Category Archives: Where To Fish

Lake Wedowee Fishing

I fished with Jay Gazaway, a club fisherman from Georgia. I met him when we drew each other two years in a row at the Federation Nation Top Six. Although he lives about 45 minutes from Lake Wedowee, he has a house on the lake.

We caught about 15 spotted bass and a couple of largemouth the day we fished but the biggest one weighed less than two pounds. They were fun to catch; those spots pull hard. And they are good to eat. There is no size limit on them at Wedowee but you have to release all largemouth between 13 and 16 inches long.

Getting to Wedowee takes a lot longer than it should based on the distance. Highway 18 and 109 to Lagrange are not bad, but once you cross into Alabama there are several miles of lower quality road.
Highway 431 north is good but when you turn off it to go to the lake, unless you want to put in way up the river, the roads to the ramps have sharp bends and turns. And there are not a lot of good ramps on the lake.

It is still worth the drive to fish Wedowee.

Fishing Lake Blackshear

My magazine articles took me to two lakes as different as two can be in Georgia and Alabama. Both are about two hours from Griffin but that is just about all they have in common, other than both being great places to catch bass in December.

Lake Blackshear is south of us between Americus and Cordele on the Flint River. Most of it is shallow, with miles of cypress trees growing in the water. There are grassbeds and old docks with wooden post and brush piles. Up the river hundreds of acres of cypress swamp have four or five feet of water around them where it would be easy to get lost.

When fishing your boat will seldom be in more than five feet of water. Largemouth abound in the lake and the water is often murky to muddy. Even when clear it has a brownish tannic tint.

I fished with Stephen Birchfield, a basketball and fishing team coach at nearby Bruton Parker College. His family has a house in Swift Creek on the lake and he fishes it a lot. We had a good day, hooking several largemouth in the two-pound range.

Bruton Parker is a small Baptist College. With only about 350 students, everyone knows everyone there and there is a good sense of community among the students. Stephen told me they are planning on giving some fishing scholarships next year and hope to have 20 fishermen on the bass team.

If you are a high school senior and love to fish, and a small college appeals to you, check out their web site at http://www.bpc.edu/. And you will get to fish Lake Blackshear a lot!

Getting to Blackshear is easy on I-75 or
Highway 19. Veterans State Park is about half way up the river from the dam and has great facilities. There are several smaller ramps scattered around the lake, too.

Lake Wedowee is west of us past Lagrange on the Tallapoosa and Little Tallapoosa Rivers. Highway 431 crosses the upper end of the Little Tallapoosa north of Wedowee, Alabama. Filled in 1983, it is one of Alabama Power Company’s newest lake. Several people from Griffin built houses on the lake when it first filled.
Prices of lots and houses there have dramatically increased over the past 20 years, with many huge mansions on the water now.

The rivers and some of the lower lake, as well as the creeks, have bluff rock banks that drop into 30 plus feet of water. There is standing timber along many of them. Your boat will usually be sitting over water more than 30 feet deep when you are casting to the bank. The docks there may have a few posts but in the winter they are out of the water due to the drawdown. All have a floating platform in front that goes up and down with the water.

Although the lower lake remains very clear most of the year, the rivers do get muddy after heavy rains. Spotted bass abound but average about a pound each. There are big ones there, tournament stringers often have several over three pounds each. And there are some big largemouth, Tom Tanner landed one over eight pounds in a Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament there last March.

Weiss Lake, the Mobile Delta and Lake Allatoona

I love my job! The past week gave me a chance to fish Weiss Lake, the Mobile Delta and Lake Allatoona. Its tough work, but I’m glad I get to do it.

Last Friday I drove up to Weiss and met Cal Culpepper and his dad Saturday morning to get information for a Map of the Month article that will be in the November of both Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News. Cal is a high school senior and on the Harris County High School fishing team, and a very good fisherman. Weiss is on the state’s borders and if popular with bass fishermen in both states.

We had a good day, catching largemouth and spotted bass. The best five we landed weighed about 13 pounds. All were in shallow water around grass, docks and wood cover and hit chatterbaits, topwater and shaky head worms.

