Early C&R trout season opens March 1

Northern Wisconsin

DNR crews surveyed trout on many streams in Oneida, Vilas,
Forest, Florence, Lincoln, and Langlade counties and found that
trout appear to be doing well, said Mike Vogelsang, fisheries
supervisor at Woodruff. Population estimates on several streams
indicate a stable fishery compared to past years, with a few
streams showing improved numbers. More than a dozen habitat
projects were completed to improve trout fishing.

Northwestern Wisconsin

“On some of the larger waters, like the Namekagon, the early
season can present some unique dry fly fishing. In some years, some
of these big streams can have spectacular early hatches of large
stone flies, usually between March 20 and April 10,” said Frank
Pratt of Hayward, senior fisheries biologist. “There seems to be
some correlation with early’ springs. Carry big stone nymph
patterns and some large floaters of the sofa pillow type. This is
not a common event, but if you luck into it, and the fish are
responding that’s not an automatic, either it can be life-changing!
This is not classic dry fly dead drift dry fly; it’s more like bass
bugging.”

Southeastern Wisconsin

“March and early April is a great time to see little brook trout
that have just emerged from their winter stay in the gravel at our
Paradise Springs catch-and-release trout pond near Eagle in
Waukesha County,” said Randy Schumacher, fisheries supervisor for
inland waters at Waukesha. “If you watch closely among the
near-shore vegetation, you can see them hiding there. Look for
their distended bellies caused by the yolk-sac before it’s
absorbed. Most fry can be seen near the headwater springhouse.”

Stream surveys show

plenty of wild trout

Fish surveys show plenty of good-sized trout for the 2003 early
catch-and-release trout season, but anglers may have to work a
little harder to catch them.

Trout are “wilder” than a generation ago because most of today’s
fish are not the offspring of pampered parents that spend their
lives in a state fish hatchery.

Improved water quality as a result of changes in land use and
farming practices, combined with habitat projects, are allowing
growing numbers of “naturals” to flourish in some waters.

The DNR, in many counties, is transferring wild trout into
formerly trout-free streams, or are stocking fish hatched from wild
stock. State fisheries crews capture wild trout and bring them to
the Nevin State Fish Hatchery in Fitchburg and the Osceola State
Fish Hatchery to be spawned and then released back to their home
streams. Their offspring are raised at the hatcheries and at
western Wisconsin ponds operated by sportsmen’s clubs under an
agreement with DNR.

Vetrano and now-retired DNR fisheries researcher Ed Avery teamed
up in the mid-1990s to compare the survival of wild and domestic
fish raised in DNR hatcheries and stocked in the West Fork Kickapoo
River and the Waupaca River. Wild brown trout survived at rates 1.3
to 4.5 times higher than domestics after one year and 4 to 42 times
higher than domestics after two years.

Wild trout stocked in the moderately fertile Waupaca River grew
at similar rates to domestic stock, but never narrowed the size
advantage domestic trout had at stocking. Wild trout in the more
fertile West Fork of the Kickapoo River grew more rapidly than
domestic stock.

“Our wild trout are like their environment: small, quick, fast
and suited to be there day after day and year after year,” Vetrano
said. “Don’t head for our streams with steelhead gear or bass gear.
Gear up light and to consider a 12-inch or 13-inch brown trout and
a 9-inch or 10-inch brookie as large fish.”

For anglers who put in the effort to learn to fish stream trout,
“the payback is fast action on the best trout populations we’ve
ever had available,” said Gene Van Dyck of Dodgeville, referring to
trout populations in his area. “On a day when the fish are
aggressive, a good fly fisherman should expect 30 to 50 hook-ups
and a good spin fisherman, 10 hook-ups.”

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