Four seminars starting April 2 explore the impact of lakes on our lives. The “Dip into Lakes” seminars will explain how fish and aquatic plants survive, how laws and property taxes have changed over time, and how water moves through the landscape. Fond du Lac County and UW-Extension sponsor the series of free programs on the UW-Fond du Lac campus. The first seminar is on Monday evening, April 2, from 6:30-8:30. It discusses how lakes change with age and illustrates the transformation of Lake Winnebago in particular. Later seminars discuss legal issues and economic impact of water (April 16); the benefits and drawback of aquatic plants (April 30); and challenges to the health of Lake Winnebago and the fish population (May 14). All “Dip into Lakes” seminars take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Mondays at UW-Fond du Lac in Rooms LGI 113/114. (For campus maps, visit http://www.fdl.uwc.edu/campus_map.html.) People can attend one seminar or all four, depending on their schedule and interest. Registration is preferred but not required. Call (920) 929-3173 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
THE CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY SWING BRIDGE AT MILE 55.72 OVER THE FOX RIVER AT OSHKOSH, WILL BE REPLACED WITH A SINGLE LEAF BASCULE BRIDGE. CONTRACTORS WILL BUILD NEW PIERS IN THE RIVER UTILIZING: COFFERDAMS, FALSE WORK, AND CONSTRUCTION BARGES. FROM APRIL 1 TO DECEMBER 31 ONE HALF OF THE NAVIGATION CHANNEL WILL REMAIN OPEN TO VESSELS. FROM JANUARY 1 THROUGH MARCH 31 THE CONTRACTOR IS AUTHORIZED TO HAVE EQUIPMENT IN BOTH SIDES OF THE CHANNEL. MARINERS ARE REQUESTED TO TRANSIT THE
AREA WITH CAUTION AT A SLOW NO WAKE SPEED.
“It’s just pushing everything forward, the walleyes are spawning early and the sturgeon are anticipated to come much earlier than we have ever seen them before,” said DNR warden supervisor Carl Mesman.
Sturgeon in the Lake Winnebago system are making their annual trek up the Wolf River. It usually happens in mid-April, but thanks to ideal water temperatures, male sturgeon can already be seen cruising the rocky shoreline in New London. Even if the fish aren’t biting, people like Marilene More say coming down here to the river to see the sturgeon jump, makes it a pretty good day.
“They’re out here just rolling like crazy, if you stay here long enough you can see them, huge, just huge,” she said.
The early spawn also means the DNR is looking for volunteers earlier than usual. The DNR’s website has a signup page for sturgeon guards. The guards help protect the spawning sturgeon from poachers. Guards also provide information for the curious, who want to see the giant fish.
“If we didn’t have the sturgeon guards it would be very difficult for us to adequately cover the multiple sites,” said Mesman.
Mesman says sturgeon guards aren’t normally needed until around April 15. He says the early spawn has the DNR concerned about getting enough volunteers by the weekend.
“Concerned yes, but I think we will have enough and for the sites we don’t have guards for we will have rovers and warden rovers,” Mesman said.
“It’s amazing, it’s absolutely amazing, just not used to seeing fish that big, it’s amazing,” said More.
The Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office assisted an alleged drunken boater Saturday night after wind blew his boat away from shore.
It was the second time in about two years the 33-year-old Fond du Lac man was allegedly intoxicated while floating on Lake Winnebago.
At about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, a resident of Sandy Beach Road reported a boat about a mile from shore. The caller said the boat appeared tipped over and the male operator was trying to signal people with a light, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office.
A deputy responded to the scene and the Fond du Lac Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol and Rescue was dispatched.
The man told deputies that wind pushed him from the shore and he was trying to row back, according to the release.
The man’s craft was a smaller rowboat with an improvised sail.
Chief Deputy Mark Strand said the man was not on probation and faces no charges.
On April 2, 2010, deputies responded to a report of the same man stranded in a boat.
He told police in 2010 that he put his sail down because it was too windy. The deputies noticed the man had trouble standing and was slurring his speech, Strand said in 2010. The man allegedly admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking. He registered a preliminary breath test of .186 percent, said Strand.
Due to a pending case, he was charged and convicted of bail jumping in the 2010 incident.
Circuit Court Judge Dale English on Aug. 9, 2011, sentenced the man to 60 days in jail on one count of misdemeanor bail jumping, according to online court records.
