MADISON -- Dedicated catch and release anglers know there's little that equals the joy of releasing a healthy musky, northern pike or even a walleye with the hope that it will spawn again and perhaps provide excitement for another angler.
But what if the fish is really big - possibly one for the record books?
A new live release record fish program being rolled out by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources aims to end the dilemma and provide anglers with the win-win satisfaction of achieving a state record and a successful live release. The new program is part of a larger effort to promote quality fishing and encourage the careful release of trophy-size popular sport species. Similar efforts have found success in other states and among some national record-keeping organizations.
"As anglers, part of what we enjoy is the thrill of the unknown - the thought that the fish on the end of our lines could be a trophy catch or even a new record," said Justine Hasz, DNR fisheries bureau director. "What we've seen with musky populations in areas where there is a strong catch and release ethic is that the fish are reaching larger sizes and providing more anglers with the experience of a lifetime. Since it can take 10 years or more for walleye to reach trophy size and 15 years or more for musky, our new catch and release record option means Wisconsin's legendary fish will create even more memories."
Hasz said the program also is expected to increase public awareness and encourage protection of fisheries habitat. Efforts to market the new program are expected to draw more non-resident anglers into the state and improve retention among anglers who participate only sporadically.
It's also hoped that the new format will attract younger anglers, who may be quick on the draw with cell phone cameras and able to quickly land, measure and photograph their fish, said Karl Scheidegger, DNR fisheries biologist and state record fish coordinator. When it's officially rolled out on May 6, here's how the program will work:
Eligible species and minimum qualifying lengths for Wisconsin state record fish Live Release category. Lengths should be recorded by total length measured to the nearest 1/4 inch (longest measurement from the snout or nose to the tip of the compressed tail). To be certified, new live release records must exceed the existing record by at least 1/4 inch.
|Trout, Brook (inland)||15|
|Trout, Brook (Great Lakes)||20|
|Trout, Brown (inland)||24|
|Trout, Brown (Great Lakes)||34|
|Trout, Lake (inland)||34|
|Trout, Lake (Great Lakes)||34|
|Trout, Rainbow (inland)||24|
|Trout, Rainbow (outlying)||36|
Anglers are reminded that the new license year begins April 1 for waters or species with a continuous open season. Licenses and stamps for the 2017 year are on sale now through GoWild.Wi.Gov. Fees for the 2017 license year remain the same as last year.
Anglers fishing Michigan and Minnesota boundary waters, as well as the Great Lakes, are again reminded they must possess a paper copy of their license to be legal. The paper printouts are needed because law enforcement officials in the surrounding states do not have access to the Wisconsin database. Wardens say that having the paper license handy will expedite license checks and allow enthusiasts to stay focused on their outdoor activity.
POYNETTE, Wis. - Free guided tours of the sugar bush, demonstrations of how to tap a maple tree for sap and how to boil the sap down in the "sugar shack" to make syrup are among the fun-filled activities planned at the annual Maple Syrup Festival at the MacKenzie Center near Poynette. The educational event for families will be held Saturday, April 1 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
The festival also features interpretative talks about how some Native Americans and pioneers made maple sugar and syrup as well as current methods used in the MacKenzie sugar bush.
Participants will have the opportunity to watch home-made ice cream being churned with an antique engine; listen to live, old-time, country music; and take a horse-drawn wagon ride. In addition, the wildlife area, which includes animals native to Wisconsin, and the historic exhibits on property will be open.
A pancake breakfast, sponsored by Friends of MacKenzie will be served from 8 a.m. until noon at the Main Lodge. The cost is $7 for those 12 years old and older, and $5 for ages 3 through 11. Refreshments, maple products, and souvenirs will be sold by the Friends of MacKenzie. The Friends will also have a quilt raffle at noon.
The MacKenzie Center is located 2 miles east of Poynette on County Road CS/Q. For more information search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "MacKenzie." Maple Syrup Festival is hosted by the Friends of MacKenzie [www.friendsofmackenzie.org - exit DNR] and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
LAND O' LAKES, Wis. -- Two public meetings, set for April 4 and 6, are being held in Vilas County to gather public input on a multi-agency plan to address declining walleye numbers in Lac Vieux Desert.
