Contact(s): Steve Hewett, DNR Fisheries Management section chief, 608-267-7501; Joe Hennessy, DNR Treaty Fisheries coordinator, 608-267-9427
MADISON - With Governor Scott Walker's approval of an emergency rule adopted by the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board May 28, the Department of Natural Resources will use the flexibility granted by that rule to raise anglers' daily bag limits from one walleye per day to two walleye per day in 21 northern Wisconsin lakes, effective June 10.
The department routinely adjusts bag limits in late May or early June after tribal harvest activity diminishes, and did so for 447 lakes on May 23. Under rules in place at that time, the department was not able to consider changes for the 21 lakes affected in today's announcement.
"By using angler harvest trend data from over 30 years of creel surveys in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory, in addition to actual and anticipated tribal harvest, we can now fine-tune bag limit adjustments, providing more opportunities for anglers while continuing to sustain a healthy fishery for all to enjoy," said Joe Hennessy, DNR Treaty Fisheries coordinator.
Because angler success rates are highest in May, more than 25 percent of annual walleye harvest normally occurs during that month. This rule allows department biologists to consider the impacts a one-fish daily bag limit during the month of May had on total annual angler harvest and set an appropriate bag limit for the remainder of the fishing season.
"The goal is to sufficiently protect walleye populations while not being unnecessarily restrictive on individual anglers," said DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp. "We aim to encourage participation in fishing, while in turn benefitting local businesses that provide equipment, lodging, and other support to local and visiting anglers."
The emergency rule is in place for this year only and will affect only angler harvest, not tribal harvest. The department will continue discussions with Chippewa tribes about long-term efforts that will yield less fluctuation and more consistency with angler regulations while still effectively managing and protecting the resource for all to enjoy.
For more information on Wisconsin fishing, please visit dnr.wi.gov, search keyword "fishing."