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Shedd Aquarium researcher and fish ecologist Solomon David and UW-Green Bay masters student Rachel Van Dam are tracking the movement of spawn-minded northern pike migrating out of Green Bay into agricultural ditches, restoration sites and natural wetlands this week. / Submitted

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GREAT LAKES

Spawning fish attract anglers

Walleyes on Green Bay tributaries and rainbow trout in the Lake Michigan rivers and creeks are attracting large numbers of open water anglers hoping to hook a spawn-minded fish.

It’s peak spawning time for walleyes on the Fox, but as you move north to Oconto, Peshtigo and Marinette, things are just starting to warm up.

Rainbows — commonly known as steelhead — are being caught below dams and refuges in major rivers, as well as on spawning nests in the gravel on rivers and creeks. Spawn sacs, yarn flies and single eggs — preserved salmon eggs in a jar, or imitations — are getting the most strikes.

Pike and walleyes are starting to be hooked in open water at Sturgeon Bay, and brown trout are available in the shallows off Sturgeon Bay, Algoma, Kewaunee, Two Rivers, Manitowoc and Sheboygan when the winds allow. A few bonus lake trout have been caught, both shallow and deep.

It’s not only trollers getting in on the action. Zach Burgess jigged a pair of lunker lakers from deeper water close to three miles off shore earlier this week at Algoma.

■ Northern pike have invaded Green Bay tributaries and are spawning in ditches, wetlands and restored sites; all are closed to fishing (see hook and line regulations for details). Researchers are tracking pike through early next week. Search “Northern Pike Face-Off” on YouTube for a short video that was posted by Shedd Aquarium fish ecologist Solomon David.

INLAND WATERS

Walleyes thick in the Wolf River

An annual rite of spring is under way on the Wolf River, with hundreds of anglers packing every town with a boat launch to try to take advantage of the spawning run of walleyes coming out of the Lake Winnebago system.

As always, jig and minnow combos are popular, but jig and plastics are also working well; soon it’ll be time for high-riding stickbaits at night off rafts for the return drift-back of walleyes after they’re done spawning.

Meanwhile, panfish anglers are still walking out on the last ice of the season in the far north while others are casting open water on lakes farther south. Wax worms and small minnows are favored baits for perch, crappies, white bass and bluegills.

HUNTING

Wild turkeys wintered well

Though things could be dramatically different in the north, it appears that many central and Northeast Wisconsin turkeys survived one of the most severe winters in decades.

Though there’s been some good success in farm country, it can be feast or famine as the birds are still breaking up from larger winter flocks.

■ Many deer hunters are searching for shed antlers or scouting for a good place to hang stands and brush out shooting lanes and trails. Serious whitetail fanatics say more time preparing for fall hunts now means less in-season disruption of deer patterns.

■ Read up on the new deer hunting rules planned in a two-part special edition question-and-answer feature at dnr.wi.gov, keywords “Warden Wire.”

WILDLIFE

Spring songs coming to life

An extended stretch of warmer air — at least away from Green Bay and Lake Michigan — will get spring peepers, chorus frogs and wood frogs singing, along with increasing the mate-attracting calls of dozens of bird species.

Woodcock court in dim light, often in the evening, with an acrobatic mating flight and nasal call known as a peent when on the ground. Learn more, and listen in, timberdoodle.org/biology.

Male ruffed grouse don’t sing, but rather “drum” to attract a mate. They sit atop a downed log, tree or rock in thick vertical cover and beat their wings. That creates a vacuum, which results in a rapid thumping noise. It is repeated every few minutes.

■ The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation named former Natural Resources Board chairman and life-long hunter and angler David Clausen as the group’s Conservationist of the Year last weekend. A veterinarian, Clausen has promoted sound scientific management of the state’s natural resources and is a proponent of aggressive CWD management.

■ Wildlife-attracting native plants will be sold at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center as part of a “Wildflowers for Wildlife” program from 8 a.m. to noon May 17. Guest speakers will talk about native plants, pollinators, invasive species and more. Info: horiconmarsh.org or (920) 387-7893.

FIELD GUIDE

Changes coming to forest tax law

Managed Forest Law and Forest Crop Law are landowner incentive programs that encourage sustainable forestry, wildlife management, water quality and recreation on private woodlands in Wisconsin.

Revisions to Appendixes 1 through 12 of the Forest Tax Law Handbook are proposed.

Comments on the draft guidance can be made until May 5 and should be sent to Kathryn.Nelson@wisconsin.gov. It can be reviewed at dnr.wi.gov/news/input/guidance.html.

— Kevin Naze, wildtimes@wizunwired.net

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