Spring fish and game hearings significant for southeastern Wisconsin

Northern pike regs for numerous fisheries will be mulled at upcoming joint spring fish and game hearings across Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Conservation Congress will hold their annual joint spring fish and game hearings in each of the state’s 72 counties on Monday, April 10. All hearings in each county begin at 7 p.m.

Brett Weir, of West Bend, has been on the Washington County Conservation Congress (CC) delegation since 2007 and says that the hearings and CC are vital in Wisconsin.

“The congress is the only statutory body in the state where citizens elect delegates to advise the Natural Resources Board and the DNR on how to responsibly manage Wisconsin’s natural resources for present and future generations,” Weir said.

With a recent history of the legislature, at times, bypassing the requests of the Congress and sportsmen’s spring hearing votes and pushing though new rules of their choosing, some would wonder if the Congress packs as much punch as it used to.

“Someone asked me other day regarding viability and the importance of the Congress,” Weir said. “My response and my opinion as a citizen of our great state and not the viewpoint of the Congress was, present and future ‘viability’ lies within its members. Take a business entity, as an example. The feasibility and future success lies within its employees, right? And the employees have to listen, lead, and convey new ideas. Or at least adapt to changing conditions. If not, someone else will.”

A few of the 82 questions (a combination of DNR proposed rule changes, one Natural Resources Board advisory question, and a number of CC advisory questions) on the hearing agenda apply to southeastern Wisconsin.

Question 22 asks if we’d favor increasing the minimum length limit for walleyes, saugers, and their hybrids from 15 inches to 18 inches and reducing the daily bag limit from five to three on all inland waters of Kenosha, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties (except Lac LaBelle), as well as others further north.

Before the DNR invests money in stocking larger fall fingerlings into the system, they’d like to see them have a chance at reaching a mature level. This rule would help do that and also give them one more year to breed.

Doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me. No one goes out to Pewaukee, Okauchee, or Nagawicka expecting to catch a bunch of keeper walleye as it is. This might make the fishing better for action and an occasional fry.

Question 33 is asking for an extension on a rule inserted back in 2010 that put a 40-inch minimum length limit and daily bag limit of one northern pike per day on Big Muskego Lake and Bass Bay in Waukesha County. Preliminary results suggest significant improvements to the size structure and abundance of northern pike on Big Muskego and Bass Bay.

While I hardly qualify as a scientific focus group on this, a lot of people I know, myself included, have been pretty impressed with the size of northerns from these lakes recently.  I say it’s worth a few more years to see what happens.

Question No. 34 goes in the opposite direction. It would remove the two-fish, 26-inch pike limits from Browns Lake in Racine County and replace it with a daily bag limit of five fish with no minimum length limit.

Question No. 18 will ask if sportsmen favor reducing the size of refuge areas at Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area in Dodge and Washington counties and allowing entry after Nov. 15.

Question Nos. 85-87 look at giving County Deer Advisory Councils the ability to use earn-a-buck (legislation needed) seasons, a longer December antlerless deer gun season, and a 16-day gun season in their counties as a means of moving deer herd numbers to population objectives. Question No. 88 seeks support for a tax incentive program for private landowners to open their property to hunting access.

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