Kevin Naze column: Time to keep off the melting ice

Apr. 4, 2014

While a few anglers will push the limits of softening ice, it’s time for more conservative fishermen to start readying gear for open water.

Some have already pulled boats over the shoreline to try trolling for brown trout on the lake side of the Peninsula, while others are casting spoons off docks and piers or walking creek banks to drift spawn sacs for steelhead.

There’s more open water every day around Sturgeon Bay, and plenty of honeycombed ice, pressure cracks and spongy areas all around Green Bay.

Weakening ice, shorelines and pressure cracks opening and ice-breaking for ship traffic combine with shifting winds to increase the possibility of ice floes breaking apart.

The U.S. Coast Guard is warning anglers that warming temperatures and wind significantly affect ice strength and can lead to extremely hazardous conditions with a high probability for drifting pack ice.

As always, check locally with area guides and bait shop owners for the latest information on areas to avoid before heading out.

If you do go, it’s recommended to fish with a buddy and carry safety gear, too. A long rope, ice picks and even floatation devices could save someone’s life.

That said, there was still 20 or more inches of ice floating on the surface of much of the bay earlier this week. Fishermen were jigging for walleyes and whitefish, and a few soaking shiners, smelt, sucker minnows or spawn for northern pike or brown trout.

Meanwhile, it looks like most of the snow and ice will melt in time for next weekend’s youth turkey hunt. It could be quite muddy, though, and some remnant ice and snow in heavily shaded areas like creek bottoms.

Gobblers are being seen scouring cleared farmland daily, often joined by Canada geese, sandhill cranes, mallards and even some tundra swans in flooded fields.

Send a 'tweet'

You don’t need to own a smartphone or computer to send a tweet once the U.S. Postal Service delivers sets of 10 colorful songbird Forever Stamps to a post office near you.

The first release was set for Dallas this week. The stamps depict a number of colorful songbirds, including the Baltimore oriole, scarlet tanager and rose-breasted grosbeak.

If you don’t want to wait, you can order in booklets of 20 at, at 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724) or at

Timber cut

A timber cut aimed at slowing an outbreak of beech bark disease at Whitefish Dunes State Park is underway.

The disease is the result of an interaction between a fungus and an insect called a scale. The disease was discovered in North America more than a century ago and was first found in Door County five years ago.

Whitefish Dunes State Park has a high density of beech trees, and many have now become infected with the disease. The disease can cause cankers that girdle trees, killing them by cutting off nutrients.

Other organisms such as decay fungi and wood-boring insects can also invade diseased trees. The weakened wood can cause branches, limbs or even trunks to break during strong winds.

The DNR-approved timber sale targets dead and dying trees that could present a hazard if left standing. Additional non-beech hazard trees will also be removed.

A stretch of County WD will be closed until April 17, affecting the area from Dunes Park Road to the Main Entrance of the nature center and parking lots. Access to the Nature Center will be open by using North Cave Point Drive. A detour has been established using Bechtel Road, Wisconsin 57 and North Cave Point Drive.

The DNR says the total timber harvest represents about seven percent of the park acreage. It is being carried out in two phases so the park can remain open for visitation. The first phase along WD also includes most of the park's Green Trail. The second phase of cutting includes parts of the Brachiopod and Black trails.

Small bites coming

With so much snow and ice still hanging around it seems odd to talk about spring and summer biting bugs, but that’s the focus of Monday’s World Health Day.

This year’s theme is “Small Bites, Big Threats,” an effort to educate the public on the risk of insect-borne diseases.

Check out a short video on simple measures to protect yourself and your loved ones at

Short shots

If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to buy your new fishing and hunting licenses before heading out. The new license year began April 1. There’s a variety of 2014-2015 options available, including a $5 first-time or decade-lapsed angler license.

• Former Door County resident “Buzz” Davis will reflect on 50 years hunting four continents at Wednesday’s Safari Club International meeting at Stadium View in Ashwaubenon. The presentation begins at 7:30 p.m.

• Keep up with the latest migrating bird sightings or report your own at

— Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Tell him what’s on your mind at

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