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Trout stocking numbers reduced on Apple, Willow

A volunteer helps stock trout along the Willow River recently.

Budget cutbacks and the lack of fee increases for several years have caused a severe reduction in the number of trout planted in the Willow and Apple rivers prior to the season opener.

In years past several thousand brown trout went into areas both above and below New Richmond. With the further reductions this year, only 1,400 rainbow trout became available for the Willow River with the stocking of the Apple completely eliminated.

On April 30 volunteers helped put 700 of the 7- to 10-inch fish in the area of the Willow River State Park and the remaining 700 went into the heavily fished areas upstream from New Richmond.

Because of this reduction, the Star Prairie Fish and Game Association, working through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, privately purchased 300 brown trout from a local supplier and stocked the area of River Island Park in Star Prairie on May 7. This area is heavily fished and has great handicapped accessible piers built in the park. Due to the generosity of the Star Prairie Fish and Game Association, fishing will again be productive through that stretch of the river.

Fishing opener

May 4 marked the opening of the Wisconsin's inland fishing season. It was one to remember.

Because of a commitment I had made, I chose to attend a lake training session in Balsam Lake that morning. It was a very informative series of talks and well worth the time spent.

I did have mixed feelings on missing the fishing opener, however. This was the first time in more than 60 years that I failed to wet a line on opening morning.

Because of the inclement weather, we had cancelled our annual post fishing cookout which was also a first. The water in the streams was running high and angling results would have no doubt been dubious.

As I sat in the warm building that morning, with cold rain and sleet coming down outside, I was comforted in the fact knowing that there would be many more fishing day opportunities coming my way.


This spring has proven to be one of extremes. Snow and sleet has finally given way to more seasonable weather. Earlier we had a series of snowfalls that were interspaced with heavy rains.

During all this interesting weather mix, the area lakes were trying to shed their icy mantle. Our small bay had just opened up but the rest of the larger lake was still ice covered. The wind was blowing from the east at a good clip and a rain shower had just begun.

Watching across the lake as the wind blew and the precipitation could be seen moving to the west, a low fog bank formed. It was something out of a Stephen King novel as the four-foot fog cloud was blown across the cool ice covered lake.

As the moisture laden fog bank came off the frozen lake and collided with the warmer open water, a billowing dense fog rose up and completely inundated the bay bring visibility down to zero. This condition lasted for a half hour before the prevailing east wind blew it away giving way to bright sunshine. What an interesting series of meteorological events.

Ice out

The ice on our lake has finally given up the ghost. May 6, 2013 was the first time this year that I could not detect any visible ice on Big Lake.

I just received an email from Don Demulling who lives on Cedar Lake. He and his dad have kept an active log of ice outs since 1980 and his call for Cedar Lake was May 5 as the official date ice out date. This is the latest ice out date since the 30 plus years of their record keeping.

A couple of years ago, Harold Evans, who lives in Hudson, analyzed the data and using the "line of best fit" determined that over that time frame, the average ice out date was the 95th day of the year and fell on April 6. This year was almost a month later than the average.

Coyotes, Barred Owls

Signs of spring are everywhere. Late one evening I let the dogs out for their final duties and was greeted to a volley of howls and hoots as the coyotes and the barred owls seemed to be squaring off.

There were four distinct coyotes staking out their territory in the woods behind our house. Xena, our lab/weimaraner mix would periodically give a cursory bark in reply, while Tyson our golden lab stood back, hair raised, giving the appearance of protecting his domain. Lola, the princess, appeared to care less about the ruckus, as she went about her business.

Between the coyote choruses, a pair of barred owls would call out their "who cooks for you?" courting routine. This auditory symphony carried on for several minutes. The sounds of sights of spring are finally here.


Early one morning last week, as I pulled the shades to the window that overlooks the bay, I noticed the swirling of underwater activity near shore.

Suddenly a pair of loons appeared from under the water, each with a small fish in their beaks. They downed the quarry in short order and then both dove again.

The shallow bay warms up earlier than the main lake and the crappies move into the warmer water to stage before spawning. The loons were making the best of the situation.

I watched as the birds actually worked in tandem, herding the fish to each other. They made the perfect team working one side and then the other as they surfaced periodically to gulp down their catch.

What a remarkable demonstration of natural communication and mutual cooperation.