Walleye, sauger, hybrid rules to change on Lake Koshkonong

FORT ATKINSON, Wis. - Effective April 1, anglers looking to harvest walleye, sauger and hybrids from Lake Koshkonong and connected waters may only keep three fish in total per day of a minimum of 18 inches in length. The continuous open season on these waters will remain in place.
The 18-inch minimum length limit and daily bag limit of three will apply to:

LAKE KOSHKONONG
* Rock River from the Indianford dam upstream to the lower Watertown dam.
* Bark River from the mouth upstream to the former Hebron Dam at Highway 106.
* Crawfish River from the mouth upstream to and including the Highway 19 bridge.
* Busseyville (Koshkonong) Creek from the mouth upstream to County Highway B.
* Tributaries of these rivers up to the first dam in Dane, Jefferson and Rock counties.
The new size and bag limits will be more restrictive for these waters to reduce harvest pressure, but will still provide quality angling opportunities. Creel surveys (in 2019?) suggest that walleye were the species most frequently targeted by anglers. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also estimated that walleye exploitation rates, obtained from a long-term tagging study, averaged over 40%, which exceeds the 35% threshold for sustainable harvest. Additionally, the recruitment of young walleye into the adult population can be highly variable based on annual fall fish surveys.
"This regulation change will help increase the density of adult walleye and hopefully reduce the need for walleye stocking in these systems," said DNR fisheries biologist Travis Motl.
Millions of walleye fry are stocked annually from the Bark River Fry Hatchery, a cooperative effort of Horicon Fisheries staff and Friends of the Bark River Fry Hatchery. In addition, hundreds of thousands of small fingerling walleye are stocked in the system every other year from state hatcheries.
The DNR proposed the new regulation through the spring fish and wildlife hearings in April 2019 and previous years, during which the public in each county had an opportunity to provide input. Common questions asked during the public input process included why sauger were included in the new regulation.
An important part of the success or failure of a regulation is its enforceability. Department law enforcement reviewed the regulation and felt that making the regulation consistent across the visually-similar species and their hybrids would improve enforceability.
Another frequently-asked question was whether a slot limit would be a better option. Currently, a slot limit is not a standard option in the suite of regulations used in walleye management outside the ceded territory. Further, successful walleye fisheries managed with a slot limit do not rely on intensive stocking like the Lake Koshkonong system but instead rely on consistent natural reproduction to produce young walleye each year.
Growth estimates from 2018 aging data suggest that the average walleye from the Lake Koshkonong system grows faster than both the statewide and southern Wisconsin averages. Therefore, walleye will reach a harvestable size quickly.
"Our estimates show walleye from the Lake Koshkonong system reaching 18 inches in 4-5 years," Motl stated. "This is a very productive system, and we're looking to manage for a high-quality walleye fishery."
To learn more about fishing regulations, visit the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Winnebago System walleye bag limit reduction effective April 1

OSHKOSH, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is working to inform Winnebago System walleye anglers of walleye bag limit changes as the open water season approaches.
Effective April 1, the daily walleye bag limit will be reduced to three walleye of any size (only one may be a sauger or hybrid) for all Winnebago System waters.
Winnebago System waters include Poygan, Winneconne, Butte des Morts and Winnebago and all their tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam including:
* Fox River from Lake Winnebago upstream to the dam above Princeton and all its tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam.
* 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.
The department evaluates the Winnebago walleye population annually to ensure that proper regulations are in place to sustain a strong walleye population and provide good recreational fishing opportunities for anglers. The goal of the bag limit reduction is to reduce walleye exploitation on the Winnebago System and maintain a sustainable fishery. Exploitation, or the proportion of fish harvested out of the total population, has been tracked annually on the Winnebago System since 1993.
Average annual adult female walleye exploitation is estimated at 32.2% and surpassed 40% in eight of the last 27 years, which is well above the 35% threshold that is often suggested for maintaining walleye populations. In addition, the department has documented high exploitation rates on immature female walleye (ranging 22.9%-66.7%, average 42.0%). This information, in conjunction with recent tagging studies, indicates a potential for substantially reduced walleye numbers and recreational fishing opportunities.
To get ahead of these concerns, the DNR began discussing the potential for regulation changes in 2016 and solicited input from local clubs and stakeholders. Over 600 people provided feedback during this public input process, and the majority supported a regulation change, with a bag limit reduction to three walleye being the most favorable option. This option would also likely be most effective at reducing adult and immature female walleye exploitation on the system and maintaining a substantial walleye population.
The department attained additional public input by holding three public meetings in March of 2018. Attendees were asked if they would favor reducing the walleye bag limit to three, and nearly 70% voted yes. Finally, the department asked the walleye bag limit reduction question at the 2018 and 2019 Wisconsin Conservation Congress Spring Hearings and received positive public feedback both years. As a result, the regulation moved forward and received administrative and legislative approval as part of the 2019 regulation change package.
The walleye bag limit reduction to three fish for the Winnebago System is expected to remain in place indefinitely. Department fisheries staff will continue to evaluate the Winnebago walleye population annually to ensure that the proper regulations are in place by working with local volunteers to conduct annual core surveys that include the spring spawning stock assessment and Lake Winnebago bottom trawl assessment. These assessments include continuing to track forage base levels and walleye condition on the system.
Department staff members are committed to working closely with the Winnebago Fisheries Advisory Committee, local clubs, the angling community and other stakeholders to ensure that the Winnebago System continues to produce quality walleye angling opportunities today and for future generations.
To learn more about the new Wisconsin fishing regulations, visit the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Final ice shanty removal deadline March 15

