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Wisconsin Musky Regulations Supported In Spring Hearings

New rules that would increase musky size limits as well as modify trolling regulations were strongly supported during Wisconsin’s Spring Conservation Rules Hearings Monday, April 10.

The “spring hearings,” as they’re known, are held in every county of the state and are used to gauge sportsmen’s interest in new laws. The state Department of Natural Resources generally follows the vote when initiating changes in fishing and hunting regulations.

Question 31, a proposal to increase the minimum size limit for muskies to 50 inches from 45 on eight waters was supported statewide by a vote of 2,208-989.

The new limit would be placed on the Wisconsin River from the DuBay Dam to the Castle Rock Dam in Adams, Juneau, Portage and Wood counties; Lakes Monona, Waubesa and Wingra in Dane County; the Chippewa River from Winter Dam to Arpin Dam in Sawyer County; and Little St. Germain and Trout lakes in Vilas County. The proposal was favored in all of the affected counties. The outcome in the affected counties is usually given consideration, especially if the final statewide tally is close.

Question 32, a proposal which would increase the minimum size limit for muskies to 50 inches from 40 inches on 10 waters was supported by a statewide vote of 2,208-1,066.

This proposal would change the minimum size limit on the Wisconsin River from Castle Rock Dam downstream to the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Bridge, including the Kilbourn Flowage and Lake Wisconsin; Lake Wissota in Chippewa County; Holcombe Flowage in Chippewa and Rusk counties; High Falls Flowage and Caldron Falls Flowage in Marinette County; Katherine Lake and the Willow Flowage in Oneida County; Whitefish Lake in Sawyer County; North & South Twin lakes in Vilas County; and Lake Geneva in Walworth County. This question received a “yes” vote in all affected counties with the exception of Rusk.

Trolling has been a contentious issue in the past in some counties of Wisconsin but has been legal statewide since 2015. However, the new rule included a sunset clause that would revert back to pre-2015 rules if not renewed. The proposal voted on at Monday’s hearing allowed for a slight modification to the rules to allow one hook, bait or lure per angler with a maximum of three hooks, baits or lures trolled per boat. It would affect waters in Iron, Vilas, Oneida, Florence, Lincoln, Waupaca and Sheboygan counties. The trolling rule was supported statewide by a 2,217-1,581 vote. In the affected counties, only Iron County voted against it.

A Natural Resources Board advisory question asked if anglers would support the sale of muskellunge harvest tags, allowing for an annual harvest of one fish per person. Said fisherman would have to have the tag in his possession in order to harvest the musky. The harvest tag was narrowly supported statewide by a 1,912-1,865 vote, with 39 counties voting against, 30 in favor, and three ties.

Though already covered in the statewide fisheries management rules changes, the question of the 50-inch musky size limit for the Willow Flowage and Katherine Lake in Oneida County was voted on in the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’ portion of the evening. The Willow Flowage size limit was supported statewide by a 2,304-1,032 ballot, with a 52-40 vote in favor in Oneida County. The Katherine Lake size limit was supported by a 1,985-913 statewide vote, and by a 49-42 vote in Oneida County.

For complete vote totals on every proposal, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/springhearing.html

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