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Weekly News Published - April 17, 2018 by the Central Office

 

Spring walleye fishing tips from a longtime fish manager

MADISON - Walleye will be high on anglers' target list when the regular fishing season opens May 5. It's a good bet many anglers will be stalking ol' marble eyes whether from a boat, shore, or they may even need tip-ups in the still frozen northern lakes.

Steve Gilbert, a longtime fisheries manager and now a fisheries supervisor in northern Wisconsin, shares his walleye fishing tips. He displays a 27.9 inch walleye he caught on the Peshtigo River in  2016.  - Photo credit: DNR
Steve Gilbert, a longtime fisheries manager and now a fisheries supervisor in northern Wisconsin, shares his walleye fishing tips. He displays a 27.9 inch walleye he caught on the Peshtigo River in 2016. Photo credit: contributed

Longtime fisheries manager and supervisor Steve Gilbert shares his walleye fishing tips honed over three decades of fishing for the species and managing walleye populations in northern Wisconsin.

His overarching advice?

"There is no substitute for time on the water," he says. "Experiment to see what they want and when they want it. The rewards of catching Wisconsin's most popular fish are well worth the effort!"

Walleye can be a challenging species to fish for because they require finesse fishing at many times of the year. Early spring is an exception as spawning fish congregate in specific shallow water habitat or shortly after spawning they move in to newly emerging plant beds to feed.

Try Gilbert's tips to improve your success.

Why to fish walleye in the spring

Wisconsin's regular fishing season opens the first Saturday in May and that's a good time for walleye anglers to hit it hard. Walleye have typically finished spawning when the opener rolls around, and post spawning is a good time to go. This year they will likely still be in spawning mode in the northern third of the state unless we get some warm weather soon.

The fish are hungry and there's not a lot of food available, both of which make them vulnerable at that time, and can increase angling success. DNR creel surveys show May is when the biggest proportion of walleye is harvested by anglers.

When to fish

The May bite usually occurs early and late in the day. You'll want to fish morning hours until about 9 a.m. or get out on the water after 5 p.m. for the best bite. The males will congregate next to the best spawning habitat (rock/cobble) at this time. If you plan to fish in the middle of the day the male fish will be congregated just off the spawning areas in slightly deeper water especially on sunny days.

Where to fish

Look for rocky areas along wind swept shorelines and points on the main lake. As spawning comes to an end, bigger fish move into shallower, warmer bays looking to feed. Fish weed lines in these areas. Wading shorelines in the evening or early morning can be effective at this time of year when fish are in the shallows. Use a hydrographic map of the lake you plan to fish to identify these key areas in advance. Once on the water, don't waste time in unproductive spots. If you don't get a bite in 15 to 20 minutes, move on to the next spot.

Wisconsin Fishing Report walleye forecast [PDF]

What gear to use

A jig and minnow combination works best early in the season. Use a 1/16-ounce jig, live bait rigs or crank baits. Try using different color jigs - yellow, green, chartreuse or red - because on some days, the color can make a big difference. You will need to use slightly heavier jigs under windy conditions to keep the bait in contact with the bottom where the fish are. Select a 6 1/2- to 7-foot spinning rod and reel combo filled with light line. A mistake many people make is they use too heavy a line. Use 4- to 6-pound test line except when you're using crank baits. Most of the time when I'm using crank baits I use 10- to 12-pound test line.

In June and the summer months as water temperatures rise, night crawlers are best on the weed edges. Also slip bobbers or a light jig tipped with half a night crawler can work great just before and during the spring mayfly hatch. As the water warms into the 70s, leeches work great and are durable at these warmer temperatures. During mid-summer anglers will need to start looking for walleye in deeper water using these same methods.

How to fish

Work the jig and minnow slowly right along the bottom. If you're using a minnow imitating crank baits, casting shallow running crank baits after dark along rocky shorelines or outside weed edges can be very productive.

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Hundreds of walleye waters will offer great fishing in 2018

MADISON - Anglers in Wisconsin will likely find far more walleye waters to fish than they'll have time to visit in 2018.

"Walleye are found naturally in our larger lakes and rivers and Wisconsin represents the heart of North American walleye distribution," says Justine Hasz, Wisconsin's Fisheries Director.

"Larger lakes all over Wisconsin, especially in northern Wisconsin, provide great walleye fishing and the same is true for our major rivers, from the Mississippi to the Wisconsin to the Wolf and Fox river systems."

About half of Wisconsin's 1,000 lakes with walleye sustain their populations through natural reproduction. These waters do not need to be stocked and produce walleye populations that are 3 to 10 times higher than waters that are stocked at even the highest levels.

This year anglers will have more walleye fishing opportunities thanks to Gov. Scott Walker's Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, which seeks to stock larger extended growth fingerling walleye in some lakes to jumpstart natural reproduction and in others to enhance fishing in waters that have long relied on stocking for walleye fishing opportunities.

More than 1.275 million extended growth walleye fingerlings were stocked in 2013 and 2014 under the initiative and should be catchable size now. "Weather permitting, anglers fishing these waters should be landing more of these fish and we're happy to provide these extra fishing opportunities."

Learn more about "Walleye and Wisconsin [PDF]" in this special 2015 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine issue.

