Trout deliveries delayed in Wisconsin

Ice-out has yet to arrive on northern tier of lakes, DNR says

MADISON, Wis. — More northern Wisconsin waters are opening up in time for Saturday’s inland fishing season opener and walleye are likely to have finished spawning in many places and ready to put on the feedbag, state fisheries officials say.

“It’s been a long winter. Time to get outdoors and have some fun,” said Justine Hasz, Wisconsin’s fisheries director.

While stocking of catchable size inland trout has occurred in southern inland waters, deliveries of fish to some northern waters will be delayed beyond the May 5 opener due to road weight limits and ice conditions.

“Weather conditions haven’t allowed us to stock all the fish we planned by the inland opener but we’re working on it as fast as we can,” says Dave Giehtbrock, fish culture leader. “We are waiting for road limits and ice to go off in the north.”

In all, about 740,000 catchable rainbow, brown, brook and lake trout will be stocked in more than 400 waters this spring.

Anglers planning on targeting inland waters due for stocking can search the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, for “catchable trout” to determine if fish have been delivered to their water.

As of Sunday, lakes north of Highway 8 still had very solid ice. In northern tier counties, anglers were using extensions on their augers due to the thick ice cover that still remained, the DNR reported.

It’s difficult, however, to predict conditions for Saturday. Small shallow lakes may be open, but larger lakes could have ice that’s not quite safe to walk on, and too socked in to launch a boat.

Ice conditions can be highly variable and will change quickly, said Chief Warden Todd Schaller.

Schaller advised anglers to wear life jackets, fish with someone else, take a cell phone and tell someone your plans, including where you are and when you’ll return.

When ice-out does occur, walleye will be the most sought-after species. Walleye spawning will be very active and, during late ice-out years, peak spawning activity occurs quickly and could be over in as little as three to five days.

“Walleye anglers will definitely want to focus their efforts in the shallows, particularly along rock and cobble shorelines,” said Mike Vogelsang, northern Wisconsin fisheries district supervisor.

Live bait combos such as jigs and minnows always bode well early in the season, as do small minnow stick baits and crank baits.