Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) is a deadly fish virus and invasive species that is threatening the current and future health of fish in Wisconsin.

VHS has been found in European freshwater trout since the 1930s and was first discovered in Great Lakes freshwater fish in 2005. It has caused massive fish die offs in Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake St. Claire, and the St. Lawrence River.

In Wisconsin, VHS was first detected in the Lake Michigan and Lake Winnebago systems in May 2007. In December 2009, lake herring collected from Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands tested positive for the VHS virus.

Scientists are not exactly sure how VHS arrived, although it appears the virus may have entered the Great Lakes through ballast water introductions, brought in frozen Pacific herring to be used as fishing bait, and by migrating fish from the Atlantic Coast. The virus can spread when infected fish discharge urine or reproductive fluids, and when healthy fish consume infected fish. In addition, the virus can survive in water for at least 14 days; increasing the probability of infecting more fish.

Symptoms of VHS include hemorrhaging (bleeding), bulging eyes, bloated abdomens, anemia, pale organs, unusual bleeding found in muscle tissue and internal organs, unusual behavior, rapidly deteriorating health, and death, although some infected fish may not show any symptoms at all. Fish that survive a VHS infection will develop antibodies to the virus, temporarily protecting it from future outbreaks.

VHS is one of the most serious fish pathogens because of its ability to kill in mass quantities, it affects a variety of fish species, and isn’t treatable. It is not a health threat to people who handle or consume their catch, but can have devastating effects to at least 28 fish species, including 19 sportfish!

Fish species that can be affected by VHS include black crappie, bluegill, bluntnose minnow, brown bullhead, brown trout, burbot, channel catfish, Chinook salmon, emerald shiner, freshwater drum, gizzard shad, lake whitefish, largemouth bass, muskellunge, shorthead redhorse, northern pike, pumpkinseed, rainbow trout, rock bass, round goby, silver redhorse, smallmouth bass, spottail shiner, trout-perch, walleye, white bass, white perch, and yellow perch.

Fish species have highly variable levels of susceptibility to VHS. Current research suggests that muskellunge are the most susceptible to death after coming in contact with VHS, followed by largemouth bass, yellow perch, rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, coho salmon, and Chinook salmon. Characteristically, cold water fish can tolerate higher doses of the VHS virus than warm water fish.

Like all aquatic invasive species in the Lake Superior basin, VHS is a serious threat to the waters of Wisconsin. A virus that is easily spread from fish to fish, doesn’t have a cure, attacks the immune system of fish with little to no resistance against the virus, and possesses the ability to harm at least 28 fish species is a deadly combination, literally.

Wisconsin boasts some of the most protective rules to prevent the spread of VHS and other aquatic invasive species among all of the Great Lakes states. We all need to follow the rules to ensure the spread of VHS is contained now and in the future.

Take these steps to ensure that your actions are not part of the problem, but the solution!
• Inspect your boat, trailer, and equipment.
• Remove any attached aquatic plants or animals.
• Drain all water from boats, motors, and equipment.
• Never move live fish away from a waterbody.
• Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
• Buy minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer.
• You must drain all water from your boat and equipment when leaving any state water except: you can take up to 2 gallons of water needed to hold live minnows that can be legally transported as outlined below.
• You may not leave a water with any live fish, or fish eggs except:
• You can take live minnows bought from a Wisconsin bait dealer and left over after a fishing trip away from any state water and use them:
1) again on that same water, or
2) on other waters but only if no lake or river water, or other fish were added to the container.

This piece was written by Scott Caven, the aquatic invasive species (AIS) coordinator for the Ashland County Land and Water Conservation Department. For more information, please contact him at (715) 682-7187 or ais.ashlandlwcd@centurytel.net.

Lake News: Watch For The Alien Invader, VHS.



A four-wheeler went through the ice on Lake Winnebago shortly before 2 a.m. Friday directly out from the Fond du Lac Yacht Club.The 62-year old driver was unhurt and able to walk back to shore, according to the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s log.

via Fond du Lac news briefs: Accidents; ATV crashes; | Fond du Lac Reporter | fdlreporter.com.



Alcohol use and speed are “possible” factors in a fatal collision Sunday night between a snowmobile and an ATV on the Fond du Lac River, officials say.

Mark Plonsky, 44, of Fond du Lac, was killed in the head-on crash, according to the Fond du Lac County Medical Examiner’s office.

