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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published January 8, 2013

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First winter free fishing weekend set for Jan. 19 and 20

MADISON - Pull up a pail and help family and friends discover that ice is nice when it comes to fishing in Wisconsin -- doubly so when the fishing is free.

Wisconsin's first winter Free Fishing Weekend is set for Jan. 19 and 20. Residents and nonresidents alike can fish anywhere in Wisconsin for free. No licenses or trout stamps are needed. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.

"We invite everybody to get out and start a new tradition," says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Ice fishing is all about family, friends and fun. It's a great time to get out, get some fresh air and try fishing from a new perspective."

Wisconsin has long had a Free Fishing Weekend during the open water season; it's the first Saturday and Sunday in June. The winter Free Fishing Weekend was established under Act 168, a law passed last year aimed at boosting participation in fishing, hunting and other traditional outdoor recreation.

Wisconsin's winter Free Fishing Weekend arrives at a time of growing interest in ice fishing: 110,000 more Wisconsin adults 16 and over reported ice fishing in 2010 than the previous decade. That's an estimated 590,700 Wisconsinites 16 and over enjoying the hard-water season, according to the most recent National Survey on Recreation and the Environment.

And now that temperatures are finally more seasonal and allowing lakes and rivers to freeze over, there are plenty of places to go fishing in a state with more than 15,000 lakes, 42,000 miles of flowing rivers, and bordered by two Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.

During Free Fishing Weekend, rules governing the number and size of fish anglers can keep are still in place, as are fishing season dates. Go to DNR's online fishing regulations to look up the rules for inland lakes.

People fishing lakes within state parks will need to purchase a state parks vehicle pass.

Veterans share ice fishing tips and tips for taking kids fishing

Benefit from fish managers' insights gained from years of managing Wisconsin's fish and trying to catch fish in the winter. Veteran managers Terry Margenau, Skip Sommerfeldt and Kurt Welke offer their tips for fishing for northern pike, walleye and panfish, respectively, on the ice fishing pages of the DNR website.

Sommerfeldt, who has three daughters, also passes along his tips for making ice fishing fun for the whole family. A couple of his ironclad rules for fishing with kids: Make sure they're dressed for the weather and don't make them suffer out in the cold. Bring along skates, and also let them play and make up their own fun - using some of the tools of the trade.

Loaner ice fishing gear available at nearly 20 sites

Fishing equipment locations in Wisconsin
Fishing equipment locations in Wisconsin
View Bing map

Nearly 20 of DNR's tackle loaner sites across the state have ice fishing tip-ups and jigging rods available for people to borrow. People will need to use their own ice auger, take over an abandoned hole or ask the angler fishing near you on the ice to drill a hole or let you borrow their auger, says Theresa Stabo, DNR's aquatic education coordinator.

There is no charge to borrow the equipment -- just enjoy the day fishing in Wisconsin and return the equipment in the condition you found it in so the next person can enjoy it, Stabo says.

More information about the tackle loaner program and the contact information are available on the DNR website as well as on the map linked to above.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Theresa Stabo at 608-266-2272



Pruning trees in winter can help reduce the spread of oak wilt

MADISON - Winter is a good time for tree pruning, according to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources tree health experts.

Winter pruning greatly reduces the likelihood of spreading oak wilt and other tree diseases, and minimizes pruning stress on trees.

"The best time to prune trees in Wisconsin isn't in April; it's during winter when a tree is dormant," according to Don Kissinger, DNR urban forester. "Insects and diseases that could attack an open wound on a pruned tree aren't active in winter. And without leaves, broken, cracked or hanging limbs are easier to see and prune."

Timing is especially critical when pruning oak trees. DNR foresters recommend that people stop pruning, wounding, or cutting oak trees from April through July in order to limit the spread of oak wilt. A more cautious approach limits pruning in urban areas until October 1. Oak wilt is a devastating fungal disease of oaks that has been present in the state for at least 70 years. It spreads from tree to tree by either "hitchhiking" on sap-feeding beetles that are attracted to freshly pruned or injured trees or by growing through root grafts between neighboring trees.

Red oaks, which include red, pin, and black oak, are particularly vulnerable to oak wilt. Once wilting symptoms appear, these trees die very quickly, often within a month.

Oak wilt is found commonly in the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin. In 2012, oak wilt was confirmed for the first time in Vilas, Lincoln and Sawyer counties. The disease has not been found in Ashland, Bayfield, Calumet, Door, Douglas, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Price, Rusk, Sheboygan, Taylor and Washburn counties.

For additional information online, visit and search the keywords "oak wilt".

Tips to help make pruning beneficial for trees

Before pruning, consider these guidelines that will support the tree's health:

Trees should be pruned throughout their entire life, with more attention paid during the first 10 years (every other or every third year) to foster strong structural or "scaffold" limbs. Once proper structure is established, pruning can occur less often (about every five years) to maintain the structure and remove larger pieces of dead wood.

"Pruning should not take more than 25 percent of the live crown of a tree while the lower third of established trunks of deciduous trees should be free of limbs," Kissinger said.

Kissinger encourages people to review the DNR pruning brochure [PDF]. He offers these tips for tree pruning:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Kissinger: 715-359-5793, Kyoko Scanlon 608-275-3275, or Brian Schwingle 715-536-0889.



Spooner-based warden supervisor is new West Central Regional Warden

MADISON - Conservation Warden Rick Rosen has been named regional warden for the 19-county Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources West Central Region.

Rosen was tapped by Chief DNR Conservation Warden Randy Stark for the region's top warden position, vacated in 2012 by Warden Mark Burmesch, who now serves as the Bureau of Law Enforcement's business manager.

"The candidate pool for the West Central Region Regional Warden position was outstanding," Stark said, adding the decision was difficult and exciting. "It was difficult because the quality of all the candidates was great, and it was exciting because we knew the final choice is going to help put the department and the Bureau of Law Enforcement warden service in a position to advance well into the next decade. Rick's law enforcement and relationship building skills, knowledge and abilities will do that for us."

Rosen started his career with the DNR as a limited-term employee park ranger in 1994. In 1996, Rosen became a special warden and a permanent City of Baraboo patrol officer. In 1999, Rosen was hired as a field conservation warden and spent most of this field time in St Croix County until he was promoted to warden supervisor for the Spooner warden team in 2008.

"I am excited to serve the West Central Region and look forward to starting this new position," Rosen said.

Rosen officially will start his new duties sometime in January as he transitions out of his warden supervisor role in the DNR Northern Region. He plans to move to the West Central Region and will be based out of the DNR Eau Claire headquarters.

The 19 counties of the DNR West Central Region are: Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Portage, St. Croix, Trempealeau, Vernon and Wood.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Warden Supervisor Rick Rosen, 715-635-4151; Joanne M. Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement public affairs manager, 608-267-0798


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 08, 2013

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