On Sunday I drove to Mobile to meet Captain Dan Kolenich, a guide there on the bay, to get information for a saltwater fishing article. I don’t fish saltwater much so I was looking forward to the trip, hoping to catch my first redfish. I knew I would eat some great seafood and I definitely accomplished that goal.

Unfortunately, Monday morning the wind was strong and it was raining. I talked with Captain Dan and we decided to try to go out Tuesday morning when the weather guessers said conditions would be better.

Since I had the rest of the day with nothing to do I went to Battleship Park. This military park has a variety of exhibits, including aircraft, a World War 2 submarine you can tour, and the battleship Alabama docked so you can tour it, too. I spent almost six hours there.

Walking through the submarine I could not imagine being on a crew. The tiny, cramped work and eating areas were bad enough but the racks, or bunks, hung along the walls one over the other, would never have allowed me to get a good night’s sleep. And I could just imagine the smell during missions.

The aircraft fascinated me since I always wanted to fly a fighter for the Air Force. One especially interesting display showed one of the fighters the “Tuskeegee Airmen” flew in World War 2 and a video had very good special effects. It took me several minutes to realize I was not watching actual videos of the dog fights.

Tuesday morning was clear but still very windy. We tried to fish but the wind made it very difficult so I did not catch a redfish. Maybe next time.

On Thursday Wyatt Robinson and his dad met me at my house and we drove through the horrible traffic to Lake Allatoona so I could show them what little I know about that lake. Wyatt is A senior at CrossPointe Christian Academy and on the fishing team. He is a very good young fisherman.

I had a lot of fun and we caught several keeper bass and even more short ones under the 12-inch limit, on topwater plugs and shaky head worms. But the catch of the day was a four-pound channel cat that thought my jig head worm was lunch. Turned out he became dinner. Although that trip was not really part of my job it was fun, except for the traffic going and coming back, and I was impressed, as I often am, with a young fisherman’s ability and knowledge. It is kinda scary that high school fishermen often know more than I do about bass fishing.

Best Family-Friendly Places to Fish and Boat

RBFF Hooks Nation with 2017 Best Family-Friendly Places to Fish and Boat
from The Fishing Wire

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) has released their 2017 list of the Best Family-Friendly Places to Fish and Boat. The list of locations is bolstered by endorsements from celebrities and fishing pros, and the help of federal and state representatives. The announcement helps kick off the weeklong celebration of on-the-water activity that is National Fishing and Boating Week, June 3 – 11.

New this year, a group of distinguished contributors and experts have sourced the list, sharing their favorite family-friendly fishing and boating spots. Country music star Luke Bryan headlines this year’s contributors, alongside fellow musician Justin Moore, pro football player Alejandro Villanueva and a host of industry experts.

The full list of 2017 Best Family-Friendly Places to Fish and Boat is available at TakeMeFishing.org and highlights include:

Percy Priest Lake, Tenn. – Country music star Luke Bryan admits “a good fisherman never shares his best spot,” but still offers up his favorite place to escape his fast-paced world for some relaxing time on the water. Known for “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” Bryan’s favorite spot near Nashville is a natural addition to this year’s list. Bryan has a clothing line of the same name available at Cabela’s, and fans can catch the country music megastar on his HFE tour this summer.
Presque Isle Bay, Pa. – Professional offensive lineman and former Army Ranger, Alejandro “Big Al” Villanueva, picked this popular spot on Lake Erie, and knows a thing or two about the importance of good tackle and a strong line. When he’s not protecting the quarterback, Al says, “I spend a lot of my free time fishing and really cherish any time on the water.”
Degray Lake, Ark. – Having grown up in nearby Poyen, Ark., country music singer Justin Mooreoften frequented Degray Lake as a young boy, and passed down his love of fishing to his own kids. He remembers, “watching my oldest daughter catch her first fish all by herself has to be my favorite moment out there.”
Texas City Dyke, Texas – Professional angler Cindy Nguyen added this spot, noting, “I grew up fishing in Texas City Dyke and the surrounding areas. It’s still one of my favorite places to bring the family.”

Central Park, N.Y. – Host of South Bend’s Lunkerville, Michael de Avila, better known to his fans as Mike D., picked an unexpected fishing oasis in the middle of the nation’s largest city. Central Park offers three unique family-friendly spots at the lake, the pond and the Harlem Meer.

