Blogging

Trees are getting ready for winter as autumn colors begin

MADISON — September is technically still summer on the astronomical calendar, but the days are getting shorter and cooler. Wisconsin has more than 17 million acres of forested lands and changes in color mean the trees are starting to get ready for winter. Peak fall color varies each year, and 2017 is one of the wettest on record, which could have an impact on color this year.

Early fall color is already showing up in Wisconsin's Northwoods.
Early fall color is already showing up in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
Photo Credit: DNR

“Fall color viewing helps usher in the change of seasons for Wisconsin residents and visitors every year,” said Colleen Matula, forest silviculturist/ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. “It is time for our forests – both rural and urban – to show off their colors.”

The first hints of color typically appear in isolated, lower-lying areas by mid-September. Peak fall color usually occurs in far northern Wisconsin during the last week of September and first week of October. Central Wisconsin peak color generally occurs during mid-October and in southern Wisconsin during the latter half of October.

Wisconsin’s forests, parks and natural areas are great for fall color viewing. Go to dnr.wi.gov and search “Explore Outdoors” to find a place near you. For the most up-to-date information and an estimated date of peak colors, go to the Fall Color Report on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism Travel Wisconsin website and signup for email updates.

Nature’s autumn leaf colors are influenced by three factors: leaf pigments, length of night and weather. The vibrancy of the season depends on the variable weather conditions, like temperature and moisture.

“Shorter days mean the sunlight is less intense, and leaves begin to adjust by producing less chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and orange pigments of the leaves,” Matula said. “Temperature and moisture also affect the color display.”

According to Todd Lanigan, DNR forest health specialist, hardwood trees already showing color in lowland areas are stressed from being in water too long due to the wettest year on record for Wisconsin.

The leaf pigments determine the full range of the color palette. Chlorophyll gives leaves the basic green color and is necessary for photosynthesis. Carotenoids, which produce yellow, orange and brown colors, are always present so trees like aspen and birch have more predictable colors each year. Anthocyanin, which produces red and purple tints, varies with the conditions and makes each autumn unique for other species. Visit this page for more information about fall colors: http://dnr.wi.gov/education/educatorresources/fallColors.html

Whatever the color, or wherever you are in the state, autumn is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Wisconsin’s trees as they usher in the next season.

Travel Wisconsin asks fans to vote for their favorite scenic route in Wisconsin

Half of the drives highlight Wisconsin State Park System properties

MADISON – In anticipation of the arrival of vibrant fall colors across the state, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is asking fall foliage fans to join the fun and help pick this year’s best fall drive in the state. People can cast a vote for their favorite drive on TravelWisconsin.com through Oct. 2.

The Ultimate Fall Drive Showdown (exit DNR) includes 10 scenic routes throughout the state perfect for viewing fall colors. Half of those drives are either through or adjacent to Wisconsin State Park System properties, including: the Chippewa County Ice Age Drive, that goes around the Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area; the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive that goes through the Northern and Southern units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest; the Door County Coastal Byway, which goes by Peninsula, Newport and Whitefish Dunes state parks; the Wisconsin Great River Road National Scenic Byway that passes by Nelson Dewey, Wyalusing, Perrot and Merrick state parks; and Highway 33 from Baraboo to La Crosse, which passes by Devil’s Lake and Wildcat Mountain state parks and the “400” State Trail.

The Travel Wisconsin Ultimate Fall Drive Showdown lets people vote for their favorite fall drive.
The Travel Wisconsin Ultimate Fall Drive Showdown lets people vote for their favorite fall drive.
Photo Credit: Wisconsin Department of Tourism

The other five drives include the Wisconsin Lake Superior Byway, the Nicolet-Wolf River Scenic Byway; Rustic Road 62 featuring Timm’s Hill in Price County; Cranberry Highway Wisconsin Rapids Area; and Rustic Road 29 featuring Snake Road in Lake Geneva.

“We invite people taking part in the Ultimate Fall Drive Showdown to take time to stop and visit one of our many properties along these scenic tours. Our parks and forests offer many amenities such as picnic areas and restrooms, hiking and biking trails and campgrounds to stop, rest awhile, and take in the fall colors,” said Ben Bergey, director of the Wisconsin State Park System. People can find information about properties by searching the Department of Natural Resources website dnr.wi.gov, for keywords “find a park.”