Less than ideal ice conditions kept many off Lake Winnebago this winter and the result was less trash and debris left behind.
That adds up to a plus for the environment.
“We won’t have any of that trash getting settled into the bottom of the lake or floating on top of the lake,” said Jason Higgins, a conservation warden for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Oshkosh.
He said ice conditions kept many fishermen off the lake, but also those who go out just out to party and are the primary source of left-behind trash.
“The vast majority of fishermen and sturgeon spearers pick up their garbage because they appreciate the resources that are out there,” he said. “It’s people who come out to party on the ice to have a good time and build bonfires that leave trash or litter behind.”
He said the lack of snow also made trash and debris on the ice more visible and a lot of it got picked up. Higgins said some shoreline landowners have taken it upon themselves to go out onto the ice to pick up trash and debris left behind.
Ice thickness on Lake Winnebago varied in most places from 10 to 16 inches in general, which is less than in a normal winter.
The 16-day sturgeon spearing season, which ended on Feb. 26, was impacted by ice conditions and other factors this year.
Ron Bruch, a sturgeon biologist for the DNR in Oshkosh, said this year ranked as one of the 20 worst sturgeon spearing seasons on record. A total of 324 fish were speared in Lake Winnebago this season and 242 were speared in the upriver pool lakes.
The DNR attributed this year’s low number on Lake Winnebago to marginal water clarity, marginal ice, poor travel conditions on the lake and a poor shad hatch that likely kept sturgeon on worm beds in deep water.
OSHKOSH, WI, USA–36 vehicles broke through the ice on Lake Winnebago, during an ice fishing contest – setting the world record for the Most vehicles to break through ice according to World Records Academy: www.worldrecordsacademy.org/.
The Guinness world record for the most vehicles to run over the stomach was 9 achieved by Tom Owen (USA) on the set of Lo Show Dei Record, in Milan, Italy.
Guinness World Records also recognized the world record for the largest ever ice fishing competition, which took place on Lake Ponnenjärvi, Töysä, Finland with 26,462 participants.
Organizers of the Battle on the Bago, an annual ice fishing competition on Lake Winnebago, said participants were warned against parking on the ice, but some did it anyway because they could not find anywhere else to leave their vehicles, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Winnebago County sheriff’s officials say the vehicles were parked too close together and collectively were too heavy for the ice at the Battle on Bago tournament. Some vehicles were submerged, others were partially submerged.
The ice was roughly one-foot (91cm) thick where the cars broke through on Saturday. Authorities had warned competitors about the dangers of parking on the lake.
Mild temperatures led to numerous vehicles to fall through the ice and into the water, because the 12 inches of ice couldn’t hold up the weight of them parked side-by-side.
Tournament organizers had tried to discourage parking on the ice, but the large turnout left many people opting for a spot on the frozen lake near shore.
“It was a surprise that many people chose to park there but not a surprise what happened,” Art Dumke, a tournament co-organizer, told FOX 11 in Green Bay.
Luckily for their owners, the water was not too deep where the cars went through the ice and they were able to be towed out, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The water was shallow where the cars fell through and they were removed with two trucks.
The sheriff’s department said four vehicles were submerged more than half way while 18 went partially under the water and 14 others only sank to the tops of their wheels.
Some fishermen might need to use any money they won to buy a new car. Officials say several appeared to be totaled.
“When you park that many cars on that thin of ice, it’s going to be a party wrecker,” said Dumke.
“The ice conditions we’ve seen so far on the Great Lakes have been remarkably unpredictable,” said Capt. Steve Torpey, chief of response for the 9th Coast Guard District.
“The relatively warm weather has made for some particularly treacherous situations, and we were very lucky there were no human tragedies in either of these incidents.”
The Coast Guard wants to remind the public to make a serious investment and commitment to ice safety on the Great Lakes, since varying levels of ice thickness are common on the Great Lakes.
If people do choose to go on to the ice, however, they should remember the acronym I.C.E. — Intelligence, Clothing, Equipment.
Intelligence: know the weather and ice conditions, know where you’re going, and know how to call for help Clothing: have proper clothing to prevent hypothermia; dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature Equipment: have proper equipment: marine radio, life jackets, screw drivers/ice picks, etc.