The 4,300 acre flowage, which straddles the Wisconsin-Michigan border near Land O'Lakes in northeastern Vilas County, has experienced a dramatic decline in walleye abundance and recruitment over the past decade. Steve Gilbert, Woodruff area fisheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said little natural reproduction has occurred in the last 10 years, leaving adult walleye densities at the lowest level since recent record keeping began in 1990.
The population of adult walleye in Lac Vieux Desert Lake averaged 2.1 fish per acre in survey work conducted through 2012. The most recent survey conducted in 2016 found only 0.54 adult fish per acre. The decline corresponds with the prolonged period of low or no walleye recruitment in this popular fishing destination.
"Historically, the lake has been able to produce young-of-year walleye through natural reproduction, but for some reason, there has been little to no recruitment of young fish starting in 2005 and continuing to the present," Gilbert said. "Working with Michigan DNR, the Lac Vieux Desert Band, Sokaogon (Mole Lake) Chippewa and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, we have developed a draft plan with a goal to restore natural reproduction and increase the density of adult walleye to at least 2.5 fish per acre."
Although the cause of the decline is not certain, the inter-agency working group intends to use available tools in a multi-faceted approach to reverse the trend. Public input will be sought to help inform the effort, Gilbert said.
Key elements of the plan include:
Gilbert said the initiative also would include public outreach, education and enforcement efforts by state and tribal officials to ensure compliance with the rehabilitation plan's walleye harvest restrictions.
The public meetings will be held Tuesday, April 4, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the library of the Land O'Lakes Elementary School, 6485 Town Hall Road, Land O' Lakes, Wis., 54540; and Thursday, April 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the cafeteria of Phelps High School, 4451 Old School Rd, Phelps, Wis., 54554.
MADISON - Students in grades 9 through 12 who have artistic talent or just really like to fish, will want to check out the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources inland trout stamp and Great Lakes salmon and trout stamp design contests for the 2018 year stamps.
The 2018 stamp year contests aim to get a new generation hooked on Wisconsin's world-class fishing traditions while highlighting fisheries management efforts that will benefit anglers for years to come.
"High school students in every part of our state have access to exceptional inland trout or Great Lakes salmon and trout fishing opportunities, so we're hoping to get submissions from throughout Wisconsin," said Justine Hasz, DNR's fisheries bureau chief. "We think the work of these young artists will capture the true excitement of fishing and provide all of us with a fresh perspective on the natural beauty of our trout and salmon."
Artwork for the 2018 inland trout stamp contest and Great Lakes salmon and trout stamp contest must be received or postmarked by July 3, 2017. Students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 or the equivalent, attending public, homeschool, private or parochial schools in Wisconsin during the 2016-2017 school are eligible. Students can submit only one entry per contest, but may enter both the inland and Great Lakes contests.
Subject matter for the stamps must feature living species of salmon or trout commonly found in Wisconsin's waters or appropriate subject matter relating to trout and salmon fishing. Artists are not limited in their choice of colors or medium, but the medium selected must be of permanent quality such as pen and ink, oil, watercolor etching or pencil.
In creating their works, artists are reminded to leave some open space in their design to accommodate Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources lettering, which will appear on the finished stamp. Artists should not create their own lettering but should leave open areas in consistent light or dark tones to accommodate text. A parent's signature is required for each submission and a teacher's signature is optional.
Once the artwork has been submitted, DNR will create an online gallery and open the voting through the Web and Facebook in July. The top 10 entries from the online voting will then move to a final round of judging by a panel of three to five judges with expertise and interest in trout, salmon and wildlife art.
The top three entries will be ranked and may be displayed at various DNR sponsored events as well as the department's website and promotional materials.
