County tributaries already producing trout
Egg-taking operations at the C.D. “Buzz” Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility are still a month away, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to try your luck for rainbow trout.
These lake-run beauties migrate into Lake Michigan tributaries like the Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers — and even smaller creeks when water levels allow — any time from late fall to early spring.
Averaging 5 to 10 pounds, “steelhead” are a prize catch whether through the ice or in open water, and with a major thaw on its way what little ice is left will be deteriorating fast.
The 10-day forecast is calling for highs above freezing, including at least eight days of 40 to 50 degrees, and possibly warmer away from Green Bay and Lake Michigan.
It won’t be long and the ice will move out, and anglers can drift baits through deeper holes instead of sitting over a 10-inch hole.
The thaw will also allow the boat launches and harbors to clear, and sometime in the next week it’s likely we’ll see the first small boat trollers trying their luck for brown trout along the Algoma and Kewaunee shorelines.
Some of the fastest action of the season typically occurs the first few weeks after ice-out, with browns averaging 2 to 5 pounds and of course, a few heavier taken from time to time.
While spawn sacs are the top producer for most on the tributaries, spoons and stickbaits usually work best for lakeshore trollers or pier casters.
Meanwhile, the best panfishing of the winter is right around the corner on the county’s inland lakes.
Typically, the bite heats up for suspended bluegills, crappies, perch and sunfish as the days get longer and the snow and ice begin melting. At times the best fishing is right under the hole; more often, though, you’ll find them suspended within a foot or two of bottom.
Water temperatures are extremely cold, and will be for the next couple months, at least. Last-ice anglers and early season boaters both need to be extremely cautious and carry safety equipment.
Life jacket use is critical, as is monitoring the weather. Sudden, strong winds can cause sheets of ice to move or turn a calm Lake Michigan into whitecaps in short order.
Avoiding alcohol is wise. Most hospitalized hypothermia cases involve alcohol. Alcohol impairs judgment and inhibits the body’s normal shivering trigger denying the body its most effective heat-producing response.
Ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat work at the Besadny Fish and Wildlife Area is among the projects receiving funding from the Ruffed Grouse Society’s and American Woodcock Society’s Wisconsin Drummer Fund this year.
Similar work will be done on the DNR’s Mud Lake Wildlife Area in Door County.
The groups are providing more than $80,000 for work on 15 state projects, and partners, including the DNR, are providing an additional $130,000. More than 880 acres across the state will be directly enhanced.
The Wisconsin Drummer Fund was initiated in 2010 to allow the groups to funnel funds raised at chapter events and through direct member donations to proactive forest conservation work in the state.
Since then, over $376,000 has been made available to support 85 Wisconsin young forest-related projects enhancing an estimated 8,704 acres of habitat and improving hundreds of miles of hunter walking trails. These funds have been matched by other agencies and organizations resulting in over $1 million worth of projects being funded in Wisconsin since 2010. This year marks the sixth straight year for record funding levels under this program.
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Email him at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: County tributaries already producing trout