Wild Things: Anglers Finding a Mix of Ice, Open Water to Try Their Luck

Turkey leftovers served March 22

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected]

Mid- to late March means transition time for anglers, with both open water and hardwater fishing opportunities.

Steelhead and suckers are moving into the Ahnapee River for spring spawning, and brown trout are available in the nearshore shallows of Lake Michigan. Yellow perch fishing in Green Bay – and all fishing in Green Bay creeks and ditches – is closed for spawning season, but anglers are still finding ice-over spots where they’re pursuing pike, walleyes, trout, whitefish, burbot and smelt. 

As always, check locally for updates on areas to avoid. Ice conditions can deteriorate quickly with warming air, rain, midday sunshine and increasing currents.

Meanwhile, leftover spring wild turkey harvest permits for Zone 2 will go on sale Tuesday, March 22, at 10 am. Any remaining permits will then go on sale March 26 at 10 am.

The cost is $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents. Unless you’ve already purchased a new Conservation Patron license, you’ll need to purchase a spring turkey license and stamp prior to getting a tag. There are more than 15,000 leftovers available in Zone 2, but all but 23 of them are for the fifth and sixth periods (May 18-31). Zones 1 and 3 have thousands of leftovers for early to mid-May.

Spring Hearing Online

For the third straight year, the annual Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spring fish and wildlife hearing and Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meeting will be online only.

Citizens can provide input on more than 60 questions from the Conservation Congress, DNR and state Natural Resources Board during a 72-hour period beginning April 11 at 7 pm. Results are nonbinding and advisory only. Resolutions submitted by citizens can also be voted on. Those results are also advisory only, but they are often a good gauge of public opinion and are, at times, used by legislators to craft new rules.

For the third straight year, there will be no elections for county representation on the Conservation Congress, but there were applications available for some vacant seats. 

One of the questions that’s sure to attract those for and against crossbow use during the archery deer season is from the Natural Resources Board, asking whether the DNR should again review the impacts of the crossbow season on the state’s gun deer hunting season. Part of it reads, “It is expressed by many that with around 40% of the bucks harvested before the start of the Gun Deer Season, Wisconsin’s famous and long-standing Traditional Gun Deer Season is in jeopardy.”

Meanwhile, the Conservation Congress’ Deer and Elk Committee is asking whether in-person deer-registration stations, back tags and tagging procedures should be reestablished. Also, the group’s Legislative Committee is seeking opinions about whether canoes and kayaks should be registered. 

For a look at all the questions to be voted on April 11-13, visit

Sturgeon Spearing

A total of 1,518 sturgeon were registered during the recent season on the Winnebago system, including 1,169 on Lake Winnebago itself and 349 on the upriver lakes. 

Although many of the sturgeon speared this season were within the historical average of 50-60 inches and 40-60 pounds, 88 giants in excess of 100 pounds were taken, including the largest since 2013: an 82.4-inch, 174.3-pounder taken Feb. 17 by 22-year-old Jared Guelig of Fond du Lac.

A total of 12,693 licenses were sold, including 480 for the upriver lottery season. The opening-day shanty count was 5,986 on Lake Winnebago and 502 on the upriver lakes (Poygan and Winneconne, 474, and Butte des Morts, 28). 

The current harvest-cap system was implemented in 1999 to help maintain harvest rates at or below sustainable levels. Population estimates for male and female sturgeon set the Winnebago system harvest caps, which are 5% of the five-year average population estimate. 

If you’ve never done it and want to give it a shot in 2023, plan ahead. Apply for a chance at one of 500 upriver permits or purchase a preference point before Aug. 1, or buy a spearing license for Lake Winnebago before Oct. 31. 

County Deer Advisory Council Meetings March 23

Door and Kewaunee County Deer Advisory Council meetings to discuss local deer populations, harvest and habitat concerns, preliminary season structure and antlerless tags will take place via Zoom or phone March 23, 6 pm, for the Door County meeting and March 23, 7 pm, for Kewaunee County meeting.

A link to the Zoom meeting is available by scrolling to the correct county at If you just want to listen in or provide comments by phone, call 312.626.6799. The access code is the same for both meetings: 814 6363 1227.

Weekly Water Levels

As of March 11, Lake Michigan water levels were down 17 inches during the past year and 27 inches since the all-time monthly high was set in March 2020. Lake levels were still 37 inches above the all-time low set in 1964 and are expected to rise about two inches during the coming month.

Amazing Bird Photos

A panel of experts recently picked more than 90 of the top photos from the millions included in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library. You can see their choices by clicking on the link at