Wisconsin spring fish and game hearings set for Monday, April 14.
On Monday, April 14 at 7 p.m. the Wisconsin DNR and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress will hold their annual spring fish and game hearings in each of the state’s 72 counties. Concerned outdoor enthusiasts may show up and possibly help shape the sports they love. There aren’t any questions that are as controversial as allowing dove hunting (the tundra swan question is advisory only and is not raising the interest that the dove season did 15 years ago) or banning deer baiting completely, but there are a few questions that are bound to cause a bit of a fuss.
Most likely, opposition to No. 1 will be from muskie anglers who don’t think trolling statewide would be a good idea. Trolling is currently allowed on many bodies of water in Wisconsin, but not all, which creates confusion for anglers who can’t read the rule book. The new rule, if passed, would allow trolling with one line per angler in the following 17 counties (except for 31 waters in those counties already open to trolling with three lines): Door, Florence, Fond du Lac, Iron, Jackson, Lincoln, Marathon, Marquette, Menominee, Milwaukee, Oneida, Ozaukee, Sawyer, Sheboygan, Vilas, Washington, and Waushara. All other counties would be open to trolling with up to three lines per angler.
No. 2 and No. 3 involve opening up game fish seasons year-round, but with release-only seasons during current closed seasons. The benefits would be that there would simply be more fishing opportunities on all waters, but game fish species would still be protected during the spawn via the release requirement.
While some people worry that there could be problems with delayed mortality if a fish is hooked bad or damaged during the fight, I doubt there will be many in opposition to this proposed new rule.
Another section of that questions asks if people would be more in favor of a release-only season if people are only allowed to use artificial lures because there is less chance of a fish “swallowing” an artificial bait when compared to a minnow or crawler.
That makes sense to me, too unless there was an amendment that forced people to use circle hooks, which generally do little damage to fish.
I think both questions will pass because we sort of have a model for it up north already and the catch-and-release bass season has worked out just fine. The water is cooler in the spring so you’re not having to worry that much about delayed mortality. Further, most lakes have bass spawning all the way into June when fishing is open already anyway.
Question No. 6 would allow bass tournament anglers to forego size limits temporarily and store fish in their livewells for weigh-in purposes in tournaments on lakes with slot limits (where fish between specific size ranges must be released). The fish would be released at the end of each “catch and release” tournament.
One reason the DNR believes this might be in order is because slot limits make it difficult to have a tournament on a given lake. This change would make more lakes open for tournament fishing.
As a tournament angler myself, this seems to make sense, but I also know the negative feelings we tournament angler get from people who don’t fish tournaments. I don’t see the general public voting this one in unless someone in the meeting makes a very compelling argument and can sway the vote.
I doubt that will happen.