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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published August 7, 2012

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Report: 96 percent of public water systems met health standards for drinking water

Loans to communities for improvements doubled, focus on nitrate problems increased

MADISON -- Ninety-six percent of Wisconsin's public water systems served drinking water that met all health-based standards in 2011, a year also notable for a doubling in the amount of financial help provided to upgrade infrastructure and for small systems to address nitrate standards violations.

"Once again water utilities, water associations, laboratory staff, state staff and others did an exemplary job of providing water that meets safe drinking water standards," says Jill Jonas, who leads the Department of Natural Resources drinking water and groundwater program. "We're also happy to report that during these tough economic times we were able to provide more financial aid to communities to help them address contaminant problems and build capacity for the future."

Ninety-six percent, or 10,951 of 11,439 systems, served drinking water that met all health standards, the same proportion as last year and above the federal goal of 95 percent.

Also of note in 2011, 18 communities received a total of $36.5 million in financial aid from DNR, most of which was low interest loans. Such loans can provide a cost savings of up 30 percent to communities, enabling them to address challenges more quickly and cheaply, she says. That compares to the $18 million provided to 14 communities in 2010.

These and other details summarizing Wisconsin's public water systems' performance as a whole between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2011 were submitted to EPA earlier this month in the "2011 Annual Drinking Water Report [PDF]."

Wisconsin has more public water systems than any other state except Michigan, ranging from utilities serving the state's largest communities, to churches, restaurants and taverns. About 4.9 million of Wisconsin's 5.6 million residents get their drinking water from community public water systems while the rest tap private wells, according to the report.

Of the 4 percent of Wisconsin public water systems reporting at least one violation of health-based standards, their elevated contaminant levels did not mean that people who drank the water got sick.

The second most common violation was elevated levels of nitrate, a pollutant largely resulting from fertilizer application to crops, and the third was elevated levels of arsenic, a naturally occurring contaminant. Forty water systems had water samples in which nitrate levels exceeded the standards in 2011 and 18 systems had arsenic violations.

As radium violations were addressed by dozens of communities, DNR staff were able to spend more time in 2011 working to address nitrate problems. DNR staff have been working with day cares, schools and factories - so-called nontransient noncommunity systems -- to reduce nitrate levels in the wake of a new evaluation of the risk the contaminant poses, Boushon says.

Federal standards set the permissible level of nitrate in drinking water to 10 mg/l, but transient noncommunity public water supply systems -- those which serve at least 25 people at least 60 days of the year -- can operate with levels of up to 20 mg/l if the state agrees. Transient noncommunity systems do not serve the same people water every day - unlike community water systems that provide drinking water to homes for daily use -- so the exposure to contaminants would be less.

Concerned that federal nitrate standards were not protective enough of the general population, however, DNR asked the state Department of Health Services to review the scientific evidence. Nitrate levels that exceed the federal standard for drinking water have long been regarded as an acute risk for infants and pregnant women because the contaminant interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood and can cause infants who drink water or formula with high nitrate levels to get seriously ill and die. Some scientific studies have found evidence suggesting that women who drink nitrate-contaminated water during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with birth defects.

State health officials concluded in 2009 that long-term exposure of a year or more to nitrates in drinking water could have adverse health effects even in adults. So DNR has notified nontransient noncommunity water systems that they must reduce nitrate levels in water to below 10 mg/L. About half of the systems that had violations now comply with the standards through taking actions including drilling new wells or installing water treatment equipment. DNR staff are working with the remainder to correct the problem.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Lee Boushon (608) 266-0857; Mark Nelson (608) 267-4230

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General permit proposed for wetland and waterway municipal highway projects

Proposal to be topic of August 16 public hearing

MADISON - A proposed general permit to streamline the wetland and waterway permitting process for local government highway, bridge and culvert improvement projects impacting wetlands and waterways is now out for public comment. The proposal also is the topic of an Aug. 16 public informational hearing in Madison, state wetland/waterway officials say.

