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Lingering ice to hamper Wisconsin fishing opener

SUPERIOR, Wis.—Wisconsin's 2018 inland fishing season opens Saturday, May 5, following a cold and snowy April. Many lakes in northern Wisconsin remain ice-covered.

"Most people don't think there will be anything going on unless we get some good rain and a lot of sun," said Steve Dinda of the Bait Box in Superior. "All the ice — it's just amazing. They'll have to wait, I guess. The next-best thing will be the St. Louis River (opening May 12)."

Waters in the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin are open, said Wisconsin DNR fisheries Fisheries Director Justine Hasz.

"As far as having folks up here fishing, I'm sure we will," said Mike Piccirillo, owner of Jenk's Bait and Tackle in Hayward. "As far as full-blown open water for opener, definitely not. The majority of people will be fishing the West Fork River (of the Chippewa Flowage). That's where the walleyes spawn."

"We're hoping the warmup predicted ... will help thaw more lakes up north," Hasz said. "If the northern lakes are still locked up, the rivers are a good option for some good walleye and pike fishing."

Walleye are Wisconsin anglers' number one target, and more walleye fishing opportunities will be available this year as more than 1.28 million extended-growth walleye stocked in 2013 and 2014 are now at catchable size, DNR officials said.

The 2018 hook-and-line game fish season opens Saturday on inland waters for walleye, sauger and northern pike statewide. The largemouth and smallmouth bass southern zone opens Saturday, while the northern bass zone opens for catch and release only from Saturday through June 15, with the harvest season opening June 16.

Muskie season opens May 26 in the northern zone. The northern zone is the area north of highways 77, 64 and 29, with Highway 10 as the dividing line.

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