Week of June 18, 2007

Regional

Beyond the Great Lakes
Lake Michigan

Illinois
Indiana
Michigan
New York
Wisconsin
 

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Regional

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for June 15, 2007

Lake Level Conditions

Currently, Lake Superior is 14 inches below its level of a year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 2 inches lower than it was at this time last year.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 1 to 5 inches above their levels of a year ago.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are predicted to rise 3 inches and 1 inch, respectively, over the next 30 days.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are expected to drop 2 to 3 inches over the next month. During the next few months, Lake Superior is forecasted to remain well below its water level of a year ago, while the water levels of the remaining lakes are expected to be similar or slightly below last year’s levels. 

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

Outflow from the St. Marys River is predicted to be well below average for June. Flows through the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are also predicted to be lower than average this month. Flow in the Niagara River is expected to be above average, while flow in the St. Lawrence River is forecasted to be below average.

 

Alerts

Due to abnormally dry conditions on the Lake Superior basin

over the last several months, | Lake Superior’s water level is currently below chart datum and is expected to remain below datum over the next six months.  Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Level for June 15

600.2

577.7

574.1

571.8

246.1

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

-11

+ 2

+22

+31

+33

Diff last month

+2

0

-1

-2

-2

Diff from last yr

-14

-2

+1

+2

+5

 


Great Lakes improving, invasives cause concerns

TORONTO (CP) - The health of the Great Lakes ecosystem is improving in some ways, but there remain many areas of troubling concern, says a new report by Environment Canada and the USEPA.

 

While the Great Lakes continue to be a good source for treated drinking water, and toxic chemicals in the water have been significantly reduced, concerns about the impacts of population growth, climate change and invasive species are on the rise. The report says more than 300 invasive or non-native species now thrive in the Great Lakes basin - and their destructive, parasitic behaviors are getting worse.

"The entry of non-native species ... in the Great Lakes, that's a huge concern, (especially) how they compete with our native species and in some cases, may replace them or drive them out of certain habitats," Nancy Stadler-Salt of Environment Canada said Monday. "And once they're here, they're probably next to impossible to eradicate - it's just learning how to control them." Many invasive species get into the Great Lakes basin from the ballast water of cargo ships from all over the world.

 

The report also says shorter winters, higher annual temperatures and extreme heat events are likely to affect ice cover on the lakes, which has already been declining.


 

Beyond the Great Lakes

Jumping sturgeon injures woman on Suwannee River

Latest flying fish-related mishap

ROCK BLUFF, Fl (AP).---- A woman was injured over the weekend by a leaping sturgeon, the latest incident involving the flying fish on the  Suwannee River, officials said. Tara Spears, 32, of Bell, was knocked unconscious by the animal on Sunday while boating on the river north of Rock Bluff, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported.

 

She was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

and was expected to recover, the agency reported.  Sturgeon have hard plates along their backs. They can grow up to 8 feet long and up to 200 lbs.

 

In April, a leaping sturgeon severely injured a 50-year-old woman from St. Petersburg who was riding a personal watercraft on the Suwannee River. She suffered a ruptured spleen and had three fingers reattached by surgeons, but she lost her left pinkie finger and a tooth.

 


 

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Fishing Update, 6-15-2007

Kevin Naze at Algoma

Lake Michigan has been flat-calm all week, and despite the bright sun and clear water, there have been some terrific catches on both charter and private boats out of Algoma.

 

As usual, there is great variability in the numbers of fish landed, especially on non-charter boats. Sometimes it depends on when and where you fished, and sometimes on how long. Other times, it’s how you fished — as in what methods were used, and the speed and direction of the troll  — that are the key factors.

 

In general, though, experienced anglers have enjoyed some thrilling action all week for both chinook salmon (“kings”) and rainbow trout (“steelhead”), while most of those still new to the Great Lakes fishing game — or those who’ve never really caught on to all the secrets of success — are at least hooking up on occasion.

 

Water temperatures that were only in the low 40s after last week’s stormy seas from the southeast and a west gale have climbed back to the ideal mid-50s on the surface while just a few feet below, they’re in the mid- to upper 40s. Some of the fish are being caught 90 feet or more down in 39- to 42-degree water, too.