The best and brightest fall colors throughout the state can be found by visiting Travel Wisconsin’s Fall Color Report (exit DNR). Visitors can use the interactive map to locate peak foliage along with nearby activities, events, places to stay and eat. More than 100 fall color reporters throughout the state provide updates for all 72 counties, making the report the most timely and comprehensive report available.

Fall fanatics can stay on top of the state’s rapidly changing color by: checking the report from their mobile device, tablet or desktop computer; texting “WI Fall” to 468311 to receive Fall Color Report alerts, or sign up to have the Fall Color Report emailed to them every Thursday in time to make weekend plans.

DNR to hold public hearing on agriculture rule revisions

Hearing Sept. 15 in Green Bay and Madison; public comment period through Oct. 4

MADISON – The Department of Natural Resources is holding a public hearing September 15 regarding state rule changes governing the spreading of manure on soils in certain sensitive areas of the state.

The changes, under Ch. NR 151, Wis. Adm. Code, relate to shallow soils over “karst topography,” which are areas where the bedrock may be fractured. Some of the proposed changes to NR 151 may be based on recommendations in the Groundwater Collaboration Workgroup final report, issued in June 2016.

An informational meeting and Q&A will start at noon and the public hearing will start at 1 p.m. The hearing will be held September 15 at the University Union Phoenix Room (Rooms A, B and C), UW-Green Bay, 2420 Nicolet Dr., Green Bay. The hearing will also be broadcast at the same time in Madison at the Wisconsin Natural Resource Building, Room G09, 101 S. Webster St., Madison.

The public is invited to attend and provide oral and written comments on NR 151 rule changes at each location. A public hearing officer will be present to conduct the hearing and may put time limits on individual oral statements to ensure an opportunity for all persons present to make statements.

The public may also submit written comments on the proposed rule changes by October 4, 2017, via mail to Mike Gilbertson, DNR, 101 S. Webster Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53707, or by e-mail to: DNRNR151Revisions@dnr.wisconsin.gov.

Agency staff will provide a brief summary of the available information about the rule changes at the meeting, and will also provide a summary of the steps that must be followed before the changes become final.

Extended inland trout season offers good opportunities for anglers

Higher trout numbers and bigger fish noted in summer surveys

MADISON — Cooler and wetter summer conditions, and trout streams that held up well under flooding in western Wisconsin, add up to even better fishing opportunities this fall for trout anglers who will enjoy a longer harvest season and good opportunities for trophy-sized trout, state fisheries officials say.

“This is the second year we’ve had this extended harvest season so anglers now have opportunities to fish through October 15 on inland waters,” says Joanna Griffin, trout team coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. “We hope people take advantage of it.”

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 7 photos

The open season on inland trout waters runs through Oct. 15 and offers anglers more opportunity to chase trophy-sized trout, like these nice brookies from a recent DNR survey on an Eau Claire area stream.

Despite extremely wet conditions this summer, trout fishing in La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon and Crawford counties has been good,” says Kirk Olson, fisheries biologist in La Crosse.

While a historic flood in late July changed many area streams, filling in favorite fishing holes and creating new ones, “even with these changes, fishing has been very good when water levels and clarity permit,” Olson says. Initial fisheries surveys this summer indicate that the flooding did not have a severe impact on trout populations. so anglers will find plenty of fish for fall action.

Northeastern Wisconsin fisheries biologists noted higher numbers of trout during sampling by the Shawano Crew this summer. In northern Wisconsin, cooler and wetter conditions kept fish dispersed among headwater creeks and large river conditions, giving anglers good access to fish and some very nice brook trout throughout the summer, says Zach Lawson, a fisheries biologist based in Mercer. This fall, look for those larger brook trout in the smaller tributaries of large rivers.

In west central Wisconsin, Fisheries Supervisor Heath Benike notes that natural reproduction has been strong the past three years with ample fish in the 8- to 12-inch range on most streams.

“And larger-sized trout have also been showing up in good numbers this summer, likely from slightly reduced densities from poorer year classes in 2013 and 2014,” Benike says. “This fall should be a good time to go looking for a trophy-sized trout.”

Season regulations and tools to find a trout water

The general open season for inland streams, connected springs and spring ponds runs through 11:59 p.m. Oct. 15 except as noted in the Specific Waters by County section of the Guide to Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations, 2017-2018 [PDF].   Note that the open season closes Sept. 30 for streams flowing into Lake Superior from their mouths to the first impassable permanent barrier, unless noted in the Specific Waters section.