The informational hearing will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. in Room G09 at the State Natural Resources Building, otherwise known as GEF 2, 101 S. Webster Street, in Madison.

The proposed statewide general permit -- or "GP" -- is the second of its kind required under new laws passed earlier this year by state lawmakers. It would enable local governments with simple transportation projects resulting in minor impacts to waterways and the unavoidable filling of up to 10,000 square feet of wetland -- just under one-quarter of an acre -- to get their permit decision more quickly if the project meets the standards and conditions in the general permit, according to Maureen Millmann, transportation general permit coordinator for DNR.

"The proposed general permit is tailored to the specific elements that local government must address in designing small highway and bridge projects to address both public transportation needs and environmental requirements. This proposed general permit will simplify the process," she says.

Right now, local government transportation officials proposing projects that involve wetland fill must seek an individual permit and lengthier environmental review. Those same projects could also require a separate review process concerning impacts to waterways, she says.

The new general permit identifies the location, design, and construction standards and other conditions any project must meet to qualify for the general permit, and to ensure that minimal environmental effects occur. Once in effect, the statewide general permit will be valid for 5 years. When local government officials apply for coverage under the general permit, DNR is required to issue a decision within 30 days.

Projects that involve more than 10,000 square feet of wetland fill or do not meet the GP standards and conditions will continue to require an individual permit, which has a longer process time and a greater level of environmental review.

DNR has also prepared an environmental assessment (EA) to consider the environmental effects of the GP. The EA is also available for public review and comment. The GP is not expected to result in significant environmental impacts, and the department has made a preliminary determination that an environmental impact statement is not required for issuance of the GP.

The proposed statewide general wetland permit and environmental assessment, area available on the Waterway & Wetland Permits: Wetland Disturbance page of the DNR website . Public comments are being accepted through Sept. 6, 2012. For more information or to submit written comments on the draft general permit or environmental assessment, contact Maureen Millmann, WDNR Southeast Region, 2300 N. Martin Luther King Jr Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53212, or by phone at 414-263-8613.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Maureen Millmann 414-263-8613; Dave Siebert 608-264-6048

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Avoid spreading a plant that's a threat to bats

MADISON -- A nuisance plant that readily attaches to people working or playing outdoors is being revealed as a threat to Wisconsin bats, spurring state invasive species experts to encourage people to take simple steps to avoid spreading the plant.

"Most people are well aware of common burdock and the seed heads that can cling to your clothing if you work or play outside," says Courtney Ripp, invasive plant specialist for the Department of Natural Resources. "The plant is largely a nuisance for people but we're learning that it can be deadly to bats."

The seed heads of common burdock - the inspiration behind the hook and loop fastener Velcro -- can stick to almost anything fibrous and have been documented to snag the wings of passing bats on their night-time forages for food. The bats get entangled in the seed heads and eventually die due to starvation, Ripp says.

Bat caught in burdock.
Burdock, a common invasive plant in Wisconsin, can pose a threat to bats.
Dave Redell Photo

"We're asking people - particularly landowners and outdoor enthusiasts -- to help save Wisconsin bats by taking a few simple steps to avoid spreading this plant around," she says.

Everybody who works outside or who hikes, bikes, or otherwise recreates outside should clean off mud, seeds, and other plant parts from clothes, equipment and pets before and after enjoying the outdoors to avoid spreading invasive species to new areas, Ripp says.

Property owners also can help by taking steps to reduce burdock on their land. Burdock is a biennial, which means the plant spends its first year as a leafy rosette and produces a flowering stem its second year that yields flowers and seeds before it dies.

There are simple steps property owners can take during burdock's first year and/or during its second year to keep it from spreading, Ripp says.

"If you have small rosettes, they can be removed with a dandelion digger. Larger rosettes can be removed with a sharp shovel by cutting the root 2 to 3 inches below the soil surface," she says.