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin ice anglers are reminded that the last deadline in a series of March dates to remove permanent ice shanties from state waters is Sunday, March 15.
Shanties must be removed from waters north of Highway 64 and all other outlying waters by the end of that day. Earlier March deadlines cover inland and boundary waters.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is urging anglers not to wait until the deadlines as possible warming temperatures and early spring rains could complicate removal.
Owners experiencing problems can seek local assistance from fishing clubs, vendors and other anglers. Also, any member of the public who is aware of shanty owners not taking responsibility for their shanties should contact the DNR Violation Hotline by calling or texting 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367.
Deadlines to remove shelters help eliminate spring shoreline litter and boating dangers this spring. Abandoning the shelter or burning the shelter atop the ice does not satisfy the deadline. The debris then goes into the waterbody, impacting water quality.
After the shanty removal deadlines pass, anglers can continue to use portable ice fishing shelters if they feel the ice is safe - as long as they remove their shelters daily and when they are not actively used. Remember to consult with local fishing clubs, bait shops and outfitters who know the local ice conditions. 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.
All ice fishing shelters must be removed from the ice daily and when not in use by these dates:
* Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Lake Superior, and inland waters north of Highway 64 by the first Sunday following March 12.
* Inland waters south of Highway 64 by the first Sunday following March 1.
* Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters by March 15.
* Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters by March 1.
The deadline for Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters was Feb. 20.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


More than 50 invasive carp captured on Mississippi River

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is conducting an immediate response to the capture of 51 invasive carp on the Mississippi River.
The invasive carp were caught by two commercial fishing operators near La Crosse and Trempealeau, WI, during routine spring netting last weekend.
In response to this discovery, the DNR is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Wisconsin DNR and commercial fishing operators to conduct large-scale netting, studies of the captured carp and increased monitoring.
“This robust response will provide additional information about the population while removing any other invasive carp they happen to catch,” said DNR invasive species unit supervisor Heidi Wolf.
When the commercial fishing operator near La Crosse saw what he thought were invasive carp, he contacted the DNR. The DNR invasive carp field crew assisted in removing and identifying the fish. The DNR identified 39 silver carp and 11 grass carp (pictured) caught in Pool 8 of the Mississippi, just south of La Crosse, and one silver carp caught in Pool 6, about 20 miles farther upstream. All invasive carp recovered have been given to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine their age, size and gender.
"The location where these fish were caught is commonly netted because of concentrations of commercially valuable fish,” said DNR invasive carp field lead Ben Larson. “This is the largest congregation of invasive carp we’ve seen this far upstream."
Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River in Arkansas in the 1970s. These large fish compete with native species and pose a threat to rivers and lakes. No breeding populations have been detected in Minnesota waters to date. Individual invasive carp have been caught as far upstream as Pool 2 of the Mississippi, near the Twin Cities (bighead, grass, and silver), the King Power Plant on the St. Croix River by Oak Park Heights (bighead), and just downstream of Granite Falls in the Minnesota River (bighead).
Previous captures of invasive carp in Minnesota have been individuals or small numbers of fish. This capture indicates an increase in the abundance of invasive carp in the Pool 8 portion of the river between Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is very likely related to the prolonged high water conditions on the Mississippi River during the summer of 2019. During high water, gates at the locks and dams on the river are kept open to pass flood waters. These “open river” conditions allow easier upstream movement of fish from downstream portions of the river, where invasive carp densities are higher.
The DNR has built partnerships with state and federal agencies, conservation groups, university researchers and commercial businesses to prevent the spread of invasive carp. The 2015 closure of the Mississippi River lock at Upper St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis was a major accomplishment of these efforts.
The DNR is actively engaged with several prevention efforts:
* The DNR is an active partner in the Upper Mississippi River Invasive Carp Workgroup. The group includes representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and several federal agencies.
* In partnership with the DNR, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) at the University of Minnesota is testing and evaluating carp deterrents in Mississippi River locks and dams. Previously, MAISRC installed and evaluated a speaker system at Lock 8. Development of this technology will continue this year with the installation of an updated speaker system at this location.
* The DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division leads a program to monitor fish population changes and impacts of management actions. This includes maintaining important relationships with commercial fishing operators, as demonstrated in this instance.
State funding sources, including the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund and Outdoor Heritage Fund, have provided key funding for deterrent actions and the DNR invasive carp detection and response program.
Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. Call 651-587-2781 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Take a photo and transport the carp to the nearest DNR fisheries office or make arrangements for it to be picked up by a DNR official.
More information about invasive carp is available on the DNR website.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