Alcohol, excessive speed and operating the vehicles at night are possible factors in the crash, said Jeremy Cords, recreational conservation warden in Green Bay.

The crash occurred at 6 p.m. on the Fond du Lac River between Sibley Street and West Arndt Street, according to the DNR.

Plonsky and another man were riding snowmobiles northbound on the river when Plonsky and a 34-year-old ATV driver collided head-on, ejecting both men from the vehicles, said Cords.

“The second snowmobile continued northbound onto Lake Winnebago until he realized his partner was not with him,” Cords said.

Plonsky was pronounced dead at St. Agnes Hospital about 9:55 p.m. Sunday, according to the ME’s office.

Firefighters used an ATV to remove one person from the ice to an ambulance, according to the Fond du Lac Fire Department.

The 34-year-old was injured and transported to St. Agnes Hospital.

Cords declined to release the ATV operator’s name because the crash is under investigation.

DNR Wardens Alan Erickson and Kyle Kosin are investigating the crash.

Cords said he did not know if both men were wearing helmets or using headlights.

“Operating a vehicle after drinking greatly reduces your ability to make decisions and react to situations like this (Sunday’s crash),” Cords said. “Your distance judgment is altered. You might even get confused as to which hand is the throttle and which is the brake.”

Cords added that operating an ATV or snowmobile at night is dangerous.

“If you are operating faster than 45 mph, we determined you are pretty much overriding your headlights,” Cords said. “You can’t see, read or react to make a stop.”

Lake News: Fond du Lac man killed in ATV crash on river.



We will not go as far as to black out the content on our site today.  But we urge you to read up on SOPA and PIPA legislation in congress as it would allow aggregate news sites like Boating Winnebago to be shut down by the federal government.  Why?  Because we collect and present local news stories from outside sources specific to our boating hobby on Lake Winnebago from around the area and present them to you in a single webpage.  Credit is always given to the original publication with a link at the bottom of the article.

Yes…that’s right.  Simple little old BoatingWinnebago.com could be confiscated and shut down by these pending laws.  Even though we don’t make a dime, nor have we ever made a dime from the site.  In fact, the owners lose money on this site every year in promotional fees, web hosting fees, and time to maintain and keep it up to date.

It could stop you, the users of the forums from re-posting story’s, pictures, video’s, and other content in the forums for others to see and utilize for their own personal use.  It could also force the owners of BoatingWinnebago.com to comply with IP and user information requests for any user that does so!

Please take a moment to read up on these bills that would cripple the internet as it is today.  Click below for more information:

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.




Below is video taken of Lake Winnebago on Jan 16, 2012. It illustrates just how much open water there is and how dangerous it is out there if the wind should pick up or shift causing even seemingly safe ice to move or shift.

Online Extra: Aerials over Lake Winnebago: fox11online.com



An all-terrain vehicle plunged into Lake Winnebago on Saturday, another reminder to stay off thin ice, says the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mark Strand.

At about 6:45 p.m., Sheriff’s Office Deputy James Borgen arrived on the West Shore of Lake Winnebago near the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and Kinker Road. He found a group of ATV riders were accounted for, but one person had to abandon an ATV when it broke through the ice, Strand said.

“Borgen told them to wait until daylight before heading back out onto the lake,” Strand said. “He also gave them the number of a recovery company that goes and retrieves those sorts of things.”

A snowstorm placed a four-inch blanket of snow on Lake Winnebago last week and with sunny, 37-degree weather on Monday, the lake is far from safe, Strand said.

“It hasn’t been cold enough yet (to make the lake safer),” Strand said. “On top of that, the snow makes it more difficult to form ice. … (The ATV enthusiasts) were in four-wheelers, not cars, and they were having problems with that.”

Strand suggests checking with area fishing clubs to find out how thick the ice is.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures to remain below freezing until the weekend with a possibility of snow today and Friday.

Lake News: ATV goes through ice on Lake Winnebago.



When: 2-5 PM Saturday Jan. 21, 2012

Where: Becket’s – 2 Jackson St.  (City Center,) Oshkosh, WI

Every year for the past 5-6 years boaters have been getting together for a simple, informal holiday cheer party at one of our favorite boating destinations.  This year is no exception.

There will be no fancy dress, no elaborate gift exchange, no ugly sweaters.  Just a bunch of depressed boaters enjoying good conversation, libations and laughter celebrating the past boating season.

