New Catch and Release Bass Season

Sometimes a person has to consider if the "means to an end" can justify "the end." It can be a dangerous scenario. A bill is being considered right now authored by Rep. Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc that would establish a catch-and-release season for bass fishing from the first Saturday in March through the Sunday preceding the first Saturday in May in southern Wisconsin.

At first glance, it makes a lot of sense. A release season beginning the first Saturday in May has worked in the northern region of the state, so there is some precedent. Further, most bass in southern Wisconsin spawn after the regular season has opened, so there is no protection anyway if someone wants to keep a bass tending a bed. In addition, there might be a tourism bump for bass anglers who want to fish for pre-spawn fish without the crowds that fill busy metro lakes come opening day. Yet another perk would be that metro-lake boat launches might not be as crowded because the extended season will relieve some pressure.

Sounds too good to be true right? And it is … kind of.

The rub on the bill is that it is jukes out the typical route of asking the fishing public, biologists and the Natural Resources Board if a potential new rule makes sense both conversationally, and traditionally. This writer would love to fish bass earlier than normal, but what would happen if the Legislature and governor decided that bass should not be fished for at all? What if they decided that ducks should not be killed? A long shot, yes, but once you choose to let politicians decide what is best for us, you are more or less accepting Big Brother to call the shots – and they may not always be in the best interest of the minority of us who hunt, fish and trap.

Should a person contact their local politician and ask for support or grievance with this bill? Sure. It makes sense in almost every way. But, is the "means to an end" something we are willing to gamble on down the road?

I, for one, wish I knew.


Categories: Bass, Blog Content, Wisconsin – Dan Durbin

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