Fishing opener will be challenge|
|Northern Wisconsin anglers can expect some “hard water” fishing for the 2104 opener on Saturday.|
Anglers will find many lakes in northern Wisconsin still have significant ice cover and will likely be inaccessible for fishing. Lakes are mostly free of ice now from about Highway 8 south, although Pelican Lake and Summit Lakes along Highway 45 in northern Langlade County remained icy this morning. Lakes to the north of there still have up to 15 inches of ice, which is very soft and honey-combed, and is not considered safe for any form of travel or ice fishing.
“It’s going to be tough,” Dave Seibel, who handles fisheries duties for the Department of Natural Resources in Antigo, said. “Anglers should expect ice, on at least the bigger lakes if not all lakes.”
Seibel said that rivers and streams are also running high due to snow melts and rain, creating tough conditions for fishermen.
“It’s going to be high,” he said. The water is going to cold and the streams and going to be high and muddy.”
Many of the smaller flowages have opened up and anglers should target these waters for the best chance at finding open water, Seibel said, and spring ponds such as Elton, Woods Flowage, Raab, McGee Lake and Gartzke Flowage might be good options.
“My advice to anglers is to find some open water , maybe a creek that isn’t too high, and fish pretty slow,” he said. “In this cold water, the fish will be sluggish.”
The Mississippi, St. Croix, Wisconsin and Rock rivers are all at or near flood stages along some stretches, and slow-no-wake rules are in place on portions of the St. Croix and Rock rivers. The Bois Brule and Flambeau rivers are running very high and paddlers are being cautioned that currents are fast and treacherous.
One option for young and disabled anglers might be Remington Lake. This week, Seibel and DNR fisheries technicians stocked 1,440 rainbow trout from the St. Croix Hatchery into the lake, with brook trout to follow in fall.
“They are ready to be fished,” Seibel said. “We put them in and the kids take them out. Our goal is to create a great fishing experience for youngsters and get them interested in the sport.”
According to the DNR, fishing license sales for Saturday's fishing season opener are looking very similar to last year's, another year when cold spring weather left many northern lakes covered in ice as well.
Through Tuesday, anglers had purchased fishing licenses and 76,270 trout stamps. That's a bit behind last year at the same time, when 335,639 anglers had purchased fishing licenses and 75,856 trout stamps. It compares to 448,472 at the same point before the 2012 season, which followed the warmest spring on record statewide.
Karl Scheidegger, fisheries outreach leader, expects sales to pick up in coming days.
"People are tired of the long winter and will gladly venture outside to enjoy the opening day tradition,” he said.
And he noted that last year's license sales caught up to the normal levels by mid-summer. Typically, 1.3 million to 1.4 million anglers buy Wisconsin fishing licenses.
Anglers have three ways to buy their license: over the Internet through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, and at DNR Service Centers.
Department of Natural Resources fisheries technician Taylor Curran prepares to stock hatchery-raised rainbow trout in Remington Lake this week.
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