“We needed that snow pack in the northern part of the state. The
Wisconsin River and reservoirs were low last fall,” Staggs
He said fishermen should find plenty of action from Lafayette
County north to Iron County.
“There is some great fishing in Yellowstone Lake in Lafayette
County. It has bass, walleyes, channel cats, muskies
“In Dane County, Lake Mendota smallmouth fishing is very good.
There are muskies in Monona. Lake Wingra has always been a good
muskie action lake we’ve backed off on muskie stocking (in Wingra)
to see if we can get the growth rates up,” he said.
In the northwestern corner of the state, Barron and Polk
counties might not have a lot of walleye lakes, but there is good
fishing for largemouth bass, northern pike, and above-average
panfish. Last May, Frank Brown, of Chippewa Falls, caught a new
state record pumpkinseed on Big Round Lake. The 9.6-inch-long,
1-pound, 2-ounce pumpkinseed edged out the previous record fish by
In the Hayward area, locals are speculating that the better
walleye fishing this year will be on Round, Chetac, and Grindstone
lakes. A slot-size regulation for Grindstone Lake has produced a
better population of large and mid-sized walleyes.
In Iron County, the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage continues to offer
some of the best walleye and smallmouth bass fishing in the north.
Annual fall recruitment surveys have been conducted since 1984 to
monitor natural reproduction; walleye year-class abundance has been
above the 19-year average in seven of the past 10 years.
“The Turtle-Flambeau Flowage produced two banner year-classes
recently,” said DNR Iron County fish manager Jeff Roth. “Walleye
reproduction in 1997 was nearly twice as abundant as the highest
documented during the 1980s, and the 2002 year-class was the second
largest ever produced.”
He said anglers can expect to catch an abundance of 15- to
16-inch walleyes from the 1997 year class and many small walleyes
less than 10 inches from the 2002 year class.
In Lincoln County, DNR crews last year completed a comprehensive
fish survey on Lake Alice and found good numbers and size
structures of walleyes, muskellunge, smallmouth bass, largemouth
bass, perch, bluegills, and crappies. They also found abundant
natural reproduction and good numbers of juvenile walleyes.
In Oneida County, fishery crews found strong walleye recruitment
throughout the mid- to late 1990s, and an exceptional walleye
year-class from 2001 will start to provide action in 2004.
Naturally reproducing walleye populations were strong in Squaw and
“We’re reducing stocking on some put-and-take trout waters,”
Staggs said. “We still have outstanding natural waters and will be
stocking high-priority waters.”
He expects to see normal stocking levels for walleyes, but the
DNR is not doing much in the way of larger fingerlings.
The DNR will not produce hatchery northern pike in 2004, but the
hatcheries had never produced a lot of pike less than 100,000 last
The biggest hit may come in the muskie arena. The DNR is looking
at producing about half of the normal allotment of muskie
fingerlings, again because of budget cuts. Staggs said it costs a
lot of money to buy minnows to feed the muskie finglerlings.