BoatingWinnebago.com will be providing a $150 open bar at the beginning of the get together.  After that, we’ll take donations or just go with a cash bar.

Everyone is welcome (encouraged,) to stop by and meet everyone else.  It’s always nice to put a face to the users here in the forums.

Hope to see you there!

Corey Mielke – Webmaster



MADISON – Following three drownings in three days, state recreational safety specialists are again cautioning that ice on many waterways is not thick enough to support a human — much less any vehicle.

Conservation Warden Todd Schaller, recreation safety chief for the Department of Natural Resources, says the ice is always unpredictable, but mild weather has resulted in ice levels much thinner than normal for this time of year.

A car with two occupants broke through thin ice on the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir near Mosinee on Saturday. One occupant was able to exit the vehicle and make it out of the water, but another drowned.

Early Sunday a man walking on thin ice on the Fox River in Oshkosh broke through. His body was recovered Monday.

On Monday, a rural Warren man drowned after falling through the ice on a private pond in Monroe County. The man was riding a rough-terrain vehicle when the accident happened.

Two other people fell through thin ice in December, bringing to five the number of people who have died in such incidents this winter: An ice angler broke through thin ice on High Fall Flowage in Marinette County and drowned, and a teenager broke through the ice of on a quarry near Oshkosh and drowned.

Temperatures that have reached into the 50s in southern Wisconsin in the last week have continued to slow ice formation and even helped melt ice that had already formed, said Schaller.

Conditions vary throughout the state with some of Wisconsin larger lakes like Lake Winnebago and Lake Mendota still having open water. Many river systems also remain open.

“It is important that ice fishers use caution if conditions in their area allow them to venture out,” Schaller said. “If ice thickness is unknown, stay on the shore and stay dry. The ice fishing season will be here soon.”

Schaller says people should use this time to brush on some ice safety precautions. Review these with others who enjoy the outdoors – especially any children. Ice poses dangers on ponds, lakes and rivers.

Before you go:

–Contact local sport shops or bait dealers to ask about ice conditions on the lake or river you want to fish.

–Learn about the water you are going to use. Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents known to thin the ice.

When you go:

–Do not go alone. If you do, carry a cell phone and let someone know where you are and your expected return time. Follow that timeline.

–Carry a spud bar to check the ice while walking to new areas during daylight only.

–Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself – or others – out of the ice.

–Do not travel in unfamiliar territories at night.

Watch out for this:

–Look for clear ice. Clear ice is generally stronger than ice with air bubbles in it or with snow on it.

–Watch out for pressure ridges or ice heaves. These can be dangerous due to thin ice and open water and may be an obstruction you may hit with a car, truck or snowmobile.

Lake News: Three days, three drownings has WDNR warning about thin ice.



The Boat Yard Bar and Grill is no more.

Long live the Boat Yard!

The community had high hopes for the Boat Yard, 425 Nebraska St., when it received a coveted liquor license in July 2008 and then opened in spring 2009 complete with docks and an outdoor patio big enough for a great party, demonstrated time and time again by the concerts and events held out there regularly.

It was a converted industrial building. It was on the river and helped kick-start the community’s effort to refocus on snagging boater traffic between the upriver lakes and Lake Winnebago. And it was one of the few bright spots in the slow turnaround happening in the South Shore Redevelopment Area.

Unfortunately, look at the Google reviews and you’ll probably see some of what did in the Boat Yard: One-star reviews outnumber the five-star reviews 7-2 and there is no in-between. It appears people either loved or hated the service and the food.

And while the Boat Yard has shut down, the space will not stay dark for long. In fact, some heavy hitters in Oshkosh are stepping in to renovate the decor, the menu and the name before reopening in early February.

The Supple Restaurant Group has partnered with Boat Yard owner Jason Lindemann to re-open as the Dockside Tavern, Food and Spirits after the decor is stripped down and refocused on the original nautical theme the Boat Yard went with when it opened.

Jay Supple said the Dockside will refocus on the site’s natural assets — docks, the great patio, the bar designed to look like a Chris-Craft boat, etc.–and develop a menu that’s more in line with waterfront taverns boaters in the region may be more familiar with. It seems part of the challenge the Boat Yard may have faced was developing a menu that was too big for its kitchen. Supple said a slimmed-down menu that focuses on burgers, sandwiches, daily fish frys and some dinner items should resolve some of the issues with prep time and delays that dogged the Boat Yard.

“It definitely has the components to work and now we just have to make it work,” Supple said. “We think boaters will love the feel of the Dockside once it re-opens.”

via blogs03 | The Oshkosh Northwestern | thenorthwestern.com.



The Green Bay Packers organization is bracing for the worst as police plan Tuesday to release the identity of a man whose body was pulled from the Fox River Monday. The victim is believed to be the son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.

Michael T. Philbin, 21, disappeared early Sunday morning after visiting with friends at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department had been searching the Fox River since Sunday following a report that someone fell through the ice about 2:30 a.m. near Axletech at 1005 High Ave.

Divers found the body at 3 p.m. Monday, about 30 yards from shore. Police spokesman Joe Nichols said authorities have identified the body, described as a 20- to 25-year old man, but were withholding the information pending notification of the family. Nichols said foul play is not suspected, but the matter remains under investigation.

Michael Philbin, a 21-year-old student at Ripon College, was reported missing at 8:15 p.m. Sunday. Police said he was last heard from about 2 a.m. Sunday when he spoke with a friend on his cell phone.

News of Michael Philbin’s disappearance made for a difficult day in Green Bay, where the Packers are preparing for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field. The team canceled player availability on Monday.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Philbin family during this difficult time,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke in a somber tone during his regularly scheduled news conference, confirming that Joe Philbin was away from the team and in Oshkosh.

“The Philbin family’s obviously going through a tough time right now, and as we always have, we’re a family-first philosophy with our organization, with our program,” McCarthy said. “So we’re supporting Joe and his family the best we can, and we’re holding out hope that this comes to a positive conclusion.”

Players, who were not made available to reporters, took to Twitter to post supportive messages.

“As children we all have to someday say goodbye to our parents, but a parent should never have to say goodbye to their child,” said offensive lineman T.J. Lang, whose father, Thomas, died last week.

Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji wrote that “life is too short.”

“Live in the present,” Raji tweeted.

Joe Philbin has been with the Packers since 2003, and has been the team’s offensive coordinator since 2007. He interviewed for the Miami Dolphins’ vacant head coaching job last week.

Divers recover body from Fox River in Oshkosh | The Oshkosh Northwestern | thenorthwestern.com.



OSHKOSH–The search for a man in the Fox River goes from a rescue to a recovery mission. It happened on the Fox River near the end of Rockwell Avenue in Oshkosh.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s authorities tell us they got a call about a man who fell through the ice around 2:30 Sunday morning.

“It’s sad, but there’s a lot of people who fall through this water system each year,” Jeff Schaefer said who spent his Sunday watching the recovery mission.

Authorities still have not been able to identify the man because no one has been reported missing. While there’s still no sign of the man’s body, divers did find two holes in the ice.

“The holes that were in the ice were larger holes like the ice was broken,” Lt. Greg Cianciolo with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department said. “There were multiple holes in the ice. We don’t know why. The ice is in pretty bad shape so some of the holes could have been there naturally.”

Investigators don’t know why the victim would try to walk on thin ice.

“People need to realize with the warm weather we’ve been having the ice isn’t safe. They need to use good judgment and really stay off the ice,” Cianciolo said.

Divers called off their search Sunday night. They will continue again Monday morning.

via Divers Search for Man’s Body in Fox River – www.nbc26.com.




The Fox Valley will soon have two more dive teams responding to rescue calls.

Calumet County launched its dive team last fall, and Neenah-Menasha hopes to follow suit by late spring.

It should improve response times to the north and east ends of Lake Winnebago.

Showing off several pieces of equipment, Assistant Fire Chief Mike Sipin says 12 firefighters are now training to be a part of the Neenah-Menasha dive team.

Once it launches, it would respond to ice and water rescues covering the northern end of Lake Winnebago.

“Response time is a big factor with any type of a call. The quicker you can get resources to the scene, the better the chances are of having a positive outcome,” Sipin said.

Right now it’s the Oshkosh dive team that usually responds.

So far the department has raised about $74,000. It needs about $90,000 to start.

“If you take a look at the overall number of calls, any type of water calls, be it open water or … ice situations, those numbers have steadily risen over the years,” Sipin said.