Anglers can use a new DNR mobile website tool to find places to fish. TROUT, short for Trout Regulations and Opportunities User Tool, includes trout fishing regulation, classified trout water, public land and DNR fishing easements.

Anglers wanting a printed map can use the tool to find the water they want and then print off a copy, or anglers can also print off county maps showing Wisconsin’s classified trout streams. These PDFs will not have regulations public lands and fishing easements noted on them.

Fisheries forecasts for selected waters

Find below recent short summaries from fisheries biologists for some trout waters in their areas. Other forecasts and survey results are found in the trout section of the 2017 Wisconsin Fishing Report, starting bottom of page 15 [PDF].

Adams and Portage counties

After recent 2017 trout survey work, trout populations are healthy in Adams and Portage counties. Streams surveyed included Big Roche a Cri Creek (Adams), Fordham Creek (Adams), Neenah Creek (Adams), Campbell Creek (Adams), Tomorrow River (Portage), Emmons Creek (Portage), Flume Creek (Portage). – Jennifer Bergman, fisheries biologist, Wisconsin Rapids

Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties

Fishing has been excellent in the Driftless lately as streams have finally come down and cleared. Preliminary results from our electrofishing indicate that the late July flooding didn’t have a substantial impact on trout abundances in most locations. I expect that fishing will pick up as water temperatures cool and trout become more active prior to spawning.- Kirk Olson, fisheries biologist, La Crosse

Baldwin/Eau Claire Area

Fishing opportunities in the Baldwin/Eau Claire Area are very strong. Several good years of natural reproduction have occurred recently and fish densities are once again approaching all-time highs. Angler effort and interest is strong especially near streams close to the Twin Cities Metro Area. The Kinni, Rush and, Trimbelle rivers receive a bulk of the angling interest. Habitat crews completed another project on the Trimbelle River downstream of HWY 10 near the mouth of Spring Creek and will complete a 2,000-foot project on Fall Creek near Durand by the end of the field season. No major complaints have been received in regards to fishing regulations and for the most part anglers appear happy.

Stream restoration crews have busy and have recently completed trout habitat restoration projects on the Trimbelle River in Pierce County, Swinns Valley Creek in Buffalo County, Beaver Creek in Trempealeau County, Tainter Creek in Vernon County, Fall Creek in Pepin County, Tarr Creek in Monroe County and removed a dam on Silver Creek near Fort McCoy. – Heath Benike, fisheries supervisor, Eau Claire

Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties: Bluff Creek upstream of County Highway P in Walworth County now has more fishable stream miles than any time since 1940, thanks to a large-scale stream re-meander project the last two winters. This project has redirected stream flow into the original channel, bypassing hundreds of feet of warm, shallow ditch channel which was unsuitable for trout and fishing. Trout Unlimited, UW-Whitewater Ecology Club and other stakeholders have assisted with installation of woody structure and other habitat features. Local trout anglers visiting Bluff will find trout and other coldwater species already inhabiting the remeandered reaches, providing a brand new and highly accessible trout fishing opportunity in Southeastern Wisconsin. – Luke S. Roffler, senior fisheries biologist, Kansasville

Iron and Ashland counties

Cooler and wetter conditions this summer kept the trout streams of Iron and Ashland Counties flowing at consistent levels and ample temperatures throughout the season, thus fish were dispersed among headwater creeks and larger river systems. Anglers enjoyed good access to very nice brook trout throughout the summer. DNR trout stream surveys documented good brook trout natural reproduction falling on the heels of an immense flooding event in summer of 2016, suggesting that quality angling opportunities experienced today should be carried into future seasons. With summer now giving way to fall, anglers can expect fishing to heat up in the smaller tributaries of larger rivers (i.e. the Potato River, Tyler Forks, and the Bad River) as brook trout set up in pre-spawn areas. The remainder of inland trout season is a great time to locate concentrations of larger brook trout in these areas, with many fish exhibiting especially vibrant coloration. – Zach Lawson, fisheries biologist, Mercer

Oconto and Langlade counties

Large brown trout and brook trout are on the move within the South Branch Oconto River as we head into fall. Popular fishing access areas are along the South Branch Oconto Fishery Area, as well as upstream at County Highway W, County Highway T, Old Grave Road, and Sauls Spring Road. There are reports of 20+ inch brown trout caught recently. – Tammie Paoli, fisheries biologist, Peshtigo