Try these resources to find a walleye water to fish in 2018:

List of key Wisconsin naturally reproducing walleye waters [PDF]

List of waters receiving Fingerling stocked in 2014 [PDF] and Fingerling stocked in 2013 [PDF] under the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative.

Wisconsin Fishing Report walleye forecast [PDF]

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Still time to donate to the Endangered Resources Fund

Help Wisconsin bats and over 700 rare species and State Natural Areas

MADISON - International Bat Appreciation Day is today, April 17, and one easy way to show appreciation for Wisconsin's native bats is to donate to the Endangered Resources Fund.

"Donors to the Endangered Resources Fund provide critical support for Wisconsin's native species and State Natural Areas that make Wisconsin a special place," says Drew Feldkirchner, director of DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program. "If you didn't get a chance to donate on your Wisconsin income tax form, you can donate online at any time."

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 6 photos

Appreciating Wisconsin Bats

To donate online, go to dnr.wi.gov and search "NHC" and click on the donate button.

To donate via the Wisconsin income tax form, just fill in a donation amount next to the Endangered Resources Fund line.

All donations, whether direct online or via the state income tax form, are tax deductible and matched dollar for dollar. A donation of any size to the Endangered Resources Fund makes a difference, Feldkirchner says.

Donations to the Endangered Resources Fund help fund work to protect and restore more than 750 rare animal and plant species, along with Wisconsin's system of State Natural Areas. Such donations, license plate sales and grants account for 75 percent of funding for rare species and State Natural Areas.

Wisconsin has eight native bat species and has one of the highest concentrations of hibernating bats in the Midwest. These flying, insect-eating mammals play a vital role in many Wisconsin ecosystems and in providing natural pest control. A 2011 North American study [PDF] (exit DNR) estimated that bats save Wisconsin's agriculture industry between $658 million to $1.5 billion annually in pesticide costs.

Four of Wisconsin's bat species are cave bats and threatened by white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease of bats that has killed upwards of 7 million bats in the eastern U.S. and Canada and was first detected in Wisconsin in 2014. White-nose syndrome does not affect people or other animal species, but causes hibernating bats to frequently wake, depleting their energy and causing them to die from starvation, dehydration or exposure to the elements.

Donations to the Endangered Resources Fund help Wisconsin bats by helping fund DNR conservation biologists who monitor bats' health, status and trends. Read the DNR Wisconsin Bat Program newsletter [PDF] to learn about their work with partners to help find treatments for WNS, to protect habitat for bats, and to conduct research that will help guide recovery of Wisconsin bat populations.

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Wisconsin-grown trees and shrub seedlings still available for spring 2018 planting

MADISON -- The Spring 2018 Reforestation Program seedling sales are still in full swing. While the weather hampered some of our harvesting efforts, we have been busy at the Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel, lifting, grading and preparing seedlings for distribution to the landowners and managers of the states forestlands.

"The seedlings grown at the state nurseries are high-quality native species grown from seed harvested in Wisconsin," Joe Vande Hey, Reforestation team leader, said. "Planting these Wisconsin-grown trees and shrubs is a great way to improve wildlife habitat, increase the value of the land, reduce soil erosion, improve overall aesthetics and possibly generate income for the landowner."

The nursery beds at Wilson nursery in Boscobel in a past year, not this snowy spring. - Photo credit: DNR
The nursery beds at Wilson nursery in Boscobel in a past year, not this snowy spring.Photo credit: DNR

Landowners can purchase these seedlings for reforestation, wildlife habitat and windbreak and erosion control purposes. Customers who want specific seedlings or shrubs must order a minimum quantity of 1000 tree seedlings or 500 wildlife shrubs or build their own packet of 300 seedlings, usually good for landowners new to planting or those with small acreages.

Hardwood tree species still available from the state nurseries include red oak, swamp white oak, white oak, bur oak, black cherry and black walnut. Wildlife shrubs available include choke cherry, hazelnut, ninebark, juneberry and American plum. In addition, a few more species may become available in the coming weeks.

To order seedlings, please contact our nursery office in Wisconsin Rapids at (715) 424-3700. Our staff will assist in placing the order and updating you on the latest information and tree availability.

Seedlings and shrubs are distributed in April and early May. Landowners who order from the DNR can pick up their seedlings at the state nurseries located in Boscobel, Hayward or Wisconsin Rapids, or in many counties, at a central location designated by the local DNR forester.

A "Frequently Asked Questions" page on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, helps respond to the most common questions about tree planting, along with additional links to other tree planting information.

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2018 revision to the Broad Incidental Take Permit and Authorization for activities with no or low impact to endangered resources in Wisconsin

MADISON -- The Wisconsin 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 has been revised on an annual basis. This 2018 revision will serve to include new no and low impact activities and to update the transportation section for consistency with other sections of the permit.

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, dnr.wi.gov, for incidental take public notice or upon request from Melissa Tumbleson at 608-267-0862 or Melissa.tumbleson@wi.gov or Rori Paloski at 608-264-6040 or rori.paloski@wi.gov. Public comments will be taken through May 17, 2018 and should be sent to Melissa Tumbleson or Rori Paloski, Wisconsin DNR Conservation Biologist, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or at the above email addresses.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Contact information

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