Webb Lake, Fla. – Women’s sportfishing advocate and outdoor writer Debbie Hanson loves the fishing at wildlife at Webb Lake. “Not only is Webb Lake great for numbers of largemouth bass and bluegill, but there are also some fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. I’ve spotted sandhill cranes, great blue herons and white-tailed deer on my visits.”
South Padre Island, Texas – Pedro Sors, professional angler and Mexico’s most popular fishing TV show host, chose this popular spot for its ability to provide him and his sons with “a sense of freedom and a way to connect with nature and myself.”
Buckeye Creek, Calif. – Chelsea Day of the Someday I’ll Learn blog, fondly recalls memories at this picturesque spot in the eastern Sierras. “Our oldest son caught his first fish at this spot, and it was really special to be able to cook it right up and serve it for dinner at the campsite. Such a sense of accomplishment for him!”

“This year we decided to ask some of our friends and partners where they like to go fishing, and the response has been overwhelming,” said RBFF President and CEO, Frank Peterson. “While the locations are as diverse as the people who shared them, some key themes emerged. Fishing and boating are easy ways to escape life’s tensions, and you’re never too far from a quality body of water. So whether you’re getting over a stressful week at the office or simply trying to cut back on screen time, this is the year to get out on the water together to help conserve and restore our nation’s aquatic natural resources.”

We encourage all stakeholders to share the 2017 Best Family-Friendly Places to Fish and Boat list in the lead-up to National Fishing and Boating Week and beyond.

About the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)

RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ and Vamos A Pescar™ campaigns to create awareness around boating, fishing and conservation, and educate people about the benefits of participation. Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar help boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign websites, www.TakeMeFishing.org, and www.VamosAPescar.org , feature how-to videos, information on how to get a fishing license and boat registration, and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find local boating and fishing spots.

Fishing Pickwick Lake with Shane Cox

Last Wednesday morning I got up at 2:15 AM and drove to Iuka, Mississippi to meet Shane Cox, owner of Hammer Rods, to “do research” for a June Map of the Month Alabama Outdoor News article on Pickwick Lake. Pickwick is a big Tennessee River lake mostly in Alabama but its dam is in Mississippi and the north shore there is in Tennessee in that area.

It is as far north and west as you can go in Alabama. The six-hour drive is the longest one I do for any articles. I have driven it both ways and fished during the day in the past but I think those days are over! On my longest trip ever, a few years ago I met Karen Elkins at Neely Henry at 6:00 AM after driving for four hours. We fished until 9:00 that night – I was in the boat 15 hours – then had another four-hour drive home. That was my longest day, 23 hours!

Shane lives near Pickwick and is very good there. Week before last he had a five-bass limit weighing 30 pounds to win a local tournament. Pickwick produces a lot of big bass if you know how to catch them.

We ran to a river ledge where the bottom quickly dropped from 13 feet down to 30 feet deep. Shane kept the boat out over the deep water and we cast big crankbaits to the shallow water, cranking them down to bump the bottom. As they came off the bottom on the edge of the ledge, fish would hit it.

I was sitting in the bottom of the boat taking notes when he made his first cast. He said “look at that” and I looked as two three pound largemouth wallowed on top, both hook on his plug. Then he got excited and said there was a four pound smallmouth following the two hooked ones! Since I was sitting down I could not see it. One of the three pounders came off but he landed the other one.

That made me quickly grab my rod and start casting. Shane was using one of his rods made for throwing big crankbaits, a 7 foot, 11 inch model. He could throw a crankbait about half again as far as I could on my 6.5 foot rod. That helped him get his crankbait down deeper than I could get mine to go.

I did catch a three-pound largemouth and a two pound largemouth, but he landed seven or eight, including two close to six pounds each and several more in the four pound range. His best five would have weighed about 25 pounds, one of the best limits I have ever seen caught in person.

The original plan was to run to his tournament hole and catch a couple of bass for pictures then go look at ten similar spots to put on the map. We stayed longer because Shane wanted to catch that smallmouth!

After a few hours of looking at the spots and me taking notes while he fished and caught several more three-pound bass, we finished up on hole ten. As I completed my notes on it Shane caught a hybrid. I got up and started casting but this ledge was deeper and I could not get my crankbait to run deep enough, so Shane let me use his rod. I had thought maybe it was his skill that allowed him to make longer casts, but I found with his rod I could cast just as far.

