How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Quick-strike rigs get a push

DNR offers rule change for muskie fishermen

By Jim Lee
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers

MADISON — Quick-strike rigs would be required of most muskie anglers using live bait under a fishing regulation change proposed by the Department of Natural Resources.

Muskie anglers will vote on the proposal, along with several others affecting their sport, during this spring's statewide fish and wildlife rules hearings set for 7 p.m., April 16, in each county.

A favorite technique of muskie anglers, particularly in autumn, is to trail a large sucker behind the boat while casting artificial lures. The traditional method would be to attach the bait to a single hook inserted in its mouth.

When a muskie attacked the bait, anglers often waited up to a half-hour for it to swallow the bait so a proper hook set could be obtained. This often resulted in a muskie that could not be released with a favorable certainty of survival.

Quick-strike rigs, which have become increasingly popular, typically contain a single hook inserted in the sucker's mouth, along with a trailing treble hook attached to the sucker's back. When a muskie strikes the bait, there is a good chance an immediate hook set will be successful and the odds improved it can be safely released.

The proposal to require all anglers to use a quick-strike rig when using live bait larger than eight inches is among 25 potential fishing regulation changes to be voted on, including:

  • Extend the muskie fishing season in the southern zone until Dec. 31. The boundary between the southern and northern zones is U.S. 10. This change would prolong the muskie fishing season on Lake Winnebago and most associated lakes from the current Nov. 30 ending.

  • Eliminate the restriction that places a 36-inch maximum on landing net openings. The change is sought by muskie and salmon anglers.

  • Increase the minimum length limit for muskies caught on the St. Louis River and St. Louis Bay in Douglas County to 50 inches.

  • Increase the minimum length limit for muskies caught in connecting waters to Madison lakes to 45 inches.

  • Change trout and walleye bag and length limits on Keyes Lake, Florence County in an attempt to reduce the smelt population.

  • Establish a 14- to 18-inch protected slot for bass on Mission Lake in Marathon County.

  • Reduce the daily walleye bag limit on Butternut Lake in Price County to one fish more than 14 inches.

  • Change the northern pike regulations on Crystal Lake, Sheboygan County, to no minimum length with a five-fish daily limit.

    The Conservation Congress has submitted proposals for fishing rule changes, including:

  • Raise the minimum size on angler-harvested muskies on the Wisconsin River in Lincoln County between Kings Dam and Pride Dam to 40 inches.

  • Close the catfish fishing season on the Winnebago system from Dec. 1 to April 1.

  • Change northern pike regulations on the Winnebago system to allow the taking of two pike daily, with one larger than 26 inches. Current regulations allow two fish with a 26-inch minimum size.

    Prior to the voting on fish and game rule changes, hearing attendees will vote on delegates to the Conservation Congress from their county. All voting will be by electronic ballots. No hand counts will be taken.

    Those registering for the hearing will be given a white ballot for DNR rule change proposals and a blue ballot for Congress questions. Only pencils may be used to mark ballots. Only those registering at a hearing site will be allowed to vote.

    Citizens may also introduce resolutions that can be voted on in their county. If acted on favorably, those issues may become statewide ballot items at future hearings.

    Jim Lee is an outdoors writer for Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers. He may be reached at


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