Madison A Madison legislator wants to give the DNR authority to
just say no to fishing tournaments.
If he gets his way, the DNR could have that power by the 2003
“Right now, the DNR cannot deny a tournament promoter a permit,
even if there is more than one tournament on the same water on the
same day or weekend,” said Rep. DuWayne Johnsrud (R-Eastman). “So
the biggest thing here is that the DNR can, if the legislation is
passed, spread pressure around.”
The DNR has rules that require tournament organizers to get a
DNR permit, but the rules only keep the DNR aware of how heavily
fisheries are being used and can’t address biological concerns,
traffic or pressure of overlapping tournaments.
“Right now the permit system only tells the DNR how many
tournaments are out there and who is running them,” he said.
Johnsrud said he will introduce legislation to change the
current tournament situation, but in a bit of a twist, his bill
will not outline specific changes. Instead, Johnsrud’s bill, if
passed, would require the DNR to rewrite its tournament fishing
rules to better protect fishery resources and reduce pressure on
public access facilities.
In essence, the DNR would get to write its own legislation or
However, Johnsrud said he has suggested the DNR not do this on
“What we want the DNR to do is put together a committee with
tournament people, regular sportsmen and Conservation Congress
members to draft new rules. It makes sense to draft new rules,
because once the bill passes, the DNR will have the authority to
deny tournament permits. There is a lot of support for this on the
Mississippi River,” Johnsrud said.
“We’re going to have the DNR do it by administrative rules, so
it will go through the spring hearing process. The legislation end
of it should give the DNR the authority this spring, as soon as
signed by the governor. But, it wouldn’t change anything for
tournament anglers right away, probably not until next year.”
Johnsrud said his goal is to promote fairness between tournament
and recreational anglers. The bill would prevent tournaments from
having regulations, such as bag limits, that are more liberal than
the rules that apply to other anglers. Preventing the occasional
situations where landings are monopolized by a tournament is
another feature that Johnsrud thinks that casual lake and river
users will appreciate.
“Being overrun might be an exaggeration, but the DNR does need
to have more control. The Mississippi is getting crazy instead of
locking through, it’s faster to drive around the dams and launch
again upstream, so we see wild driving on the roads and pushy
people at the landings,” he said.
Johnsrud’s bill gives fisheries biologists the ability to decide
whether or not a tournament could be held at a certain place or a