Proposals to simplify trout rules, boost panfish populations on roughly 100 lakes statewide and bring consistency to some fishing regulations on Wisconsin waters bordering Minnesota gained approval Wednesday from the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.
All three initiatives by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources were part of a larger fisheries rules package developed with extensive public input and modified to address the feedback received. The new rules will go into effect prior to the 2016-17 fishing season. Following are highlights.
Since 2011, the department has held 31 public meetings, conducted three surveys and convened additional task force meetings to develop the trout regulations. The new regulations, designed to protect and enhance fish populations, also create more uniformity for anglers who fish on different trout streams and within small geographic areas.
Under the new system,
•Green means go fish, with no length limit, a bag limit of five fish and no bait restrictions;
•Yellow means caution, with an 8 inch length limit, a bag limit of three fish and no bait restrictions; and
•Red means special regulations are in place. Anglers are advised to stop and understand the regulations before fishing.
The new rules also extend the opening of the early catch and release season in waters where it currently exists to the first Saturday in January and runs to the day before the regular fishing opener with no five-day closure period. The fall season extends from the current Sept. 30 to Oct. 15.
The new panfish rules follow three years of angler surveys, focus groups and more than 30 public meetings. The rules seek to increase the size of panfish on lakes that show high growth potential but aren’t meeting management goals, likely from heavy harvest. One of three regulations will be applied to 94 lakes and evaluated for biological and social effectiveness. Ultimately the best regulation to address underperforming lakes will be selected and applied to these and other similar lakes.
The daily limits on the high potential lakes will take one of the following forms:
•25/10. Under this rule, a total of 25 panfish may be kept per day but no more than 10 of any one species.
•Spawning season 15/5. Under this rule, a total of 25 panfish may be kept per day except during May and June when a total of 15 panfish may be kept but no more than five of any one species.
•15/5. Under this rule, a total of 15 panfish may be kept per day but no more than five of any one species.
The rules are set to end in 10 years (2026) unless permanent changes are made. For more, visit DNR.wi.gov and search for the Natural Resources Board Agenda, Board Order FH-14-14 [PDF].
Wisconsin-Minnesota Boundary Waters
Also on Wednesday, the Natural Resources Board approved making muskellunge, lake sturgeon and shovelnose sturgeon regulations on boundary waters consistent with those in Minnesota. The rules will allow catch and release angling for lake sturgeon on the St. Louis River and Mississippi River downstream of the Red Wing dam from June 16 through April 14.