Anglers must take action ahead of fish-house removal deadline

The first deadline for anglers to remove their fish houses from inland waters is the end of the day Monday, March 4, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The agency urges anglers who haven’t yet removed their shelters to make plans now to ensure they meet the deadline.
“Anglers are responsible for removing their shelters by the deadline, so they need to plan ahead and make sure they can do it,” said DNR Conservation Officer Alexander Birdsall, who patrols the Waconia area. “There’s no way around the fact that it will be challenging for many people to remove their fish houses this year, given the sheer amount of snow that fell in February.”
The March 4 deadline applies to lakes south of an east-west line formed by U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. The deadline north of that line is the end of the day Monday, March 18.
Some fish house owners may have difficulty accomplishing the task themselves. Birdsall urges them to contact a local snowplow company or connect with friends and family and ask for help.
“If anglers brought people out to their fish house this winter – especially if they put them on a hot bite – now would be a good time to remind them of that fact and ask for some help,” he said.
Fish house owners shouldn’t leave anything on the ice when they pull their shelters to shore.
“Anything other than an imprint that’s left on the ice is litter – it’s as simple as that,” said Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “We also recognize that many people clean up litter that isn’t theirs, and we thank them for their efforts to keep our lakes clean.”
If shelters aren’t removed by the deadline, owners may be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer. After the deadline, shelters may be on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied. They may not be left or stored at public accesses. As they venture out, anglers should always keep in mind that ice conditions may vary widely and that ice is never 100 percent safe.
Exceptions to the removal deadlines are Minnesota-Canada border waters (March 31), Minnesota-South Dakota and North Dakota border waters (March 5), Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters (March 1) and Minnesota-Iowa border waters (Feb. 20).
For more information on the deadlines go to mndnr.gov/fishing/shelter.html.  

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


It's time to remove ice shanties

MADISON - As Wisconsin meteorologists predict more snow and more sub-zero temperatures well into March, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Law Enforcement urges all ice shanty owners to take steps and plan now to remove ice shanties by the deadlines.
Capt. April Dombrowski, head of the Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills Section, says the deadlines are to remind people to start removal efforts sooner when the ice is more likely to be solid. "The deadlines also are to help people avoid the additional costs and safety hazards of shanties breaking through the ice," she said.
However, Dombrowski says the DNR realizes the challenges of Wisconsin's sometimes rapid weather changes.
"We understand shanties may be frozen in place by several inches of ice, and some lakes have thick snow from the recent major storm which poses even more challenges," Dombrowski said. "However, based on current Wisconsin winter weather conditions, enforcement discretion will be applied for those who are actively working to get their structures off the ice."
Dombrowski recommends anglers begin immediately to assess their shanties removal possibilities and work with local vendors, fishing clubs, friends and others for assistance.
"Try your local businesses. Anglers may find services in their home areas who can either do the removal, rent the equipment to assist in that removal or some other help in removing those shelters from the ice," she said.
Anglers who have difficulty getting their shelters off the ice by deadlines due to deep snow, or shanties frozen to the ice still need to work actively to free their shelters from the ice and arrange to have the shelters removed from the ice.
The DNR encourages ice anglers to call the department's Hotline, 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367, to report their situation if they are having difficulty meeting removal deadlines. The angler's information, to include name, water body and approximate location where shanty is located will be passed on to the local conservation warden who will use discretion in the enforcement of the deadlines.
After the removal deadlines, anglers can continue to use portable ice fishing shelters daily if they feel the ice is safe - and if they remove their shelters daily and when not actively being used. Permanent shelters, meaning those normally not removed daily from the ice, must be removed from the ice no later than the specified removal date for that water body.
Here are the statewide ice shanty removal dates:
* Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters by March 1.
* Removal daily after the first Sunday following March 1, inland waters south of Highway 64 (Sunday, March 3, 2019).
* Removal daily after the first Sunday following March 12, inland waters north of Highway 64 and all other outlying waters (Sunday, March 17, 2019).
* Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters by March 15.
* The Fox River downstream from the DePere dam in Brown County, ice fishing shelters must always be removed from the ice daily and when not in use.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Sunday closes out Wisconsin's sturgeon spearing season

By RYAN KOENIGS
Wisconsin DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist

Only 1 more day remains in the 2019 sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System.  
There were 34 fish registered on Saturday with Waverly Beach and Stockbridge Harbor combining to register 23 of those fish.  
There have been 456 sturgeon harvested through the first 15 days of the season on Lake Winnebago and 763 sturgeon harvested from the system to date.  
There were no 100-pound fish registered on Saturday, but there was one that came very close. Andrew Schumacher (pictured) of Chilton registered a 99.2-pound (74.0-inch) sturgeon at Stockbridge Harbor.  