Shane caught another hybrid and a two-pound largemouth on a swimbait and I did not get a bite. I quickly get worn out cranking a big plug and Shane felt sorry for me and swapped rods. A swimbait is easy to fish, you cast it out and reel it in with little resistance. This pattern was let it hit bottom then start reeling and I managed to hang his bait and lose it.

Rather than lose any more of his baits I dug around in my tackle box and found a three-quarters ounce football head jig. I carry a small box with some tackle in it, mostly stuff I usually don’t use, on these trips. That jig has been in there for years and I have never caught a bass on a football head jig,

The first cast I made I let the jig hit bottom in 18 feet of water and drug it to the drop. As it started falling I felt a thump and set the hook and landed a three-pound largemouth. I did that on the next three cast in a row, then went three cast without a bite but caught my fifth fish in eight cast on the next one. All were three-pound fish so I had a five-fish limit weighing 15 pounds in less than 15 minutes.

I would love to do that in a club tournament!

I left Pickwick at 3:30 PM and headed home, thinking I might be able to drive all the way. But after turning west rather than east onto I-20 in Birmingham, a turn I have made dozens of times coming home, I stopped just east of Birmingham and got a motel room for the night. I knew I was too tired to think straight.

Pickwick is a long way away but the fishing can be incredible!

Bartletts Ferry Lake

Thursday I met Jason Mitja at Po Boys Landing on Bartletts Ferry Lake to get information for a January Georgia and Alabama Outdoor Magazine article. It will run in both states since Bartletts Ferry, called Lake Harding in Alabama, is a border lake.

Jason is a young fisherman from Phonix City and went to Auburn and was on the fishing team there with the Lee brothers. Matt and Jordan Lee have become well known professional fishermen in the past few years and Jason hopes to follow them to the Elite trail.

When my clubs fish Bartletts Ferry I usually hope to catch a limit of spots weighing eight or nine pounds. That is usually a good catch. Back in the 1970s and 80s we caught a lot of four to seven pound largemouth there but since spots have gotten so plentiful the quality largemouth have been hard to find. I did win a tournament there in March with five weighing 13 pounds and had a five-pound largemouth but that has not been the norm.

Jason showed me some good fish are still there. Thursday was the first day of a strong cold front, usually the worst possible condition for catching largemouth. So I expected to catch some spots for pictures.

Jason picked me up and we idled to a rocky point about 200 yards away. I was dressed in my warmest clothes, the sun was bright, the wind was blowing and I just knew fishing would be bad. While telling me how to fish the point Jason pitched a jig and pig to a brushpile sticking out of the water.

He turned to say something else to me then quickly turned back and set the hook. After he landed the 3.5 pound largemouth he said as he turned to me he realized his line was moving out from the tree. That was a good start.

We fished a few more of the spots then, back in a creek, Jason threw topwater plug to the bank. He said he saw some minnows jump there. After twitching it twice a fish hit at it and missed, then came back and got hooked after Jason twitched it again. It was another three-pound largemouth.

I was surprised that the fish hit topwater but should not have been. The water temperature was 60 degrees, plenty warm enough for topwater. I just usually don’t think of fishing topwater this time of year.

By the time we had looked at all ten spots and Jason took me to the ramp he had landed another three pound largemouth on the jig and pig from a dock and we both caught some smaller keeper fish. And we had been on the water only five hours! Jason could have weighed in five bass weighing about 14 pounds, a very good catch to me, but all day he was showing me places where he had won tournaments with five weighing over 20 pounds!

Jason is fishing a two-day tournament at Bartletts this weekend and I will be interested in seeing how he does. I am on Jackson today for the last Sportsman Club and Flint River tournament of the year. I guess I better have a jig and pig and a topwater bait tied on!

Spotted Bass On Lake Lanier

Last Monday I met Tyler Schmidt at Lake Lanier just before sunrise to get information for a November Georgia Outdoor News article. He showed me ten good places to catch big spotted bass on the lake during November, which baits to use and how to fish them.

We ran to a rocky point and, on my very first cast with a topwater plug, a fish sucked it under. The fish fought hard and I said it might be a striper or hybrid, but it was fighting more like a spotted bass. It was big and I let it fight against the rod and the 12 pound line I was using.