Sawyer County

DNR trout surveys this summer show more big brook trout (12-plus-inches) than usual. We’ve even seen some up around 15 inches in a few spots. So anglers will have good opportunities to catch some nice fish. Some new spots to try: We did restoration work on 1,700 feet of trout streams in the Exeland area this summer. The spots were previously dammed by beaver and were wide and mucky. We used some brush bundling to narrow and deepen the channel for trout. The work was done with the help of the Wild Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Lac Courte Oreilles Youth Conservation Corps. Typically, downstream of such projects, the new habitat projects deliver more fish very quickly. – Max Wolter, fisheries biologist, Hayward

Online tools show hunters where baiting and feeding is banned

MADISON – Before taking part in upcoming hunting seasons or placing feed for wildlife, hunters and wildlife watchers should be sure to check which counties currently prohibit wildlife baiting and feeding activities.

State statutes 29.336 (2) (b) and 29.336 (2) (c) have been amended to remove deer baiting and feeding prohibitions for counties in which 36 months have passed since any confirmed positive test for chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis within the county. This amendment also removes deer baiting and feeding prohibitions in adjacent counties that are within a 10-mile radius to counties in which 24 months have passed since any confirmed positive test for chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis.

The following 15 counties previously subject to deer baiting and feeding prohibitions have reverted back to regulated deer baiting and feeding as a result of this proposal’s enactment: Barron, Burnett, Calumet, Clark, Dodge, Jackson, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Polk, Racine, Sheboygan, Washburn, Washington and Waushara. It is important to note that baiting and feeding restrictions remain in place for 28 CWD affected areas/counties, of which none will be lifted in 2017.

This change affects counties in which an individual is restricted on the placement of bait/feed. The current regulations for placement of bait/feed in counties where this practice is allowed are still in place, including timing, location, quantity, and other requirements. Hunters should continue to follow local ordinances that may prohibit baiting and feeding of deer until they are notified of a change locally.

Those interested in baiting/feeding should take time to be familiar with the associated regulations, found at dnr.wi.gov, keywords “baiting and feeding.”

These outcomes apply equally to positive samples from free-roaming or captive animals. More information regarding current baiting and feeding rules in response to CWD detections can be found at keyword “CWD.”

During the 2017 deer hunting season, DNR will continue to sample deer within the Southern Farmland Zone and at select locations in the CWD-affected area. To learn more about the 2017 CWD surveillance plan, or for more information on CWD, search keyword “CWD.” Hunters are reminded that the surveillance plan identifies where the Wisconsin DNR will be attempting to collect samples from deer however if hunters anywhere in the state are interested in having their animal tested, they should contact their local wildlife biologist for the county they are located.

Individuals may still feed birds and small mammals, provided feeding devices are within 50 yards of a human dwelling and at a sufficient height or design to prevent access by deer.

Sept. 16 marks opening of archery and crossbow deer hunting seasons

MADISON – Increased deer observations following another mild winter have hunters and state wildlife officials alike excited for fall hunting seasons – the 2017 archery and crossbow deer seasons run concurrently statewide from Sept. 16 to Jan. 7, 2018.

“I’m hearing a lot of optimism from all corners of the state,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. “Hunters should expect good to excellent deer numbers in most areas within the central and southern farmland zones, and more deer in the forested zones after several years of no antlerless harvest and mild winters. With our most recent mild winter, reports of excellent antler growth and good fawn production are common.”

In 2016, archery and crossbow hunters combined for one of the highest buck harvests in history, and Wallenfang expects similar, if not an increase, in the buck harvest this year. Deer hunters in just four predominantly forested counties will see buck-only hunting this year. Throughout the remainder of the state, antlerless hunting opportunities are available through the use of Farmland Zone and bonus antlerless deer tags.

Archery and crossbow deer hunters have a continuous season framework that includes hunting during all gun deer seasons in November and December, plus the option to fill a gun deer tag using crossbow or archery equipment during open firearm seasons.

In its first three years, hunting with a crossbow has provided an additional opportunity for many hunters throughout Wisconsin, and accounts for the highest rate of participation by women than any other deer hunting method. Those interested in using both a conventional bow and crossbow may do so by paying full price for one of the licenses and purchasing a $3 upgrade for the second license. Hunters will use the same buck tag and antlerless tags issued with their first license of choice.

In addition, please note that regulations regarding tree stands and ground blinds used on department managed lands have changed for fall 2017. For other types of property such as county or federally owned lands, contact the property manager to learn about these rules.