Plants in their second season can be cut or mowed when flowers are just about to open. This prevents further seed production.

"Bats play a vital role in keeping nature in balance and in providing critical pest control for our agriculture and forestry industries," she says. "Let's all do our part to keep these important species safe by slowing the spread and managing common burdock and other invasive plants."

Wisconsin has seven species of bats, four of which are listed as threatened due to concerns that the bats are at serious risk from a deadly bat disease, white-nose syndrome, which has killed more than 6 million bats in the eastern U.S. and Canada and was found earlier this summer in caves in Iowa.

Visit DNR's website, dnr.wi.gov and search "Invasives" to find out more about invasive species, or find out how you can help bat populations by visiting the Saving Wisconsin Bats page of the DNR website or visit the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Courtney Ripp - 608-267-7438; Kelly Kearns (608) 267-5066

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Results available from survey on turkey management plan revision

MADISON -- Results from a recent survey on turkey management in Wisconsin show strong support of current practices, with 80 percent of respondents indicating they believe the current seven turkey management zones provide good hunting opportunity, and over three-quarters of respondents favoring the six separate time periods of the spring hunting season.

"While there's a lot of information yet to comb through, our initial summary provides unique insight into how hunters view various aspects of Wisconsin's turkey season framework," said Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

The survey showed strong approval of the current permit drawing process for the spring season, but also suggested that it might be time to make some changes to the fall permit drawing process.

"Over half of the survey takers indicated that they'd support the elimination of the fall permit drawing in favor of over-the-counter permit sales," McGinley said. "We greatly appreciate the time folks took to participate in the public input process. Thanks to this input, we'll be able to develop a plan that continues to reflect the desires and concerns of our state's hunters."

Following their successful reintroduction to Wisconsin in the 1970s, wild turkeys have expanded their range so that they now occupy all counties in the state, and spring and fall turkey hunting have become very popular outdoor activities.

DNR biologists believe the current Wisconsin Wild Turkey Management Plan, written in 1996, is in need of revision in order to remain pertinent to contemporary issues related to turkey management in the state. A critical part of the revision process includes soliciting, gathering, and analyzing input from the public regarding challenges and opportunities in turkey management and hunting in Wisconsin.

During late April and early May of 2012, 11 public input sessions were held around the state, during which attendees were presented with background information and asked to complete a survey that addressed important issues related to the future direction of turkey management. The survey was also available online through the end of May. Information from this survey will help all of the partners involved in managing our state's turkey flock in developing a plan that protects the turkey resource, but also optimizes recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

"There's no question that the DNR and the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation have done a masterful job restoring wild turkeys back to Wisconsin," says Cory Catlin, president of the federation's Wisconsin chapter. "This was particularly evident a couple of years ago when our state led the nation in spring harvest. Now that we've seen those numbers level off a bit, it's time to move forward with management changes that improve habitat, hunting opportunities, and the overall health of our sport."

People can review the survey results by going to dnr.wi.gov and searching for "turkey management".

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, (608) 267-7861 and Krista McGinley, (608) 261-8458

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Blue-green algae video and article available online

August typically month with most report of problems related to blooms

MADISON - A new video and comprehensive article about blue-green algae will help beachgoers, dog-owners and others reduce the risk that they or their pets will get sick from the smelly, unsightly and sometimes toxic blooms found in some Wisconsin waters.

The new materials are available in time for the month that historically has brought the most reports of such problematic algae blooms.

"August has typically been when we receive the most reports because the water is usually the warmest and conditions most conducive to fueling the blooms." says Gina LaLiberte, Department of Natural Resources research scientist and statewide blue-green algae coordinator. "We've seen the blooms earlier this year and on more lakes, because of prolonged hot weather and drought, so we're not sure if calls about blooms will hold steady this August or increase."

LaLiberte hopes the new materials can be valuable tools to help people learn more about blue-green algae and help them decide when it's best to stay out of the water and keep their kids and pets out.

