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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 1, 2010

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Northern zone bass harvest season opens June 19

Bass populations, catch rates at all-time highs

SPOONER - The northern zone bass harvest season opens June 19 with state fisheries biologists saying the bass fishing opportunities arguably have never been better.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass populations are booming in northern Wisconsin, particularly in northwest Wisconsin, and anglers can expect fast and furious action this summer, fish biologists say.

"The densities are extremely high right now," says Jamison Wendel, fisheries biologist in Spooner. "There are lots of smaller fish, so there's all kinds of action."

Surveys of northern Wisconsin anglers who target bass show that anglers are reeling in the bass faster than ever.

LMB catch rates by county
Largemouth bass catch rates by county.
WDNR graphic

Wendel says the fact that catch rates have increased quite dramatically in the last 20 years while harvest rates have been stayed flat or decreased is not typical. "It's kind of an indication of a few things: changes in regulation as well as smaller fish being caught that anglers are not as interested in keeping, as well as more anglers practicing catch and release."

Whether it's the low water levels experienced in northern Wisconsin, which favor bass, warmer water temperatures, or a number of other factors, bass populations and catch rates in many waters are at all-time highs.

Learn more about some of the reasons why bass populations, particularly populations of largemouths, are on the rise in "Sustaining a fishery of fighting natural change?" in the June 2010 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, available now on news stands, and online.

Season regulations

The northern bass zone (pdf) harvest season runs from June 19, 2010, through March 6, 2011. The daily limit is five bass in total, with a minimum length of 14 inches. Check the "Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations 2010-2011" for special regulations on some waters.

Fishing forecasts

The 2010 Wisconsin Fishing Report contains information about how fish populations are faring, particularly on those waters where DNR fisheries crews have recently conducted fish population surveys or done habitat work. Below are excerpted forecasts that mention bass populations in northern Wisconsin, including many in the northern bass zone. These fishing forecasts are not inclusive, but represent what the fish managers want to highlight for the 2010 fishing season.

Ashland County - May and June are excellent months to target trophy smallmouth bass in the shallow waters of Chequamegon Bay. Spring 2009 surveys found 42 percent of the spawning smallmouth bass were greater than 18 inches. - Mike Seider, fisheries biologist, Bayfield

Burnett County - Largemouth bass and bluegill provide the fishing action in Burnett County and it doesn't matter which lake you fish. Angler catch rates for largemouth run about 10 times higher than the rest of the state. Size limits and a strong catch-and-release ethic caused populations to increase, but growth rates declined. The chance of catching one larger than 16 inches isn't very good. Still, catching lots of 11- to 15-inch bass on light tackle is a fun day on the water. - Larry Damman, fisheries biologist, Spooner

Douglas County - Anglers looking for a balanced fishery including walleye, small and largemouth bass, northern pike and an occasional musky along with a good bluegill and black crappie fishery should consider Upper St. Croix Lake. Largemouth bass populations have more than doubled since 1997 and smallmouth bass numbers have declined slightly in the same period. Both bass species average between 12 and 13 inches but can reach 19 inches or more in the lake. - Scott Toshner, fisheries biologist, Brule

Iron County - Turtle Flambeau Flowage supports an exceptional smallmouth bass fishery in terms of numbers and average size. Pound for pound, the smallmouth is known for its exceptional fighting ability. "Smallies" found in the flowage are easily caught in summer and are extremely robust for their length. These exceptionally heavy fish provide anglers with an extraordinary angling experience. - Jeff Roth, fisheries biologist, Mercer (Roth has retired since filing that report in December 2009)

Langlade County - The largemouth bass population in Phlox Lake s abundant with many in the 11- to 17-inch range. - Dave Seibel, fisheries biologist, Antigo

Oneida County - Largemouth bass are abundant on Squash Lake, with size centered on 14 inches. On Gilmore Lake, a comprehensive survey found abundant largemouth bass. Largemouth bass eight to 16 inches long were fairly numerous while few smallmouth were captured. - John Kubisiak, fisheries biologist, Rhinelander

Polk County - Largemouth bass are abundant on Big and Little Blake lakes. Bass growth is slower than average and most of the bass collected were less than 14 inches long. Northern pike and musky have been captured in low numbers in each lake, but the fish were in excellent condition. Largemouth bass on Deer Lake are abundant and growth and size structure appears to be declining with many bass in the 11- to 13- inch range. Largemouth bass and northern pike dominate Largon Lake. Largemouth bass provide another quality fishery with larger than average size fish present. Largemouth bass and northern pike are the primary game fish in Poplar Lake. Bass size structure is slightly below average but densities have improved when compared to past surveys. - Heath Benike, senior fisheries biologist, Barron