2020 Minnesota fishing regulations affect Wisconsin anglers

Anglers will find a variety of changes in the 2020 Minnesota fishing regulations booklet, including new possession and length limits on  Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters of the Mississippi River. This is the first comprehensive update of regulations on the Mississippi River border waters in nearly 70 years.
The new border waters possession and length limits for most gamefish species went into effect March 1, and were developed based on decades of biological data, as well as substantial public input during 2018 and 2019.
“We've heard positive feedback about the changes from anglers who care a great deal about sustaining the high quality fish populations and the fishing opportunities on these Mississippi River border waters,” said Kevin Stauffer, the Department of Natural Resources area fisheries supervisor in Lake City.
The new regulations for the Mississippi River border waters and Lake Pepin include lower possession limits, and changes to some length limits, for walleye and sauger, northern pike, channel and flathead catfish, shovelnose sturgeon, crappie, sunfish, yellow perch, and white and yellow bass.
The changes are proactive measures that will help both states manage the effects that changing river conditions, invasive species and increased angling effectiveness have on fish. Wisconsin has approved identical regulations that will go into effect April 1. Some examples include:
* Walleye and sauger limit has decreased from 6 to 4.
* Crappie, sunfish and yellow perch limit has decreased from 25 to 15 each.
* White and yellow bass limit has decreased from 25 to 10.
With the exception of minimum size limits for bass (14 inches) and walleye (15 inches) implemented in 1990, possession and size restrictions for gamefish on the Minnesota and Wisconsin border waters of the Mississippi River had been largely unchanged for the last seven decades.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Northern fish house removal deadline approaching

The deadline to remove ice shelters from Minnesota lakes in the north one-third of the state is the end of the day on Monday, March 16.
After the deadline, anglers may still use shelters when they’re fishing, but shelters may not be left on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise unless they’re occupied. If shelters remain on the ice after the deadline, owners will be prosecuted. Conservation officers may also confiscate, destroy or remove any ice shelter and its contents if not removed by the deadline.
When they remove their shelters from the ice, people also must pick up any litter or trash they brought out, including items such as blocking materials, bottles and cans, and propane canisters. Anglers, who leave trash, will be cited for littering.
Get all the details about fish house removal requirements, including the removal dates for border waters on the Minnesota DNR website.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Fish house removal deadlines quickly approaching

Anglers in the southern two-thirds of Minnesota have until the end of the day on Monday, March 2, to remove their fish houses from Minnesota lakes.
The removal deadline for those in the northern one-third of the state is Monday, March 16.
The northern and southern parts of the state are split by a line that runs west-east along 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.
“Anglers are responsible for removing their shelters by the deadline, so they need to plan ahead,” said DNR conservation officer Garrett Thomas, who is stationed in Eagan. “And just as importantly, they have to ensure the area around their fish house is free of trash. There’s no excuse for fish house owners to leave anything but an impression in the snow or ice.”
If shelters aren’t removed by the deadline, owners will be cited 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 anglers venture out, they should 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).
More information about ice fishing shelter deadlines is available at mndnr.gov/iceshelter.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR