Nature Matters: DNR Makes Fish Sticks

By KBJR News 1

February 21, 2011 Updated Feb 22, 2011 at 11:39 AM CDT

Barnes, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) The DNR is "branching out" to improve fishing in the northland.

This week's Nature Matters has David Hoole going to Bayfield County to see why the DNR is making "Fish Sticks".

"What we're trying to do is just restore the amount of wood that we think was there in the past."

Wisconsin's Upper Eau Claire Lake is getting some new habitat.

"Every fish at some stage of their life uses these near shore habitats."

The habitat is made by the DNR from trees rescued from the paper mill. The sticks are placed cross–wise on the ice, giving the fish a chance to enjoy "Fish Sticks".

"We were catching Bluegills by early summer so they really work."

Lake homes and cabins vastly outnumber fish houses on most northland lakes. Lakeshore Property owners often clean up trees once they fall in the water. This limits vital habitat for aquatic life. The DNR is working to replace some of the wood in area lakes.

"It gives more complexity to the habitat because the trees aren't just laying on the bottom, there is space underneath for the fish to hold."

The program isn't just for life below the waterline. Human lifestyles benefit as well.

"This is great! This is the cat's meow, because it gives us wintertime work and it gives us much needed money."

Neighboring conservationists also appreciate the habitat creating program.

"We're just trying to improve the fish habitat to get bigger fish earlier."

"Our cronies down on Nelson Lake think it's a great project 'cause they know that wood in the water is good for the fish, good for the fishery."

The DNR has seen the success of the fish sticks. Summertime dives have shown the benefits.

"It's just awesome to see – it's almost like snorkeling in the Caribbean reef; the amount of life that teems to these trees."
On Upper Eau Claire Lake in Bayfield County, I'm David Hoole for Nature Matters.

The DNR suggests lakeshore residents leave trees that naturally fall in the water on their properties.
It's less work than cleaning them up and the fish appreciate the habitat.