Bonus antlerless tags remain available in many deer management units. Bonus tags may be filled with any weapon type during the appropriate season, but must be filled in the zone, county and land type designated on each tag. Bonus tags are available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of $12 each for residents, $20 each for non-residents, and $5 for youth hunters age 10-11.

In 2017, up to five Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags are included with each deer hunting license, depending on the Deer Management Unit (DMU) of choice. Hunters who have not yet purchased a license for hunting deer will be prompted to select the unit and land-type for the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags at the point of sale. Licenses may be purchased through the Go Wild website, GoWild.WI.Gov or at any of the more than 1,000 Go Wild license sales locations.

Hunters who purchased their deer hunting licenses earlier in the year, or who have yet to determine hunting location, may defer the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tag selection. When ready, hunters may:

  • make a tag selection online from their Go Wild account and print themselves;
  • request desired tag(s) at a local DNR Service Center; or
  • visit a license agent (this will require a $2 processing fee).

GameReg

All harvested deer must be registered electronically by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered. GameReg is simple, fast and convenient for hunters. The system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions, beginning with the carcass tag number and date of birth.

Hunters will have three options for registering their deer:

  • online at GameReg.WI.Gov (fastest and easiest option);
  • by phone at 1-844-426-3734 (1-844-GAME-REG); or
  • electronically at a participating in-person registration station (keyword “registration stations”).

For more information regarding electronic registration, search “GameReg.”

To receive email updates regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled “subscribe for updates for DNR topics,” then follow the prompts and select the “white-tailed deer” distribution list (found within the “hunting” list).

Deer hunters are also encouraged to check out the frequently asked questions page for more information regarding changes for 2017. And, remember to check out the carcass tagging FAQ (search keywords “tag it”).

For more general information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword “deer.”

Lake sturgeon hook and line season opens Sept. 2

Opportunities to catch and release or harvest a big, hard-fighting fish

MADISON – Anglers interested in pursuing a big, hard-fighting fish will want to try their hand at fishing for lake sturgeon–armed with a stout rod and heavy line.

The hook and line season for lake sturgeon opens Sept. 2 and runs through Sept. 30 on several major river stretches for a fish that can grow to more than 6 feet long and exceed 150 pounds. The world record taken by hook and line was a 170-pound, 10-ounce lake sturgeon pulled from Yellow Lake in Burnett County in 1979.

DNR Fisheries Technician Matt Simonson with a 47-pound sturgeon captured during a 2017 hook and line survey on the Chippewa River in Eau Claire. Fish captured during the survey ranged from 13 to 67 inches and weighed up to 56 pounds.
DNR Fisheries Technician Matt Simonson with a 47-pound sturgeon captured during a 2017 hook and line survey on the Chippewa River in Eau Claire. Fish captured during the survey ranged from 13 to 67 inches and weighed up to 56 pounds.
Photo Credit: DNR

While anglers can purchase a carcass tag to harvest one fish per season of 60-inches or greater, the growing catch and release opportunities for this fish are what’s exciting many anglers, says Lori Tate, a fisheries biologist and member of the Department of Natural Resources sturgeon team.

“There’s definitely still an interest in harvesting sturgeon in the state but we’re also seeing anglers enjoy catch and release opportunities for lake sturgeon,” Tate says. “Sturgeon fishing opportunities are improving as a result of the more protective length limit we implemented in 2007.”

“We’re very lucky–I don’t think there is any other place in North America where you can fish for lake sturgeon like anglers can in Wisconsin rivers.”

Wisconsin offers a hook-and-line season on several major inland waters, including sections of the Chippewa River, Wisconsin River, Flambeau River, Jump River and Yellow River.

Harvest tag requirements and other hook and line season regulations

All anglers fishing for lake sturgeon must have a valid Wisconsin hook and line fishing license. Anglers need to purchase a harvest tag if they intend to keep a sturgeon. The harvest tag is available throughout the season and costs $20 for residents and $50 for nonresidents. Anglers who harvest a legal-size fish must immediately attach the harvest tag to the fish and take it to a registration station by 6 p.m. the next day for registration.

Find a list of harvest waters, harvest registration stations and instructions for properly tagging a harvested fish on the Lake Sturgeon Hook and Line Season page of the DNR website. 

Tips for fishing for lake sturgeon using a rod and reel, including safe release

Ryan Koenigs, the fisheries biologist who chairs DNR’s sturgeon committee, offers these tips for anglers wanting to fish for lake sturgeon during the hook and line season.

