Spring’s arrival this weekend means that more fishing and birding opportunities are just around the corner.
Lake Michigan tributary anglers are finding the first wave of spawn-minded rainbow trout in the deeper runs, and northern pike and walleyes are migrating toward Green Bay’s creek mouths and nearshore shallows. Brown trout and an occasional laker have already been hooked in the Lake Michigan shallows, and ice-out panfish opportunities on the inland lakes will arrive soon.
Big numbers of sandhill cranes, red-winged blackbirds and tundra swans have joined many northbound duck species, and a few bluebirds, robins and woodcock have already been spotted.
Now’s the time to clean out older nest boxes or erect new ones. Spring is also the prime time to clean and disinfect backyard bird feeders and rake up and dispose of old seed on the ground.
If you want to make your property more wildlife friendly, now is also the time to plan which trees, shrubs and plants to put in once the weather stays above freezing for good.
If you love birds and want to learn more about birding, a great place to start is the Wisconsin eBird page at ebird.org/wi/home. You can share sightings and photos, see what others are reporting, scour data and check out hot spots around the state.
The Wisconsin Society of Ornithology hosts another great website at wsobirds.org, and you can sign up to receive bird-sighting updates and other news – sponsored by the Wisconsin Birding Network – at freelists.org/list/wisbirdn. The DNR updates its state bird report weekly at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/birding.html, and you can find national bird-migration forecasts at birdcast.info.
Licenses, Tags and Seasons
New fishing and hunting licenses for the 2021-22 season are now on sale. Last year’s licenses are valid through March 31 for any species that still has an open season.
Yellow perch on Green Bay waters are off limits for the spring spawning closure through mid-May, so any perch caught must be released immediately. Many small streams and ditches – tributaries of Green Bay and the Fox River – are closed to game fishing for spring spawning, but major Green Bay rivers remain open for most species. Check the fishing regulations for specifics.
More than 14,000 leftover spring wild turkey hunting permits for the last two spring hunt periods in Zone 2 went on sale Tuesday. Any left will go on sale again beginning Saturday, 10 am. The limit is one per customer per day.
Deer Meetings Coming Up
County Deer Advisory Councils in Kewaunee and Door counties will be meeting soon to develop recommendations for antlerless harvest goals, antlerless tag availability and season options for their county. The meetings will be virtual only, with options to join via Zoom or phone.
Kewaunee County’s meeting will be March 24, 6 pm. You can listen in at 312.626.6799 using code 840 4108 6235. Door County’s meeting is set for March 29, 6 pm. The phone number is the same, but the code is 837 8527 0425.
A public-comment period will follow, April 12-25, and both councils will hold final objective-setting meetings in early May. The state Natural Resources Board is expected to approve the recommendations June 23. Learn more at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Hunt/cdac.
Trees and Shrubs Available
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is no longer accepting online orders, but it still has a wide variety of native conifer, hardwood and wildlife shrub seedlings available for spring planting by mail order. Some species or year classes are sold out, so review up-to-date inventory at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/treeplanting/order. These seedlings are sold only for planting in Wisconsin and for reforestation, wildlife-habitat, windbreak and erosion-control purposes.
Elk Applications Open
Hunters interested in a once-in-a-lifetime shot at harvesting a Wisconsin bull elk must apply by May 31. The cost to get in on the random draw is $10. There’s also an opportunity to purchase raffle tickets at $10 each from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which will draw for one tag.
For each application, $7 goes to elk management and research in Wisconsin. More than $600,000 has already been raised during the previous three hunts.
Hunter Ed Back in Class
The DNR is reopening hunter-education classes to in-person attendance beginning April 1. The agency will enforce COVID-19 safety protocols, including social distancing and masking. Check out a list of what’s available so far at dnr.wisconsin.gov/Education/OutdoorSkills/safetyEducation.
DNR Stamp-Design Contest
Artists are invited to enter the DNR’s 2022 wild turkey, pheasant and waterfowl stamp-design contests. Funds from sales of the stamps support habitat management, restoration, education and research projects. The submission deadline is July 15. Learn more at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/stamps.html.
State Park Sticker-Design Contest
High school artists may submit entries for the 2022 state park sticker-design contest through April 30. Read the details at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/designcontest.