Press Release July 27, 2017

The Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association, in partnership with Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Conservation Wardens of The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission are making available to the Lake Superior Angling Public a kit to assist in the marking, location, and removal of derelict fish nets in the Wisconsin and Michigan waters of Lake Superior.

These so called “Ghost Nets” can be a hazard to boaters, especially fishermen, as well as continuing to trap fish and aquatic waterfowl and mammals, until such time, as they eventually sink to the bottom of the Lake. On a Lake with the dynamic winds, waves and ice that Lake Superior has, even well anchored nets can be forced free.

As part of a continuing three-year program to address this, the AISFA assembled “Ghost Net Packs” consist of a marker float with flag, an attached cast iron lead free grapple hook with line, and instructions how to safely mark and report a derelict net to the appropriate authorities in both Michigan and Wisconsin, either by phone or by the Internet

Other parts of the program have included a safety video on fishing around commercial nets, that can be seen at wwwapostleislandsfishing.org., as well as education by the partners on best practices for anchoring the nets, as well as active derelict net removal by the GLIFWC Wardens.

The manufacture of the Packs as well as the other activities is funded by a grant to the Partners by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program

Superior Anglers can obtain one of the Packs at locations listed on the above web site, and on the Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association Facebook page.

For further information contact Al House AIFSA President at 715-292-5117

Current Locations:

Great Lakes Indian Fish and Game Commission Enforcement Wardens

River Rock Bait, Ashland WI

Anglers All,  Ashland WI

WDNR Service Center, Ashland, WI

Washburn Marina, Washburn WI

Sisikwit Bay Marina, Cornucopia WI

Western Lake Superior Trolling Association, Duluth, MN

South Shore Fishing Association, Marquette MI

Saxon Harbor Boat Club, Saxon Harbor WI

More to be added soon.

Next Member Meeting: Wednesday March 1, 2017  Lake Superior Taproom, 532 West Bayfield Street, Washburn, Wisconsin.
For our next membership meeting on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 we are doing something different. It will be held at the South Shore Lake Superior Taproom in Washburn. Which is located at 532 West Bayfield Street right next to the Holiday Station. Formerly the Washburn Bowling Alley.
Social Hour starts at 6:00pm, with glasses and sampler flights of beer for sale and complimentary pizza for members and new members. A good time to talk about fishing. At 7:00 pm our guest speaker Craig Hoopman, owner/operator of Bay fisheries, will give us the state licensed commercial fisherman perspective on the current fisheries situation. There is a lot of misinformation out there about what the commercial fishermen do and don’t do.And it needs to be clarified and understood. Then a short business meeting to set up our assembly of the Ghost Net Marking Kits in April and other Association business. Look forward to seeing you there.
COHO MADNESS TOURNAMENT RESULTS
Total Creel #1 Will Keyes-166.4 inches #2 Randy Udeen 69.5 inches. #3 Tim Farendorf-65.3 inches
Largest Coho #1 Will Keyes-25.3 inches # 2 (tie) Matt Grutner and Brian Fleig-25 inches.
Largest Brown Trout #1 Stephanie Humblet-26.1 inches #2 Will Keyes-25.1 inches #3 Tim Farendorf-21.3 inches.
Will Keyes was the big winner, walking away with $600 in total prize money as well as an Inflatable life vest.
Stephanie Humblet won $200. Tim Farendorf got two Okuma Rod and Reel Combos.
The 50/50 Raffle winner was Andy Selvig.
The half-day charter trip was won by Jeff Aronson.
Congratulations to all our winners!

Cisco

 

ASHLAND, Wis. -The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will host two public meetings on June 22 in Bayfield and June 23 in Ashland to discuss potential adoption of a Lake Superior cisco management plan.