  • Use a good sturdy rod and reel and heavy tackle including high pound test line.
  • Use a large gob of night crawlers as bait. Cut bait can be effective as well.
  • Present the bait along the bottom in either deep holes or areas with swift current, making sure to use an adequate amount of weight to hold the bait in place.
  • Try fishing in the tailraces below dams, as fish are drawn to current.
  • Use special care after landing the fish if you plan to release it. Take any photos or measurements quickly and release it quickly to reduce stress on the fish. If it is a large fish, consider leaving it in the water when taking your photos. Do not tether or tie the sturgeon by the tail to weigh it or lift it by the head as this can damage the fish. If a smaller sturgeon is caught, simply hold the fish under the belly when handling.

Fishing forecasts for waters open for the season

DNR fish biologists have submitted summaries detailing some of the lake sturgeon populations that provide hook and line angling opportunities for this large and exciting fish. See their forecasts below and find others in the 2017 Wisconsin Fishing Report [PDF].

Lower Chippewa River

The Chippewa River is home to a healthy lake sturgeon population. In 2017, 196 lake sturgeon were captured by the DNR fisheries crew out of the Eau Claire office. The fish ranged from 13 to 67 inches and weighed up to 56 pounds, so there are trophy fish out there to be caught. Last year, eight sturgeon were harvested from the lower Chippewa River and anglers reported catching numerous sub-legal fish. Most anglers use night crawlers or cut bait and fish downstream of the dam or in deep holes of the river. Anglers should be prepared for a hard fighting fish, so a stout rod is needed along with heavy line and a large landing net. – Joseph Gerbyshak, fisheries biologist, Eau Claire, 715-839-2877

Lake Wisconsin

Lake Wisconsin, starting above the Prairie du Sac Dam and including the main lake and the Wisconsin River up to the Kilbourn Dam in Wisconsin Dells, holds a lake sturgeon population that is completely self-sustaining. The adult sturgeon population in the lake (those greater than 50 inches) currently sits at around 1,600 individuals, and has remained stable for many years. Although no fish have been harvested from this section of lake/river since 2012, anglers continue to catch and release many fish each hook and line season, with the upper end of the main lake and the segment of river just below the Kilbourn Dam in Wisconsin Dells being two popular places to fish. – Nathan Nye, fisheries biologist, Poynette, 608-635-8122

Lower Wisconsin River

The Wisconsin River below the Prairie du Sac Dam remains a very popular place for sturgeon anglers to fish as well, and all of the sturgeon harvest from the Wisconsin River since 2012 has occurred below the Prairie du Sac Dam, with nearly all of the harvest occurring from the tailrace down to the Highway 12 Bridge at Sauk City. The tailwater adult population is generally between 150 and 200 fish in a given year, and since the 60-inch minimum length limit was instituted for the 2007 fishing season, harvest has averaged around eight fish per year. Typically more fish are harvested later in the season as adults move up from points further downriver and concentrate in the deeper areas immediately below the dam. – Nathan Nye, fisheries biologist, Poynette, 608-635-8122

Yellow River

DNR crews sampled 105 adult sturgeon that averaged 55.2 inches and 41.3 lbs in 2017. All fish were captured upstream of Yellow Lake in the Yellow River during their spawning migration. The largest fish this season was 72.8 inches and 106 lbs. Yellow Lake anglers traditionally do very well during the September hook/line season and are generally catch and release anglers with very few fish harvested. Harvest last season was four fish and the 2015 season had one fish registered. Overall, anglers can expect to see a good hook and line season with cooler water temperatures going into September. – Craig Roberts, fisheries biologist, Spooner, 715-635-4095

Menominee River

DNR has stocked 10 miles of the upper Menominee River from Sturgeon Falls Dam to Quiver Falls with lake sturgeon since 1982 and has documented a few legal size fish (60+ inches) in that section, including this 66-inch fish collected by DNR Fisheries Technician Derek Apps.
DNR has stocked 10 miles of the upper Menominee River from Sturgeon Falls Dam to Quiver Falls with lake sturgeon since 1982 and has documented a few legal size fish (60+ inches) in that section, including this 66-inch fish collected by DNR Fisheries Technician Derek Apps.
Photo Credit: DNR

