By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
It has finally arrived. We experienced an early peek at spring early in March and then winter came back. The ice conditions were questionable at best.
Many anglers questioned the safety of the ice and stopped ice fishing earlier than usual. Perhaps I have grown much more cautious as the years add up but I restrained myself and stayed off the ice when we returned from Texas in March.
The inland fishing opener took place this Saturday. The opener has in past
years shown that the majority of anglers seek walleyes on opening weekend.
This year several changes will take place in regulations. As reported last week in the Star Journal the fishing license has taken the form of a white piece of paper. The DNR Information System Supervisor, Mark Ruppe, claims that the purpose for this change is a convenience to the angler. Anglers who choose not to carry that piece of paper can just show their drivers license.
Nobody asked my opinion about this new system however, I will give it anyway. Those who know me are aware that I am not a big fan of the increase in the use of technology in many areas of our daily lives. We have seen the discontinuance of the back tag by deer hunters and turkey hunters will attempt to fasten a paper tag to a dead bird in place of the type of tags used in the past. My wife suggests that I may still be living in the 20th Century.
Those anglers who are looking forward to fishing in northern Wisconsin should be aware of the restrictions governing walleye fishing on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes. Walleyes may not be kept as part of an experiment to re-grow the walleye on this chain.
The regulations for size and bag limits on many lakes have changed for many of the game fish. To be sure you are legal be sure to check the information that is posted at the boat landings.
Be aware that as a result of the frequent rains the water on many of our lakes is higher than normal. Also, the streams are full of water and the current is moving much faster than usual.
Many readers of this column will remember the following story about an experience that we had several years ago in Texas. My friend, “The Osseo Jinx” and I were fishing with a long-time friend in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas. The three of us were catching some nice sized sheepshead. Tom was unhooking a fish and reached for pliers to aid in removing the hook from his fish. He had his back to the middle of the ship channel as a large ship was passing by. The waves created by the ship caused our boat to rock, which threw Tom off balance. He went over the side of the boat backwards into the water. The three of us were wearing personal flotation devices that are self-inflating when immersed in water. We heard a splash, turned around and there was Tom in the water with his head sticking out. Although water logged he was none the worse for his dunking when we got him out of the water. Since that experience we are much more conscientious about wearing life vests.
According to Warden Jim Jung, every year in Wisconsin there are an average of 25 drownings. Personal flotation devices could have prevented the majority of those deaths.
Drowning deaths are preventable! Wear your life vests. The boat seats don’t need them and I, like many of you, would like to live to fish again.
Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.