Walleye limits lowered on 280 ceded territory lakes

Madison — A total of 280 lakes in the ceded territory will see
reduced walleye bag limits in response to harvest declarations made
by six Wisconsin Chippewa tribes.

Two Oneida County lakes — Virgin and Spirit — will have a
muskie size limit of 45 inches for this season, also in response to
muskie quotas listed by the tribes, according to the DNR.

These bag limits will be in place from Saturday, May 7, through
March 5, 2006. DNR fish regulation specialist Patrick Schmalz said
some walleye bag limits could increase before Memorial Day weekend
if the tribes do not spear their full quotas from some lakes.

Of the lakes on the 2005 tribal list, 122 will have a daily bag
limit of three walleyes, 151 lakes will have a two-fish daily bag
limit, and seven lakes will have a daily bag limit of one
walleye.

The revised bag limits are listed below, but can also be found
on the DNR web site and will be published as an insert to the Guide
to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations 2005-2006. Lakes not
listed are subject to the regulations printed in the pamphlet. The
statewide daily bag limit for walleyes on many lakes remains at
five fish per day, but anglers should check the regulations for
special size and bag limits that are in effect on specific
waters.

The overall statewide bag limit remains at five walleyes per
day. Anglers fishing on lakes with reduced bag limits may move to a
second or third lake to complete their five-fish bag limit, said
Schmalz.

Lakes declared by the Lac du Flambeau tribe have a daily bag
limit of three walleyes for sport anglers. In 1997, the DNR and the
Lac du Flambeau tribe signed an agreement that gave the tribe
authority to sell tribal licenses, honored statewide, in return for
making declarations at a level that allows a three-walleye angler
bag limit.

As part of a 1983 federal decision affirming Chippewa
off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, the six
Wisconsin Chippewa bands set annual harvest quotas for
off-reservation lakes in the ceded territory. As part of court
agreements, to assure the combined tribal and recreational angler
harvest does not exceed the ability of walleye to sustain its
population in any lake, the DNR must revise bag limits for hook and
line anglers in lakes declared for spearing by the tribes. The
state is entering its 21st year of the joint tribal and
recreational fishery.

The DNR Bureau of Fisheries Management and Habitat Protection
also has revised its web site regarding the joint tribal and
recreational fishery in the ceded territory. Go to
http://dnr.wi.gov. Background information on Chippewa treaty
rights, a description of the management and monitoring system used
to ensure the viability of fisheries in the ceded territory, and
data collected as part of that monitoring system, including walleye
population estimates and creel survey summaries for all gamefish,
are available.

In 2004, the tribes reported a total spearing harvest of 27,546
walleyes. The highest tribal walleye harvest was noted in 1995,
with 30,647 fish reported.

In 2004, the tribes reported spearing 207 muskies. The highest
muskie harvest noted was 334 fish in 1997.

The tribal quotas are available to the tribal members all year,
but most of the harvest is done during the spring spawn by spear.
However, tribal members also may use gill nets on lakes larger than
1,000 acres if a walleye quota remains after spring spearing
efforts. It has been at least four years since tribal members set
any gill nets, according to Schmalz.

This year’s spearing efforts began Monday, April 11, as the St.
Croix and Red Cliff tribes named Wapogasset Lake in Polk County,
Cedar Lake in St. Croix County, Big McKenzie in Burnett County,
Middle Eau Claire in Bayfield County, and Nelson Lake in Sawyer
County.

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