When it got almost to the boat, just before we could see it in the clear water, it made a couple of strong runs, stripping drag. Then my line went slack. I said I could not think of anything I did wrong, I guessed it was one of those fish that was just meant to get away.

When I reeled in my Whopper Plopper plug the front treble hooks were gone. The fish had straightened out the split ring holding them to the plug, something I have never had happen to me. I was disgusted.

When I got home I posted a picture of the plug on Facebook and told the story of what happened. Several fishermen, a couple of them pros, said the hooks and split rings on that plug were sorry and you should immediately change them to stronger hardware before fishing the plug.

Those plugs cost between $15 and $20 and it is ridiculous they don’t put good hardware on them. At Martin I landed about 15 bass on that plug and never had a problem, but all those fish weighed less than two pounds. I was impressed how sharp the hooks were. Usually when I hooked a fish it would have one set of trebles in its mouth and the other set would have stuck into is further back, a sign of very sharp hooks.

But is does not matter how sharp the hooks are if the split ring holding them to the plug opens up!

Another plug, the Rat-l-Trap, are notorious for having bad hooks. They don’t straighten out, they just are not very sharp and are hard to sharpen. For years I have replace those hooks, but the plug costs $6.95 at Berry’s Sporting Goods!

The rest of the day We fished the places he put on the map and saw a lot of schooling fish, and caught some weighing about two pounds each, but nothing big. My biggest spot is a 4.4 pounder I caught in a tournament at Lanier last fall about this time. The fish I lost fought harder so if it was a spot it was a big one! But I almost hope it was a striper.

The guides at Lanier are posting pictures on Facebook of big spots they are catching right now, many on topwater plugs. They are also catching a lot of stripers. If you can stand the traffic a trip to Lanier would be great right now.

On Monday I left home at 5:40 and was a little surprised how much traffic was headed north that time of night. Georgia 20 was not bad and I 75 and 675 were busy but not crazy. But when I got on I 285 headed north, it was ridiculous. It was bumper to bumper at speeds less than 30 MPH all the way to I-85. And I was not even puling a boat.

The traffic is why I don’t go to Lanier more often. Its no wonder that more folks that have to drive in that every day seem so on edge and nervous all the time! It would drive me crazy.

These Map of the Month articles have been put into eBook format – one article for each month of the year, giving you 120 spots to fish! A book for Lanier and one for Clarks Hill are available.
http://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series/

Fishing Lake St. Clair

What are you waiting for? Get out fishing Lake St. Clair

You’d be crazy to not think about fishing Lake St. Clair this summer – especially when you consider the plethora of opportunities available there and the fact you’re a short distance from modern-day amenities thanks to it being situated in a major metropolitan area. Renowned for its smallmouth bass and muskellunge, this waterbody (situated between lakes Huron and Erie) is billed as one of the most unique systems in the region.

And it should be noted that Lake St. Clair is part of something much bigger. Besides it being situated between two of the Great Lakes, the connection between the lake and the St. Clair River is a diverse habitat with multiple channels and is considered a delta – in fact, it’s the largest freshwater delta in North America.

“Lake St. Clair is a phenomenal fishery,” said Cleyo Harris, a fisheries biologist based in Waterford. “It doesn’t need stocking and provides numerous unique opportunities for anglers who pay it a visit.”

Now you might ask: exactly what are those opportunities?

How about spearing for northern pike or yellow perch during the winter months? Lake St. Clair is the only waterbody in the state open to yellow perch spearing. The season is January first through the end of February and anglers can use a hand-propelled spear, bow and arrow or crossbow.

Additionally the daily possession limits for northern pike was recently switched from two to five, with a 24-inch minimum size limit, on Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River.

“It should be noted that Michigan has about one-third of Lake St. Clair within our jurisdiction and the other two-thirds are under Ontario,” explained Harris. “Canada doesn’t allow spearing at all so it’s important to be aware of where you are on the waterbody when you engage in this type of activity.”

Muskellunge and yellow perch are ideal targets during the summer months on Lake St. Clair as well – along with walleye and smallmouth bass. According to Mike Thomas, a fisheries research biologist stationed on Lake St. Clair – what makes these populations unique here is you can actually target them all on a single day.

