A Land of 10,000 Trout Stream Miles, but too few Signs
Wisconsin trout streams, all 10,000 miles of them, are some of
These streams are divided into several regulation categories,
including the Red or Number 5 category, which includes special
regulations regarding size and bag limit.
One of the most common special regulations is zero bag limit, with
or without special gear restrictions. In the past, Wisconsin DNR
posted stream sections with signs alerting anglers how they could
legally fish trout. It’s been some time since all these areas have
If anglers rely on these signs they could be in trouble, because
many are missing and are not likely to be replaced. Many signs have
been vandalized. Others, made from light plastic, became brittle
in winter and were destroyed when snow plows passed.
So how can an angler be sure what the regulations are on one of
these special streams without the signs noting the
The simple answer is to use the Trout Fishing Regulations and
Guide, either the hard copy or the copy on the DNR Web site. The
advantage to the web copy is that sections can be enlarged enough
to read even town road names.
The pamphlet is always up to date. The signs, even when they were
being maintained, never were completely accurate. In Iowa County,
for example, it would cost approximately $10,000 to replace or
install the signs and posts, plus the labor and gasoline to travel
to the sites. That’s not going to happen.
When stream regulations change, or when new waters are added as
trout streams, the regulations book is changed. Of course, one
could argue that it was easy to read a sign, but we may as well get
used to reading the book, or going to the computer, because the
signs were never a good solution.
Too complicated? Only if you fish dozens and dozens of streams,
which most anglers do not do. It’s sort of like deer hunting; know
the rules for those few places you recreate and don’t worry about
the rest of the state.
Simply open the book, look at the stream in the county where you
are going to fish, and obey the rules.