Bassmaster Elite Series invades Mississippi River

Anglers who have fished the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa portions of the Mississippi River will tell you that the so-called “postspawn funk” is a very real thing.
The bass in that section of the mighty waterway are voracious as they prepare for the spawn during late winter and early spring. Then they work tirelessly building and protecting their beds while the spawn is underway.
When it’s over, they need a moment to catch their breath - and they seem to have caught it just in time for the Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by Go RVing.
The tournament is Thursday though Sunday, with takeoffs at 6 a.m. each day from Veterans Freedom Park on French Island. The weigh-ins the first two days will be held at the park at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday weigh-ins are also at 3 p.m., but near the JC Penney parking lot at Valley View Mall, the same venue for the fourth annual Rotary Rock-N-Ribs event.
With the late-spring doldrums over, the weights could be impressive. However, recent heavy rainfall, especially in northern areas above La Crosse, are sending local rivers to predicted flood stage by this weekend.
Ott DeFoe, a four-time B.A.S.S. winner who won the last time the Elite Series visited the Mississippi River in 2016, said numerous patterns could work well and fans should expect to see both largemouth and smallmouth brought to the scales.
“When I won in 2016, I think I only weighed in one smallmouth out of the 20 bass I brought in,” said DeFoe, who also had a 15th place finish in La Crosse in 2013 and a 27th place showing in 2012. “But Seth Feider finished in second place in 2016, and the majority of the fish he weighed in were smallmouth. “I think both species are definitely going to play.”
DeFoe expects it will take 65-67 pounds to win the event. In 2016, DeFoe had a 6-pound, 1-ounce largemouth that earned Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors as the largest of the tournament.
Competitors are allowed to fish both sides of the river, as usual, but this time they won’t have to worry about differing restrictions on the practice of culling, or releasing a small bass in their creel and replacing it with a heavier one. In 2013 Elite Series angler Brandon Palaniuk had a commanding lead in an Elite event on the river when he inadvertently culled a bass while just inside Minnesota waters. His catch was disqualified, and Palaniuk fell from first to 77th.
“Minnesota changed their regulations regarding culling last year so that tournaments permitted in Minnesota or in Wisconsin now have the same rules on the pools of the Mississippi River that these two states share,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. “This levels the playing field for our anglers and removes confusion and uncertainty. Thanks go to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for recognizing the need to be responsive to their anglers and remove troublesome and unnecessary regulations.”
A field of 108 anglers is vying for the $100,000 first-place prize and valuable points in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.After five of nine regular-season Elite events, Kansas angler Brent Chapman currently leads the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race with 456 points, followed by Bradley Roy of Kentucky with 427 and Louisiana angler Greg Hackney with 422.
The Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo is also being held in conjunction with the tournament. The first two days are at Freedom Park and then it moves to Valley View Mall on Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon. The event features boat demo rides, an aquarium, free prizes and the latest fishing products on the market. The Rock-N-Ribs Festival will also be happening at Valley View Mall along with concerts, food and the barbecue competition. All activities are free and open to the public. For more information, visit Bassmaster.com.

SOURCE: B.A.S.S.


DNR considers changes to Lake of Woods walleye, sauger regulations

Angling regulations on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River in northern Minnesota would change under a proposal being considered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to reduce the number of walleye and sauger allowed to be kept in the winter on the lake, and on the river allowing only catch-and-release fishing for those fish in the spring.
“We recently went through a public process of updating the Lake of the Woods Fisheries Management Plan and identified several potential areas of concern with regard to current levels of harvest,” said Phil Talmage, Baudette fisheries supervisor. “That’s why we’re discussing these potential changes.”
The proposed changes would reduce the aggregate limit of walleye and sauger in the winter to align with the summer regulations on Lake of the Woods, and make spring angling on the Rainy River catch-and-release for walleye and sauger. The changes would go into effect starting March 1, 2019.
Anglers will see yellow signs at public water accesses around Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River later this month notifying the public of the proposal. Future news releases will provide the details of a formal public comment period during the fall, and will include ways to provide comment to the DNR on the proposal.
For more information on Lake of the Woods management go to mndnr.gov/lakeofthewoods.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Sleep in and don't skip the figure 8!

