Minnesotans fish free with kids Jan. 18-20

Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend is Saturday, Jan. 18, through Monday, Jan. 20.
During the weekend, Minnesota residents age 16 or older can fish or dark-house spear without an angling or spearing license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing or spearing.
“Ice fishing is a fun way to get outdoors during Minnesota winters,” said Jeff Ledermann, education and skills team supervisor with the Department of Natural Resources. “Ice conditions are highly variable this year. If you want to start, try asking someone familiar with ice fishing and ice conditions to take you out or check out an organized activity.”
Events happening during the weekend include:
* Lake Bemidji State Park, 1-3 p.m., kids 8-15 can come out for an afternoon of ice fishing on Lake Bemidji.
* Halfmoon Landing near Kellogg, 1-3 p.m., equipment and bait provided and space is limited.
Fishing events during the rest of the season can be found on the DNR’s state parks and trails events calendar and the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program, which also has events for families.
Ice conditions vary greatly this season and can be deceiving. There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice. Always check local ice conditions before heading out to a lake or river.
Visit mndnr.gov/icesafety for ice safety guidelines and the DNR’s learn to ice fish page for more information about ice fishing.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Letter to 2020 Wisconsin sturgeon spearers

Dear Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearer,

The 2020 sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System is less than a month away and we are finally starting to see some colder weather in the extended forecast.
I’d like to inform everyone that the regulation pamphlet for the 2020 season is now accessible on the DNR website through the following link:
I’d especially like to draw your interest to a few items that have caused significant enforcement concerns in recent seasons.
* SPEARERS MUST POSSESS A PAPER COPY OF THEIR STURGEON SPEARING CARCASS TAG AT ALL TIMES WHILE SPEARING, a receipt of purchase, driver’s license, or Go Wild card do not meet this requirement.
* It is ILLEGAL to possess more than one copy of a carcass tag.
* Carcass tags MUST BE validated immediately upon harvest by removing the validation stub.
* There is mandatory in-person registration of all harvested fish. Fish must be presented at a DNR operated registration station (Page 6 of the regulation pamphlet) by 2 p.m. of the same day the fish is harvested.
So please take a few minutes to review the regulation pamphlet prior to the start of the 2020 spearing season.  
Good luck during the upcoming season and bring on some cold weather for making ice!

Ryan KoenigsSenior Fisheries Biologist/Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Phone: 920-303-5450; Fax: 920-424-4404; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Northern pike anglers and spearers reminded of zone regulations

As cold temperatures continue to make ice on Minnesota lakes, ice anglers and spearers gearing up for winter fishing action are reminded that northern pike zone regulations apply.
The regulations went into effect in May 2018 and created three distinct zones in the north-central, northeastern and southern parts of the state.
The northern pike regulations apply to inland waters but do not affect border waters or individual lakes, rivers and streams that have their own special regulations for northern pike. Special pike regulations are in place on about 95 waters and always take precedence over statewide regulations.
Specific regulation details can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/pike or in the Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet online at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing. Anglers also can find ice safety guidelines at mndnr.gov/icesafety.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Kids' Ice Fishing Event set in Winona

WINONA, Minn. – The annual Kids' Ice Fishing Event, co-sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of the Refuge Headwaters, is scheduled Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon at the McNally Boat Landing on Prairie Island Drive, Winona, MN.
Children ages 6 through 13 and their families are invited to join in this free event. Children will be paired with experienced ice anglers who will assist them with a hands-on ice fishing experience.
Bait, tackle and fishing rods will be available. However, participants are encouraged to bring their own ice fishing supplies if they have them and a bucket or folding chair to sit on while watching their bobber.
Children should also be dressed appropriately for ice fishing - hats, mittens, snow pants, boots and winter coats. Hot chocolate and cookies will be provided in a heated tent.
All children must be registered for the event by a parent or guardian. A registration station will be available at the McNally Boat Landing. If the event is canceled due to weather or unsafe ice conditions, an announcement will be made on the Winona Radio Group stations in the morning.
The McNally Boat Landing is located on Prairie Island Road, between Prairie Island Campground and the Minnesota City Boat Club. Parking is available at the spillway parking lot located between the campground and landing. A shuttle will be provided from the parking area to the fishing location. The McNally Boat Landing will be closed to public entry during this event.
For additional information, contact Mary Stefanski at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (507) 454-7351 or visit either www.friendsoftherefugeheadwaters.org or www.fws.gov/refuge/upper_mississippi_river/.  
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