The new video, available on DNR's YouTube channel, WIDNRTV, features LaLiberte and Emmy Wollenburg, outreach specialist for the Department of Health Services.

LaLiberte's new article, "Algal blooms in Wisconsin," (exit DNR) was published this week and appears online in the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences Arts & Letters' Wisconsin People & Ideas Magazine. It covers the same ground as the video in greater depth and also details how climate change is affecting blooms, and how Wisconsin government is responding and what individuals can do.

Nationally and globally, problems related to freshwater-inland hazardous algae blooms are widespread and have become more prevalent in recent decades, according to a 2008 federal review mandated by the U.S. Congress, Scientific Assessment of Harmful Algal Blooms (exit DNR). For example, toxic cyanobacterial outbreaks seem to be expanding and occurring more frequently in U.S. waters and globally, a trend reflected in the increasing number of published studies and reports.

Blue-green algae in Wisconsin

Blue-green algae are found naturally in Wisconsin lakes and are an important part of the food chain. Too much blue-green algae, however, can cause health problems. Cell wall compounds in all blue-green algae can cause gastrointestinal upset if swallowed, or rashes with skin contact. Some blue-green algae can produce toxins, which cause additional health problems, Wollenburg says.

The worst illnesses are usually seen in animals like dogs, which aren't concerned about water quality and may plunge into or drink from water with significant blue-green algae blooms, Wollenburg says. "Dogs also are at risk because they may ingest algae when they groom themselves after swimming, which is why it's so important to rinse your pet with fresh clean water every time they swim in a lake, pond or river," Wollenburg says.

The Wisconsin Beach Health website provides water quality information on more than 100 Great Lakes Beaches and more than 200 inland beaches, and is a good place to start before heading to a beach. For beaches not listed on the site and even for those posted as open, Wollenburg advocates a common-sense approach: "If the water looks questionable, stay out," she says.

People who think they are experiencing symptoms related to exposure to blue-green algae -- stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing - should contact their doctor or the Wisconsin Poison Center at 800-222-1222.

If a pet displays symptoms such as seizures, vomiting, or diarrhea after contact with surface water, contact a veterinarian right away.

To report illnesses that may be related to blue-green algae, contact the Department of Health Services at 608-266-1120, or fill out an online survey on its website. Go to www.dhs.wisconsin.gov and search for "blue-green algae" (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gina LaLiberte, DNR (608) 221-5377; Emmy Wollenburg, DHS (608)267-3242

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Friends of Poynette Game Farm to host Learn to Hunt Pheasant programs

POYNETTE, Wis. - The Friends of Poynette Game Farm are hosting Learn to Hunt Pheasant programs this fall as a way to involve youth and family groups in the long-standing tradition of pheasant hunting in Wisconsin.

The friends group will run four free programs at the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in Poynette this September and December. The programs are focused on youth and novice hunters over 10 years of age.

"The two-day Lean to Hunt programs focus on the basics of pheasant hunting in a fun and relaxing atmosphere," said Bob Nack, Poynette State Game Farm manager for the Department of Natural Resources.

Nack said adults and family groups are encouraged to attend. Free programs include classroom instruction, dog training demonstrations, trap shooting, tours of the Poynette game farm and a mentored pheasant hunt.

Dates and audiences for the pheasant programs include:

Applications are due August 24, and programs are limited to 20 participants. Overnight lodging is provided at the MacKenzie dormitories. Learn to Hunt application forms and other Friends of Poynette Game Farm information can be found at: www.friendsofwihunting.org (exit DNR), or by calling 608-635-8120. Friends of the Poynette Game Farm can also be found on Facebook. Applications should be mailed to FPGF, PO Box 606, Poynette, WI 53955.

