April 12, 2011
MADISON -- Daily walleye bag limits have been adjusted on 539 lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory in response to harvest declarations made by six bands of Chippewa in Wisconsin, the state Department of Natural Resources has announced. These bag limits are effective between May 7, 2011 and March 4, 2012, inclusive.
There will be a three walleye bag limit for sport anglers on 226 lakes, a two-fish daily bag limit on 311 lakes, and a 1-fish daily bag limit on Potato (Rusk County) and Grindstone (Sawyer County) Lakes.
"We strive to work together with the tribes so they can exercise their court-affirmed rights while maintaining recreational opportunities for sport anglers and a healthy, sustainable walleye fishery for future generations of all of our respective constituencies," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.
Most off-reservation Chippewa tribal harvest takes place during the spring spearfishing season. Tribal spearers typically have harvested walleye from 170-180 lakes annually, regardless of the number of lakes initially declared. DNR will review tribal harvest following the spring spearfishing season and may revise bag limits upwards on lakes lightly or not speared. An administrative rule passed by the state Natural Resources Board in 1998 allows the department to adjust initial bag limits to reflect actual spring spearing harvest and projected summer harvests.
The adjusted walleye bag limits are available in portable document format on the fishing regulations pages of the DNR website. They will also be posted to the fishing regulations page of the DNR Fishing Wisconsin Web site and are being published as an insert to the 2011-2012 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations. Lakes not listed are subject to the regulations printed in the regulations pamphlet. Anglers should check the regulations for special size and bag limits that are in effect on specific waters.
Of 234 lakes declared by the Lac du Flambeau Band, 224 will have a daily bag limit of three walleye for sport anglers, while 10 lakes and chains will have a daily bag limit of 2 walleye. Those lakes are: Turtle-Flambeau Flowage (Iron County), Bearskin, Minocqua, and Squirrel Lakes, Willow Flowage, and the Tomahawk Lake Chain (Oneida), and Big St. Germain, Plum, Squaw, and Trout lakes (Vilas)
An on-going agreement with the Lac du Flambeau giving the Band authority to sell fishing licenses in return for making declarations at a level that allows a three walleye per day recreational angler bag limit was altered this year to accommodate tribal requests to harvest more fish. The Band declared 10 lakes at the two-bag level.
"That negotiated change assured that the thee-bag agreement would be maintained on the majority of lakes the Lac du Flambeau traditionally spear. Further, the band has promised that it would not select any lake for a two bag two years in a row. We believe that on balance, the agreement is good for the northern tourism interests and the tribe," Stepp said.
As part of a 1983 federal Appellate Court decision affirming Chippewa off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, the six bands of Wisconsin Chippewa set annual harvest quotas for off-reservation lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory. As part of court agreements, the Department of Natural Resources reduces bag limits for recreational hook and line anglers in lakes declared for harvest by the Chippewa bands to assure the combined tribal and recreational angler harvest does not jeopardize the ability of walleye to sustain its population in any lake.
For background information on Chippewa treaty rights, a description of the management and monitoring system used to ensure the long term viability of fisheries in the Ceded Territory, and to see data collected as part of that monitoring system, including walleye population estimates and creel survey summaries for all game fish, see the DNR Bureau of Fisheries Management Internet pages regarding the joint tribal and recreational fishery in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurel Steffes (608) 266-8109 or Joe Hennessy (608) 267-9427