FISHING & HUNTING

National Safe Boating Week is May 21-27. We want to remind boaters that wearing a life jacket could save your life.

 

It is human nature to think drowning can't happen to you. Most people who drown in boating accidents know how to swim but become incapacitated in the water due to being injured or unconscious, exhausted or weighed down by clothing.

So far this year, four people have died in boating incidents, and another 25 people died in 2021. Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness and speeding are the four leading causes of tragic watercraft crashes, and the leading cause of death is drowning.

Boating is a big part of Wisconsin’s culture and summer fun. With that comes the responsibility of making sure to operate your boat in a safe and responsible manner. Part of that is ensuring there are enough life jackets on board for everyone.

Nationally, 80% of all boating related fatalities are the direct result of drowning. Something as simple as wearing your life jacket can significantly mitigate that risk and prevent a fun summer outing from becoming a tragedy. 

The department does not track all drownings – only those fatalities linked to the use of a recreational activity item, such as a boat, kayak or canoe. Boating incident reports to date for 2022 and previous years are available online here.

Statistics show boaters who wear life jackets and take boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe on Wisconsin waters. New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling or hunting and are much cooler in the warmer weather.

Follow the basic safety tips below and enjoy Wisconsin's open waters with family and friends.

WATER SAFETY TIPS

  • Sign up now to take an online boater education course.

  • Always wear a properly fitted life jacket that has a snug fit and is fastened when you're on or near the water. Life jackets will keep you on top of the water if you walk off an unexpected drop-off, or a wave or current overpowers you or you fall out of a boat.

  • Enjoy the waters sober and know your limits. Alcohol blurs a person's judgment, reaction time and abilities.

  • River shorelines and sandbars pose unseen dangers. Higher, fast-moving water can tax an individual's boating, paddling and swimming skills.

  • Keep an eye on the weather and let someone know where you are going.

Be ready for the unexpected and always wear your life jacket. More boating safety tips are available on the DNR website.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is excited to announce the 2022-2023 fishing season will open on Saturday, May 7. All regulations and license requirements apply.

No matter where anglers decide to fish, all Wisconsin residents and non-residents over the age of 16 are required to purchase a fishing license. You can buy licenses through Go Wild, the DNR’s license portal, or from a license agent.

Over the past year, DNR staff have worked hard to responsibly manage Wisconsin’s fishery resources by maintaining and enhancing critical fish habitats, conducting fish population surveys, adding classified trout waters, and stocking millions of fish into inland lakes, streams, and Great Lakes.

As anglers head out to their favorite fishing locations, the DNR would like to remind them to:

 

Fishing Forecasts

Based on early season fishing reports, the DNR predicts anglers across the state will have a successful opening weekend despite a slower spring thaw.

“Spring has been slow to arrive across the state, and with the late ice thaw on northern lakes, the fish will be hungry and eager to bite,” said Justine Hasz, DNR Bureau Director of Fisheries Management. 

Anglers searching for panfish will find them in warm, shallow water near trees and stumps, though with the late warm-up, they may be sluggish. Expect to catch some perch in the weedy bays and at the mouths of smaller tributaries around the Winnebago System. 

With minimal precipitation and shorter vegetation along streams, anglers should be stealthy while fishing for trout. Brown trout and splake are abundant this year in Lake Superior and can commonly be found in the shallow waters of the Apostle Islands and Chequamegon Bay region in the spring. Brown trout are also in the shallow waters around the shores of Lake Michigan, and you can find lake trout around harbors and rocks. 

Cooler temperatures have delayed walleye spawning in the northern parts of the state. As a result, they will likely be hanging around shoreline habitats. Anglers can expect to find plenty of walleye over 15 inches in the St. Louis River, its estuary areas and along Wisconsin’s Lake Superior south shore. Anglers should focus on fishing Lake Wisconsin for the opener as walleye make their way back after spawning on the Wisconsin River. 

Like panfish, bass have remained sluggish, and anglers should head to deeper waters to find those that haven’t moved into shallow, warmer waters. Northern pike will likely be in post-spawn mode and actively feeding.

Steelhead are just finishing their spawning runs, though anglers may still find them in rivers and harbors, and Coho salmon are starting to make their annual northward migration along the Lake Michigan lakeshore.

Contact your local fisheries biologist for more information or find a launch or fishing location near you.

