Judy Nugent's Articles

November 2006


Brule: A River of Presidents
by Judy Nugent
It is hard to imagine Wisconsin without its most famous river, the Bois Brule, or simply the Brule to those who know her best. Nestled in the pines of Douglas County, the Brule flows unimpeded 49 miles north until it empties into Lake Superior. Early explorers came up the Brule to meet its cousin, the St. Croix which flows south to the Mississippi. It is this north south trade route that kept p... more
Coho Stocking and Migration
by Judy Nugent
With spring just around the corner, fishermen in Indiana and Chicago are already thinking of Coho. With any luck these fish will be heading to southeastern Wisconsin by April 15th. Several variables influence the actual migration patterns and timing, including stocking rates and weather. With ice already melting in the southern most regions of Lake Michigan, the young Coho will soon come togeth... more
Coulee Trout
by Judy Nugent
My fly rod thumped vigorously as I stripped line on a native trout that had engulfed my homemade fly. I was in Grant County in late April casting for trout on the last day of the early season. I spent the night in a tent next to the gurgling brook and was awoken at first light by a rousing chorus of gobbling turkeys. The cool morning air soon gave way to warm breezes and a heavy hatch of insect... more
Electroshocking
by Judy Nugent
Why is shocking necessary? The southwest corner of the state boasts a large concentration of trout streams and the fish populations keep getting better. But it wasn't always this way. Back in the 1930's water quality and erosion were so bad that carp and suckers were showing up in the warm shallow streams. Thanks to land management practices and watershed initiatives, brown trout are well est... more
Fall Fly Patterns fit for a King
by Judy Nugent
When the air is crisp and the days get shorter, thousands of anglers head for the Lake Michigan tributaries to catch the migrating Chinook salmon, or Kings. Those monsters of the open lake are now struggling upstream to spawn. The adrenaline rush you get when you see a dozen 18 lb salmon in one small pool can take your breath away. Often I am so excited I can hardly cast. But for many fisherme... more
Forgotten WI trout streams
by Judy Nugent
The Upper Midwest has thousands of miles of trout streams especially in southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa. But the best of the best is in southwestern Wisconsin. In an area known as the Driftless Area, clear, cool limestone creeks cascade through rolling hills and under sandstone cliffs. Located between Chicago and Minneapolis, this area was untouched by the many glaciers that came through... more
History of the Salmon Run
by Judy Nugent
The abundance of salmon found in Washington State and Oregon is now in Wisconsin, but it would die tomorrow without the continued efforts of the DNR. For the past four decades fishermen have timed their fall fishing outings with the annual spawning runs of the Chinook, Coho, and Steelhead. What seems so natural to us now is really unnatural. Although there were some salmon present in the Gre... more
Mississippi Fall Run
by Judy Nugent
For serious sauger fishermen there are two times to fish the Mississippi River, the spring run and the fall run. Simple, but deadly. During both of these times of the year the elements are the same: cold weather and hot fishing. For most of us the weather alone is a mess and we are reluctant to leave the comfort of our warm home. But fishermen in Alma have another definition of "mess" - but I'... more
Mississippi River Walleyes (or Best Spot by a Dam Site)
by Judy Nugent
Spring fishing on the Mississippi River centers on one thing - walleyes. Every year in April, the fish move upstream to spawn in the annual ritual. These fish are big and hungry, giving you your best chance at a trophy. Walleyes between 8 to 10 lbs are not uncommon with the occasional fish tipping the scales at 13 pounds. According to pro fisherman Ted Takasaki, "the Mississippi River is home ... more
Mississippi Walleye
by Judy Nugent
For serious walleye fishermen there are two times to fish the Mississippi River, the spring run and the fall run. Simple, but deadly. During both of these times of the year the elements are the same: cold weather and hot fishing. For most of us the weather alone is a mess and we are reluctant to leave the comfort of our warm home. But fishermen in Alma have another definition of "mess" - but I... more
Native Brookies Return
by Judy Nugent
