Bay anglers still catching whitefish
Whitefish continue to dominate the catches for most anglers on Green Bay, with action found in as little as 15 to 25 feet of water to as deep as 30 to 70 feet. Some perch also are being caught, along with an occasional smelt, walleye, pike and brown trout.
Green Bay rivers and Lake Michigan tributaries also are luring fishermen for mixed catches, often walleyes and panfish with some whitefish on the bay tributaries and mostly steelhead with an occasional brown trout or pike along the lakeshore.
■ A multi-species ice fishing tournament will be held from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday headquartered at Wave Point Marina in Little Sturgeon. More info: (920) 621-7439.
Travel is difficult on many lakes
There’s plenty of ice on most lakes but a lot of heavy, wet snow, too, making access a little tricky off any plowed trails. Snowmobiles and four-wheelers remain the best bets for getting around in most areas, with more than one four-wheel drive truck having to dig out of deep drifts.
Heated, permanent shacks were most popular during the recent stretch of cold, windy weather. Temperatures are expected to climb to near freezing over the weekend, with plenty of sunshine and lighter winds that’ll have anglers outside jigging and chasing tip-ups.
Some of the best action continues to be for small to medium-size panfish and pike on many waters. The use of electronics can help when targeting suspended fish on deeper lakes.
Sunset and dusk action for walleyes, crappies and larger perch and bluegills is favored by many, though the dawn bite can be good at times and typically involves lighter fishing pressure.
Crossbow users seek more opportunities
Wisconsin crossbow supporters are seeking expanded opportunities in the regular archery season or perhaps a deer season of their own. Currently, only hunters 65 and over or those who qualify with certain disabilities can hunt deer with a crossbow during the archery season, and any age crossbow hunter can pursue deer on a gun deer tag during the gun deer season. Crossbows are also legal for black bear and wild turkey hunting.
Michigan has allowed crossbows in the early archery season for all hunters the past three years. Lower Michigan hunters can use crossbows in both the early and late seasons.
DNR Deer and Elk Program Leader Brent Rudolph said 25 percent of the crossbow users in 2011 had not hunted in the archery season in previous years. Crossbow use climbed from more than 45,000 in 2009, when there was an age 50 and up restriction, to more than 64,000 when it was removed in 2010. Last year, more than 88,000 obtained the free crossbow stamp used to track participants.
DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said although the expanded opportunity increased the number of archery hunters, the amount of deer harvested overall during the archery season did not increase each year. Harvest of deer over all seasons combined declined or was similar to previous years.
Duck stamp sales continue to fall
In an opinion column in The Wildlife Society bulletin earlier this month, authors Mark Vrtiska, James Gammonley, Luke Naylor and Andrew Raedeke hypothesized that trends in waterfowl hunter numbers — which have been declining since the mid-1990s — have become independent of breeding duck populations, which are near record highs for some species.
Falling sales of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Conservation Stamps (duck stamps) means millions of dollars less in revenue used to protect wetland and upland breeding habitat.
Vrtiska said these should be the glory days for duck hunting, but stamp sales have fallen from more than 2.1 million in the 1970s to about 1.3 million in 2008, and an annual decline of about 36 percent in recent years.
■ The 13th annual Aldo Leopold Weekend will be held in early March across Wisconsin. Green Fire, the high-definition Leopold documentary film, will be shown at a number of locations March 2, including Mosquito Hill Nature Center in New London and at Marion University in Fond du Lac. For more information, click on “Leopold Events” at http://www.aldoleopold.org.
New state record buck at Hunt Expo
Dusty Gerrits’ new state record archery typical whitetail, a 1893/8-inch 12-pointer shot near Waupun in Fond du Lac County last fall, will be one of the star attractions of the Wisconsin State Hunting Expo Friday through Sunday at ShopKo Hall.
A new 3-D pop-up archery shoot for men, women and youths joins the kids archery and air rifle ranges and a new mix of exhibitors and seminar speakers. Hunters can bring in their trophy deer and bear for measuring.
Hours are 3-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission without a $20 three-day pass is $8 daily, with kids 12 and younger free. More info: www.wisconsinstatehuntingexpo.com.
■ Record-setting firearm and ammunition sales in 2012 and strong archery sales provided the most gross excise tax receipts — more than $555 million — means states that sell a lot of hunting licenses should see their biggest kickbacks in history this year.
Wisconsin’s record of more than $15 million in 2010 should be shattered and is expected to surpass $17 million. Among other things, states use the money for public land acquisition and improvements, research and hunter education.
— Kevin Naze, wildtimes@ wizunwired.net