You probably have a good chance of catching your limit of walleye and smallmouth bass and also catch a 50-inch muskie and target yellow perch – all in the same day on the same waterbody,” he exclaimed.

Thomas is quick to point out other opportunities the average angler isn’t aware of on Lake St. Clair; including largemouth bass along the shoreline, panfish opportunities in canals and marshes, white bass during the summer, good northern pike presence in the delta, and his personal favorite – hook-and-line fishing for lake sturgeon in the delta.

The hook-and-line lake sturgeon season is open on Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River from July 16 to November 30 with the possession season being from July 16 through September 30.

“I think this is one of the only places in the state where you have a realistic chance of catching a lake sturgeon,” Thomas said. “Not enough people seem to realize that.”

Being in a major metropolitan area means Lake St. Clair is often quite busy during the summer months, as evidenced by the vast numbers of boats milling about on the water. This activity is facilitated by numerous state-managed access sites to allow all types of boaters an avenue for getting out. This year anglers visiting those sites will likely see one of two creel clerks collecting data on the lake – for the first time since 2005.

“Creel is a big thing for us this year,” explained Harris. “We’ll be looking to collect catch information from anglers after their trips so we can continue to provide the best fisheries management possible for Lake St. Clair.”

Those new to the lake should heed this advice from Thomas in relation to the fact that despite being on average 12 feet deep, if the wind picks up it can get a tad treacherous.

“When you’re on the open waters you’ll just want to be mindful,” he explained. “On a calm day you can feel comfortable in a 14-foot boat, but if the wind comes up quick you could get uncomfortable pretty fast. The delta area of the St. Clair River is more protected and is a good place to fish on days when there’s too much wind.”

There’s still plenty of time this summer to explore Lake St. Clair. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/fishing.

Fishing Lake Weiss

Last Thursday I drove to Lake Weiss near Rome, Georgia to get information for my July Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News magazine article. Since this is a border lake, with most of the lake in Alabama but some in Georgia, and many Georgia bass fishermen go there, it will be in both issues. You do have to have an Alabama fishing license to fish the lake.

I met Wayne Boyd, a tournament fisherman from Rome that knows the lake well, at the boat ramp at 9:00 AM. We fished grass beds for two hours and he caught two nice largemouth about five pounds each on a chatterbait. This pattern will not work well in July so we then spent two hours looking at spots that will be good in July, although bass have not really moved to them yet.

Weiss is a very pretty 30,200 acre lake on the Coosa, Chattooga and Little Rivers that has an average depth of only ten feet. That surprised me when I first went there years ago. The lake is surrounded by low mountains and I thought it would be deep and clear like most mountain lakes, but it is shallow, stained most of the year, and full of grass beds and wood cover to fish.

Since Weiss is on the Coosa River it has a good population of those hard fighting Alabama or Coosa spotted bass. It also has a good population of largemouth bass but the lake is known as “The Crappie Capital” of the world. There is a ten inch size limit on crappie there but fishermen still fill their limits, even with those nice fish.

If you want a good trip to catch bass or crappie, a trip to Weiss in June would be a good choice.

Tips on Spring Inland Season

Wisconsin Offers Tips on Spring Inland Season Opening May 7
from The Fishing Wire

MADISON, Wis. – Warming temperatures throughout Wisconsin this week should make for a great bite when the general inland fishing season gets underway on Saturday, May 7.

DNR southern fisheries supervisor David Rowe holds a northern pike netted during a musky survey on Lake Monona in Dane County.
Photo Credit: DNR

Matt Andre  with big catfish

Matt Andre with big catfish

Lake Wissota, a 6,300 acre impoundment of the Chippewa River, is well known for its trophy musky. However, the catfish fishery has been gaining popularity and during the spring 2016 fisheries survey, flathead catfish over 20 pounds were a frequent occurrence with flatheads over 40 pounds not uncommon – including this one held by fisheries technician Matt Andre.
Photo Credit: DNR

David Rowe holds a northern pike

David Rowe holds a northern pike

Joseph Gerbyshak holds two 7-plus pound walleyes

Joseph Gerbyshak holds two 7-plus pound walleyes

DNR fisheries biologist Joseph Gerbyshak holds two 7-plus pound walleyes from Long Lake in northern Chippewa County. The lake’s walleye population is rebounding according to recent fisheries survey data and now totals 3.6 adult walleye per acre, up from 2.9 adult walleye per acre four years ago.
Photo Credit: DNR

Justine Hasz, fisheries director for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said spring survey work on lakes and rivers around Wisconsin indicates healthy fish populations and great opportunities for anglers based on the walleye, bass, northern pike, panfish, trout, muskies and even catfish netted and promptly released by fisheries crew members in recent days.