The friends group supports the mission of the DNR State Game Farm and is dedicated to providing pheasant hunting opportunities and to promoting the strong tradition of upland bird hunting in Wisconsin. More than 50,000 pheasants from the Poynette facility are annually released on more than 70 public hunting grounds annually. These pheasants provide the only pheasant hunting opportunities for the average WI hunter. One of the friends group's goals is to increase the number of pheasants released on public hunting grounds through public awareness and fund raising.

"We have many fond memories of hunting trips and want new hunters to make memories of their own," said Vic Connors, FPGF president.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Nack, DNR State Game Farm Manager, 608-635-8120

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More than 7,000 applications sold in first six days for wolf hunt

MADISON - As of Tuesday morning, August 7, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has sold 7,286 applications for wolf hunting permits. This included 7,150 that were purchased by Wisconsin residents and 136 purchased by nonresidents.

Hunters and trappers interested in participating in Wisconsin's inaugural wolf hunting and trapping season must apply for a permit between Aug 1 and Aug 31, 2012. The permit application fee is $10 and applications can be purchased through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

The wolf hunting and trapping season will run October 15 to February 28, 2013. For more information search for "wolf" on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Cosh, DNR spokesperson - 608-267-2773

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Fishing for "cats" hotter than the water temperatures

Tips on where to go, what tactics to use

MADISON - Wisconsin's record-setting heat and resulting high water temperatures may be stressing northern pike, but catfish aren't complaining and anglers will find that for the next few months, these fish are the cat's meow.

"The catfish populations are looking outstanding in the Wisconsin River from Wausau to Wisconsin Rapids," says Tom Meronek, fisheries biologist. "The fish are very active with the high water temperatures. Definitely, folks should try catfishing this year if they have never done it, river conditions are perfect, because catfish love the heat."

Mississippi River catfish
Fishing for 'cats is fun for anglers of all ages.
WDNR Photo

They are also on the Mississippi River, where Potosi bills itself as "Wisconsin's Catfish Capital" and on Aug. 12 holds its Potosi Firemen's Catfish Festival (exit DNR), where area firemen will be frying up the cats in their secret batter.

Fisheries biologists are reporting that cat fishing is sizzling, as the reports below show, and that fishing opportunities for it should remain strong into the fall.

"Catfish are very abundant and can be had just about anywhere," says Kurt Welke, fish biologist stationed in Fitchburg, talking about the Madison lakes. "Corn, stink bait, crawlers - it doesn't matter, they go for it."

Wisconsin is home to eight species of catfish, five of which are game fish targeted by anglers, and brown, yellow and black bullheads. For most Wisconsin anglers, the channel cat is the prime target - it's widespread, grows big, is easy to catch, and is tasty fried up in a pan.

Channel catfish may be found in all three of Wisconsin's major drainages - the Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior. It is most common in the Mississippi River and in southern Wisconsin. It prefers riverine habitat, but may be found in some lakes and reservoirs, and it is an opportunistic feeder, taking insects, fish, crayfish and amphibians. It is the single most important commercial species in Wisconsin waters of the Mississippi River. The state record caught by hook-and-line was 44 pounds in 1962 from the Wisconsin River.

Flathead catfish are the state's largest piscivore (fish-eater) and some fish may have historically exceeded 120 pounds. The state record caught by hook-and-line was 74.5 pounds in 2001 from the Mississippi River. In 1911, two fish caught by set line in Wisconsin were reported to weigh 118 and 125 pounds, according to "Felines with Fins," in the February 2007 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

The black bullhead is the most common bullhead in Wisconsin waters. Bullheads are harvested by many anglers and are often a young angler's first introduction to catfish - and to a fish that can "bite" back, according to Steve Hewett, DNR fisheries section chief. The state records for bullheads range from 3 pounds 5 ounces for a yellow bullhead from Nelson Lake in 1983 to a 5 pound 8 ounce monster black bullhead from Big Falls Flowage in 1989.

