CRIVITZ – The start of the sport fishing season is just hours away, and more than 300,000 anglers who have their license are getting ready for opening day.
Ice continues to cover a lot of lakes in the Northwoods, but closer to the Green Bay area the waters have opened up just in time.
At the High Falls Reservoir west of Crivitz, the owner of Popp’s Resort says the ice is finally on its way out.
“We’ve been struggling to get our boats in, but we managed to get a few in. Now we’re ready for that. We got some pontoons, and we got some regular small fishing boats,” said Leon Popp, Popp’s Resort owner.
Leon Popp says rooms are available.
“We aren’t full by no means. We’ve got quite a few fellows that are coming in fishing, people have been holding back because they’re afraid the ice isn’t going to be out,” said Popp.
Just east of Crivitz, the ice is starting to give up.
“Lake Noquebay opened up completely in the last couple days. So that body of water is fishable, for whatever you want to do,” said Frank Harth, Hook, Line ‘N Sinker owner.
Crews installed docks on the 2,400-acre lake Wednesday.
And in Shawano County, bait shops were busy.
“We’re hoping for food weather this weekend, it should be a good opener. We’ve been putting out all our summer tackle up, and removing all the winter tackle,” said Bret Hacker, Hacker’s Bait & Tackle.
Fishermen are ready too.
“I’m just waiting for warm weather, for everything to go. I fish for just about everything out there, so, just waiting to see what’s going on,” said Carl Kennedy of Shawano.
On Shawano Lake, crews repaired the county park’s boat landing which was battered by winter ice.
And while hopes are high for good fishing, people we talked to say they will be glad just to get outside.
“If the winter had a plus for us, it’s just what that cabin fever syndrome. So many people are just tired of being locked up all winter. Even the outdoorsmen that like to hunt, and fish, it was just too cold to do any of that. And they’re really looking forward to getting out, and being able to enjoy the lake again, and enjoy nature, and the scenery,” said Harth.
The DNR says anglers in Wisconsin catch about 88 million fish each year. They keep about 33 million.
The sport fishing season begins Saturday morning and runs until March of next year.