 

Most of the trollers are working three to eight miles off shore. Many are spreading baits from the surface to 60 feet or so down at dawn, and from the surface to 100 feet or more down once the sun is up. At dusk, most bites have been coming 30 to 90 feet down. Spoons, flies, plugs and cut bait have all taken fish, with the vast majority of trollers using a mix of flies and spoons.

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or the VHS virus, is present in Lake Michigan. However, it poses no threat to human health. So far, one brown trout at Algoma, three lake whitefish from

Northern Door County and a routine sample of healthy-looking smallmouth bass from Sturgeon Bay have tested positive for the virus. There is anecdotal evidence that the virus may have killed large numbers of round gobies, an exotic invader. Dead gobies were spotted along the shore south of Algoma last week as well as along the Door Peninsula.

 

Marcquenski, the DNR’s fish health specialist, said VHS thrives in cooler temperatures (35-55 or so) and our body temperature is obviously well outside that range. In addition, she said the virus would not survive the acidic conditions in mammalian stomachs.

 

VHS has not devastated any fisheries in the lower Great Lakes, where it has been for at least two to four years. Personally, I’m more concerned about sea lampreys. We caught another live one attached to a salmon this morning. I firmly believe lampreys are responsible for the huge drop in the lake trout catch in recent years. Now, increased scarring is being seen on salmon, steelhead and other species.

 

But that’s another story. The real take-home message on VHS should be not to spread it to other waters that aren’t currently infected. That means all water from bilges, livewells, buckets, coolers and any other containers must be emptied at the landing. Also, no live fish movement (including bait minnows for those fishing perch or other species on Green Bay waters) is allowed. In other words, you must dump your minnows after fishing, or give them to someone else who might be heading out as you’re quitting for the day.


Illinois

Chicago plans 3 new harbors

In a move that is largely seen as $120 million project boon for city's Olympic bid, three new Park District harbors will have immediate and long term benefits for boaters and anglers.

 

It's the first time since 2000 that a new harbor would be built in the city, where Park District officials say 500 boaters are waiting for slips. The new marinas near Navy Pier, 31st Street and at the site of the former USX steel mill in South Shore would add 2,230 new slips to the city and cost more than $120 million. Chicago currently has nine harbors with a total of 5,100 slips.

 

Parks officials said they are moving ahead with a financial analysis to determine whether they can pay for the construction of the  harbors. They plan to issue bonds to pay for the project, which would be repaid with mooring fees.  In addition to sorting out financing, parks officials have to clear the projects with federal regulators and hold public hearings. If approved, construction could begin on at least two of the

harbors in 2009.

 

The 31st Street location, a potential Olympic site, would include about 830 new slips and require adding a new breakwater south of the existing beach pier.  The Navy Pier location is being proposed for larger boats and transient boaters -- people sailing into Chicago from around the Great Lakes and beyond.

 

The location near 87th Street would help spark a much-needed revitalization of the South Shore, officials said. The USX mill was closed in 1992 and the Park District has been discussing for some time the need to build a harbor there. A harbor would add approximately 1,000 new slips to the system.

 

Parks officials are also planning up to 500 new slips in Jackson Park, Burnham and Montrose Harbors to meet the ongoing demands of the recreational boating community.


DNR completes construction of new skeet fields at WSRC

Visitors to complex can now enjoy expanded recreation options and new restaurant

SPRINGFIELD -Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Acting Director Sam Flood today announced construction has been completed on 24 new skeet fields at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex (WSRC) in Sparta.  Inclusion of skeet shooting at the complex expands the recreational options at the venue, which already boasts over three and half miles of trap fields, two sporting clay courses, and a cowboy shooting area. 

 

The director also announced regional favorite and nationally acclaimed 17th Street Bar and Grill will serve as the new restaurateur at the Sparta complex on an interim basis.