LA CROSSE, WI - Jordan Weeks has been fishing muskellunge in Wisconsin for a quarter-century and working in fisheries management for the state since 1999.
Based in La Crosse, he shares his secrets to success in landing the state's official fish as anglers ready for the Saturday, May 26, opening of the northern musky zone.

Get ready for the chase
"Spring has finally arrived and soon catching muskellunge will be on the minds of Northern Wisconsin anglers. The northern zone season opens on Saturday, May 26, this year and fishing should be good!
Wisconsin is home to superb and diverse musky fishing opportunities. There are more than 600 lakes and countless rivers and flowages that hold the toothy predators. Whether from shore, boat, canoe or other craft, there are fish to be had.
The famed "fish of 10,000 casts doesn't have to be a reality if you follow a few tips.

Water temperature drives fish activity
Each spring when water temperatures reach 55 degrees muskies spawn. In the northern zone, this usually happens well before the season is open. This year, however, is a bit different. Late ice out and cooler than normal weather this spring have delayed the spawning time for muskellunge. Muskies tend to spawn in shallow warm water over varying bottom types. After they have finished with the annual spawning ritual, these fish quickly begin to feed. This is a great time to be chasing them.
Step 1: Find the warmest water in the lake. If vegetation in these areas is beginning to grow and green up, you have found a winner. If the lake you fish has little vegetation, no worry, look in shallow bays and south facing shorelines, which tend to warm quickest in the spring. Bays tend to be great locations to find muskies in the spring as are large weedy flats adjacent to those bays. Dams tend to congregate fish at this time of year as well. However, make sure to keep safety in mind when fishing these areas.
Step 2: Assess the day. If the weather has been consistently warm and stays that way, fish fast. Covering water quickly with a small bucktail, soft plastic, or minnow bait can yield favorable results. If the water is over 55 you can even try top-water. If the weather turns bad and is cold you may need to slow your approach and use more deliberate lures like gliders, jerk baits and soft plastics.
Step 3: Repeat. If you catch a fish or get a follow, try to repeat the success. Muskies (contrary to popular belief) are not loners. Often many fish will be using the same area. When you find an active fish, chances are there will be more of them around. It is very important to do a figure 8 on every cast. Following fish can be convinced to bite with a well-executed figure 8! Do one every cast!
In spring, warmth is a musky angler's best friend. As water temperatures increase, the fish activity level increases. Fishing during the warmest part of the day can be very productive. No need to get up bright and early. The second half of the day tends to be the most productive for me.

Gear
If you choose to chase muskies, make sure you have the appropriate gear. At a minimum, have heavy bass gear. Ideally though, traditional musky rods in heavy actions are desired. Reels should be robust and line should be at least 65-pound test to handle the fish and throw the large lures effectively. Tied to the terminal end of the line should be a high-quality steel or fluorocarbon leader.
The easiest way to successfully land a musky is to use a large net. Make sure to leave the fish in the water once collected in that net. It keeps the fish from being injured during hook extraction. No one wants a hook-filled muskellunge flopping around the bottom of the boat! Speaking of unhooking a giant toothy fish...you'll need some plyers to help you dislodge the hooks from the jaw (long-handled needle-nose is best). I also use gloves to protect my hands during this process; any thin glove will do.

Lures
When conditions are good and I am fishing fast, I like buck tails, angry dragons, shallow toads and minnow baits. The only top-water I throw early is a Dr. Evil. If fish are sluggish and slow, I use 6-inch rubber-tailed gliders and weighted jerk baits.
Follow these guidelines and the fish of 10,000 casts can be a reality, quicker than you think!