DNR certifies catch-and-release lake sturgeon state record

Minnesota has a new state record lake sturgeon so large that anglers had to drill five holes to fit the 6 1/2-foot long fish through the St. Croix River ice.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has certified the fish as a state catch-and-release record.
Early on in the effort to catch the fish on Feb. 9, record holder Darren Troseth (pictured) knew he had something special on the line.
“I’ve seen a lot of big sturgeon in my life, but I was stunned when I got a look at it,” Troseth said.
Troseth and his fishing companion, John Kimble, were ice fishing on the St. Croix near Bayport. To get away from other anglers, they were at a location they had never fished before. When he hooked the record fish, Troseth was fishing out of a double hole he prepared. With his auger battery about to die, he was able to drill a third hole – but the fish still did not fit.
So Troseth took to Facebook to put out a call for help to anyone in the area with an auger. Within a few minutes, two anglers who Troseth and Kimble had never met before showed up with an auger and expanded the hole.
Now with five holes, the sturgeon could barely fit through. With the help of his fishing companion, Troseth was able to land the lake sturgeon.
He quickly measured the fish at 78 inches, took photos and returned the fish to the river to potentially be caught again another day.
Five DNR fisheries staff, two DNR conservation officers and the state record certification official reviewed Troseth’s state record fish application and supporting documents. After concluding that all requirements had been met and the fish had been legally captured, the DNR officially certified Troseth’s sturgeon as the new state catch-and-release record.    
The DNR announces new state records in news releases, on social media and on the DNR website. Find current records and guidelines for each type of state record at mndnr.gov/recordfish.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Wisconsin sturgeon spearers take advantage of bluebird Friday

By RYAN KOENIGS
Wisconsin DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist

There were quite a few spearers that capitalized on the bluebird, sunny Friday and harvested a sturgeon from Lake Winnebago.  
In fact, Friday's harvest of 39 fish was the highest of any weekday this season.  
Stockbridge Harbor and Waverly Beach were the busiest stations by far, registering 17 and 13 fish, respectively. The remaining 9 fish were registered between the other three stations of Payne’s Point (4), Calumet Harbor (4) and Wendt’s (1).  
I made my way around to most of our stations on Friday and talked to a number of spearers that mentioned they would be keeping a close eye on the weather this weekend.  
Many spearers also decided to pull shacks from the lake altogether today. So it’s clear that weather will impact the last weekend of the 2019 sturgeon spearing season, but we will learn more about that impact on Saturday.
There were 2 fish larger than 100 pounds harvested on Friday.  The largest fish was 122.4 pounds (72.3 inches) and registered at Calumet Harbor (Pipe) by Charles Freund (pictured) of Chilton. 


Kelliher's sturgeon closes out Wisconsin spearing season

By RYAN KOENIGS
Wisconsin DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist

The 2019 sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System is now in the books.  
There were 23 fish harvested on Sunday bringing the season total to 479 fish.  
The clear water along the north shore made areas 1 and 2 the places to be during this season. This was evident by Stockbridge Harbor and Waverly Beach being the busiest registration stations this season.  
The largest fish harvested on the season’s final day was 111.7 pounds (74.0 inches) and registered at Wendt’s by Kraig Kelliher of Hartford. That name may sound familiar as this is the second time in three seasons that Kraig has speared a fish 100 pounds or larger. In fact, Kraig and his friend, Doug Endlich, were featured on the front page of the 2018 sturgeon spearing regulation pamphlet holding Kraig’s 140.5-pound (76.0-inch) sturgeon that he harvested during the 2017 spearing season.
Deja vue on Sunday as Kraig speared another 100-pound fish, but this time Doug also speared roughly a 66-inch fish on the same day.  Congratulations goes out to these guys on one heck of a day! 

Wisconsin sturgeon spearers harvest 10 fish

By RYAN KOENIGS
Wisconsin DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist

There were 10 sturgeon registered from Lake Winnebago on Thursday, the 13th day of the Wisconsin state sturgeon spearing season.
There was 1 fish that was larger than 100 pounds.
Each of the 5 registration stations that are still operating registered at least one fish.  
The largest fish of the day was 128.5 pounds (78.5 inches) and registered at Wendt's by Linda Muche of Van Dyne.