The section of the Menominee river upstream from Grand Rapids Dam is open to hook and line with a 60-inch minimum size limit. DNR has stocked the 10 miles of upper Menominee River from Sturgeon Falls Dam to Quiver Falls since 1982. Crews just surveyed the river and caught a fish over 60 inches near the Sturgeon Falls dam. It’s the first fish in that size range that has been caught in that section of river. If the public wants to try a new section of the river they could explore that area.- Mike Donofrio, fisheries supervisor, Peshtigo, 715-582-5050

Flambeau and Upper Chippewa rivers

Veteran sturgeon anglers as well as newcomers to hook-and-line sturgeon fishing should find plenty of catch-and-release opportunity for sublegal-size fish in the Flambeau and Upper Chippewa rivers, along with an occasional chance to harvest one far exceeding the 60-inch minimum length limit. Of the eight sturgeon harvested from these river segments in the 2016 open season, two were 74 inches long. Popular shore fishing spots include the tailwaters of most hydroelectric dams and the deeper pools in the free-flowing river reaches, though some sturgeon anglers prefer to fish from boats in the impoundments. Some prefer cut bait or prepared stink baits, but many sturgeon anglers use a gob of night crawlers. Fishing is always prohibited in the fish refuges immediately downstream of the Turtle-Flambeau Dam and the Upper Park Falls Dam on the North Fork Flambeau River and below the Arpin Dam on the Chippewa River. – Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist, Park Falls, 715-762-1354

2017 Fall Turkey Hunting leftover permits go on sale August 26

MADISON – Hunters who were successful in the fall turkey permit drawing will begin receiving notification in the mail early next week. Please note, it is possible that the notifications may arrive after the leftover permit sales begin.

Leftover fall turkey permits go on sale August 26 for the season that opens Sept. 16.
Leftover fall turkey permits go on sale August 26 for the season that opens Sept. 16.
Photo Credit: Ryan Brady

Hunters can check to see if they were successful in drawing a fall turkey permit by logging into their accounts at GoWild.WI.Gov. A fall turkey license needs to be purchased, along with the turkey stamp [PDF], unless the stamp was purchased for the spring turkey hunt. Conservation Patron license holders already have their fall turkey license and stamp privileges and they will receive their fall turkey permits in the mail, if they were successful in the drawing.

Those not successful in the drawing will have the chance to purchase a leftover permit. All remaining fall turkey permits will go on sale Saturday, Aug. 26 at 10 a.m. Leftover permits can be purchased at a rate of one per day until the zone sells out or the season ends. The fall turkey hunting season for zones 1-5 runs Sept. 16 to Dec. 31 (season may be extended to Jan. 7, 2018, consult online regulations for updates), while the season for zones 6 and 7 runs Sept. 16 to Nov. 17.

Leftover permit availability in each Wild Turkey Management Zone [PDF] is as follows – total permits made available prior to the drawing are in parentheses:

  • Zone 1: 15,486 (27,500);
  • Zone 2: 5,073 (22,000);
  • Zone 3: 18,531 (30,000);
  • Zone 4: 7,936 (15,000);
  • Zone 5: 180 (4,200);
  • Zone 6: 0 (1,900); and
  • Zone 7: 0 (1,500).

Remaining fall turkey permits may be purchased using the online license center or through any license agent. Leftover fall turkey permits cost $5 for 10 and 11 year olds, $10 for residents, and $15 for nonresidents. This is in addition to the cost of the fall turkey license and turkey stamp (if not already purchased).

The 2017 Fall Turkey regulations are included in the 2017 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations pamphlet, available now on the hunting regulations page of the DNR website and at DNR Service Centers.

For more information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword “turkey.”

Sept. 1 marks opener for mourning dove, early teal and early goose hunting seasons

MADISON – Migratory game bird hunters are reminded that Friday, Sept. 1 marks the opener for Wisconsin’s mourning dove, early teal and early goose hunting seasons.

Wisconsin will again be offering an early teal hunting season in 2017.
Wisconsin will again be offering an early teal hunting season in 2017.
Photo Credit: DNR

To view a full list of waterfowl hunting seasons [PDF] and the 2017 Migratory Game Bird Regulations, search keyword “waterfowl.”

Canada Goose

Canada Goose hunting begins with an early season Sept. 1-15, with a daily bag limit of five geese. Goose hunters are required to complete registration within 48 hours of harvest; however, in-field validation of harvest permits is no longer required. During the early goose season, regulations apply statewide, with no zone-specific regulations.