 

"Interest in the complex from shooting enthusiasts has been tremendous in the year since we opened," said Dir. Flood.  I expect the addition of skeet shooting will add to that enthusiasm as visitors begin to realize fully what this facility has to offer.  And with Mike Mills and the reputation of 17th Street joining us, I anticipate we'll see an even greater number of visitors come out to enjoy a good meal."

 

The 1,600 acre WSRC now includes 24 skeet fields.  Construction of the skeet houses began in late winter and was completed in early June.  The state's Capital Development Board managed the project.  Construction was completed by H2K Construction and Clinton Electric, and Knight and Associates served as project designers.

 

Skeet is a form of shooting where participants aim at clay targets that move horizontally across the air.  Approximately 225 shooters participated in the first skeet event, the Briley Open, held last weekend, June 8-10.

 

In addition to expansion of the sports facilities, Director Flood also announced that Mike Mills and his 17th Street Bar & Grill, headquartered in Murphysboro, have taken over the food and beverage services at the complex.  The former contract was held by Ned Kelly's of Bloomington, Inc.

 

In the world of barbecue, champion pitmaster Mike Mills is affectionately known as "The Legend."  He presides over the pits at his four nationally acclaimed 17th Street Bar and Grill restaurants in southern Illinois and three Memphis Championship Barbecue restaurants in Las Vegas.  In the early 1990s he was co-captain of the Apple City Barbecue team, one of the most celebrated teams on the circuit. He is a

four-time World Champion and three-time Grand World Champion of Memphis in May, otherwise known as the "Super Bowl of Swine."  He is also the barbecue guru and a partner at Blue Smoke restaurant in New York City. Mike's book, Peace, Love, and Barbecue, was nominated for a 2006 James Beard Award and was named the 2006 National Barbecue Association Book of the Year.

 

"Barbecue is all about family, friends and love - similar to the sport of shooting," said Mike Mills, owner of 17th Street.  "We're a family-owned business and our success is due in part to the many supporters we have in this region.  We're proud to be part of the WSRC.  Our vision is to provide a place for families and friends to gather, as well as hold world-class special events and meetings in the beautiful banquet facility."

 

The 17th Street Bar and Grill location at the WSRC features many of the same great tastes as their other restaurants, including its award-winning barbecue, in addition to steak, seafood, pasta, and many other offerings.  They can fulfill any special menu requests for catered events.  The restaurant is now catering special events at the WSRC and will be open for daily service beginning later this summer.  For more information about the restaurant, visit www.17thstreetbarbecue.com or call 618-684-8902 {Murphysboro office} or 618-295-2754 {the restaurant at the WSRC}.

 

About the WSRC

The WSRC is state of-the-art 1,600-acre shooting facility which features 120 trap fields extending along a 3 ½ mile shooting line and more than two dozen skeet fields.  Public shooting opportunities (except during major shooting events) are available on trap fields nearest the WSRC Events Center and vendor mall, and on the skeet fields for the convenience of recreational shooters.  Open shooting is available from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily at a cost of $5 for each 25-target round. 

 

WSRC Facts

120 Trap fields extending 3.5 miles

2 Sporting Clay Courses

24 Skeet Fields

Cowboy Action Shooting Corral

3-D Archery Area (Late summer)

1000 RV Campsites, 750 include water, sewer and electric hookups

34,000 square foot Special Event Center

Vendor Mall with over 34 shooting sport related shops

Full service restaurant


Indiana

Indiana Conservation Officers to Enforce Boating Excise Tax Law

After a one-year grace period Indiana Conservation Officers will begin enforcing Indiana’s excise-tax law concerning boats. 

 

The new tax law states that any nonresident boat owner that has a valid out-of-state registration and has been in Indiana for 22 or more consecutive days must pay Indiana excise tax.  Out-of-state boat owners complying with the new law are exempt from the Indiana registration and titling requirement once the boat excise tax has been paid. The excise tax decals must be affixed to both sides of the bow of the boat to the right of the registration number.

 

Prior to passage of this legislation, out-of-state boaters

boating in Indiana waters for more than 60 consecutive days had to register and title their boats with the Indiana Bureau of

Motor Vehicles.  Many nonresidents were hesitant to comply with the law.  Changing to an Indiana registration and title forced boaters to physically change the numbers displayed on their boats.  Frequently these numbers were painted on and the removal would have caused cosmetic damage. 

