This week outside – Aug. 14
Some will change the way we hunt, fish and trap
By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
One of the rule changes that will alter the way we will fish has to do with the revitalization of the Minocqua Chain walleye fishery. This effort will affect the Minocqua Chain of Lakes in Oneida County. Over the past decade this chain of lakes has experienced a significant decline in the adult walleye population because of low recruitment of young fish into the population according to the DNR’s Bureau of Fisheries Management.
In 1992 surveys showed that in Minocqua Lake there were 5.6 walleyes per acre, in Kawaguesaga, 4.4 walleyes per acre and in Lake Tomahawk there were 2.5 walleyes per acre. That information compared to a survey of the populations in these lakes in 2015 showed that in Minocqua Lake there are 1.0 walleye per acre, in Kawaguesaga, 1.3 walleyes per acre and .7 walleye per acre in Lake Tomahawk. That survey was completed this past spring.
In order to change this dismal situation the DNR is going to implement a cooperative rehabilitation project the goal of which is to restore healthy, self-sustaining walleye populations of at least three adult fish per acre in Lake Minocqua and Kawaguesaga and two adult fish per acre in Lake Tomahawk.
In an effort to protect adult walleyes in 2011 the minimum size that anglers could keep was increased from 15 to 18 inches. This was changed in 2015 to the regulation that there will be no harvest of walleyes from 2015 to 2020.
In 2011 in an attempt to reduce the predation of walleyes the minimum length limit on bass was removed. In addition 7-8 inch fish are being stocked in alternate years in the lakes of the Minocqua Chain.
Anglers are reporting that they are catching stocked walleyes and during fisheries surveys conducted by the DNR immature fish are showing up. Some of the males that were stocked spawned in 2015 and it is expected that the females, since they mature later, will most likely show up in 2017.
There has been an effort to get various groups involved in this project. Those who have agreed to participate are Headwaters Basin Chapter of Walleyes for Tomorrow, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Wisconsin DNR.
Another change that may alter the way many of us fish is that it is now legal for Wisconsin anglers to fish from a boat that is in motion from an outboard motor. Motor trolling became legal on all inland lakes in Wisconsin with at least one hook, bait or lure per angler. This is a major change for anglers across Northern Wisconsin. Any angler interested in motor trolling should seek information relating to the specific lake you wish to troll on.
There has been a change in the policy of how motorists can obtain permission to keep a deer that has been struck by a car. If you are so unlucky as to hit one of the few deer that reside in Northern Wisconsin you may make arrangements to take the deer by simply calling the Call Center of the DNR. The Call Center will issue permits any time of the day or night over the phone so that one can keep a road-kill carcass.
In addition, beginning in the 2015 deer season you do not have to take the deer to a registration location to register it. You may register that deer over the phone or by computer.
At this time of the year there are other changes about to take place. Summer is quickly coming to an end and the water temperatures begin to cool. Some of our grandchildren recently took advantage of the opportunity to swim at our dock. The opening of school will put an end to their visits during the week.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.
Fall coming quickly
Last chance for summer activities
Special to the Star Journal
It’s mid-August and say what you will, this is the week that tilts summer toward autumn. We may well dodge the 90-degree heat common to August; this weekend looks to push the upper end but not top 90. After that, all bets are off as average temperatures begin to slide. In the next 30 days average temps will go from high 70s to mid 60s, and if you like summer heat you’re running out of time to enjoy it.
In two weeks or thereabouts we’ll be into hunt season: early goose and teal seasons start Sept. 1, and after that there is s flurry of hunting seasons opening.
Even now, evening darkness comes early; mornings hold a freshness that sometimes borders on chill.
All of which to say we are turning daily from summer to fall. Which means if you have summer activities on the “To Do List” you’d best address them.
This week saw a slide in summer visitors and a significant drop in people out and about. Campgrounds have more openings now; there are not as many people on the lakes. It is, in short, a great time to be outside with good weather and lower crowds.
Late summer camping at state forest campground and private facilities is very good this week. Bicycling on area trails, the Bearskin and others, is wonderful. Picnics hold a special charm under late summer sunsets. And of course fishing remains ongoing.
On the fishing front we continue to get reports of pretty good action. What we are not hearing of is many large fish being caught but that is not uncommon in summer. Weedless lures worked into thick cover continue to be effective on largemouth bass and the occasional northern pike. Deeper water holds walleyes and jigs tipped with the usual summer fare, crawlers or leeches, still work.
Bigger fish, muskies, have more active this August than usual, more a tribute to the slightly lower temperatures; again, as noted above, no 90-degree summer heat. Muskies still are in moderate depths and the always-effective buck tails are a good lure to try. Other lures will produce, no question about that, but sometimes the basic stuff is still a good bet.
For now we are looking at the late summer push as we all get out in the waning days of August before schools start up and days grow short and autumn arrives.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander.