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September 6, 2011

MADISON -- Anglers enjoying the last month of Wisconsin's inland trout season will find even better fishing opportunities this fall thanks to habitat improvement projects completed on dozens of streams in recent years by state fish crews and partners, state fisheries officials say.

A report detailing projects funded largely by the sale of inland trout stamps is now available online: Expenditures of Inland Water Trout Stamp Revenues, Fiscal Years 2008-2010. (pdf)

A project on Elk Creek in western Chippewa County provides a great example of how anglers will benefit this fall, says Heath Benike, Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist for Chippewa and Eau Claire counties.

"We stabilized and re-sloped highly erodible stream banks and installed a series of rock plunge pools and bank cover structures," Benike says. "Fish surveys this past summer revealed that the brown trout fishery was near 2,000 fish per mile with a solid number of fish in the 10- to 14- inch range with some bigger fish present."

The project is just upstream from Chippewa County Highway X. Anglers also will find a new parking lot on the east side of Elk Creek near the start of the habitat restoration project, Benike says.

Anglers will see benefits on Pine Creek in southeast Pierce County. Recent acquisition and restoration of about 1 mile of the picturesque creek has helped boost brook trout populations to 7,000 to 8,000 brook trout per mile with an occasional large brown trout, according to Marty Engel, fisheries biologist stationed in Baldwin.

And anglers fishing Rowan Creek east of Poynette will benefit from a DNR project to enhance 1,500 feet of stream where habitat work had been completed 25 years ago. Several bank structures were reset and some new structures and weirs installed to improve the deepwater habitat. "This section of the stream already had good size structure of trout but the project will make it more fishable for anglers, as well as increase the habitat for trout," says David Rowe, fisheries supervisor in Poynette.

DNR Fisheries Director Mike Staggs says these examples and others in the report "document what's been a great success story -- the partnership between the users that pay fees and the DNR, counties, federal agencies, Trout Unlimited and other fishing clubs who improve the habitat.

"There are clear and demonstrable benefits to fishing as a result of these projects. And if anything, this report understates all of the work that is going on to improve trout fishing in Wisconsin," Staggs says. He notes that the report captures only work funded primarily through trout stamp sales and conducted by the DNR with partners.

The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and many county governments and fishing organizations also undertake their own projects, often in partnership with DNR. One example is Trout Unlimited's Driftless Area Restoration Effort, which seeks to tap a variety of sources of funding to restore trout habitat in the driftless region including Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois.

Wisconsin created the inland waters trout stamp program in 1977 to provide more funding for improving and restoring habitat than the $140,000 typically available before the program started.

With an increase to $10 for the stamp starting in 2006, revenues from trout stamp sales have climbed to $1.5 million annually. General license fishing fees were also tapped for the habitat work: an average of $411,812 per year from 2008 through 2010. Donations from fishing clubs and from individuals also help pay for the work.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Staggs - (608) 267-0796) or Steve Hewett - (608) 267-7501

Trout stamp fast facts
Last Revised: Tuesday, September 06, 2011

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