DNR's fisheries program first conducted the inland trout stamp contest in 1978 and the Great Lakes trout and salmon stamp contest in 1982. More than 70 artists participated in the early years of the contests and Hasz said the fisheries program decided to launch the contests again in 2016 to capture a new generation of creative talent.
Artists are urged to read all contest rules and submission requirements carefully. To learn more, visit DNR.wi.gov and search "Trout Stamp Contest." Entries will be accepted starting immediately and must be delivered or postmarked by July 3, 2017 and sent to the Wisconsin Great Lakes Salmon and Trout Stamp Contest or the Wisconsin Inland Trout Stamp Contest, Attn: Trout Coordinator, Wisconsin DNR (FH/4), Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921. Questions may be directed to Joanna Griffin, DNR trout coordinator at Joanna.Griffin@Wisconsin.gov or 608-264-8953.
In addition to purchasing a state fishing license, anglers who wish to pursue trout and salmon must purchase an inland trout stamp or a Great Lakes salmon and trout stamp depending on the waters they intend to fish. Visit GoWild.Wi.Gov for information or to purchase needed licenses and stamps. Revenue from the stamp sales is used for restoring and maintaining habitat and in the case of the Great Lakes stamp, for stocking and rearing trout and salmon. The new license year begins April 1.
MADISON - To protect oak trees and help prevent oak wilt, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources advises people to avoid pruning oaks on their property from April through July.
Spring and early summer pruning makes oak trees vulnerable to oak wilt, a fatal fungal disease. Any tree damage during this time creates an opening that exposes live tree tissue and provides an opportunity for the oak wilt fungus to infect the tree.
"Just 15 minutes could be enough time for beetles that are carrying oak wilt spores to land on a fresh wound and infect your tree," said Paul Cigan, DNR forest health specialist in Hayward.
Property owners with oak trees are encouraged to check with their municipality to find out if there are local oak wilt ordinances.
The use of tree paint or a wound dressing is not normally recommended on pruning cuts or wounded surfaces on most trees. But for damaged oaks, these products are recommended from April through July. An immediate light painting of wounds on oak trees during this time helps protect against the spread of oak wilt by beetles.
Don Kissinger, a DNR urban forester in Wausau, said there are also other important reasons to avoid pruning deciduous trees in spring beyond concerns about oak wilt.
"Spring is the time when tree buds and leaves are growing, leaving the tree's food reserves low," Kissinger said. In general, the best time to prune trees is in winter.
It's worth protecting
Oak wilt and other diseases also move easily on or in firewood logs year-round. To protect trees in general, don't move firewood long distances, or only use firewood labeled as Wisconsin certified.
Oak wilt is found in all Wisconsin counties except Ashland, Bayfield, Calumet, Door, Douglas, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Taylor counties. Several of these counties have the highest abundance of healthy and productive oak forests in the state. Taking recommended precautions with living oak trees and keeping firewood local to prevent the spread of oak wilt will help keep them that way for years to come.
More information is available online. Visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search for "oak wilt" or "firewood." Additional information about proper pruning techniques is available from community foresters or by searching for "tree pruning."
MADISON -- The Department of Natural Resources proposes to revise the Broad Incidental Take Permit and Authorization for No and Low Impact Activities. A number of activities that have no or low impact on endangered or threatened plants and animals are covered by this broad incidental take permit and authorization. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.
The Broad Incidental Take Permit and Authorization for No and Low Impact Activities was originally approved in 2013 and is revised on an annual basis. This 2017 revision will serve to include new no and low impact activities, consolidate activities within similar habitat types and revise reporting requirements.
Department staff concluded that the take allowed for under this permit and authorization is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the species or the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action. The department has also concluded that the take allowed for under this permit and authorization is not likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival or recovery of the species within the state, the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part or the habitat that is critical to their existence.
The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered and threatened species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Permit and Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the species are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Melissa Tumbleson at 608-267-0862 or Melissa.email@example.com. Public comments will be taken through April 20, 2017 and should be sent to Melissa Tumbleson, Wisconsin DNR Conservation Biologist, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or at the above email address.
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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