Cisco hold significant commercial value and also represent a key link in the Lake Superior food chain, eating zooplankton and serving as prey for lake trout. In addition, cisco eggs serve as a primary food source for whitefish – another valuable commercial and recreational species.
Cisco may be sold fresh, smoked or in fish cakes but it is their roe that has gained significant commercial interest and it is prized in Scandinavian countries as “bluefin caviar.”
Photo Credit: DNR

Terry Margenau, DNR Lake Superior fisheries supervisor, said the commercial harvest of cisco in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior has increased dramatically since 2008 when commercial processors began accepting whole fish. Cisco – also known as lake herring – may be sold fresh or smoked but their roe holds the greatest value and is sold in Scandinavian countries as “bluefin caviar.”

“The annual harvest from 2008 to 2014 averaged nearly 1.4 million pounds, a level more than three times the average annual harvest from 2000 to 2007,” Margenau said. “The cisco harvest from Wisconsin waters now accounts for two-thirds of the total Lake Superior harvest and there is concern among Wisconsin fisheries managers as well as those from neighboring states and Canada about survey data that shows declining abundance of the fish.

Margenau said cisco are vulnerable to over-harvest because they are most valuable and also easiest to catch during fall spawning when they congregate in easily accessible spawning grounds in Wisconsin waters. Wisconsin DNR is seeking stakeholder input to develop a management plan that recognizes the economic importance of the present-day catch while ensuring the resource will sustain future commercial activity and the related lake trout and whitefish fisheries.

“Indications are that there is a lake-wide decline in cisco abundance and we would like to gather stakeholder input to develop a management plan so that we are better prepared to address the situation should surveys show further population declines,” Margenau said.

The upcoming meetings will start at 6 p.m. and will be held:

� June 22, Bayfield – Bayfield Heritage Association Museum, 30 N. Broad St.

June 23, Ashland -Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, 29270 Hwy G.

A short summary presentation will be followed by an opportunity for stakeholders to ask questions and provide comments. In addition, written comments may be submitted until July 6 to: Terry L. Margenau, Lake Superior fisheries supervisor, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 589, 141 S. Third St. Bayfield, WI 54814; or email to terry.margenau@wisconsin.gov.

For more information about the public meetings or on management of the Lake Superior fishery, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “Lake Superior fisheries management.

 

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Report from the 61st Annual Great Lakes Fishery Commission meeting.

As the GLFC Lake Superior Sport Fishing Advisor for Wisconsin, Lake Superior, President Al House was in attendance.
On June 9th and 10th, 2016, the GLFC held their annual meeting in Ottawa Ontario. In addition to the Great Lakes Science presentations on Lamprey Control, Asian Carp and Invasive Specie control, current Lake’s status and other fisheries issues affecting the Great Lakes, the U.S. and Canadian Advisors met to discuss and approve resolutions regarding Great Lakes Fisheries issues.
Currently, Lake Superior overall is considered “stable with areas of concern” from a fisheries science standpoint.
The joint U.S/Canadian Advisors passed two resolutions:
1. Opposing the proposed diversion of Great Lakes water by Waukesha, Wisconsin.
2. Calling on the U.S. and Canadian governments to label radionuclides(all radioactive waste) as a chemical of concern to prevent storage near the Great Lakes.
3.The joint Advisors also voted to support a resolution before the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative calling for increased local state and federal regulation of waste discharge by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) within the Great Lakes watershed, as well as greater oversight.
In addition, the U.S. Advisors voted to approve two other resolutions;
1. Calling on all Great Lakes states to prohibit Net Pen Aquaculture operations in the Great Lakes waters of the United States.
2. Calling for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) to formally relinquish fisheries administration within Great Lakes sanctuaries currently being developed, to state and tribal entities, and supporting HR 3310, a federal bill requiring State and Federal agreement before commercial and recreational fishing can be closed in any waters in the U.S., and requesting tribal groups as well be added to the bills wording, along with the states.

 

 

The Les Voigt fish hatchery issue.

