Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approves three walleye bag limit in Ceded Territory waters

Discussion in 'Outdoor News' started by Wisconsin DNR News, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. By Central Office April 8, 2015

    Contact(s): Steve Hewett, DNR fisheries management section chief, (608) 267-7501, [email protected]; Joe Hennessy, DNR fisheries treaty coordinator, 608-267-9427, [email protected]; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, [email protected]

    MADISON, Wis. -The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has approved an emergency rule that maintains a three walleye daily bag limit on most lakes and rivers in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory.

    The department developed the rule to manage the walleye fishery after listening to citizens and stakeholders eager for more predictable and uniform angling regulations on lakes in the region. The rule replaces the current system of annually adjusting bag limits with equally protective minimum length and slot limits in conjunction with the three walleye daily bag limit; it applies across the Ceded Territory to manage angler harvest of adult walleye at levels that can be supported over time.

    The three fish daily bag limit and the new size limit regulations will maintain harvest rates within the safe limits established by the federal court decision for the Ceded Territory, said Steve Hewett, DNR fisheries management section chief.

    As part of a 1983 federal court decision affirming Chippewa off-reservation hunting, fishing and gathering rights, the six bands of Wisconsin Chippewa set annual tribal harvest quotas for off-reservation lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory. In past years, DNR adjusted walleye daily bag limits for recreational hook and line anglers in lakes declared for harvest by the Chippewa bands to assure the combined tribal and recreational angler harvest in a lake would not jeopardize the stability of the lake's walleye population.

    While the previous bag limits varied from lake to lake and only applied to lakes that were declared for tribal harvest, the three walleye bag limit covers waters throughout Wisconsin's Ceded Territory, providing greater consistency through a standard set of angling regulations.

    The rule approved Wednesday will take effect upon review and signature by Gov. Scott Walker and publication in the official state newspaper. In the weeks ahead, DNR will seek comments through the public hearing and citizen input process and this feedback will be critical in developing a permanent rule to provide further stability for lakes throughout the region.

    Anglers fishing Ceded Territory waters should check signs at boat landings or with local tackle shops or DNR offices to confirm the minimum length restriction for walleye harvest on lakes before going fishing. The DNR will also update its online regulations app to reflect the new regulations before the May 2 general fishing opener.

    The board action Wednesday also puts in place a plan supporting a five year catch-and-release only walleye fishery on the Minocqua and Tomahawk chain of lakes. The collaborative plan was brought forward by area angling groups, community leaders and Chippewa tribal leaders with support from DNR as part of a plan to restore natural reproduction and a sustainable walleye population on the Oneida County lakes.

    As part of its commitment to the effort, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has agreed not to harvest these lakes during the rehabilitation plan. Additional habitat improvements, stocking efforts and research projects also will move ahead, Hewett said.

    For background information on the tribal and recreational fishery in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory, Chippewa treaty rights, a description of the management system used to ensure the long term viability of fisheries in the Ceded Territory and to see data collected as part of that management system, including walleye population estimates and creel survey summaries for all game fish, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Ceded Territory."

    Last Revised: Wednesday, April 08, 2015