The DNR wishes all anglers a safe and successful 2022 fishing season.

DNR Fishing Report 4/25/22

MANITOWOC COUNTY

  • The sucker run is in full swing on both the East and West Twin Rivers. Anglers are still targeting and catching steelhead, but to a lesser degree than in previous weeks. Anglers coming in from Lake Michigan at the Manitowoc ramp have done well fishing for brown trout, with one boat, in particular, coming in with a dozen fish in total. Due to precipitation, colder spring temperatures and high winds, fishing pressure has been lower than in previous weeks. Still, it will increase with warmer temperatures and more anglers focusing efforts on Lake Michigan.

KEWAUNEE COUNTY

  • Kewaunee:

    • At the Kewaunee River, a few rainbow trout were caught using beads, spawn and pink flies. Successful bead colors included red, orange and pink. Biological data collected on the Kewaunee River reported fish weighing 4 to 7.9 lbs. Additionally, many suckers were caught about 1 ft down using a green spoon with varying colors of spawn. Water clarity ranged from 1 to 3-feet clarity with current ranging from swift to calm. Anglers reported slightly higher water levels than the week earlier, with some vegetation coming in on fishing lines. At the Kewaunee Ramp, a few brown trout were caught and weighed at 3.1 lbs and 9.7 lbs. They were caught using a gold/orange flicker minnows. Fish were being marked between 12 and 15-feet this week, as well as some bait near the Kewaunee pier. Water temperatures ranged from 36-41.8 degrees, with 50 degrees near the Point Beach nuclear plant. Lastly, a few carp and baitfish were seen at the Kewaunee pier. Water clarity ranged from 1-foot to 4-feet this week. 

  • Algoma:

    • A few northern pike were caught at Algoma shore using blue spoons and silver/yellow spoons. Fish were biting high in the water column. Current ranged from swift to slow, with water clarity ranging from 1.5 to 4-feet. At the Ahnapee River, several northern pikes were caught with water conditions, including a 1 to 3-foot water clarity and a calm current. At Stoney Creek, anglers reported seeing suckers and clear water conditions. A calm current was reported with a little vegetation as well.

DOOR COUNTY

  • Warmer weather has removed most of the ice from the Bay of Green Bay, except for spotty ice in Sister Bay and Ephraim. Water remains cold in both the Bay and Lake Michigan, with temperatures ranging from 39-45ºF. Anglers fishing out of Stone Quarry Park had success casting for walleyes with various lures, including jigs with plastic tails, rippin’ raps, and hair jigs. Interviewed parties reported catching walleyes in the mid 20 inches range, with the largest being close to 27 inches. Two whitefish around 20 inches were also caught on hair jigs while walleye fishing. Rainbow trout were routinely seen in Whitefish Bay Creek and Heins Creek. One angler caught two rainbows that were both over 7 pounds using pink, floating spawn sacs near the mouth of Whitefish Bay Creek, and anglers also reported seeing suckers there. An angler fishing Heins Creek caught a rainbow trout just shy of 2 pounds using yellow-orange beads. This fish was caught downstream of Highway 57. The northern pike bite was still hot along the shore of the Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club. The average sizes of the pike caught were 18-22 inches, and a variety of lures and colors were successful for multiple anglers.

Sturgeon Spawning Update: April 25, 2022

Sturgeon spawning is starting on the Upper Fox, Wolf and Peshtigo rivers. Here’s what Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists are reporting:

Wolf River & Upper Fox River

Despite cooler weather moving in, sturgeon are getting ready to spawn on the Wolf River. You can see them cruising from viewing stations at Bamboo Bend in Shiocton and along the Wolf River Sturgeon Trail. They are starting to spawn in the Upper Fox River in Princeton. They have not started spawning at the Shawano Dam.

Lower Fox River

No sturgeon have been reporting spawning yet.

Peshtigo River

The first of several spawning events is starting on the Peshtigo River thanks to rising water temperatures. However, with air temperatures dropping, DNR fish biologists predict that after today (April 25) adult sturgeon will not spawn again for another week or so. Visitors should be able to see sturgeon from the viewing platform for the next two to three weeks.

 

You can find daily spawning updates on the Winnebago system sturgeon spawning page. 

Lake sturgeon are very vulnerable during this spawning period and can be susceptible to illegal harvest. Make sure to report any suspicious activity to 1-800-TIP-WDNR.