The Fort McCoy fishing season opens May 4, concurrent with the Wisconsin season opener.
Fishing on installation lakes and flowages is allowed May 4 through March 1, 2020, said Fisheries Biologist John Noble with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.
The new fishing season also comes with new procedures and rules, Noble said.
First of the new procedures is people must now purchase Fort McCoy fishing permits through the installation iSportsman website, https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net. All permits for hunting, fishing, and firewood cutting at Fort McCoy must be purchased through iSportsman (see related article, this page). An iSportsman account is required to purchase any of these permits.
Also different from the 2018 season is the requirement for anglers to check-in and check-out on iSportsman for each location they may fish at Fort McCoy, as shown in the new fishing regulation posted on the Fort McCoy iSportsman website. The only exception is if an angler is fishing within the post cantonment area or on Suukjak Sep Lake, then the check-in on iSportsman is not required.
The iSportsman system can be accessed by calling 866-277-1597, visiting https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net online, or at the kiosk at the Hunter Information Point just off of Highway 21.
When fishing, anglers must access iSportsman, select the activity (fishing) and then identify the zone where they will be fishing to check-in. Anglers must check-out when they leave.
Anglers also are required to keep an activity information card in their vehicle.
“All recreational participants/permit holders are required to display an activity information card on the passenger side of the windshield/dash with the following information: permit holder’s full name (if there is more than one permit holder per vehicle, the names of all permit holders will be noted), activity (such as archery, cantonment archery, fishing), personal cellphone number, and two emergency contact phone numbers for each permit holder in the vehicle,” the fishing regulation states.
Directorate of Emergency Services police and conservation officers will be checking to see if recreational participants/permit holders are following the guidelines of the regulation.
For example, if an activity information card is not displayed in the exact location required and does not have the information required, recreational participants/permit holders may be found in violation and ticketed immediately. Refer to the regulation, available on iSportsman, for more information about violations.
Anglers are also reminded that when the game-fishing season concludes March 1, 2020, there is no catch-and-release season for game-fish species, such as bass or walleye. Fishing is open year-round for panfish, such as bluegill, on North Flowage and Lost Lake.
For trout fishing, there is a bag limit of five trout with no size restrictions. There is a special regulation for trout caught at Silver Creek, Noble said.
“For the lower reach of Silver Creek from the bridge at the West Silver wetland to the western boundary near the railroad trestle, anglers may keep three trout as their daily bag limit using artificial lures only,” Noble said. “There is no size restriction.”
The Fort McCoy fishing map, also available on the Fort McCoy i-Sportsman website, is highlighted in orange along Silver Creek to distinguish the special regulation area.
This is the fourth year in which Wisconsin has a longer trout season, running May 4 to Oct. 15.
“The possibility to catch a large trout is there,” Noble said.
In 2018, he said trout anglers were catching decent-sized trout around the installation regularly.
Anglers must have the appropriate Wisconsin licenses to fish on post as well. This includes a general Wisconsin fishing license, a trout stamp if fishing for trout, and a Fort McCoy fishing permit.
The cost of a Fort McCoy annual fishing permit is $13 for people age 16 and older. Permits for youth under 16, seniors, and disabled anglers and four-day fishing permits are $8. Again, all are available for purchase through the iSportsman website.
There also will be a Free Fishing Weekend on June 1-2 in Wisconsin and at Fort McCoy. No licenses or permits are needed, but all bag limits and other rules apply.
“The Free Fishing Weekend is an excellent time for people to come out and see all the fantastic fishing areas we have here,” Noble said. Anglers should call the iSportsman Game Line at 866-277-1597 or visit the i-Sportsman website for updated fishing area closures.
People interested in renting fishing equipment at Fort McCoy can do so through Recreational Equipment Checkout with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Available equipment includes fishing poles, kayaks, canoes, and boats. Varying rates apply.
To find out more, visit https://mccoy.armymwr.com/us/mccoy/programs/recreational-equipment-checkout-outdoor-recreation or call the Pine View Campground office at 608-388-3517/2619.
To see the latest Wisconsin fishing regulations, go to https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/regulations/FishRegs1819Web.pdf.
(The Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch contributed to this article.)