Outdoor Notes: Wisconsin fishing season opens May 7

Season Opener: Wisconsin’s inland waters fishing season for walleye, sauger and northern pike opens statewide Saturday, May 7.

The largemouth and smallmouth bass southern zone opens May 7, while the northern zone opens for catch-and-release only from May 7 through June 17. From June 18 to March 5, 2006, there’s a minimum length limit of 14 inches with a daily bag limit of five fish in total. The northern zone is the area north of highways 77, 64 and 29.

The muskie season opens May 7 in the southern zone and May 28 in the northern zone, with Highway 10 the dividing line.

The seasons for rock, yellow and white bass, panfish, bullheads and rough fish, catfish, cisco and whitefish are open all year. Check the 2005-06 Guide To Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations for special regs listed by county, for regs on the Great Lakes and boundary waters, and for tributary streams to Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

The complete guide is available at DNR offices and license agents and can be found on the DNR Web site of www.dnr.state.wi.us. Anglers can read fishing forecasts, survey results and other information specific to individual waters in the 2005 Fishing Report, found online or available in limited quantities at DNR service centers and license agents.

Wisconsin says anglers catch 69 million fish and keep about one-third of them, or 31 million, and release the rest to fight another day, according to a 2000-01 UW-Stevens Point mail survey of anglers. Walleye and bass are the most popular targets, but anglers catch more panfish—bluegill, yellow perch and crappie—followed by walleye and largemouth bass.

Wisconsin typically sells 1.4 million licenses, and state fisheries officials figure the number of anglers swells to about 2 million when children and others who aren’t required to have fishing licenses are added in. Nearly one-quarter of Wisconsin’s adults fish, and the state trails only Florida as the top destination for non-resident anglers.

With 462,000 non-resident anglers spending a whopping 3.74 million days fishing in Wisconsin and spending $280 million on retail goods, sportfishing in Wisconsin generates a total economic impact of $2.3 billion and $90 million in sales, fuel and income tax revenue for state and local governments, according to the American Sportfishing Association.

Baker, Hall Win: With 7.77 pounds, Bill Baker of Winnebago and Tony Hall of Machesney Park won the April 24 Rock River Open Team Bass Tournament, put on by the Rockford Hawg Hunters BASS Chapter, out of the Atwood Forest Preserve launch.

Second place went to Sky Drysdale, Loves Park, and Steve Tiemen, Oregon, with 7.08 pounds, followed by John Beyer, Belvidere, and Butch Beyer, Machesney Park, 5.88 pounds; Roger Sider, Machesney Park, and Richard Schold, Loves Park, 5.32; and Terry Stanley, Polo, and Ted Kerly, Dixon, 4.80.

Fifty percent of the teams caught fish, said club officials. There was a 12-inch size limit on all bass. The biggest bass, caught by the Sider-Schold team, was a 3.56-pound smallmouth bass.

Machesney Angler 2nd: Boater Jimmy Hughes of Oshkosh, Wis., and co-angler Dennis Buechel of Fond du Lac, Wis., combined for five walleye weighing six pounds, 14 ounces to win the Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League Wisconsin Division tournament April 23 on Petenwell Lake. Hughes won $2,660, Buechel $1,313.

Finishing second were Clifford Jakusz of Stevens Point, Wis. ($1,368 plus $400 bonus) and John Reynolds of Machesney Park ($675) with three walleye weighing 6-5.

Boating Classes: To prepare for the upcoming boating season, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department is offering boating safety classes May 14 and 21. The eight-hour classes will be held at the Public Safety Building, 400 W. State St., Rockford.

The class is open to anyone. Youths between the ages of 10 and 18 are required to take the class and pass a test to legally operate a boat or personal watercraft. Classes are limited to 30 people. Call (815) 987-5911 with questions or to register.

The sheriff’s department wrote 32 river traffic tickets and 22 warnings last year, low numbers because the Rock River was closed in June and part of July because of high-water levels. The river patrol also made 70 boat inspections and assisted 26 boaters during the summer, Sgt. Steve DePauw told the Beloit Daily News.

The sheriff’s department said the Illinois DNR has implemented a no-wake zone on the Rock from Martin Park, just south of Riverside Boulevard, south to the island. DePauw said the no-wake zone extends about 300 feet.

Trap Range Open: The SM & SF Club trap range at 7625 Kishwaukee Rd., is open for public shooting from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursdays. Call (815) 962-0900.

Day in the Boat: The names of Derrel Smith of Rockford and Rick Christopherson of Roscoe were drawn as two more winners in the Rock Valley Anglers Day in the Boat raffle.

Smith gets a day of fishing for smallmouth bass with Marty Dinges while Christopherson was slated to seek catfish with Mel Eichman April 30 on Lake Mendota. Eichman guaranteed at least a 10-pound catfish or he would refund Christopherson’s $5 donation.

Earlier, Rich Gibbons of Rockford won a day of fishing for walleye with Jerry Fisher on Delavan Lake in June.

The last two prizes will be awarded May 4—a day fishing in a boat with Dave Johnson for muskie and Gene Henricks for largemouth bass. Chances for $5 still can be purchased and dropped in buckets at the May 4 meeting of the all-species fishing club.

“Professor Bass” Johnson will talk on bass fishing at tonight’s (May 4) monthly meeting at Harmony Club, corner of 7th Street and 15th Avenue, Rockford. Meeting starts at 7 p.m. Augie Borchardt is president of the all-species club, reachable at (815) 968-8899.

The Anglers have a bass outing planned for May 7 at Rock Lake, Lake Mills, Wis.

Fee Hikes Approved: Increases in Wisconsin hunting and fishing fees were approved April 26 by the Legislature’s budget committee. But the Joint Finance Committee’s plan, approved 12-4, scaled back some of the fees compared with what Gov. Jim Doyle had originally proposed in his budget.

Altogether, resident and non-resident sportsmen would pay an additional $13 million over the next two years to hunt and fish, compared with an additional $15.75 million under the governor’s proposal.

The plan includes increasing the resident deer hunting license to $24, up $4 over the current fee but $8 less than what the governor proposed. The committee’s plan includes an increase in the annual resident fishing fee to $20 from the current $17, the same increase Doyle proposed.

Other fee increases include: $18 to hunt small game, up $2 from the current fee but $2 less than Doyle proposed; $49 to hunt elk, up $4 from the current fee and $4 more than Doyle proposed; and $15 to hunt wild turkey, up $2 from the current fee and the same increase Doyle proposed.

The committee’s budget will have to be approved by the full Legislature and signed by Doyle to become law.

Part of the committee’s plan includes transferring $2.5 million from funds used specifically to improve habitat for wild turkey, waterfowl and trout and salmon to be used for other wildlife and fish projects.

Sportsmen are required to purchase a stamp to hunt wild turkey or waterfowl and to fish Great Lakes trout and salmon in addition to the required license. That money is dedicated to habitat projects specifically for those species.

George Meyer, director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and a former DNR secretary, said those who hunt or fish those species are willing to pay the additional fee because they were promised by the state that money would be used for specific habitat projects. He said the transfer reneges on that pledge.

From the May 4-10, 2005, issue

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