Where to go
While many musky anglers have their go-to waters, DNR's musky forecast in the 2018 Wisconsin Fishing Report can point anglers to good waters to try.
The Wisconsin Muskellunge Waters list of musky waters can also help anglers cast a wider net.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Take a Kid Fishing Weekend June 8-10

Minnesotans can fish without licenses if they take children 15 or younger fishing on Take a Kid Fishing Weekend from Friday, June 8, through Sunday, June 10.
“Fishing together with kids can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and have some memorable experiences,” said Jeff Ledermann, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
angler recruitment, retention and education supervisor. “We encourage people to give it a try. It’s fairly easy to buy or borrow fishing poles, and one good way to start is by fishing for bluegills with small hooks, bobbers and live bait.”
Minnesotans 15 and younger don’t need fishing licenses any time of the year. Take a Kid Fishing Weekend is a way for adults and kids to fish together without the step of buying a license.
The DNR’s Take a Kid Fishing Weekend page at mndnr.gov/takeakidfishing includes links to a beginner’s guide to fishing. The DNR’s Fish Minnesota page includes regulations and locations of easy-to-access fishing piers and shorefishing areas, and information about fishing in Minnesota state parks.
Fishing gear is available to borrow at state parks, and the DNR’s I Can Fish! program teaches the basics of fishing and runs throughout the summer at state parks.
Even when it’s not Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, Minnesota residents generally can fish in state parks without a fishing license if the body of water does not require a trout stamp.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

100 miles of improved trout habitat added to online Trout Tool

MADISON - More than 400 projects improving trout habitat on more than 100 miles of streams are now easier for inland anglers to find and fish.
The project locations and details have been added to the Department of Natural Resources' online T.R.O.U.T. tool, giving anglers a ready resource to help guide them to stream segments where fish populations and angler access are benefiting from the projects, says Joanna Griffin, Department of Natural Resources trout team coordinator.
"These projects occur on trout streams all over the state in inland brook trout and brown trout streams and Lake Superior tributaries," she says. "They would not have been possible without the help and support from our partners."
Griffin says the projects were conducted from 2011 through 2016 and range from brush removal and access to maintenance and larger in-stream habitat improvements. Much of the work is funded through trout stamp revenues. Anglers fishing inland waters for trout are required to buy a $10 inland trout stamp and the resulting revenues are used to support trout habitat improvement and habitat maintenance projects, and trout population surveys.
Increasingly, fishing clubs, other conservation groups and federal, tribal and local entities are playing a bigger role in providing funding and labor. These examples illustrate the importance of these partnerships for fish and anglers, Griffin says:
DNR staff and multiple partners teamed up in 2015-6 to improve fishing access and wild brown and brook trout populations on the Upper Kinnickinnic River. Their efforts resulted in 1,572 feet of riprap along two banks, nine lunker covers installed, one riffle, one plunge pool, 17 root wads installed, and two cattle crossings upgraded.
Trout stamp revenues and fisheries land funds covered about one-third of the cost. Other partners contributing funds included the St. Croix Conservation Fund, Fairmount Santrol, Friends of Wisconsin Trout Unlimited, Patagonia, Embrace A Stream, Carpicide Tournament, and Kiap-TU-Wish chapter of Trout Unlimited. Partners contributed more than 1,200 volunteer hours cutting and burning trees, removing fence, building lunkers and seeding and mulching. Surveys after project completion showed the fish numbers more than doubled in the section with habitat work.
Phase II of the Fall Creek trout habitat improvement project was completed downstream of County Highway T in Pepin County in fall 2017, stabilizing more than 1,700 feet of bank and adding trout habitat including root wads, plunge pools, boulder clusters and riffles. Financial support for this project was provided by Pepin County, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rock Falls Sportsman's Club, Durand Sportsman's Club, Clear Waters Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Xcel Energy. Fisheries biologists expect a similar boost in trout populations to what habitat improvement work immediately upstream yielded: recent survey data found a five-fold increase in brook trout over 8 inches long.
A stretch of Buckhorn Creek in Sawyer County that was the bed of an old beaver pond has been transformed, thanks to the efforts of DNR staff, the Wild River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Lac Courte Oreilles Youth Conservation Corps. The bed of the beaver dam was removed, brush bundles were used to re-channelize the stream and scour out the 6-10 inches of muck that had been covering the old stream bed. Now, native brook trout are moving back into the area and are successfully spawning.
Such partnerships and anglers' purchase of trout stamps have paid off over the years. Habitat improvements have played an important role in increasing angler opportunities and the mileage of Class 1 trout streams from 3,536 miles in 1980 to more than 5,000 today.
To access the online tool, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "trout."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Estimate of Mille Lacs walleye population underway