Les Voigt Fish Hatchery

Brief History: Originally founded in 1896, The Les Voigt Fish hatchery was gifted to the state of Wisconsin in 1897 by R.D. Pike, an early Bayfield County entrepreneur/developer. Since then it has served as an important cornerstone of Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Fishery. During its history the hatchery has helped with the establishment of Lake Superior’s legendary steelhead fishery, the introduction of Brown Trout, and very importantly, was instrumental in reestablishing Lake Trout into Lake Superior after the Sea Lamprey caused near total destruction of that fishery. It also has consistently provided cold water species for stocking into Lake Michigan as well, including a contribution of Chinook Salmon this year. In the 1980’s it was second only to the Wild Rose hatchery in terms of fish production of Wisconsin hatcheries.

The Issue: In recent times, the hatchery was able to maintain production by utilizing a raw water intake from Lake Superior in combination with water from the current well.  With the spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) into the Great Lakes ten years ago, the use of Lake Superior water was by necessity discontinued to prevent bio-contamination of the facility by potential pathogens. Since then, because of limitations and declining production by the current well system, the Les Voight Hatchery has been restricted to approximately 27% of capacity. The staff has experimented with some unique methods to recirculate water, but to substantially increase production, a new source of water, or investment in a Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) is needed. Currently only 6 of the 14 raceways are utilized, and 2 of those utilize recirculated water from the other 4 raceways.

Why it is needed: The Apostle Islands waters of Wisconsin are unique in having three different user groups with demand on the indigenous fishery; tribal subsistence and commercial, non-native commercial, and sport. Quite simply, even with effective regulation by the WDNR, this puts a lot of pressure on the indigenous fish stocks. Since the 1980’s the WDNR has been able to help enhance and diversify the sport fishery by the planting of Brown Trout, Splake, and other species, sometimes with fair results, and sometimes with disappointing returns. To their credit the WDNR biologists and hatchery staff have worked to come up with ways to improve return on these fish. Recently they have discovered that holding fish to yearling size have drastically improved creel returns. An example: the average ten year annual creel census of Splake was a very poor 150 a year. By holding the Splake to yearling size, this was improved to 497 A MONTH! Keep in mind that many more than this were caught, but it gives an idea of the improved return.  Brown Trout have showed a similar improvement. The resulting improved sport fishery has started to shift sport fishing emphasis from solely the Lake Trout fishery to the opportunities provided by other species as well. Indeed, the Brown Trout fishery has become an unqualified success since this approach has been taken. With this has come an increase in the number of visiting sportsmen after a decline over the past decade, so the Wisconsin Lake Superior communities have started to economically benefit from this change.

This rebound has run into the brick wall of the limited water currently available at the Les Voight hatchery. While some help is provided by the outdoor Brule River facility, being outdoors in northern Wisconsin over the winter means the stocked fish average 15-17 a pound, as opposed to 5 a pound for Brown Trout raised year round in the Les Voigt hatchery, with a corresponding reduced rate of survival when released into Lake Superior. Restoring Les Voigt to full capacity would go far in encouraging increased sport fishing in Wisconsin’s Lake Superior waters, and diversifying the opportunities for Lake Superior sports fishermen.

In addition, the revitalized Les Voigt hatchery would serve an important biosecurity service of providing a separated cold water hatchery for Lake Michigan stocking initiatives, as well as interior cold water fish stocking initiatives. As a single disease outbreak can close a hatchery quite quickly, having another bio-secure cold water facility gives further protection from problems.

To drill a new well, estimates are in the $400,000 range. To transition the hatchery to an RAS system would be substantially more, but with the rising cost and demand of water would be the long term solution if it can be afforded. Whichever way would be chosen, it would benefit the Wisconsin Lake Superior shore economy by increasing sport fishing visits, would help provide a diverse dynamic sport fishery in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior, and provide the WDNR hatchery system with an alternative bio-secure and bio-separated cold water facility to the Lake Michigan ones in case of emergency closure.

The following organizations endorse this action.