 

The tax law as it now stands will create a convenience for nonresidents.  Boaters that own waterfront property or rent a seasonal mooring will no longer have to register and title their boats with the Indiana BMV.  By paying excise tax, nonresident boaters satisfy their legal requirements.

 


Michigan

VHS Fishing Regs Changes for June 28

Reflect Disease Management Concerns with VHS

New fishing regulations signed by DNR Director Rebecca Humphries are designed to enlist anglers and the bait industry as allies to slow the spread of VHS. The regulations go into effect on June 28. 

 

“These regulations are critical to our efforts to slow the spread of VHS, along with other fish diseases, and we must have anglers and the bait industry as allies in this effort as the DNR cannot do this on our own,” said Humphries.

 

The key modifications were: baitfish and fish eggs (roe) can only be used on a hook, which does allow the use of spawn sacks; the locations where fish can be released by catch and release angling; both the Disease Management Areas and Prohibited Species List are now appendices to allow for simpler changes; the use of roe for human consumption without fish disease testing will be allowed; and the bait certification process has been improved and clarified.

 

“The approved regulations are designed to provide a set of best management practices for anglers and the bait industry and are consistent with those of other states and the Province of Ontario,” said DNR Fisheries Chief Dr. Kelley Smith. “They are an education tool to make our anglers and the bait industry full partners in the fight against fish diseases, such as VHS.”

 

Key highlights of new angler regulations:

►The regulations only apply to species on the Prohibited Species List.  The key baitfish species for anglers are spottail shiners, emerald shiners, bluntnose minnows, white suckers, and Pacific herring (frozen for cut bait).  The key species for fish eggs (roe) are Chinook salmon, coho salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout/steelhead.

 

►Bait includes live, dead, frozen and parts or cut bait including fish eggs (roe).

 

►Anglers will get a receipt from the bait shop which will tell them where they can use the bait and if is certified VHS-free, which can be used anywhere in the state.

 

►Receipts are valid 7 days. 

 

►*Uncertified bait from a bait shop or collected by anglers is restricted on where it can be used.  Baitfish from VHS positive waters can only be used on VHS positive waters, VHS surveillance waters baitfish can be used in VHS surveillance or positive waters, and baitfish from VHS-free waters can be used anywhere in the state. The key for anglers is knowing the location of the Disease Management Areas, and that information will be available at the bait shops and on the DNR Web site.

 

►Bait and fish eggs can only be used on a hook if they are on the Prohibited Species List. The use of spawn sacks is acceptable. Anglers cannot release minnows when done fishing and must dispose of them when leaving the water. The release of many baitfish or large amounts of fish eggs by anglers that are potentially VHS-positive is an easy way to

spread the virus, fisheries officials warned.

 

►When practicing catch and release fishing, you may only release a live fish back into water that the fish can freely swim into from the location it was caught.  This applies to catch-and-immediate-release and catch-and-delayed-release (tournament) fishing.  This will prevent the virus from being transported by live fish to new waters.

 

►All water must be emptied from live wells and bilges when leaving a body of water. This regulation applies to all boaters and will prevent the virus from being transported by infected water.

 

Key highlights for minnow dealers:

►There is a certification process that will allow dealers to provide disease-free bait for Michigan anglers.  It is a two-stage process that includes both the holding facilities and the baitfish.

 

►It is not required that baitfish be certified.  Certified baitfish can be used anywhere in the state and provides the most options for anglers.  Uncertified bait is restricted to where it can be used.

 

►Both wholesale and retail minnow dealers must tell their customers on their receipts where the baitfish was taken, the lot or transaction code, and what disease management area it can be used.

 

►Receipts must be kept for one year.

 

The DNR Fisheries Division is asking the retail and wholesale minnow dealers to help educate anglers on where they can use their bait and which species are of concern for spreading VHS.  Information packets are in development to help with this task and the DNR Web site will have the most up-to-date information.