“Wisconsin remains among the top three angling destinations in the nation and for good reason,” Hasz said. “Whether you prefer fly fishing, casting live bait, trolling or simply watching your bobber dip, our fisheries offer something for everyone.”

While fishing is a passion for many, it is also an economic driver for the state, with an estimated 1.2 million anglers producing a $2.3 billion economic impact, according to the American Sportfishing Association. That impact becomes clear as tens of thousands of anglers take to Wisconsin’s 15,000 lakes, rivers and 13,000 miles of trout streams for opening day.

Walleye continue to be an important target for anglers and since 2013, the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative has worked to rebuild and enhance walleye populations throughout the state. The fish that have been stocked should reach legal size over the next two to three years although some anglers have reported increased catch and release activity from the young fish.

In 2015, Wisconsin stocked 760,000 extended growth walleyes, eclipsing the 2014 record of 720,000. For 2016, DNR intends to stock some 827,000 of the six to eight inch fingerlings, including some 229,000 fish from private and tribal fish farms and 598,000 from DNR hatcheries.

The trout population continues to make gains throughout the state and this year anglers will find 14 streams with upgraded classifications as well as 27 that for the first time have been documented as sustaining trout populations. Six of the newly classified streams have earned the coveted Class 1 designation.

Also new for anglers in 2016 will be simplified trout regulations designed to create more uniformity for anglers who fish on different trout streams and within small geographic areas. Under the new system, maps online and in the regulation pamphlet will indicate one of three regulations:

Green means go fish, with no length limit, a bag limit of five fish and no bait restrictions;
Yellow means caution, with an 8 inch length limit, a bag limit of three fish and no bait restrictions; and
Red means special regulations are in place. Anglers are advised to stop and understand the regulations before fishing.

Anglers targeting panfish also will find new, experimental bag limits to optimize panfish size on high potential lakes capable of producing large panfish. On these lakes, identified in the fishing regulations book, daily bag limits reflect efforts to limit harvest during spawning season or prevent overharvest of any one species.

New Go Wild licensing system makes it easier than ever for anglers to buy, display licenses

Buying a license is easy and convenient through the new Go Wild licensing system, with online access available 24-7. Visit GoWild.wi.gov, one of more than 1,000 vendor locations or a DNR service center to purchase licenses.

While the GoWild licensing system allows several new ways to display proof of your license purchase including use of a personal conservation card, authenticated driver’s license and pdf display on mobile devices, anglers fishing in boundary waters must use the paper printouts as law enforcement officials in the surrounding states do not have access to the Wisconsin database.

Wisconsin residents and nonresidents 16 years old or older need a fishing license to fish in any waters of the state. Residents born before Jan. 1, 1927, do not need a license and resident members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty are entitled to obtain a free fishing license when on furlough or leave.

Anglers can buy a one-day fishing license that allows them to take someone out to try fishing, and if they like it, the purchase price of that one-day license will be credited toward purchase of an annual license. The one day license is $8 for residents and $10 for nonresidents.

Information about how to provide proof of your purchase may be found at dnr.wi.gov by searching “Go Wild.”

The general Wisconsin fishing season runs from May 7, 2016 to March 5, 2017. To learn more about statewide fishing regulations and rules that apply on specific lakes, visit dnr.wi.gov and search “fishing regulations.” For a complete calendar, search “fishing season dates.”

Anglers can find fish species information, boat access sites, shore fishing areas, lake information and regulations by downloading the free Wisconsin Fish & Wildlife mobile app, which includes a full array of fishing information. DNR has tackle loaner sites in 50 locations, including many state parks, making it easy for people to enjoy fishing if they don’t have their own equipment or if they left it at home.