Last call for perch until middle of May
Green Bay’s popular yellow perch fishery will take its annual two-month break for the spring spawning period at the end of the day Friday, but fishing for all other bay species — including popular draws such as whitefish, walleye, northern pike and brown trout — will remain open.
Bay and lake tributaries are running strong from recent rain and melting snow, attracting some spawn-minded trout, walleyes and pike, but there is a lot of ice blocking some of the favored fishing spots. Many of the smaller creeks are closed to fishing at this time of the year; check the regulations for a list of which ones remain open.
Ice-breaking operations began earlier this week on Green Bay, even though there was 2 feet or more of ice in many areas. A lot of anglers were using four-wheel drives, four-wheelers and snowmobiles to get around. Whitefish and perch are the top draws for most, but some trophy walleyes, pike and trout have also been hooked from time to time.
■ The 25th annual Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament on April 19-21 allows fishing in Door and Kewaunee County waters on both sides of the peninsula. Check out photos of last year’s giants and learn more at www.baileysharbor.com.
■ Planning has begun for the 23rd annual Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament, set for May 16-18. Get details on how to enter, or track past contests, at www.sbobt.org.
Rivers opening, but lakes still solid
Unless things change fast this could be the latest ice-out in many years, with 18 to 25 inches of hard water on top of many popular lakes.
Rivers and flowage channels are a different story, especially after recent rain and snow, and a number of thawing days.
Conditions range from open water to thin ice wherever there’s plenty of current, so use caution even if fishing the still-frozen backwaters. As always, check with a local bait and tackle shop whenever possible before heading out to learn the latest conditions and any areas to avoid.
Panfish are the popular choice in most areas, though game fishing for walleyes, pike and bass is open on a number of year-round waters. When in doubt, check the printed or online 2012-2013 fishing regulations guide.
There’s deep snow and frozen slush on some lakes, especially north and west of Green Bay. The hot spots vary by the lake, but generally, panfish are being caught in the bottom few feet over mud flats and weeds. Once it warms up, look for fish to move higher in the water column, at times hitting right below the hole.
Rookies can sign up to hunt wild turkeys
Learn To Hunt wild turkey programs will be held in the coming weeks across Wisconsin, including several planned in Door, Kewaunee and Oconto counties. Beginning hunters and seasoned mentors can check for opportunities to participate on the Hunter’s Network of Wisconsin website or Facebook page. Get details at http://huntersnetwork.org .
■ Thousands of leftover spring wild turkey permits go on sale next week, beginning with Zone 1 at 10 a.m. Monday. Check availability by zone and period at http://dnr.wi.gov/permits/springturkey.html.
■ Deer hunters can be a part of one of four “Action Teams” the DNR is assembling to sift through the recommendations on the Deer Trustee report. The next meeting is April 6, and an online survey is expected to be available this week. Learn more at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/trustee.html.
■ Dozens of open house Deer Hunter Forums will be held the next two weeks to discuss the current status of local deer herds and ask management questions of DNR wildlife staff.
The first one locally will be at the Reedsville Sportsman Club at 6:30 p.m. Monday for those who hunt Calumet and Manitowoc counties. Two nights later, on March 20, Shawano and Waupaca County hunters can meet at the Clintonville High School Auditorium.
CRP enrollments at a 25-year low
High commodity prices and CRP payments that haven’t risen to compete with crop returns have fueled a better than 25 percent decline in farmland enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program in the last five years, totaling close to 9.7 million acres.
That’s a big loss of grassland and prairie pothole habitat favored by pheasants, songbirds and ducks, among many other wildlife species.
Wisconsin has seen a far smaller decline than states such as Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Montana, but is still losing set-aside acreage.
Ice shacks must be off by Sunday
Ice fishing shelters must be removed from inland lakes north of Wisconsin 64, Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters and Green Bay and Lake Michigan waters by the end of the day Sunday. Portable shelters can still be used daily, but must be removed when not in use.
■ If you missed Wednesday’s panfish meeting in Green Bay but still want to comment, take a short online survey available at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Fishing/Outreach/PanfishPlan.html.
■ Several corrections to 2013 spring hearing questions have been made on the Wisconsin Conservation Congress website. One deals with Winnebago system northern pike and two concern youth waterfowl hunts.
See the corrections, check out the entire questionnaire and learn the location of all the county hearings at http://dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/springhearing.html.
— Kevin Naze, wildtimes@ wizunwired.net