New stocking plan aims at enhancing Lake Michigan fishing

MADISON, Wis. - To enhance fishing success and opportunities for all Lake Michigan anglers, while sustaining a balanced and vibrant fisheries community, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released a new Lake Michigan fish stocking plan.
"Because of work with key partners in the Lake Michigan fisheries community, Wisconsin will grow as the pre-eminent destination for world-class fishing. This collaborative approach and innovative management strategies will expand our diverse and exciting fishery," said DNR Fisheries, Wildlife, and Parks Director Scott Loomans. "I'm looking forward to big things."
Lake Michigan is home to a world-class fishery, and there are anglers, businesses, stakeholder groups and communities that have a deep commitment to developing management strategies that will benefit this fishery for current and future generations, according to Todd Kalish, Deputy Director of DNR Fisheries Management.
Throughout 2019, DNR fisheries staff conducted an open and inclusive process to gather input on management options for the Lake Michigan fishery.
"Stakeholder input has historically and continues to be a driving force in the development of Lake Michigan management strategies," Kalish said. "A common theme of stakeholder input was a strong interest in developing innovative management strategies and collaboration that acknowledge economic, social and biological factors."
For 2020, 2021 and 2022, chinook salmon stocking numbers will increase to 1,200,000 fish annually, coho stocking will increase to 500,000 annually, steelhead stocking will increase to 460,000 fish annually and brown trout, a popular fish, caught off piers and in harbors, will increase to 450,000 fish annually.
"In meetings and in comments we received about this plan, there was strong interest in increases in stocking not just for chinook salmon but for coho salmon, steelhead and brown trout," said Brad Eggold, Great Lakes District Fisheries Supervisor. "This plan accomplished that goal and contained increases for every type of fishermen."
Fisheries managers will assess potential changes to stocking numbers for 2023 and beyond based on traditional and new data and metrics collected and evaluated in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The DNR will also begin the development of a Lake Michigan brook trout stocking initiative in 2020. Brook trout are a revered native species that could produce critical near-shore angling opportunities. "We are excited to work with stakeholders to pursue re-establishing this native species to enhance angler opportunities and experiences," Kalish said.
"Lake Michigan is a tremendous economic asset, and the fish stocking plan released today by Secretary-designee Preston Cole shows his vision of enhancing our world-class fishery in this great lake, making Milwaukee and the rest of our shoreline a fantastic tourist destination," said Steve Baas Sr., Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
In addition to the 2020-2022 stocking plan, department staff, in collaboration with charter, commercial and sport anglers, plan to:
* Expand salmon and trout net pen projects to maximize the survivability of stocked fish.
* Develop and implement innovative public/private data collection initiatives to better inform future management strategies.
* Enhance outreach and communication by more actively engaging stakeholders in communication initiatives.
* Increase and enhance diverse marketing and outreach strategies.
* Pursue salmon and trout habitat enhancement projects.
"I commend Secretary-designee Cole for his leadership and standing up for Wisconsin sportsmen and our impact on the Wisconsin economy," said Tom Kleiman, President of the Wisconsin Lakeshore Business Association. "Our priority throughout this process is to promote the entire Lake Michigan fishery, including the tributaries, near-shore and open water fishing. This plan addresses short-term needs with a comprehensive plan for future growth to enhance fishing opportunities in this great resource."
To learn more about Lake Michigan fisheries, visit the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Common angler question: Does my ice shelter need a license?

As more anglers prepare for ice fishing, the DNR sometimes receives questions about ice shelter licenses.
Minnesota fishing regulations recognize two types of shelters: portable and non-portable. A portable shelter is one that collapses, folds or is disassembled for transportation. Portable shelters only need licenses and identification when left unattended, which is defined as all occupants being more than 200 feet away. In contrast, all non-portable ice shelters must be licensed. Wheeled fish houses are not considered portable and must be licensed.
An annual shelter license costs $15 for residents and $37 for nonresidents, not including issuing fees that may be charged. A shelter license is valid from March 1 through April 30 of the following year, and a shelter license is not required on border waters between Minnesota and its neighboring states (Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota).
Licenses can be purchased in person, by telephone or at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” and DNR ice safety guidelines can be found at mndnr.gov/icesafety.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR, Red Lake Nation renew Upper, Lower Red Lake fishery agreement

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Red Lake Nation and Bureau of Indian Affairs signed a new 10-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Wednesday that outlines continued cooperative management of the walleye population in Upper and Lower Red Lake in northwest Minnesota. The signing took place during a ceremony in Red Lake.
“Red Lake Band members are pleased that our walleye have come back and our fishing community is revitalized,” said Darrell Seki, chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. “We are committed to ensuring that Red Lake walleye are managed sustainably in the future.
“Renewing this agreement will enable the Fisheries Technical Committee to continue its work to help protect this valuable resource,” Seki said. “While the walleye fishery has rebounded, we must now focus our attention on ridding Red Lake of invasive species.”
This MOU provides an opportunity for the parties to address other issues that arise such as the prevention and eradication of invasive species.
The new MOU closely parallels previous 1999-2019 agreements that facilitated restoration of high-quality walleye fishing to Minnesota’s largest inland body of water. The agreement states that each entity will support the Red Lake Fisheries Technical Committee, a joint panel of experts that recommends policies and practices to maintain a healthy fishery.
“We’ve come a long way in the past 20 years,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, noting that the combined state and tribal harvest continues to average around 1 million pounds per year.
“By renewing this agreement, we are reaffirming our commitment to a successful partnership and working together for the future of this outstanding fishery,” Strommen said.
Historically, Upper and Lower Red Lake was a highly productive walleye fishery, but it collapsed in the mid-1990s due to over harvest. The Red Lake Fisheries Technical Committee was formed in 1997.
Since then, the regulations, policies and other actions this joint body has recommended have led to a healthy walleye population and a resurgent walleye fishing economy.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR