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Wild Things: Ideas on New Life for Old Line and Baits Could Net Thousands

Keeping waste fishing gear out of waters and landfills is important because line and baits that are disposed of improperly can harm fish and wildlife. 

If you’ve got a great idea for recycling old fishing line and soft baits, here’s your chance to reel in some serious cash: The BoatUS Foundation is looking for the best ideas about how to make recycling line and baits more efficient, attractive and accessible. The top three ideas are worth $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000. 

Submissions can address any part – or multiple parts – of taking fishing gear from the end of its life to a new life. Individuals, teams and groups are encouraged to apply. No designs may be products that are already commercially available or approved by any governing authority or testing facility.

All entries must be submitted online by the May 14 deadline. Learn more at boatus.org/contest.

Vote and Comment on Wildlife Issues

Starting Monday, the public may comment on this year’s spring fish and wildlife rules hearings and Conservation Congress meeting questions. The advisory-only virtual vote will be open for 72 hours beginning April 12 at 7 pm at dnr.wisconsin.gov/about/wcc/springhearing.

Meanwhile, hunters and others interested in deer management may comment April 12-25 on the Door and Kewaunee County Deer Advisory Councils’ preliminary recommendations at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Hunt/cdac

Both councils voted in favor of extended gun, bow and crossbow hunts for the 2021-22 deer-hunting season. Door County dropped its recommended free antlerless tags per license from five to three, and Kewaunee stayed at four: the same as it has in recent years. 

Changes to Bass Tournaments

The Sturgeon Bay Bass Tournament (SBBT), set for May 7-8, will be a weigh-on-the-water format using Brecknell scales – the same type that Major League Fishing (MLF) and FLW Series tournaments use. (FLW stands for Forrest Lee Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats. He died last year at the age of 87.)

Tournament organizer Gary Nault said he’s been advocating for this type of contest since starting the SBBT in 2015. Scoring will be done using the FishDonkey app on a smartphone. 

“As technology has progressed, and with the MLF and FLW both holding tournaments in Sturgeon Bay in 2020, it was clear to me that the wave of the future for fishing tournaments is moving quickly to that style of format,” Nault said. “This definitely is the future in our sport.”

Anyone who has questions or comments may call Nault at 920.495.6551 or visit sturgeonbaybasstournament.com.

Meanwhile, there’s a new, longer name for an old tournament: the North American Bass Challenge Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament. The 31st annual event will be held May 14-15 out of Sturgeon Bay’s Sawyer Park. Get the details at northamericanbasschallenge.com/sturgeon-bay-open-bass-tournaments.

Trout and Salmon Contests

Tickets for the 33rd annual Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament, set for April 15-17, are on sale at $30 per angler. Get more information at baileysharbor.doorcounty.com/events/brown-trout-tournament. Email questions to [email protected], or call 920.839.2366.

Meanwhile, a new event in Sturgeon Bay, the Reel Steel Challenge, is set for June 5 out of The Lodge at Leathem Smith. Capt. John Pollock is organizing it, and he has details on a Reel Steel Challenge Facebook page. 

Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, Hooked Up Tackle in Algoma, and Accurate Marine, Tackle & Storage in Kewaunee will again weigh catches from the lake and bay for the Salmon-A-Rama July 10-18.

And, the 34th annual Kewaunee/Door County Salmon Tournament is set for July 23-31. Last year, it lured a record of more than 3,300 anglers and will be aiming for its seventh straight 30-pound-plus winning catch and its ninth in the past 11 years, after a run of sub-30 winners between 2004 and 2010.

Spring Fishing Update

Steelhead (rainbow trout) are hitting spawn sacs, flies, wax worms and single eggs in rivers and creeks, but low water levels have hampered access to some of the smaller tributaries. A few browns have also been hooked in the lower stretches of the Ahnapee River as they work their way back to Lake Michigan after spawning last fall.

When it’s not too rough, brown and lake trout have been hooked in the lakeshore shallows. Spoons and stickbaits run behind planer boards in 10-30 feet of water have also worked. 

Jig and minnow combos, plastics, stickbaits, spoons and spinners are all getting occasional hits from walleyes and pike in Green Bay waters from Sturgeon Bay, to Little Sturgeon, and on up to the northern tip of the peninsula. Bass and perch seasons are closed, so any of those species that are caught must be released immediately.

World-class Estuary

A pair of virtual events – April 12 at 4 pm and April 15 at 7 pm – will recognize a decades-long effort to protect one of the largest surface freshwater estuaries on Earth.

A National Estuarine Research Reserve designation in lower Green Bay waters would be a huge boost to protecting the areas where Great Lakes waters mix with water from rivers, streams and bays.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher will take part. There will be live Q&A opportunities. Learn more and register at uwgb.edu/national-estuarine-research-reserves.

NRB to Consider Whitefish Quotas

The state Natural Resources Board (NRB) will consider adopting a Lake Michigan whitefish emergency rule April 14 that would address commercial whitefish quotas and associated regulations in Green Bay.  Watch the meeting on the Department of Natural Resource’s YouTube channel.

Lake Levels Down 13 Inches

As of April 2, Lake Michigan was 22 inches above its 100-year monthly average but 13 inches below last year’s April record. Water levels were still 53 inches higher than the record monthly low, set in 1964.