 

“It is critical that anglers and the bait industry keep an eye on the DNR - Fisheries Division Web site (www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing) for changes to the Disease Management Areas and the Prohibited Species List,” Smith said. “The order will be periodically updated with new information and the Web site will have the changes to the order that will be issued by the Director. We will make all new information available to the public through the news media as well.”

 

The importance of having angler and bait industry involvement in fish disease control is critical, fisheries officials said.

 

“The DNR and other fisheries management agencies in the Great Lakes can implement all possible disease control measures, but without the anglers and bait industry as full partners in this effort, these measures will be in vain and fish diseases will rapidly spread to sensitive fish populations,” said Gary Whelan, DNR fish production manager and chair of the Great Lakes Fish Health Committee.

 

For more info: www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing.


Boating Access Site at Sterling State Park Re-Opened June 16

DNR officials announced the Bartnik Boating Access Site at Sterling State Park on Lake Erie reopened to boaters on Saturday, June 16. The dredging project at the boating access site will continue, but the site is operational. Boaters are advised to note the buoys off the dredging barge, park officials said, to determine which side is the safe side to pass.

 

The site has been closed for several weeks because the bay

and Sandy Creek have become too shallow for boaters to safely navigate the popular waterway to Lake Erie. The natural siltation process taking place on the waterway has had a growing impact on recreational boating on Lake Erie over the past few years, with numerous boats getting stuck on the sand bars.

 

For more info, contact Jamie Allen, Sterling State Park acting supervisor, at (734) 289-2715.


New York

NY Adopts Final Regs to Help Prevent Spread of VHS to Additional New York Waters

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced the adoption of final regulations to help prevent the spread of the Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) to additional waters in the state. The final regulations, which took effect on Wednesday, June 6, 2007, replace previously enacted emergency regulations.  The new regulations reflect changes incorporated as a result of public comments regarding  limits on the possession, sale, transfer, taking and release of certain bait fish and other live fish species to be placed in New York waters. VHS is a fish pathogen and does not pose any threat to public health.

                       

VHS was first confirmed in New York waters in May 2006 in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.  VHS has now also been confirmed in several fish species in Great Lakes basin waters in New York State and in Conesus Lake.  There is no known cure for VHS, and the virus is nearly always fatal.  Because of the virus's ability to spread, and potential impact to fisheries, recreation, and the economy, the World Organization of Animal Health has categorized VHS as a transmissible disease with the potential for profound socio-economic consequences.

 

VHS can be spread from water body to water body through a variety of means.  One known pathway is through the movement of fish, including bait fish between water bodies.  DEC, in cooperation with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, has sampled fish from waters across the state, and, except for Conesus Lake, VHS has not been confirmed in fish from any New York water outside the Great Lakes basin.                      

 

Due to the potential adverse effects of VHS on fish populations and the desire to prevent its spread to other states, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a federal order on October 24, 2006, which was amended on November 14, 2006 and May 4, 2007.  The final amended order prohibits the importation of certain species of live fish from Ontario and Quebec and restricts the interstate movement of 37 fish species from the eight states bordering the Great Lakes. Other than catch and release angling on international and interstate waterbodies, movement of fish from these states is limited to certified VHS-free fish or fish destined for a processing facility that meets specified standards. Further information on the Federal Order can be found on the APHIS website at www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/aqua/ .

 

The Amended Federal Order does not address the movement of fish within New York State. In-state movement of fish for use as bait or for stocking could spread VHS in New York and cause significant adverse impacts to the state's fish resources.

 

DEC has adopted regulations that:

 

Limit the personal use of bait fish to the same water body from which they were collected. Overland transport of personally collected bait fish in a motorized vehicle is prohibited. Also, bait fish can be taken from a water body's tributaries upstream of the first impassable barrier for use on such water body. (This rule does not pertain to bait fish collected in the Marine District for use in the Marine District.)

 

Limit the use of commercially collected and sold bait fish to the same water body from which they were collected. Overland transport of commercially collected bait fish in a motorized

vehicle is prohibited. (This rule does not pertain to bait fish collected in the Marine District for use in the Marine District.)

