Archive for the ‘Regulations’ Category

Milwaukee Salmon (but not Steelhead)   5 comments

I fished in Milwaukee on Saturday with dozens of my closest friends. There are a lot of guys out there after salmon. I haven’t got the strategy figured out yet for catching migrating salmon legally. I’m suspicious that every salmon caught in the Milwaukee River is caught via a snag. I know this debate rages on forums like with some saying they are catching them in the mouth while others go on and on about witnessing fish harvested with treble hooks in the dorsal fin. It sure looked to me like the few hooks that found salmon were stuck in places well back from the mouth.

I’m hoping in the next several weeks the salmon have run their course, the weather gets nasty, and the Steelhead are all that’s left of the lake-run fish. I’ll be out there, with a lot fewer friends, swinging streamers for Steelhead.

Speaking of swinging, I got the hang of the Skagit cast to the degree that I made every fourth or fifth cast very adeptly. I have work to do to get power into my cast so I can get them to reach a little further. Right now I’m basically able to cast the shooting head and about ten feet of running line. I need to slow things down a bit on the forward cast I guess.



Salmon Fisherman on the Milwaukee River

Salmon Fisherman on the Milwaukee River



Why should you put the big fish back?   3 comments

Here’s why you shouldn’t harvest that 30-inch brown you pulled out of the Driftless. Why we don’t have slot limits in our trout streams is beyond me.

This Sunday is your last opportunity to fish for Trout in Wisconsin…   5 comments

…for a whole five days!!!!!

In Wisconsin we have a silly break in fishing between the “Early Inland Trout” season and the “General Inland Trout” season. This break is important for one of many reasons (I can’t decide which one makes sense though).

  • The stocking trucks need anglers off the streams so they can dump fish in for the May 5th “take a trout or ten home” day.
  • The wild trout in the streams need a week to prepare themselves to be filleted.
  • The game wardens need a week off to regain their strength before a season of checking angler liscenses.
  • The trout regulations are more interesting with an increased number of “seasons”.
  • Business owners in Wisconsin need the week off to deposit the money they’ve made off Chicago anglers since March 3rd.
  • Fly fishermen need the week off to tie and restock their fly boxes.
  • Angling Husbands need the week off to work on that “Honey-Do” list they’ve been neglecting, and to re-establish diplomatic relations with their spouses.
  • Wanna-be filmmakers need the week off to edit and publish their “extreme fly fishing” videos to youtube.
  • Fishermen who use internet forums to talk about stuff need the week off to come up with a sign-off more creative than “Tight Lines!”


I'm so confused!

I'm so confused!


Black Earth Creek Water Monitoring Stations   4 comments

I stopped in at On the Creek Fly Shop yesterday to pick up a new leader and some pliers from Todd Opsal, and when I pulled on the handle to open the door to the shop, it was locked. A sign on the door said “I’m upstream of the bridge watching the stream survey crew. If you need me, holler.”

I walked upstream and found Todd talking with fellow fisherman Zach (nice meeting you Zach!), who was heading up to Avalanche on the West Fork of the Kickapoo to spend a few days fishing with his two brothers. Lucky bastard. Anyway, Todd and I got to talking and he mentioned that the fine for harvesting fish in the early season is something like $100 per fish along with another general fine and suspension of your license. This got us to talking about how much a land owner could be charged for triggering a fish kill (say, a farmer spreads manure right before a heavy rain).

2001 Black Earth Creek Fish Kill Report

In 2009, four “Real-Time Water Quality Monitors” were installed at various locations between Cross Plains and Black Earth to monitor water temp, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, turbidity, and pH. These parameters are monitored and if thresholds are met, fisheries managers can be alerted to conditions that may induce a fish kill. The monitoring stations can also collect water samples that allow analysis of pollutants in the water during such an event.


BEC Stream Monitor

BEC Stream Monitor


BEC Stream Monitor Sites

BEC Stream Monitor Sites


If the source of pollutants (fertilizer, manure, etc) responsible for the fish kill is pinpointed to a particular location, the fine for the landowner is as much as $25 per fish. If a mile of stream has experienced a fish kill, and the estimated fish density is 3,000 fish per mile, the fine would be in the neighborhood of $75,000!

A few things about all this are intriguing to me…

  1. Each fish I catch has a value of $25 to the state of Wisconsin. That’s a measure of the money that goes in to our fisheries, but it is also a measure of the economic value of high-quality trout streams, the money that having this resource brings to our state through tourism.
  2. I told Todd that being a landowner along a trout stream now seems like a liability. He countered that streamside landowners get tax breaks for being responsible landowners and adhering to practices that keep the stream healthy.
  3. I’ve heard it said by some that the DNR has an unbalanced amount of power in Wisconsin. That argument could certainly be made when you consider a $75,000 fine against a landowner. But, that waterway is a public resource and if it wasn’t managed by an agency with some teeth behind it, the resource probably wouldn’t be worth a damn anyway. My barber is from Thailand and he told me that people fish with explosives in Thailand because the enforcement of regulations there is weak. So now the fisheries there are in big trouble.

To bring this all back around, Todd mentioned that fish numbers in Black Earth Creek have been steadily rising since the introduction of these Water Quality Monitoring Stations. Point and Non-Point pollutants have decreased significantly since 2009, likely because of the ability for fisheries managers to determine the source of pollutants. I imagine it has also “inspired” property owners to implement stream-friendly practices like crop planting buffers and such.

If I owned a farm along a trout stream I would be motivated to “get it right”, both for the sake of the stream and to avoid the fines. Farming is not easy, and regulations enforced by a powerful government agency don’t make it any easier. I suppose it’s a matter of your view of your place in the broader community. Water is a resource that we all depend on for life and well-being, and it is something we share. It should be protected, and I for one am glad to see that efforts to protect Black Earth Creek are paying off.


Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations Review   Leave a comment

The Wisconsin DNR is putting together a public review of the state’s trout regulations, and as part of the review, a survey has been released to garner feedback in preparation for public meetings this spring.

2011-2012 Trout Regulations Cover - Photo by Len Harris

2011-2012 Wisconsin Trout Regulations Cover - Photo by Len Harris


Click on the link below to take the survey. If there’s something you think should change about the trout fishing regulations in Wisconsin, it’ll be worth your while.