Apostle Island Sport Fishermen’s Association

Western Lake Superior Trolling Association

Saxon Harbor Boat Club

Douglas County Fish and Game League

North Wisconsin Rod and Gun Club

 

 

 

 

 

April 28, 2016 At the AISA membership meeting last night, after guest speaker George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation’s presentation on their organization, a motion was made by member Pat Quaintance, and seconded by Vice-President Scott Bretting that the Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association petition to join the Federation. The vote passed unanimously. In addition all officers and Board Members present were reelected to their positions. We would also like to congratulate and welcome Rob Kemkes and Darryl Fenner to the AISA Board.

 

March 11, 2016  AISA current stance regarding a Lake Superior National Marine Reserve

Many of you have heard about the effort to make the Apostle Islands a National Marine Reserve. And the AISA has been asked if we support this. At this time the AISA has not taken a position because of several concerns that have not been adequately answered. The creation of a National Marine Reserve for the Apostle Islands could very well upset the applecart in terms of fisheries management.Currently the WDNR and the Red Cliff and Bad River bands of Ojibwa co-manage the Apostle Islands fishery. While not perfect, they have been able to do it successfully for the last 30+ years. Introducing another authority into the mix, especially one that has its own agenda, could destroy the current balance that has been established between the Ojibwa Bands and the State of Wisconsin. Federal Departments such as the National Park Service have taken positions here and in other areas in the past in regards to the stocking of non native species such as Brown and Rainbow Trout, Splake, and others. These species are an important part of the sport fishery of the Apostle Islands. Before supporting a NMS for the Apostle Islands, AISA would need to know that NOAA would refrain from interfering with the current fisheries management system for the Apostle Islands. UPDATE: We have been in contact with Ellen Brody, NOAA Great Lakes Coordinator for Sanctuaries, and have been assured that wording can be put into the memorandum with the State that would protect our rights as they stand now. We will continue to monitor this as it develops. Update: After discussions with Ellen Brody, as well as reviewing the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Michigan, it is felt that there are safeguards in the system to protect the current State/Tribal management of the fishery, as such, the AISA has no objection to a development of a marien sanctuary in the Apostle Islands.

March 8 2016

Between February 23 and 25, I had the opportunity to call on members offices of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to discuss Great Lakes related issues as part of the Congressional Great Lakes Day. I will do a complete report on our club website next week, but here is a short recap. My goal was to get support from legislators in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota to restore $1.6 million dollars annually in Sea Lamprey control funds that had been diverted away from the Great Lakes last year. Also to get support for a bill co-authored by Michigan Congressman Dan Benishek to permanently fund the Great Lakes Science Center, which provides support for the USFWS, USGS, and other departments to do research on the Great Lakes. The Kiyi, based out of Ashland, is part of this. Also to restore funding for the Great Lakes Recovery Initiative. I also had the opportunity to discuss pending legislation protecting sport and commercial fishing that could have an impact on the Great Lakes (HR 3310). I am glad to say both Wisconsin Senators, and all Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan Congressmen and offices I talked to were strongly supportive, including Congressmen Duffy, Benishek, and Nolan, as well as all the Wisconsin Lake Michigan congressional offices I talked to. When it comes to the Great Lakes, bipartisanship is alive and well.

While these might seem to have little local effect on the Apostle Islands, they in fact do. Lamprey control is the single most important thing to ensure a healthy fishery. At current funding levels, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission cannot do all that needs to be done in terms of Lamprey control.  The Great Lakes Science Center bill will ensure that the research needed to keep the Great Lakes healthy continues. And The GLRI funding will ensure that areas of concern on the Great Lakes are addressed and fixed. HR3310 will make it mandatory that the Federal Government and state DNR’s agree before any move to close a fishery to commercial or sport fishing happens.
Al House

 

 

Below is the bulk of the text of a letter the AISA Board sent to the WDNR in regards to the recent WDNR /Tribal negotiations.

Good Day, The purpose of this letter is to inform the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of concerns of the membership of the Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association in regards to the Apostle Islands (WI-2) fishery and the upcoming negotiated Tribal Agreement.

  1. We respect and understand the importance of honoring treaty rights between the State of Wisconsin and the Red Cliff and Bad River Tribes.
  2. It is clear that what is really under negotiation is the survival of a renewable fishery resource in the Apostle Islands. The fishery cannot survive the current demands along with the inadequate enforcement that is leading to depletion of the Lake Trout, Herring, and even the Whitefish stocks in WI-2.
  3. The long term health of the Apostle Islands fishery, and by extension, the whole Lake Superior Fishery, needs to be the first priority of all parties. As the current herring problem in Minnesota demonstrates, the Apostle Islands acts as a spawning ground and fish nursery area for all of western Lake Superior. Long term damage to this area, damages the whole Lake.

With those thoughts in mind, we wish to address several key issues that we feel need to be resolved in negotiations.

  1. The importance of the current system of refuges to the health of the fishery.

Aesop’s fable about choking the goose that laid the golden egg had it right. For thirty five –plus years these refuges have led to the restoration of the Apostle Islands Fishery. Without these refuges Lake Trout and other species as well would not have the sanctuary they need to reproduce and propagate the Apostle Islands with new generations of catchable fish. The refuges must be retained, and in some cases, should be expanded. Failure to do so will guarantee continued reduced catches of all species by Tribal, non-tribal commercial, and sport fishermen.

  1. The importance of instituting herring and whitefish quotas before it is too late.

As the Lake Trout/Lamprey/over fishing era of the 1950’s taught us, once a resource is destroyed, it takes generations to rebuild it. Short term decisions make for a short term future. Controls and limits on the two most valuable species of prey fish need to be implemented.  The idea is to harvest what the Lake can sustain. It is AISA’s opinion that in WI-2, we are pushing the upper limits of sustainability or have passed them, in regards to these two species. In addition, as herring go, so Lake Trout go. You take too many of one, it affects the population of the other in a negative fashion. Conservative sustainable quotas of both species needs to be a priority of all parties.

  1. The need and benefit for adequate net free sport fishing areas.

The economic impact of sport fishing is far larger than any other use of the fishery. Under the 2016 Emergency Lake Trout rules, the sport fishermen will be restricted to 18% of the total Lake Trout harvest, yet even this limited amount continues to draw sportsmen from all over the Midwest. No other use of this resource returns the benefit to the local hotels, restaurants and casinos that sport fishing does in attracting visitors to our area. It is that simple.

The net free sport fishing areas that we feel are most important are the South Channel area extending to the Gull Island Refuge Western Border, the Hagen’s beach seasonal restriction area stretching East from Grants Point to Big Bay and due east to the Western Border of the Gull Island Refuge. An additional area we feel strongly should be net free is the area due north of the Gull Island Refuge, and due East of Outer Island. This is an extremely popular area for catch and release of trophy Lake Trout, which are also strong spawning individuals.

The Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association has taken the lead in working with the GLIFWC Wardens and Wisconsin Sea Grant to educate sport fishermen in regards to safely fishing around nets. But the best advice is still; avoid them. Further restricting areas that are net free will lead to a further decline in tourist visits to this area, rather than an increase which would benefit all the party’s economies.

It is our understanding that previous negotiations have surrendered part of the State authorized Lake Trout take in return for the creation of net free sport fishing areas. Although we would prefer to keep the net free areas, any reduction of those net free areas in the current treaty should be accompanied by a return of a commensurate portion of that same Lake Trout take to be added to the State portion of the quota and in turn added to the sport fishing Lake Trout quota as recompense for the loss of those areas. Surrendering a portion of the State Quota of Lake Trout needs to have something given in return, otherwise we would prefer to have the extra fish.

  1. The need for effective enforcement and punishment of offenders by all parties to this agreement.

To put it simply, enforcement of Tribal,  sport and non-tribal commercial, regulations leaves much to be desired, and individuals in all three of the above groups have been observed to take advantage of it, to the detriment of the resource. Any standards or quotas set by these negotiations are useless however, unless all parties have   the will to enforce their regulations with effective enforcement and proper punishment of the offenders. No one thing could benefit the Lake Superior Fishery more than this. The laws are on the books, whether they be Tribal, Sport or non-native commercial. They need to be effectively enforced. To assist in that effort, the AISA strongly supports cross- jurisdictional-deputizing of all State, Tribal, and GLIFWC Wardens in the Lake Superior waters of Wisconsin to allow all of them to equally enforce both State and Tribal regulations. In order to increase the effective manpower on the water to protect the fishery.

  1. The most important request AISA has is that non indigenous sport species, such as the Brown Trout and the Coho Salmon never be allowed to become commercially sold species by either tribal or non-tribal commercial netters. Such an action would effectively spell the end of sport fishing in the Apostle Islands, and lead to long term un-resolvable conflict between the Tribal, Commercial, and the Sport, Fishermen.
  2. As far as the Lake Superior Fishery it is far too important an issue to be lumped in with other Tribal /State issues in a give and take manner. We ask that the Lake Superior Fishery Agreement be negotiated to stand alone without links or agreements in regards to other issues.

Like it or not, it is clear to the Sport Fishing Community that the limits of harvestable fishery resources in WI-2 have been reached. It should no longer be approached with the idea of how to catch more, but with how to use more effectively the harvest level we currently have. It is hoped that all parties in the negotiations will agree on what is necessary for the long term protection and sustainability of the Apostle Island Fishery Resource.

 

 

 

December 2015 Board Meeting

Due to increased demands of his job position, Jim Scott has decided to step down from the position of President. The Board wishes to thank Jim for his leadership and contribution to the club over the last two years. He has steered us through some challenging times. We look forward to Jim’s continuing contributions as a member! Also Tom Hick’s Jr decided to step down as Vice-President due to the travel and work demands of running his own business. Tom as well was a valuable member of AISA’s leadership team, and continues to be a valuable member of AISA. Thank you gentlemen!

The Board also voted to support HR 3310, a bill before Congress guaranteeing access to public waters for Sport and Commercial Fishing.

The Board of Directors has recently approved the creation of a new Tournament by the Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association

Called the COHO MADNESS tournament. It will be held the weekend of  September 16 to 18, 2016. It will focus on non Lake Trout sport fishing species available in the Apostle Islands and Chequamegon Bay. We will be offering cash and merchandise prizes in many award categories, as well as raffle drawings.  Check back to the website in 2106 for more details.

APOSTLE ISLANDS SPORT FISHERMAN’S ASSOCIATION PARTNERS TO APPLY FOR NOAA MARINE DEBRIS GRANT

As part of AISA’s ongoing efforts to reduce derelict net damage in the Apostle Islands, we have partnered with Wisconsin Sea Grant, GLIFWC Wardens, and Superior sport fishing clubs from Superior to Marquette to apply for funding to initiate a program to quickly and effectively remove these nets from Lake Superior’s waters. This is as a follow on to our efforts last year that included the making of the Ghost Net Safety video linked on our home page. We will keep you informed of the status of this application.

Seeforellen Brown Trout

The Apostle Island Sport Fishermen’s Association recently wrote a letter to WDNR officials and State Legislators asking that the WDNR take steps to establish a Seeforellen Brown Brood Stock population based out of the Bayfield Hatchery. The Seeforellen program over the last ten years has been an unqualified success in providing a first class sport fish in the Apostle Islands area, with specimens up to 24 pounds being caught.
With the Quagga mussel induced deterioration of the Lake Michigan food web, the guarantee of having Lake Michigan procured eggs to continue the program in the future is in doubt. The AISA believes the WDNR should take the proactive step of diversifying their egg source and establishing a Seeforellen strain specific to Lake Superior. If you agree, please tell your State Legislator and State Senator you support this.

 

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