In early May, more than 20,000 walleye were tagged in Lake Mille Lacs.
The effort will provide a better estimate of the lake’s population of walleye 14 inches or longer and help guide how many fish can safely be harvested in future seasons, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The DNR has conducted similar population estimates six times on Lake Mille Lacs. Those estimates have placed the lake’s walleye population as high as 1.1 million fish in 2002 and as low as 249,000 fish in 2014. A decline in the walleye population has led to restrictive regulations aimed at protecting existing adult fish and a particularly abundant year class of walleye that hatched in 2013. Fish from that 2013 year class are now large enough to be counted in the population estimate.
“We understand the importance of Lake Mille Lacs. Gathering this information will enhance our knowledge of walleye populations and allow us to provide the best walleye angling opportunities possible,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.
Tagging concluded on May 10 and was conducted by the DNR, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and citizen volunteers. Walleye were caught in trap nets and via electrofishing. Each fish 14 inches or longer was outfitted with two yellow tags near the base of its dorsal fin.
Since May 20, DNR fisheries staff have been recapturing tagged walleye using gill nets that are set for less than an hour. As the nets are retrieved, tag data is recorded, and all fish are released.
Based on the number of walleye that were originally tagged and the total number of tagged fish that turn up during the recapture, the DNR can make an accurate estimate of the lake’s walleye population. This type of population estimate is used in addition to the gillnet survey conducted each fall.
“We anticipate the population estimate being conducted will show a stable walleye population dominated by the 2013 year class,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief. “The population estimate that is underway also will give us valuable information to help evaluate how well our population model is working.”
Recapture work will continue until late June, so anglers should be aware of DNR-netting activity, which may be occurring during the evening. DNR nets are marked with labeled buoys.
Anglers who catch a tagged walleye are asked to leave the tags in the fish and record numbers on both tags by writing down the numbers or by photographing the tags. Consider recording the length of the fish and the location where it was caught. This information can be reported at mndnr.gov/tagged-fish. In return, anglers will receive information collected at the time the fish was tagged and any information submitted by anglers who may have previously reported the fish.
Walleye fishing on Lake Mille Lacs is open to catch-and-release angling only through the summer 2018 season. Handling fish gently and releasing them as quickly as possible will increase chances that released walleye will survive to be caught again.
More information about Lake Mille Lacs can be found at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

La Crosse bass pro bows out early in FLW Qualifier

GILBERTSVILLE, KY - Mark Rose and Tom Monsoor went in opposite directions on Friday.
Rose, from West Memphis, AR, and Monsoor, from La Crosse, shared 64th place after the first round of the FLW Tour Qualifier in Gilbertsville, KY, on Thursday.
Friday was a different story. Rose, the point standings leader with 878 points entering this week’s event, qualified for the semifinal round. Monsoor, in 84th place with 568 points entering this week's FLW Tour Qualifier, fell to 82nd place, failing to make the cut again. Monsoor has made only two cuts in the six tournaments thus far with one remaining. However, he has collected $18,800 in those two tournaments raising his total to almost $900,000 in 15 years on the FLW Tour circuit.
Monsoor caught four fish totaling 12 pounds, 5 ounces on Thursday. However, he managed only four fish weighing 9-4 on Friday for a 21-9 total.
Rose had four bass totaling 12-5 on Thursday, but reeled in five weighing 17-15 on Friday for a 30-4, two-day total.
Randy Haines of Ripley, MS, maintained his lead with 46-2 (26-3, and 19-15).