MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Wisconsin's general fishing opener is next weekend, and this spring's cold temperatures could impact how many fish anglers catch.
"This late thawing spring is going to present different opportunities and challenges for your fishing opener," Department of Natural Resources fish biologist Dan Oele said.
Fishing opener is on May 5th, however there are some restrictions. Musky season for the northern region starts on May 26th and smallmouth bass are catch and release only for that region until June 15th.
Many lakes in southern Wisconsin have been clear of ice for several weeks, but Oele said the cold snap in late April could have affected how fish started their spawning season.
"If you're on a southern lake the fish are going to be pretty close to on schedule but maybe a little closer to their spawning locations and a little bit deeper than you might expect," Oele said.
Many northern lakes are still frozen. He said that will mean a much later spawning season for many big game fish like walleye, pike and musky.
"One of the challenges might be in your more northern lakes, in your deeper lakes, the bigger game fish are going to be closer to their spawning period," Oele said.
He said this means they might not be biting, giving anglers a tough start to the season.
"Keep that in mind when you're picking your lake to fish," Oele said.
Knowing the spawning period for fish can help anglers predict where a fish might be in a lake and at what time they could be biting. Fish know when to spawn based on water temperature and sunlight. When the days get longer, they know spring is supposed to be coming.
To research spawning, the DNR conducts surveys of lakes.
This year, the DNR in Madison is studying musky in lake Waubesa.
"It's one of the tools we use to make sure there are plenty of fish out there for generations to come," Oele said. "It tells us about how many fish are in the lake, how fast they're growing, where they're moving."
To do that, the DNR uses microchip tags that can give them information on an individual fish.
For more information on fishing opener dates, license information and other regulations, click here.