As the fog slowly lifted from the valley floor, I heard a turkey gobble from the ridge above. The brook trout didn't seem to mind as I silently landed my sixth fish in the past hour. For those of you who haven't visited southwestern Wisconsin, you're in for a treat. Concentrate on native brook trout and you're sure to have a trip worth remembering. My obsession with native trout happened afte... more
Pike and Root River Bonanza
by Judy Nugent
Two of Wisconsin southeastern rivers are home to a flurry of salmon as they return to spawn each fall. Other species come to gorge themselves on the egg feast. The Pike River in Kenosha County and the Root River near Racine play host to this urge to procreate and are poised for one of the best fall runs ever. The Pike River is located north of the city of Kenosha. The mouth of the river is lo... more
Poaching Still a Problem
by Judy Nugent
Every fall thousands of fish enter the tributary streams of Lake Michigan, and where there are fish there are fishermen. While the vast majority of anglers are honest and ethical, there are still individuals who poach and find the salmon an easy target. I recently got the chance to talk to Joe Jerich, Marine Unit Supervisor and Warden. He said that in a 5 day period this past October, they iss... more
Recent Fish Kills
by Judy Nugent
Sorry to say there have been at least 9 fish kills in SW Wisconsin this year so far. In February 6 miles of the west branch of the Sugar River were killed. Recently removed from the federal list of degraded waters, this stretch of river had been improved after $900,000 worth of restoration work. In February a large, unknown amount of liquid manure was spread on a frozen field near the town of B... more
River Runners
by Judy Nugent
It is fall and for anyone who lives near Lake Michigan, fall means salmon. In the next few months salmon and trout leave the deep waters of the lake in search of shallow gravel beds upstream. The sheer abundance of these trout and salmon make it a fishing bonanza. There are different sizes and types of fish in the river and the more you know about each one the better your trip will be. So gear... more
Shocking Results
by Judy Nugent
In a previous article I gave an account of a typical shocking run conducted by the DNR. In general, the workers use probes to send electrical current into the water to locate and briefly disorient trout. The fish are then netted, measured, weighed, and returned to the water. In a recent visit to the Lacrosse DNR office I was able to learn even more about how electroshocking helps officials bett... more
Stoddard – Panfish Magnet
by Judy Nugent
One drive through the Mississippi River town of Stoddard, and you'll know if fish are biting. In the spring, trucks parked up and down the road mean walleye. But in late December the traffic means hot bluegill action. Squeeze into the first parking spot you find and get ready to fish. Stoddard's habitat work has become a magnet for fish and fishermen alike. Most Mississippi backwaters are we... more
The Future of Yellow Perch
by Judy Nugent
There has been an on going tension between residents of Wisconsin and residents of Illinois and it has nothing to do with the football rivalry between the Packers and the Bears. This tension is about the apparent disparity over the yellow perch regulations on Lake Michigan. There is a saying that it is darkest just before it goes pitch black. These are definitely the dark days for perch. Since... more
The Transformation of Coon Creek (Feature)
by Judy Nugent
Southwestern Wisconsin is synonymous with great trout fishing. Here beautiful hills surround cold spring fed creeks that are rich in invertebrates and teaming with trout. But it wasn't always this way. In 1977 the DNR initiated its Trout Stamp program and started an impressive 27 year run of improving trout streams state wide. The LaCrosse DNR office has the most aggressive habitat restoration... more
Upcoming DNR Fish Netting
by Judy Nugent
The Lake Michigan fisheries netting and surveying has already started for 2005. Yellow Perch, Steelhead, Lake Trout, and Walleye are all on the agenda, making this spring very busy for the DNR. Underway already by the end of last year, the first species to be completed this year was the Yellow Perch. Since the 1980's, perch populations have declined more than 90% and the DNR has been searchi... more
WDNR Fish Surveys
by Judy Nugent
Every year the Wisconsin DNR completes a series of fish surveys. They use both nets and electroshocking to catch the fish and keep track of the health of Lake Michigan. The species on the agenda for this spring are yellow perch, Steelhead, Lake Trout, and walleye, making this a very busy time for the DNR. The yellow perch surveys started already at the end of last year. Since the 1980's, perc... more

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