How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fishing issues fill hearings' agenda

Alhough this is all species, there are some proposed size changes for Great Lakes strain muskies.

By Jim Lee
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers

Smallmouth bass, walleye, sturgeon, trout and Great Lakes muskie regulation changes will be up for votes at spring wildlife and fisheries rules hearings.

The annual statewide sessions, scheduled for 7 p.m. April 10 in each county, are sponsored by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and Department of Natural Resources to gather information on hunter/angler support for rule change proposals.

There are 74 hunting, fishing and trapping questions on the agenda. However, not all will be voted on in every county because some are local, applying to a single fish species in a single lake. Approximately half the 26 fisheries questions submitted by the DNR fall into this category.

Among fishery issues raised by the DNR:

Consider a 50-inch minimum size limit for muskellunge in the Lake Winnebago system, which is being stocked with the Great Lakes strain of muskie.

Consider a 50-inch minimum size limit for muskellunge in Little Lake Butte des Morts and the Fox River downstream from the Neenah and Menasha dams to the De Pere dam in an effort to retain consistent regulations for areas containing Great Lakes strain muskies.

Establish a catch-and-release-only fishery for sturgeon in the Menominee River downstream from the Hattie Street dam and modify the minimum length for sturgeon caught above the dam to coincide with Michigan regulations on this shared border water.

Establish a 60-inch minimum size on angler-caught sturgeon on the river above the Hattie Street dam and a sturgeon fishing season on the river from the first Saturday in September through Sept. 30.

Extend experimental slot-size walleye regulations on the Wisconsin, Lemonwier and Yellow rivers to 2014. The rules, in effect on the Wisconsin from Grandfather Dam in Lincoln County to the dam at Prairie du Sac, require a 15-inch minimum size on walleye, with the release of all fish between 20 inches and 28 inches and allow the keeping of one fish exceeding 28 inches in the daily bag of five.

Simplify walleye regulations in the Menominee River below the Hattie Street dam to coincide with Michigan.

Change ice fishing shanty removal date to the first Saturday following March 1 south of Highway 64 and the first Saturday following March 12 north of that line.

Prohibit possession or use of a sinker release device. Wardens say the device is being used by trollers on Lake Michigan, with one angler claiming to have dropped 3,000 pounds of lead into the lake while in possession of 11,000 pounds of lead slated to be molded into new weights.

Expand the list of waters where bowfishing is allowed between sunset and sunrise, primarily in lakes south of Wisconsin 29. (A notable exception is Shawano Lake.)

Allow residents younger than 16 to possess turtles without a fishing or hunting license.

Prohibit the harvest of live clams from inland waters.

The Conservation Congress is seeking input on several potential fishery rule changes, asking anglers whether they support:

Closure of smallmouth bass fishing through June 30 to protect spawning fish.

Allowing a catch-and-release smallmouth bass fishing season on Green Bay and Lake Michigan from the first Saturday in May through June 30, with regular fishing to open July 1 with a five-fish daily bag limit.

Reducing the daily bag limit on smallmouth bass on Green Bay and Lake Michigan from five to three.

Standardizing statewide inland trout regulations to create a three-trout daily bag with a 7-inch minimum size as a way to "uncomplicate" current rules.

Requiring the state Legislature to retain segregated account funds (special license fees and stamps) solely for their intended purposes.

A hunter and trapper bill of rights calling for Natural Resources Board authority to appoint the DNR secretary and for the Legislature to vote on Natural Resources Board nominees within six months of their nomination.

Hearing attendees also will vote for two local delegates to the Conservation Congress. Terms are for three years and two years.

In addition, local resolutions can be written and submitted for a vote.

This year, votes will be recorded on electronic ballots for the first time.


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