 

Require that bait fish offered for sale by wholesalers, for use on waterbodies other than the waterbody from which they were collected, are certified as free of specified fish pathogens and are accompanied by a fish health inspection report.  Bait fish sold at retail, for use on waterbodies other than the waterbody from which they were collected, must also be certified as free of specified fish pathogens.  In addition, the retail seller must provide the purchaser with a dated receipt of the transaction, which must be retained by the purchaser while in possession of the bait fish.  Anglers will have 7 days from the date of purchase to use the bait fish.  (This restriction does not apply to bait fish collected in the Marine and Coastal District for use in the Marine and Coastal District.)

 

Clarify where marine bait fish may be transported. Bait fish caught in the Marine District to be used in the Marine District or bait fish imported into New York for use in the Marine District may be transported overland only within the following counties: Queens, Kings, Richmond, New York, Suffolk, Nassau, Bronx, Rockland and Westchester.

 

Allow dead bait fish packaged for commercial purposes, and preserved by methods other than by freezing, only to be sold and used wherever it is legal to use bait fish. Specific package labeling requirements are included in the regulations.

 

Require that all live fish, destined for release into the waters of the state, or imported for release into the waters of the state, be inspected by certified professionals and be certified to be free of certain fish pathogens. The release of any live fish into the waters of the state is prohibited unless the fish have been determined to be free of the pathogens listed below, and documented by a fish health inspection report issued within the previous 12 months. For all species of freshwater fish, a fish health inspection report shall certify that the fish are free of VHS and Spring Viremia of Carp Virus, as well as certify the presence or absence of: Furunculosis, Enteric Red Mouth, and Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis Virus (IPN). In addition, for salmon and trout (Salmonidae), a fish health inspection report shall certify that they are free of Whirling Disease and Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHN), as well as certify the presence or absence of Bacterial Kidney Disease. The fish health inspection reports must be on a standard form supplied by the DEC, must be issued by an independent qualified inspector, conform with specific testing methods and procedures, and be filed with DEC.

 

Allow live fish, other than bait fish, caught from the non-New York portion of an interstate or international water body to be transported on the water and released into the New York portion of the water body. This provision allows for catch and release tournaments to occur on those bodies of water.

 

In addition to the above, there are existing regulations that continue to be in place that identify waters where anglers are allowed to use bait fish and waters where the commercial collection of bait fish is permitted.

 

“Following these regulations will help maintain the quality of New York’s world class fisheries,” stated Commissioner Grannis.

 

For more information on VHS, visit www.dec.ny.gov/animals/25328.html.


Wisconsin

DNR approves salmon stocking for Sturgeon Bay

Specialists find no sign of deadly fish virus in samples

By Kevin Naze Special to the GLSFC

Fisheries supervisors at Sturgeon Bay and the Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery got the green light to prepare a half-million chinook salmon for stocking this week pending visual health checks.

 

Sue Marcquenski, the state Department of Natural Resources fish health specialist in Madison, inspected samples of 3- to 4-inch salmon fingerlings from Sturgeon Bay's Strawberry Creek Thursday morning with DNR Lakeshore Basin Fisheries Supervisor Paul Peeters. "They look good," said Marcquenski as she cut and tweezered her way through the small Chinooks' body cavities. "No external or internal signs of VHS."

 

The discovery of VHS — a fish-killing virus called viral hemorrhagic septicemia — forced a freeze on fish stocking and transfers from hatcheries last month as state and federal officials stepped back to analyze the situation.

 

On Wednesday, the DNR got the go-ahead from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to release the Chinooks. Not only do officials think there's a low risk that the fish could have been inadvertently infected when

some eggs from Lake Puckaway walleyes and northern pike were brought into the hatchery before it was known that the Winnebago system was infected, the salmon are destined for water where VHS has already been confirmed. Before the freeze, about half of the year's quota had already been stocked anyway.

 

"That was kind of a no-brainer once you stepped back and think about it," said Mike Staggs, DNR fisheries supervisor in Madison.