Lake Mendota catfish
Catfishing on the Madison chain of lakes.
WDNR Photo

The season for channel and catfish is open all year, with a daily limit of 10 in total. There are no minimum length limits. The season for bullheads is open all year and there are no size nor bag limits.

Wisconsin's fish consumption advisory recommends that children and women of child bearing age limit themselves to one meal per month of catfish, while men and older women can eat one meal per week of the cats. The exception to those recommendations is for catfish caught in certain rivers, where PCBs may be a problem. Parts of the Black, Fox (IL), Lower Fox, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, lower Milwaukee, Mississippi, Red Cedar, St Croix, St. Louis, Twin, Wisconsin Rivers and Green Bay and due to mercury in Lake Arbutus.

Recipes for catfish, information about where to go to fish for them, and trips on making the most of your tip can be found on catfish pages of the DNR website. Some fish biologists turned in "forecats" for the next few months of fishing, below.

Pool 8 on the Mississippi River

In the last 30 years, the only time channel catfish catch rates were higher were during the summers of 1993-1995. During 2011 we had the second largest average size of channel catfish recorded since routine surveys were started in 1982. The largest channel catfish on average were found the previous year in 2010. Channel catfish larger than 31 inches and flathead catfish larger than 43 inches lurk in the deep waters of the Mississippi River. - David Heath, fisheries biologist, La Crosse

Petenwell Flowage

Channel catfish are plentiful in the Petenwell Flowage, but the few anglers that the wardens have talk to report that the catfish bite is slow. - Jennifer Bergman, fisheries biologist, Wisconsin Rapids

Peshtigo River

Fishermen floating the Peshtigo River are catching smallmouth bass, pike, and catfish along the entire length of the river. Top water baits have provided most of the action. Anglers trolling for trout and salmon between Peshtigo and Marinette have also been catching a fair number of large catfish. - Tammie Paoli, fisheries biologist, Peshtigo

Wisconsin River in central Wisconsin

The catfish populations are looking outstanding in the Wisconsin River from Wausau to Wisconsin Rapids. Our recent summer survey provided a good look at our local catfish population, as survey nets were full each day. The most common sizes were between 18-20 inches, these are perfect for getting nice fillets for grilling or smoking. The fish are very active with the high water temperatures. Definitely folks should try catfishing this year if they have never done it, river conditions are perfect, because catfish love the heat.- Tom Meronek, fisheries biologist, Wausau

Illinois Fox River

We performed a catfish survey on the Illinois Fox this past June. We found excellent size structure and abundance with fish ranging from 16"-28". The survey was performed near big bend and anglers were catching cats near woody structure using cut bait. - Benjamin Heussner, fisheries biologist, Waukesha

Lower Chippewa River

Catfish populations are strong on the lower Chippewa River from Lake Holcombe downstream to Lake Pepin. Catfish anglers do best on the main flowages such as Lake Wissota and the Holcombe Flowage however the smaller riverine flowages such as Cornell, Old Abe, Chippewa Falls and Dells Pond should not be overlooked. Boat access is plentiful on these flowages and shorefishing opportunities are present in many locations. Downstream of Eau Claire the Chippewa River is free flowing for 61 miles and provides a riverine catfishery experience. This area is in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area and provides anglers with a semi-wilderness angling experience with a setting of towering bluffs, floodplain forest and solitude. Access points at Eau Claire, Carryville, Meridean, Durand, Ella and the Tiffany Bottoms are present on this section of river. Water can get low in late summer downstream of Eau Claire and canoes, very small boats and jet/air boats work best for navigation on this portion of river, upstream boat passage can get difficult especially downstream of Durand. - Heath Benike, fisheries biologist, Eau Claire

St. Croix River

Just stopped in the bait shop in Star Prairie last night The word is catfish angling has been excellent on the St. Croix River in the Apple River bottoms area the last few weeks. There also are fair number of huge flatheads in the area other than channel catfish.- Marty Engel, fisheries biologist, Baldwin

Southwest Wisconsin

The low water conditions and high temperatures have not slowed the channel catfish bite here in southwest Wisconsin. Catfishing in Southwest Wisconsin has remained stable and with the spawning season over, both males and female channel catfish will be active. Low water has limited the access for boat anglers in many areas. Anglers finding their way to the water, either by boat, canoe, or bank have been reporting good success while catfishing this summer.

