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Kurt Krueger

In the Outdoors

Kurt Krueger can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or P.O. Box 1929, Eagle River, WI 54521.

The grouse downswing was inevitable
By Kurt Krueger

IT APPEARS the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was right on its second attempt at declaring a peak year in the ruffed grouse population cycle, as all signs now point to 2011 as the peak.

The agency was wrong with its first declaration a couple of years back, that 2009 was the best, so I’ve been ultra skeptical since last summer’s claim that grouse numbers were finally in decline.

But even an incredible grouse season last fall, due to a bumper crop of young birds, couldn’t hide the overall truth. There just weren’t as many birds in all types of cover, not like we saw during the fall of 2011.

Signs of the cyclic downturn came during several

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 5:37 PM | Updated ( Tuesday, August 20, 2013 6:05 PM )
Fast-action panfishing is meant for kids
Brother Cody Kreger was more than happy to center sister Kaylee’s head between two crappies during Guides/Kids Day.       —Photo By The Author

By Kurt Krueger

TO?BORROW and slightly revise an old saying from a classic movie that featured the ever-entertaining Tom Hanks — guiding is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

That is especially true during Guides/Kids Day in Eagle River, where last week, about 20 guides hosted some 34 kids for an afternoon of fishing. There’s nothing more

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 6:01 PM
If Mother Nature helps out, don’t goof it up

By Kurt Krueger

THE BOBBER landed right next to the partly submerged shoreline tree, and under it was hook, sinker and a small minnow set just a foot below the surface.

It took all of four or five seconds for the pencil bobber to pop and slowly disappear, dropping toward the tree as a fish returned to its underwater hideout. The hookset was solid and the fight was on, quite a battle trying to keep the fish from darting back into the maze of sticks and branches.

I hoisted into the boat a 12-inch crappie, a golden slab of a fish that had so much

Tuesday, July 09, 2013 3:10 PM
Right place, right time is about persistence

By Kurt Krueger

YOU?DON’T have to be crazy to rise before dawn and head for a camouflaged tent that was placed in the woods the previous day, next to the drumming log of a ruffed grouse.

Passionate maybe, for a good photo, but not crazy.

Getting good wildlife photos does take a commitment, but nothing more than what the average angler or hunter would do in his or her pursuit of fish and game.

You know that old saying about how the fishing is always great,

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 1:55 PM
Do kids a big favor — take them fishing
Alexander hoists one of dozens of bluegills and sunfish taken with worms from the shallows, a real treat for a kid.                 —Photo By The?Author

By Kurt Krueger

FEW?WORDS in the English language strike more excitement in the heart of an angler and grandfather than these: “Pappa, will you take me fishing?”

Besides those glorious words is that innocent, inquisitive face that is patiently hoping for a positive response — the kind of face that’s really hard to turn down.

The scribbler is blessed by kids who fish and now grandkids, a boy and a girl who both like time in the boat, dropping bobbers and  wiggling fish on

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 6:32 PM
Loons thrive in state’s wildest country
It was a surprising moment when this adult loon swam close to our fishing boat with a chick on its back, warm and dry.          —Photo By The Author

By Kurt Krueger

WE?WERE busy catching walleyes on the outside edge of cabbage weeds, three of us in the boat, when the rarest of wild encounters unfolded.

A loon with a chick on its back swam right past the boat, almost as if we didn’t exist. It came so close that I feared moving to unzip a camera bag might spook them away.

My wife and daughter knew exactly what this opportunity meant — the walleyes would have to wait. I grabbed the camera and a zoom lens. When the birds got an appropriate distance away, we pulled anchor and let the boat

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 2:43 PM
Popular lake jumping can mean trouble
Boat inspectors do a great service to our water resources but they can’t be everywhere, so anglers need to be aware.           —Contributed Photo

By Kurt Krueger

AS ANGLERS add bass fishing to the mix on opening day this Saturday, the opportunity to chase multiple species on different lakes in a single day will hit its peak for the season.

Let’s say you hit the Eagle River Chain early for walleyes, head to Boot Lake for some midday crappie action, and then finish up the day chasing smallmouths on Butternut or Kentuck.

Sounds like a plan. Similar scenarios are played out again and again this time of year as anglers make the most of their days.

It’s called lake jumping, and it’s an inseparable part of Wisconsin’s fishing tradition. The trend has become even more common since tribal spearing gave us three-walleye and two-walleye bag limits, where anglers are forced

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 6:44 PM
Time to step up on wolf management
The DNR did its ultra-conservative test on wolf control during last fall’s hunt, and it’s time to do something effective.             —Contributed Photo

THE?STATE’S first wolf hunt last fall did nothing more than keep wolf numbers in check, so Wisconsin is still faced with severe overpopulation and all the problems that go with it.
There are a minimum of 809 to 834 wolves in the state, including 215 packs and 15 lone wolves. That’s almost identical to the previous year’s count of between 815 and 880 wolves — prior to the first hunt.
All known wolf mortalities in 2012 included 117 from hunting and trapping, 76 from depredation control, 24 from vehicle collisions, 21 from illegal kills, and five from unknown causes.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013 7:59 PM
Time to drop anchor on Chain slot limit
A slot limit that forces anglers to release the most sought-after walleyes, those in the 15- to 17-inch class, isn’t popular.       —Photo By The Author
By Kurt Krueger

THERE?IS little doubt in my mind that Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fisheries biologist Steve Gilbert is right that the slot limit protecting 14- to 18-inch walleyes has done some good for the fishery.

If growing a few more larger walleyes was the major goal, then the experiment with a different regulation worked. The question, however, is at what price for the tourism industry?

This is not a body of water that ever had a problem with walleye reproduction, for like the Three Lakes side of the 28-lake chain, there was always abundant recruitment of young fish.

I’m writing on the topic today because walleye

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 3:19 PM
Sharing boat space with Dad: a real treat
Pop Krueger hoists a couple of dandy crappies he took on minnows from deep wood structure last Saturday morning.           —Photo By The Author

By Kurt Krueger

WE WERE tossing bobbers and small minnows near shoreline trees for crappies when my fishing partner fired an errant cast toward the deep, one of those misfires where most would say oops, reel it back and try again.

I’m not sure if it was a sigh from my end of the boat or some other body language that was to blame, but he stuck with the cast as if it had a purpose sitting in deep water some 40 feet off the tree.

I was sharing boat space at the crack of dawn with my dad, Leland Krueger

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 1:46 PM

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