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Cover of Spring 2020 issue

Spring 2020
Volume 44, Number 1

Contact information
For information on the magazine's webpage, contact:
Kathryn Kahler
Associate editor

Fish On . . . Wisconsin!


Karl Scheidegger

Man helping young lady land a small fish she has on line
Recruiting new anglers of all ages is a goal of the DNR's new fishing initiative.

The fishing industry is facing a serious challenge. Current participation trends show younger, more diverse audiences reluctant to take up fishing, and those who do begin don't tend to stay with the sport. At the same time, older anglers are aging out of the sport.

These trends are evident both nationally and in Wisconsin, where a decline in fishing participation would have a significant impact on our state's economy, our conservation efforts and the fishing industry as a whole.

With that in mind, the Department of Natural Resources has launched a new marketing effort called Fish On. . . Wisconsin! The initiative – melding an often-heard fishing phrase with that most famous state song title – was created to build participation in the sport by engaging new and existing anglers. It also is designed to increase public awareness of the DNR's Fisheries Management Program and available fishing opportunities.

The multi-year, multi-faceted initiative will include the development of branding, messaging and an increased focus on customer, stakeholder and partner engagement. It will use a variety of marketing strategies and will advertise and promote fishing participation through traditional outlets such as television, radio and print as well as nontraditional media and social networking tools.

Fish On. . . Wisconsin! will work with the fishing industry on special promotions and partner with the state's Department of Tourism, the hospitality and sporting industries, local Chambers of Commerce and other organizations to promote fishing.

The initiative also aims to build on national angler "R3" efforts by recruiting new anglers, retaining them once they're active and reactivating those anglers who may have stepped away from the sport. Described in fishing terms, recruitment is luring prospective anglers of all ages and setting the hook, retention is keeping them gently on the line and reactivation is trying another lure to entice them to bite again.

Core messages of the initiative will include such ideas as "Fishing is fun. . . and catching," "Fishing is easy and accessible" and "Fishing is a treasured Wisconsin pastime."

Easier for anglers

What will the Fish On. . . Wisconsin! initiative do for the angler? For one thing, the initiative plans to use technology to make fishing easier for Wisconsin anglers.

Plans are in place for the ultimate catch – the development of a Fish Wisconsin app that likely will include interactive maps with fish species and lake information, boat access sites, shore fishing areas, "fishing near me" opportunities and regulations – all at your fingertips.

Fish On. . . Wisconsin! plans also call for the expansion of the "Close to Home" fishing series, with printed and online interactive maps and descriptions of shore fishing sites, fish species present and nearby amenities including restrooms close to the state's major metropolitan areas.

A possible pilot project of the initiative is a "What's Biting Network," with mobile fishing forecasts generated by anglers for anglers. The initiative also will place an emphasis on the distribution of electronic fisheries survey information to help identify possible fishing locations and on an increase in fishing-related web apps such as mapping, atlases, photo sharing and more.

Fish On. . . Wisconsin! was officially launched with the opening of the 2019 fishing season. Branding of the initiative includes a variety of species-specific options that can be used for promotions when appropriate – trout, salmon, bass, panfish, musky, lake sturgeon and more.

The DNR hopes the Fish On. . . Wisconsin! initiative will become a new way of life or a renewed way of life for residents and nonresidents alike when it comes to fishing Wisconsin's waters.

Karl Scheidegger is a fisheries biologist in the DNR's Fisheries Management Program.

Last revised: Monday June 03 2019