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ARCHIVED Special Edition DNR News Published November 19, 2015

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Late fall offers premier musky opportunities

Contact(s): Tim Simonson, DNR fisheries biologist and musky management team leader, 608-266-5222,; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

MADISON -- While hundreds of thousands of hunters will take to the woods during the nine day gun deer season, a smaller but equally avid group of outdoor enthusiasts will be out on Wisconsin waters in search of trophy musky during the next few weeks.

Over the years, late fall has become the time when the most serious musky anglers pursue their quarry. The inland musky season closes Nov. 30 north of U.S. Highway 10 including the northern tributaries to Lake Michigan; it closes Dec. 31 to the south of U.S. Highway 10 including the southern tributaries to Lake Michigan.

"Late fall is a great time to fish for musky because the fish feed aggressively before the coldest weather moves in," said Tim Simonson, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist and muskellunge management team leader. "The thrill of having one of these fish on the line is more than enough to drive away the chills, and this is when you are most likely to catch that trophy fish."

Simonson said data collected by statewide musky groups corresponds with the observations of fisheries managers and indicates that the average length of fish caught is largest from late October through December. In Wisconsin, some musky are living more than 20 years, and this longevity combined with a healthy population of prey species in many lakes contributes to the potential for large fish.

Trophy or not, many musky anglers practice catch and release fishing to give others a chance to experience the excitement of hooking these long-lived fish.

In late fall, the choice of bait typically ranges from bucktails and jerkbaits to live suckers and many anglers contend "the bigger the better," Simonson said. Anglers using live bait 8 inches or longer must use a quick-strike rig with one or more treble hooks attached to the body of the baitfish to prevent the musky from swallowing it completely; special non-offset circle hooks also may be used.

"The quick-strike rigs can really reduce mortality and work well for anglers using large suckers," Simonson said. With live bait, Simonson suggests using heavy tackle (at least 100-pound test line with heavy wire leaders) to avoid breaking the line and leaving a sucker hooked in the mouth of a large musky. It's also very important to set the hook immediately when that big musky strikes, to avoid causing lasting injury to the fish. Musky anglers are reminded to properly dispose of unused bait and not release bait in Wisconsin waters.

Wisconsin's top destinations for late fall musky fishing include lakes in Vilas and Oneida counties; the greater Hayward area in Sawyer County; the Mercer area in Iron County; and the Spooner area in Washburn County. In the southern part of the state, Lake Monona and Pewaukee Lake often produce large fish thanks to stocking and management efforts by local clubs in partnership with DNR.

To learn more, visit and search "musky." More information about musky seasons and bag limits can be found by searching "fishing regulations" or the "Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations 2015-2016."



DNR opens public comment period on scope of strategic analysis for fish passage at dams

Contact(s): Cheryl Laatsch, DNR Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and hydropower coordinator, 920-387-7869,; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is inviting the public to provide input as the agency works to develop a systematic approach for evaluating fish passage at dams statewide.

Fish passage describes the ability of fish to move upstream and downstream to find suitable habitat and breeding grounds. Where barriers such as dams exist, a systematic approach is needed to determine whether populations of fish and other beneficial organisms are best aided through practices such as stocking and habitat improvement or whether passage should be improved through use of techniques such as fish ladders, lifts or manual trap and other transport systems.

DNR intends to use a strategic analysis process to engage the public and will assess the latest scientific, natural resource and socio-economic information relating to fish passage at dams. The department will gather relevant facts, data and research and refine definitions. The strategic analysis will be used by the department to develop a consistent approach for fish passage proposals throughout Wisconsin.

Cheryl Laatsch, DNR's hydropower coordinator, said each fish passage project is unique and must take into account local issues related to fish health, aquatic invasive species, habitat considerations, engineering and design issues, costs and dam licensing agreements among other factors. The involvement of stakeholders, such as other state and federal agencies, tribes, local interest groups, non-governmental organizations and dam owners and operators, also factors into considerations relating to fish passage.

"The people of Wisconsin care deeply about our rivers and streams as well as the fish and other aquatic life they support," Laatsch said. "We are inviting public input to help develop a process that draws on the collective wisdom and experience of citizens and stakeholders."

The public comment period for the scoping portion of the strategic analysis runs through Jan. 29, 2016. Information about the analysis and the proposed topics to be covered can be found at by searching for "fish passage." The public is encouraged to provide comments on topics that may be included in the analysis.

Comments may be submitted through the website, emailed to or mailed to: Jim Doperalski, WDNR Green Bay Service Center, 2984 Shawano Ave., Green Bay, WI 54313-6727.

Following the public comment period on the scope, DNR will review and incorporate the public input into a draft strategic analysis. The draft strategic analysis also will be put out for public review and comments.



Fall hunters encouraged to report feral pig sightings

Contact(s): Noah Balgooyen, DNR wildlife damage biologist, 608-266-2151

MADISON - Hunters and landowners in Wisconsin are reminded to be on the lookout for feral pigs as they head into the woods for fall hunting seasons.

These pigs have a number of negative impacts on the landscape, including disease, habitat degradation, competition with native wildlife for food sources, crop damage, and many more. Feral pig sightings and harvests should be reported on the Department of Natural Resources website,, by searching for keyword "feral pigs."

"Although we are currently not aware of any established feral pig populations in Wisconsin, we have had some in the recent past, and we want to stay vigilant and react quickly to any hotspots that may arise," said Noah Balgooyen, DNR wildlife damage biologist.

Feral pigs are an unprotected wild animal in Wisconsin, may be harvested year-round, and have no hunting hour restrictions (except during gun deer hunting seasons, when normal hunting hours must be followed). A hunting license is not required to shoot a feral pig on your property, but it is important to remember that a small game, archery, sports, or patron license is required to shoot a feral pig elsewhere. It is recommended that hunters wear rubber gloves when butchering or field dressing the harvested animal.

While the department encourages the removal of feral pigs whenever possible, caution is advised in making sure that the pig is not an escaped domestic from a local farm. Contact your local sheriff's office to determine if escaped domestic pigs have been reported in your area.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Thursday, November 19, 2015

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