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Kevin Naze column: Ice fishing tournaments are underway

Feb. 7, 2014
 

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A pair of ice fishing tournaments are underway in Door County, and another starts in two weeks.

Today and tomorrow, prizes will be awarded for the heaviest whitefish, northern pike, walleye and yellow perch in the Beach Harbor Resort tourney.

Get tickets and more info at the resort, or call (920) 743-3191.

The 37th annual Lions Club Fish Derby on Washington Island also got underway this morning and runs through noon next Sunday, Feb. 16. Prizes will be awarded in lawyer (burbot), salmon or trout, perch, northern, walleye and whitefish categories.

More on ice fishing: Ice fishing news from around the state | Your ice fishing photos | Build a map | Read ice fishing reports

Two weeks from today, Walleyes for Tomorrow will host the Dave Pagels Memorial Ice Derby at Wave Pointe Marina. Payout is 10 places in walleye, perch, northern and whitefish.

There will be raffles and live music. Fish tournament entries ($35) and more information are available by calling Dan Farah at (920) 621-7439.

Cold, windy weather continues to keep fishing pressure down from what it could be, although weekends are still fairly busy at many locations.

Drifted snow has been hard on vehicles in some areas, with snowmobiles best to reach distant locations and many anglers simply walking out at spots like Sturgeon Bay, the Stone Quarry, Potawatomi State Park, Little Sturgeon Bay and Lime Kiln Road, among others.

Whitefish have been the most consistent species again this winter, often in 25 to 45 feet of water. Most anglers are using small jigging lures tipped with minnow pieces or wax worms near bottom, and are tying a small hook about 12 to 16 inches above and tipping that with a minnow piece, wax worm, PowerBait, Gulp! or other artificial bait.

Cormorant news

For the past decade, Michigan has been actively managing cormorants with lethal control and egg-oiling.

Those efforts appear to be paying off.

It took more than 10 years to respond to angler concerns, but in 2003 the federal government finally enacted a depredation order that authorized states, tribes and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct cormorant management, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service overseeing the process.

Michigan began by oiling eggs to prevent them from hatching and killing adults in Les Cheneaux Islands in 2004.

Since that time, the DNR’s partner — U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services — has expanded its operations to include efforts at Thunder Bay (Alpena), Beaver Island, Ludington and Bays de Noc (Escanaba), with the culling of up to 10,000 birds per year for the past several years.

Subsequently, cormorant nesting populations have been reduced anywhere from 54 percent to 94 percent at peak nesting counts at these locations.

In colonies where management efforts have been conducted, the estimated cormorant nest count in Michigan waters has gone from more than 23,000 in 2007 to less than 10,000 in 2013.

In addition to these efforts, Wildlife Services has directed volunteer groups in harassment programs at many inland lakes and Great Lakes bays during spring migration periods. Volunteer groups also assisted in cormorant harassment programs during stocking events at many Great Lakes ports.

Steve Scott, Michigan DNR fisheries biologist, said fisheries surveys have shown an increase in sport-fish populations during the same period cormorant populations were declining in areas where activities have been conducted.

“We are seeing some very encouraging results in fisheries at several locations, and anglers are reporting improvements,” Scott said.

The Wisconsin DNR has also been trying to reduce cormorants where allowed, although it has had its hands tied by federal red tape on some islands that make up a National Wildlife Refuge off Northern Door County.

Bait and feed

Thirty-five of 72 Wisconsin counties are now under baiting and feeding bans due to CWD rules.

The latest two are among the most whitetail-rich in the state, Waupaca and Shawano counties. They were added to the ban list this week after a deer from a nearby Marathon County hunting preserve testing positive for chronic wasting disease.

State law currently requires banning baiting and feeding in any county with a CWD-positive deer tested as well as any counties with a border within 10 miles of CWD-positive animal.

For more information on deer baiting and feeding regulations, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/files/pdf/pubs/wm/wm0456.pdf.

— Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Call him at (920) 883-9792 or email wildtimes@wizunwired.net

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