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GREAT LAKES

Big muskies smack baits on Green Bay

Great Lakes strain muskies have been hitting trolled baits on lower Green Bay, off Door County reefs and in the mouths of the Fox and Menominee rivers. Several guides have reported multiple trophy fish days.

Walleyes, smallmouth bass, northern pike and jumbo perch — and a lot more small ones — also hunting down food on the bay at spots like Oconto, Dyckesville and off southern and northern Door county.

Major west-shore tributaries and Lake Michigan rivers are attracting runs of chinooks, cohos and brown trout, with an occasional steelhead also seen.

When it’s not too rough, Lake Michigan has been producing good catches of trout and younger salmon in 100 to 300 feet of water or more, often 30 to 70 feet down.

■ If you’ve made a great catch recently and have a quality picture to prove it, consider entering the BoatUS Angler “Catch of the Month” photo contest. It runs through Oct. 31. Check the rules and entries at www.BoatUS.com/angler/contest.

More on fishing: Fishing news from around the state | Your fishing photos | Build a map | Read fishing reports | We're blogging about fishing

INLAND WATERS

Oct. 31 deadline for sturgeon season

Sturgeon spearing hopefuls for the 2014 season on Lake Winnebago need to buy licenses by Oct. 31. The drawing for limited upriver lakes tags has been held.

The DNR has registered nine of the top 10 fish on record since 2004, and nearly one of every 10 sturgeon last season exceeded 100 pounds.

Adults drawn in the upriver season lottery can transfer their tag to youngsters, but must fill out a form at least 15 days before the season opens in early February. Success rates are much higher on the upriver lakes, which are shallower and attract sturgeon staging for spring spawning runs up the Wolf River.

The largest sturgeon netted by fisheries crews was an 87½-inch, 240-pounder below the Shawano Dam in April 2012. It was tagged and should still be in the system.

An unlimited number of tags can be purchased for Lake Winnebago, but a harvest cap shuts down the season when the numbers approach 400 juvenile females, 828 adult females and 1,200 males.

HUNTING

More than 100K birds to be stocked

The DNR and local sportsmen’s groups have combined to raise more than 100,000 pheasants for release this year, a significant increase over 2013. The pheasant hunting season opens at noon Saturday.

DNR staff planned to put out 75,000 birds on 92 public properties, an increase from 54,000 on 70 properties last year. Local clubs received more than 36,000 birds in the day-old chick program for release on dozens of properties, public and private.

For a map of state stocking locations, including the 22 public areas stocked for the first time this year, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/PheasantMap.html. To see specific numbers of birds stocked at each property, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/documents/PheasantStocking.pdf.

For a list of private lands reported as stocked by local clubs participating in the day-old chick program, call the Poynette game farm office at (608) 635-8120.

■ It’s all systems go for Tuesday’s Buck Fever Night, 5:30-9 p.m. at Stadium View Banquet Hall, 1963 Holmgren Way, Ashwaubenon. Free admission with nonperishable food item donations for Paul’s Pantry.

WILDLIFE

Horicon to host hunt talk Nov. 6

DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator Keith Warnke will present a free program, “Hunting for Sustainability” at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center.

“Natural resources, sustainability and hunting fit hand-in-hand,” Warnke said. “Hunting is critical to conservation, and a large portion of conservation funding comes from hunters and anglers. It’s also a great way to get locally-produced food.”

Earlier on Oct. 26, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a free photography workshop will be held at the center. Topics range from taking better nature images to iPhoneography. More info: www.horiconmarsh.org or (920) 387-7893.

■ Take a hike with the Door County Land Trust’s Explore the Door program. Registration for the guided, two-hour hikes is required. Hikes will be held at the Three Springs Nature Preserve this weekend, Nov. 2 at the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve and in mid-November at the White Cliff Nature Preserve. For more info or to sign up for eNews, visit www.doorcountylandtrust.org.

FIELD GUIDE

Tree stand safety crucial for hunters

Bow-deer hunters getting ready for the rut and gun hunters setting up for next month’s whitetail opener should carefully check tree stands and raised platforms of any type to make sure all components are structurally sound and fastened securely.

More hunters are injured in falls from tree stands each year than in shooting incidents, and some falls can be fatal or disabling. Proper setup and maintenance — and the use of a quality harness or fall restraint with a release system that won’t restrict your breathing — can prevent most injuries.

Veteran hunters recommend choosing as straight a tree as possible, with no dead, overhanging limbs. Smooth-barked varieties such as maple, beech and aspen can get very slippery when wet and should be avoided.

Always use a haul rope to raise or lower gear, including your bow or unloaded firearm, and maintain three points of contact (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand) at all times while climbing or descending.

The use of tightly secured climbing sticks for portable stands is recommended. Screw-in spikes can damage trees, snap off or cause serious injuries if you slip. They’re also illegal to use on most public lands.

— Kevin Naze, wildtimes@wizunwired.net

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