Wild Things: Anglers Targeting Fish Closer to Shore

Ice-covered harbors, bays and marinas see increased pressure 

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected], Peninsula Pulse contributor

“It is what it is.” 

Those words – and some much more colorful ones not suitable for print – have been uttered and muttered often this winter, one of the most frustrating seasons ever for local ice anglers.

“I feel bad for the charter [guide] community,” said Lance Lavine of Howie’s Tackle & Archery in Sturgeon Bay. “There’s still decent ice in some areas, but it’s definitely not a normal year.”

Thin ice, open water, rough shoves and cracks that open when the wind blows from the wrong direction have kept most anglers from working the deeper offshore waters. That means much of the fishing pressure has shifted to protected bays, harbors and marinas, or very close to shore in other locations.

“I always say, everybody can catch fish as long as they’re not right by each other,” Lavine said. “Being quiet, away from other people – that can really help your catch.”

The Coast Guard is warning about unstable conditions and encourages everyone who recreates on the ice to take safety precautions.

Local angler Dayton Tebon caught this 19-plus-pound brown trout last weekend. Photo by Howie’s Tackle & Archery.

New Boone and Crockett Club Leader

North America’s oldest conservation organization, the Boone and Crockett Club, has a new leader who shares something with its founder. James L. Cummins, executive director of Wildlife Mississippi, has been elected to serve as the club’s 36th president, and he intends to focus efforts on promoting conservation policy and hunting ethics.

“For me, it was not hard to fall in love with the Boone and Crockett Club,” Cummins said. “My values and its values are practically the same, and its founder, Theodore Roosevelt, is my philosophical soul brother.”

Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell founded the club in 1887 to address wildlife population declines, especially in big game.

Cummins has already jumped into his new role, working with members of Congress to include the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act in the omnibus appropriations bill. He’s also engaged with forest policy and deliberations for reauthorizing the Farm Bill. 

This Count Is for the Birds

The 26th annual Great Backyard Bird Count runs Feb. 17-20 – a time when bird lovers around the world unite in the effort to tally as many bird species as possible. Their results help to paint a picture of how birds are faring in the face of habitat loss, climate change and other threats. 

Each participant or group counts birds for any length of time (but for at least 15 minutes) and records the birds they identify – whether at home, in a park, at a beach or during a drive in the country. An estimated 385,000 people participated last year, reporting more than 7,000 species in 192 countries. 

The Great Backyard Bird Count’s website,, has all the information needed to participate. There’s also an informational webinar scheduled for Feb. 15, 12 pm.

Sturgeon Spearing

The Lake Winnebago system’s sturgeon-spearing season opens Saturday for those who drew one of 500 tags on the upriver lakes or who applied by the Oct. 31 deadline for Lake Winnebago itself. Spearers can try their luck for a maximum of 16 days, or until they either spear a legal fish or harvest caps close the season early. 

Success is often dictated in part by water clarity, and runoff from a surprise rainstorm earlier this week may have reduced what had been good clarity up until then. Milder weather this week may also have deteriorated the ice conditions in some locations, so spearers should check the latest updates locally before venturing out.

Learn more about this Wisconsin tradition at

Boat Show Feb. 17-19

The Green Bay Boat Show runs next weekend at the Resch Expo. The hours are Feb. 17, 2-8 pm; Feb. 18, 10 am – 7 pm; and Feb. 19, 10 am – 4 pm.

Tickets include admission and – for adults who want to upgrade – a shot glass and a sample of the first batch of The Maelstrom: a blend of bourbon that was extra-aged in oak-charred casks aboard a Lake Michigan charter boat at Algoma last summer. 

Of course, the main attraction is hundreds of boats in many sizes and styles, as well as personal watercraft, docks and lifts. As always, seminars will include discussions by local fishing experts and much more. 

Tickets are $10 in advance; $12 at the door for most, with a $1 discount for ages 62 and older and members of the military; and free for youth younger than 17. A weekend pass goes for $16 in advance or $18 on the day of the show. 

Watch Wolf Session

The public listening session on wolves that the Department of Natural Resources held Tuesday as an additional way to comment on its proposed updated wolf-management plan is archived on its YouTube channel. The online comment period runs through Feb. 28. Find out more and comment online at

Lake-Level Update

As of Feb. 3, Lake Michigan and Green Bay water levels were down five inches from last year and 33 inches below the monthly record set in February 2020. Levels were still four inches above the 100-year average and 33 inches above the record monthly low, set in 1964.