 

Still under Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection quarantines at Wild Rose, Kettle Moraine Springs and Lake Mills' hatcheries are more than 650,000 brown trout, a half-million walleye fingerlings, 460,000 Coho salmon, 100,000-plus northern pike, 26,000 lake sturgeon and 1,000-plus spotted muskies.

 

Testing is ongoing, and if Winnebago-system fish are clean, it's possible stocking for some species normally planted from late May to mid-June could resume late this month. Many other fish are being held for this fall's stockings. Marcquenski said she knows of at least a half-dozen cases of fish being tested for VHS in state or federal labs right now, including a couple fish kills from new inland sources.


Northern zone bass season opened June 16

MADISON -- Wisconsin's northern zone bass season opened on June 16.

 

A recent DNR survey showed that Wisconsin anglers are catching more bass than any other game fish species -- 4.5 million largemouth and 3.2 million smallmouth. “Wisconsin has seen a huge increase in bass fishing for a couple of reasons,” says Joe Hennessy, DNR warm water fisheries specialist. “One is that bass are plentiful, you can find them in almost any water in the state. Another is that bass are relatively easy to catch compared to musky and walleye.”

 

Wisconsin anglers can also look forward to bigger bass in bountiful numbers. “This is a continuation of a 10-year trend after raising the minimum length limit of bass to 14 inches in

the early 90s,” says Hennessy. “Not only are there bigger bass, but there are more of them. We’ve watched angler catch rates continue to improve.”

 

For anglers looking to change their bass fishing routine, Hennessy recommends looking off the beaten path. “A lot of bass anglers head out to the larger waters and overlook the small lakes and ponds,” says Hennessy. “You may have to walk a couple of miles to get there, but they can be a lot of fun to fish in and you never know what you’re going to find.”

 

The northern zone, inland water bass season runs from June 16 to March 2, 2008. Current regulations for most waters are a daily bag limit of five and a minimum length limit of 14 inches. More information is available on the Wisconsin Fishing Web site.


Wisconsin events highlight threat of invasive species 

Wisconsin boaters interested in stopping the spread of invasive species in the state’s waters can take part in dozens of events as part of the state’s Invasive Species Awareness Month. They may join in more than 75 events in an effort to control invasive species already here and learn more about preventing new ones from arriving.

 

The events vary widely and include formal lectures, field days, radio and television programs, awards ceremonies, hikes, canoe floats, work parties and an art show opening.  “Gov. Jim Doyle has recognized June as Invasive Species Awareness Month and as an opportunity for all of us to join forces and take

action against the introduction and spread of invasive species,” Rachel Orwan, who coordinates the awareness month for the Wisconsin Council on Invasive Species, said in a statement.

 

Invasive species are not native to Wisconsin. But they have been accidentally or purposefully introduced to the state from other U.S. regions or countries. Free of the predators and diseases that kept them in check in their homeland, invasive species can spread and crowd out native species in forests, lakes, prairies and other landscapes, harming these ecosystems and taking a toll on the recreation and industries the ecosystems support.


Effects of VHS still unknown: DNR

It's still too early to tell what effects VHS will have on Wisconsin, says Wisconsin DNR Secretary Scott Hassett.

 

Since early of June, the DNR has identified three more infected fish, Hassett said. Two fish were discovered in Lake Michigan. A smallmouth bass was also found in the Sturgeon Bay area. Besides the Lake Winnebago system and Lake Michigan, Lake Superior is also affected, he said. "It could go statewide any day, and that will have ramifications," he said.

 

Hassett said bait sellers and hatchery keepers already feel VHS's effects. Fish hatchery keepers face higher standards, too.

To keep the worst from happening, people must do all they can to keep VHS from spreading, he said. Fishermen shouldn't transport live bait or fish outside of infected waters. People should also drain their live wells, especially since the virus can survive for 14 days in water. Even though infected fish have red splotches and bulging eyes, they're still safe to eat, said Hassett. People should put them on ice before leaving the lake, pond or stream.

 

Preventing disease spreading is vital because no one has found a cure for VHS, he added. Limiting a water source's exposure to VHS seems the best option. "It's not like there's a vaccine you can dump in the water," he said.


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