On the east side of Lake Winnebago, Calumet County launched its dive team last October. For now, the training process continues and they’re hoping to raise more money to buy more gear.

Jason Ruebl | Calumet Co. Dive Team

“We had a call already. Fortunately it wasn’t a fatality. We actually didn’t end up finding anybody, or anything, but we just did a precautionary search for a possible individual,” Jason Ruebl of the Calumet County Dive Team said.

The effort here started three years ago after a tragedy on the ice took the life of a man and his young daughter at the height of sturgeon spearing season.

“We’re hoping that we never have another incident like that, but we’ve had a few and I’m sure there will be more, so we’d like to be prepared,” Ruebl said.

Lake News: Two New Dive Teams Prepare on Lake Winnebago.



A black Labrador retriever that wandered onto the thin ice of Lake Winnebago Sunday had the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office prepared for an all-out rescue.

Deputies used binoculars to monitor the young dog’s movements near Sandy Beach Road northeast of Fond du Lac .

Two other officers were prepared to haul the new Sheriff’s Amphibious Rescue Craft (SARC) to a nearby dock to initiate a rescue if the pet plunged into the icy water.

Eventually, the dog’s owner arrived at the scene and the animal came back to shore.

The dog had run away from its sitter.

Chief Deputy Mark Strand said the law enforcement response was warranted, citing people’s love for animals.

If deputies had not responded, onlookers gathered at about 2 p.m. may have ventured onto the thin ice to attempt a rescue.

“It could have turned into us rescuing the rescuers,” Strand said.

While a deputy rushed to the scene when the initial call came in, people on the command level discussed whether or not the airboat should be used.

“We were prepared for a rescue if the dog fell through the ice,” Strand said.

Lake News: Dog wanders onto thin Lake Winnebago ice.



Several Fond du Lac County waterways are listed on a new 2012 impaired waters list.

State water officials are seeking public comment on the new Department of Natural Resources listing that proposes adding 32 waterways because they exceed standards for pollutants and contaminants such as phosphorus and mercury.

The agency plans to add additional pollutants for 19 bodies of water already on the list. In 18 of those cases, phosphorus exceeded standards.

The DNR also has proposed removing 25 lakes, beaches and rivers from the list because water quality has improved and now meets federal standards.

Each water body is evaluated for several uses: fish and aquatic life, recreation and public health and welfare (fish consumption).

“The process of listing waters as impaired is a constantly evolving, changing process because the science and assessment methods are constantly evolving,” said Tim Asplund, acting chief of DNR’s water evaluation section. “Some of these waters may have been impaired for a long time, but we now have more clear parameters to make listing decisions, and in many cases, more information.”

The following Fond du Lac waterways are included on the list:

  • Anderson Creek, off of Lakeshore Drive in North Fond du Lac. 7.2 miles. Sediment, suspended solids, habitat degradation.
  • Campground Creek (Byron Creek), north of Oakfield. 8.9 miles. Degraded habitat, elevated water temperatures.
  • de Neveu Creek and east branch tributary, off Winnebago Drive near Lakeside Park, 11.88 miles, degraded habitat.
  • Fond du Lac River, three-mile-strip through the city of Fond du Lac, contaminated fish tissue, PCBs, metals, chronic aquatic toxicity.
  • Forest Lake, town of Auburn, mercury, contaminated fish tissue.
  • Kiefer Creek (Kummel Creek), town of Byron, 18 miles, sediment, suspended solids, degraded habitat.
  • Lake Winnebago, turbidity, contaminated fish tissues, mercury, PCBs.
  • Long Lake, town of Osceola, mercury contaminated fish tissue.
  • Mauthe Lake, town of Auburn, contaminated fish tissues.
  • Milwaukee River, 68 miles, near Campbellsport, Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest, PCBs, contaminated sediment.
  • Mosher Creek, off Lakeshore Drive in North Fond du Lac, degraded habitat.
  • Parsons Creek, 2.6 miles, town of Byron, phosphorus, degraded habitat.
  • Rock River, along with south and west branches, western Fond du Lac County, degraded habitat.
  • Seven Mile Creek, near Lamartine, degraded habitat.
  • Silver Creek, 19 miles, near Ripon, sediment, elevated water temperatures, degraded habitat.
  • Van Dyne Creek, one mile, near Van Dyne, degraded habitat.

Lake News: Fond du Lac lakes, streams included on DNR’s impaired waters list.