The fish are hungry.

Don Roscovius, owner of Rosco’s Live Bait, said fish have been active recently, and bluegills in particular appeared hungry.

“People were catching quite a few in the local area,” he said. “(Lake Tomah) and several of the marshes were all producing bluegills at a pretty good rate.”

Crappies were also biting, but not at the rate of the bluegills, Roscovius said.

Most of the bluegills were caught on red worms, and a few were caught on twister tails, but worms were working best, Roscovius said.

Bass fishing was slow, but a few were caught, Roscovius reported. Northern pike were the same way. He said live bait worked best.

Duane Waters of Hatfield Sports Shop said walleyes were the star of the week below the dam in Hatfield. Quite a few were caught.

“Somebody said they had over 20. Most weren’t legal, but they did pick up enough to have a nice little fish fry,” he said.

In other hunting news, Hatfield Sports Shop helped a client take a 200-pound bear during the season’s opening day, Sept. 5.

Despite that one success, bear hunting has been tough due to the abundance of acorns, Waters said. Bears have stopped frequenting the baits hunters have laid.

“There are so many acorns and ... they’re super high in starch, so to build up a lot of fat, (animals) are genetically programmed to go feast on those,” he said. “For bear hunting it’s a detriment because people bait with cereal grains or candy and sweets, so when they switch over to build fat they want nutrition, not the sweets.”

Waters said once the acorns finish dropping, which should be over in a week, bears should return to the baits.

The archery deer season begins Saturday, Sept. 15, and the Department of Natural Resources is anticipating a good season for both archery and gun hunters in 2018.

“Deer numbers continue to look good across the state,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist.

He said the central and southern farmland zones are expected to have “excellent deer numbers in most areas” and that portions of the forested zones experienced their first moderate winter after a string of mild winters.

“Although there was a heavy late winter snow storm in much of the north, a lush spring green up and reports of good fawn production are showing the population is stable and increasing in many areas,” Wallenfang said. “All reports indicate a fun and exciting upcoming season.”

Archery and crossbow hunters have a continuous season framework that includes hunting during all gun deer seasons in November and December, plus the option to fill a gun deer harvest authorization using crossbow or archery equipment during open firearm seasons.

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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