Teal

An additional year of the experimental early teal-only duck hunting season will run Sept. 1-7, with a daily bag limit of six teal. Wisconsin is required to have an additional year of this experimental season due to a change in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulatory timeline. Opening day shooting hours for the teal season will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., followed by sunrise to 7 p.m. for the remainder of the season. Early teal hunters are not required to purchase any licenses or permits in addition to those required for hunting ducks during regular waterfowl seasons.

While the early teal season is offered statewide, some state-owned properties have special waterfowl hunting limitations. For example, Mead Wildlife Area does not allow waterfowl hunting prior to the regular duck season, and Lake Mills Wildlife Area (Zeloski Marsh) has unique shooting hour restrictions. Contact a local wildlife biologist or consult the 2017 Migratory Bird Regulations for a list of areas with special requirements or limitations.

Mourning Dove

The 2017 mourning dove hunting season will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 29. This season structure is identical to 2016. The daily bag limit is 15 doves, and the possession limit for doves is three times the daily bag limit.

Go Wild

With the transition to Go Wild in 2016, the Canada goose harvest registration phone number is now consistent with all other species registered in Wisconsin – this system also provides for online registration. Hunters can register online at gamereg.wi.gov or via phone at 844-426-3734 (844 GAME-REG).

In addition, Early, Exterior and Horicon zone goose permits are printed on regular white paper, rather than green thermal paper. While afield, hunters must carry their Canada goose harvest permit – acceptable methods of proof include a paper copy, DNR-approved PDF displayed on a mobile device, Wisconsin driver’s license, or Go Wild Conservation Card. In-field validation of a goose harvest permit is no longer required, but hunters are still required to register their geese within 48 hours of harvest.

Band Reporting

If you find or harvest a banded bird, please report it at www.reportband.gov. To report the bird, you will need the band number (or numbers), location, time, and method of recovery. Even if the band you recover is inscribed with a 1-800 telephone number, it must be reported at www.reportband.gov.

Fields and Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool

Dove hunters are encouraged to check out the Fields and Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool. FFLIGHT helps hunters of all types locate young aspen and alder habitat, pheasant-stocked public hunting grounds, and managed dove fields.

FFLIGHT also allows users to print maps and find GPS coordinates to assist in navigation and provides measuring tools to help estimate acreage and walking distance. Mobile users can use this tool on-the-go to find suitable habitat for hunting. For more information, search keyword “FFLIGHT.”

Lake Trout season closure in Apostle Islands region

BAYFIELD, Wis. — Lake Trout fishing in Lake Superior has been exceptionally good this season. So good that harvest quotas have been reached requiring the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to close the lake trout season for sport and charter anglers at 11:59 p.m. on August 20, 2017 in the Apostle Island region (WI-2) of Lake Superior.

Lake Superior lake trout zones
Lake Superior lake trout zones

“Following a slow start to the season, July lake trout fishing has been very good, nearly equaling harvest the prior seven months” said Terry Margenau, DNR Lake Superior fisheries supervisor.

The recreational season for lake trout started Dec. 1, 2016 and typically runs through Sept. 30, 2017. However, the Natural Resources Board approved an emergency rule last December that included conditions where the season would close prior to September 30 if the recreational lake trout harvest reaches 7,350 fish or 75 percent of the total allowable recreational lake trout harvest of 9,800 fish for WI-2

According to Darryl Fenner, owner of D’s Superior Fishing Charters, fishing has been outstanding in the Apostle Islands area in the past couple months. However, he added, “We as charter fishermen support protection of the resource however that needs to be done.”

Lake trout are managed in Lake Superior using a quota system where various user groups are allocated an allowable catch. These user groups include: sport and charter fishers, state licensed commercial fishers, and tribal home use and commercial fishers. While commercial fishers are given their allotment in the form of tags at the beginning of the season, sport harvest is monitored by using a creel survey.

The emergency rule was approved by the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board at its December meeting following a series of public meetings and an online survey where anglers were given the opportunity to select their preferred regulation.

Margenau said “we provided anglers with four regulation options last fall and the associated risk of reaching the quota with each regulation. The current regulation was the most preferred by those responding to the poll”.

Even though the lake trout season will end early, there are still plenty of other fish in the lake for recreational anglers to enjoy. Shortly there will be opportunities for fishing coho salmon and brown trout as they return nearshore.

Chequamegon Bay offers great fishing for numerous species including walleye, northern pike, perch, and even sturgeon. Lake trout fishing will continue to provide a recreational fishery in WI-1, from Superior to Bark Point.