar in Oshkosh by Maxwell Schmidt.  
The potential impacts of the variable ice conditions coming into opening day of the 2020 spearing season were well documented.  Our aerial shanty counts showed that the highest concentrations of shanties were close to shore and in protected bay areas of Lake Winnebago. For the most part, the middle of the lake was barren of shanties.
Ice conditions may have caused some spearers to avoid the ice, but conditions didn't stop Brandi Lefeber. Brandi walked out onto Lake Winnebago from behind her family farm to spear using a deer antler as a good luck decoy. She was successful in spearing a 91.7-pound fish while using a tent as a shanty. Congratulations to Brandi and the other spearers that were able to get out on the lake and have success on opening day!      

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Mille Lacs safe walleye harvest level same as 2019

A joint committee of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists and fisheries biologists from the eight Chippewa bands that retain fishing rights under terms of an 1837 treaty reached agreement on the 2020 Mille Lacs Lake safe harvest level for walleye.
The committee established those levels on Jan. 22, setting the walleye safe harvest level at 150,000 pounds, the same as last year.
State-licensed anglers can harvest 87,800 pounds of walleye during the 2019-2020 ice fishing season and the 2020 open-water season. Tribal fishing is subject to a 62,200-pound limit during the same period.
“The amount of walleye we can safely harvest from Mille Lacs remains the same as last year,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager for the DNR.
Open water walleye regulations will need to consider this winter’s harvest and the expected conditions during spring and summer. That work will occur during the next six weeks as winter walleye fishing comes to an end on Mille Lacs. The DNR will announce open-water fishing regulations for Mille Lacs Lake in late March.
Additional information about Mille Lacs Lake is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR