Boaters: Be aware of E15 fuel this summer

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) eliminated the blackout period on sale of E15 (15 percent ethanol) fuel during the summer months, permitting sale of the fuel year-round. The EPA previously banned E15 sales at pumps from June 1 to September 15 over concerns it contributed to smog on hot days.

As a result, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is advising boaters to be very cautious at the gas station to ensure they are not filling their boats with fuel that is bad (and illegal) for boat engines.

“Recreational boat owners need to be vigilant this summer when refueling their trailer boats at the gas station to ensure they do not accidentally fill with E15, often one of the lower-priced fuel options,” says BoatUS Government Affairs Manager David Kennedy. “The challenge when fueling is that the only mis-fueling warning you may see is a small orange label among the clutter of signage, prices and advertising on the pump. It is very easy to miss.”

Boaters have no love for ethanol in their gas. With E15 proven to damage boat engines and fuel systems, federal law prohibits using it in recreational boat engines and its use – accidental or not – voids many marine engine warranties.

A 2018 BoatUS survey reported that 83 percent of boat owners who had a choice would choose E0 (ethanol-free) fuel, if available. In the same survey, 49 percent of respondents were unaware federal law prohibits use of E15 fuel in marine engines and will void the warranty.

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Spring waterfowl survey shows good production

Spring surveys of Wisconsin’s waterfowl population indicate stable to increased numbers of the main species of breeding waterfowl and excellent wetland conditions, which should result in increased waterfowl production this year.

According to DNR wildlife biologists, the surveys indicated slightly fewer total birds than 2018 estimates, though essentially no change in mallard and wood duck population estimates and increases in blue-winged teal and Canada geese. Wisconsin continues to be at or above the long-term average for all but blue-winged teal.

“Each duck species population estimate normally varies from year to year, so I urge hunters and other conservationists to interpret this information over several years and in the continental context,” says DNR migratory bird ecologist Taylor Finger.

“For example, the blue-winged teal breeding population in Wisconsin is lower than historic levels, but continental estimates the last few years have reached all-time highs – and two-thirds of Wisconsin regular duck season blue-winged teal harvest comes from out of state.”

Population estimates for the three top breeding ducks in Wisconsin showed no significant change for mallards and wood ducks, but a 37 percent increase for blue-winged teal. The breeding pair numbers and habitat conditions are important to waterfowl hunters, as locally hatched ducks support roughly 70 percent of mallard harvest in Wisconsin.

This survey, along with the USFWS continental duck survey and Ontario Canada goose survey, provides information regarding yearly waterfowl breeding conditions used to determine Wisconsin’s fall season structure.

Wisconsin experienced a relatively wet and cold winter in 2018-19, which, combined with above-average precipitation in April and May, led to above-average wetland conditions throughout the state. Finger says considerable rainfall in May following the survey has helped Wisconsin remain at average or above average wetland conditions for the year during the important brood-rearing period.

Canada geese breeding in northern Ontario, as well as those breeding locally in Wisconsin, support Wisconsin’s Canada goose harvest. The Wisconsin breeding estimate for Canada geese is up slightly and consistent with a stable-to-increasing population over the past 10-15 years.

With earlier approval dates due to the new federal framework, the 2019 migratory bird season regulations are currently available online and at many license vendors throughout Wisconsin.

For more information, search “waterfowl management” on the DNR website.

Mussel survey reveals mixed trends

The first Wisconsin survey for native mussels in 40 years shows the clams facing mixed fortunes.

Mussel populations and diversity were highest in the St. Croix River, with 24 different species found at one site and high species diversity on the Manitowish, Chippewa and Peshtigo rivers.

“On the St. Croix River, the abundance and species richness was very impressive,” says DNR conservation biologist Jesse Weinzinger. “There were times when we would pull up 200 to 300 mussels and 12 or so species in our 15-minute timed surveys.”

Weinzinger says some sites on major waters in southern Wisconsin, however, including the Pecatonica and Rock rivers, are seeing very large declines.

“Stretches of the Pecatonica River where DNR surveys 15 years ago found four species listed as either threatened or endangered, now held none of those rare mussels and we found scores of dead mussel shells.”

Before the DNR surveyors ever hit the water to look for mussels, they reviewed historical mussel surveys dating between 1928 and 2015. While DNR, university and other researchers had conducted surveys on specific waters in recent years, this statewide survey was the first such effort since the 1970s.

Biologists have used survey information to identify and map 16 areas where they will conduct long-term monitoring and focus conservation efforts.

For more information, search “mussels” on the DNR website.


Happy Hooker (Pat): Quiet Lakes. Water temperatures are now in the 70s and musky anglers are turning a few fish, with many big fish follows, but no hook-ups. Mid-size lures and slower retrieves will offer the best results. The fish should become more active as the water temperatures rise. Walleye anglers are finding fish around vegetation in 7-12 feet, with live bait such as minnows, leeches and crawlers producing action. Early morning and late afternoon into dark are the best times. For northern pike, work weeds and weedlines out to about 12 feet – and do the same for largemouth bass. Both northern pike and largemouth bass are nearly always active during daylight hours. Crappie anglers are catching fish on tube jigs and with minnows under bobbers. Panfish anglers report success fishing leeches and leaf worms on small jigs around weeds out to 12 feet or so.

Minnow Jim’s (Jim): Nelson Lake. Weather fronts continually moving through the area make catching fish more difficult, so just relax, and go with the idea of fishing, not necessarily catching! For walleyes, fish deeper water in the dam area with leeches and fatheads under slip bobbers, or troll the river channel. For northern pike and largemouth bass, use buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, dressed spoons, surface plugs and plastics in and along weed beds. One angler just caught a 38.5-inch northern pike on a small tube jig while crappie fishing. You just never know! Crappie anglers are catching more fish in deeper water, which on Nelson Lake means 8-15 feet.

Jenk’s (Mike): Chippewa Flowage. Musky trolling season is here, with anglers catching some mid-40s fish. When temperatures hit the high 70s, troll deep river channels, points and cover with Mattlocks, Jakes and Grandmas. In evening and early morning, with surface temperatures in the lower 70s, throw bigger spinners and topwaters over shallow weeds. Walleyes are primarily active in early morning and late evening when water is in the lower 70s. Look for drop-offs and bar breaklines in 4-10 feet. Jumbo leeches are the most popular bait, followed by regular leeches and crawlers. During midday, if water temperatures hit the high 70s, troll deep divers over deep cover. Northern pike action is strong on spinnerbaits and Dardevles fished on shallow cover and weeds, bringing baits through the weeds. Smallmouth bass fishing slowed. Work stump and rock areas with spinners, frogs and imitation craws and crawlers on bobbers. Crappie action is primarily on bogs in the evening. During the day, fish deep weed humps, cribs and brush. Crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Crappie Scrubs and Gulp! baits work best.

Anglers All (Carolyn): Lake Superior/Chequamegon Bay. The water temperature is now in the 70s and as the temperatures rise, there are still fish in both the upper and bottom parts of the water column. Trollers continue to use stickbaits, spoons and Spin-N-Glows in shallower water. Smallmouth action is very good in Sand Cut, Oak Point and Brush Point, with some post-spawn fish moving all over the Bay to wherever they find structure. Anglers slowly fishing jigs/plastics, hair-jigs, crankbaits and live bait out to 10 feet report good success, catching some extremely nice smallmouth. Walleye anglers are catching fish, though action is spotty, with northern pike always available.

The Wolter Report (Max Wolter, DNR fisheries biologist, Hayward): Big fish eat little fish, and when a big fish eats little fish, the big fish gets a little bigger. This is the simplest description of a part of fisheries biology known as “bioenergetics.” Bioenergetics looks at the “energy budget” of a fish, often through computer modeling, to determine all the different inputs and losses of energy. By understanding this energy budget, we can understand how fish grow. Fish take in energy through consuming food, but they lose some of that energy through metabolism, the energy cost of moving, digesting, breathing and all other bodily functions. Some energy is also lost through waste (feces) because the digestion system in organisms is not perfectly efficient. When the energy a fish consumes is larger than the energy lost, the fish grows by adding the surplus energy as body mass. In animals, gaining weight is usually a good strategy to survive and pass on genes. (Humans are probably the only species that has made an effort to flip the bioenergetics equation to lose weight.) Fish are cold-blooded and the environmental temperature dictates the efficiency of many of their bodily functions, which greatly complicates the bioenergetics. As a result, different fish are bioenergetically “tuned” to different temperatures in which their body functions operate more efficiently. This is one of the driving forces behind fish labeled “warm-water,” “cool-water,” or “cold-water” species.

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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