Rusk County - Strong river currents, canyon-like shorelines, darkstained water and fish moving long distances between dams challenged surveyors in this series of reservoirs, so it is uncertain that results from fall 2008 and spring 2009 surveys reflect the true status of sportfish in Big Falls, Dairyland, Ladysmith, and the Thornapple flowages. Nonetheless, it is possible to cautiously compare findings from those surveys with goals that anglers helped define in 2005.Electrofishing capture rates for smallmouth bass seven inches and longer ranged from 16 to 28 per hour in the four flowages compared to 50 to 100 bass per hour, the measure of desired abundance. Proportions of bass 14 inches or longer ranged from zero percent in Thornapple Flowage to 29 percent in Dairyland and Ladysmith, suggesting that smallmouth did not achieve the target range of 40 to 60 percent. - Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Taylor County - Netting in spring 2009 showed that largemouth bass were twice as abundant in North Spirit Lake as in Spirit Lake, but Spirit Lake held a greater proportion of bass 15 inches or longer (62 percent versus 26 percent.) - Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist, Park Falls

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jamison Wendel (715) 635-4095



June a great time to take kids, other novices fishing

MADISON - There's no better time to introduce kids and adults to fish and fishing than the month of June.

The panfish are biting and catchable trout have been stocked in dozens of urban ponds, greatly increasing the chances that novice anglers will land their first fish, says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank.

And fishing is free for everyone that first weekend, June 5 and 6, making it a great opportunity to get everyone outside fishing, even those individuals you normally might not want to gamble on buying a license for.

What you need to know about Free Fishing Weekend, June 5-6

Kids 15 and under fish free every day, but on Free Fishing Weekend, June 5-6, residents and nonresidents of all ages can fish without a fishing license (or trout or salmon stamps). All waters of the state are open, including Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and rivers bordering Wisconsin. However, all other fishing regulations apply, including how many fish anglers can keep and limits on the minimum size of fish they can keep.

More than two dozen free fishing clinics are scheduled across the state, and more listings are being posted all the time. Check for one near your area on the Free Fishing Weekend page of the DNR website.

Tips on how to fish for bluegill

First fish
Catching bluegills in June is easy and fun.
Terry Margenau photo

June is a great time to fish for bluegill (bluegill factsheet; pdf), which are done spawning and are ready to feed, says Karl Scheidegger, a DNR fish biologist who leads fisheries outreach efforts.

"Bluegill fishing provides a great opportunity to get a youngster hooked on fishing. Bluegills are fun to catch and fun to eat," he says. "You don't need elaborate gear to fish bluegills. Keep it simple. Fishing rod, bobber, hook and worm."

Find more tips in this online article, 'Giggle fishing' a great way to get youngster hooked on fishing.

Catchable trout stocking lists updated

The list of waters stocked with catchable size trout has been updated since it was first posted online] in late April and can steer you to waters where it's easier to catch a keeper. But hurry up - these fish can go fast.

Other great places to take kids fishing

Lakes and rivers where there are good places for kids and novices to fish from shore - and easy access to restrooms and other amenities - can be the ticket for a successful first fishing trip.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Scheidegger (608) 267-9426



June Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine available

MADISON - Subscribers to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine will get an interesting mix of ideas in the June 2010 issue. They can read "Sustaining a fishery or fighting natural change" to learn about how largemouth bass and walleye are competing for dominance in some northern Wisconsin waters and what's happening to provide quality fisheries.

In "Casting for common ground" readers will learn how a partnership is building between volunteers in the angling community and a group of at-risk high schoolers to fuel their interest in science and in potential outdoor careers.

Follow the unusual strategies mussels use to extend their range and learn how to join in the first statewide survey in nearly 30 years to find out where mussels occur in "Saving native mussels reach by reach."

A 40-year commitment to improve air quality is celebrated in a special insert that engages readers of all ages, including a pinwheel and a crossword puzzle.

Readers will also see how big projects can bring big results by working in a big space. A big vision for a broad landscape shows collective work on the 15,000-acre Leopold Pines Important Bird Area.

And meet one of nature's little tough guys as we introduce readers to antlions - small bugs with a fierce demeanor, a lot of fight and some serious engineering skills.

Those features and more await readers in the June issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. Subscribe now. Let us deliver six colorful issues to your door all year for less than $1.50 a copy. All year long we share the hot spots at the hot times to enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors for only $8.97. Subscribe toll-free at 1-800-678-9472, online at or by mail. Subscription blanks and single issues are also available from our circulation office at PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: David L. Sperling, editor, (608) 266-1510


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 01, 2010

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