Anglers are reporting success for channel catfish from the lower Pecatonica River, lower Sugar River, and lower Platte River. For the Lower Platte River focus your effort within the first 2 miles upstream of the Mississippi River. Night crawlers and cheese bait have been the bait of choice for these three rivers. The Lower Wisconsin River from Prairie du Sac to the Mississippi River is by far one of the best channel catfish fisheries in Southwest Wisconsin. This stretch of River is also producing good channel catfishing this summer. Anglers will find success fishing cheese or blood-flavored dip bait while on the lower Wisconsin River. Anglers fishing cut bait on the Lower Wisconsin River will find catch rates a bit lower than with dip baits, but the average size of catfish caught will be higher.

As we near the end of summer and approach fall, anglers may see the bite slow in their favorite summer fishing holes. Catfish may start to migrate towards their overwintering areas forcing catfish anglers to change locations as well. Tagged catfish on the Pecatonica River started migrating as early as the 18th of August. In our small rivers along the Mississippi River and the Wisconsin-Illinois border, catfish tend to migrate downstream. Some may leave our state all together, but many will still remain for anglers to pursue. - Bradd Sims, fisheries biologist, Dodgeville

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Hewett (608) 267-7501 or your local fish biologist

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Hatcheries a fun and educational stop for the whole family

Sturgeon return to Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery show pond

WILD ROSE, Wis. -- The return of lake sturgeon to Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery's show pond after 40 years is just one of many reasons to visit the state-of-the art facility that's a backbone of Wisconsin's hatchery system. Wild Rose, along with 11 other currently operating hatchery facilities, offer a family friendly stop that will entertain and educate, state fish hatchery officials say.

Sturgeon display pond
Sturgeon being released into display pond.
WDNR Photo

"Wisconsin's state fish hatcheries are a great place for people to see fish up close and to learn more about a key tool to help keep Wisconsin's fishing great," says Al Kaas, who leads the state's propagation system. "Our hatcheries have a range of activities and exhibits, and they are a great place to visit when you're in the neighborhood."

Wisconsin has a total of 17 hatcheries, rearing stations and egg collection facilities, 14 of which are currently open. A [map showing where these facilities are located and links to web pages listing locations, hours and the kind of species and displays people will find is available on the DNR website.

Sturgeon in pond
Lake sturgeon in the Wild Rose hatchery show pond is one more reason to visit that hatchery.
WDNR Photo

Wisconsin fish hatcheries last year produced more than 7.6 million fingerling-sized and larger fish for stocking statewide http://infotrek.er.usgs.gov/wdnr_public/ (exit DNR) to provide fishing opportunities in waters with no or little natural reproduction, in urban waters and at kids' fishing events.

On Aug. 6, a little bit of history was made at Wild Rose, a facility that dates to about 1900, when five lake sturgeon were transferred from tanks in the hatchery's new coolwater building to the display pond in the hatchery's historic viewing area.

The sturgeon were hatched in spring 2010, which was the first year the newly renovated coolwater hatchery was finished and operating, a success detailed in the October 2010 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article, "Hatchery Renovation is Coming Up Roses."

Because of fish health concerns, DNR and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection regulations and other elements, putting sturgeon in the display pond was delayed after the construction of the facility was done. "Now with testing being done, regulations followed and approvals gotten, the sturgeon have a new home to enjoy for many years and generations to come," says Randy Larson, fish propagation supervisor.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on hatcheries statewide contact: Al Kaas (608) 267-7865 on Wild Rose Hatchery contact: Randy Larson (920) 622-3527

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 07, 2012




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