The Department of Natural Resources announced Monday, June 9, that walleye bag limits would increase from one fish to two on 21 northern Wisconsin lakes effective Tuesday, June 10.
The lakes are located in Vilas, Oneida, Price and Sawyer counties.
Governor Scott Walker approved an emergency rule adopted by the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board May 28. The rule gives the DNR more flexibility, allowing for the bag limit adjustment. The emergency rule is only in place for this year and impacts angler harvest, not tribal harvest.
The DNR adjusts angler bag limits after tribal harvest activity diminishes. This is usually in late May or early June. On May 23, the DNR adjusted bag limits on 447 northern Wisconsin Lakes.
At the time, under the rules in place, the DNR could not consider changes for the 21 lakes affected by Monday’s announcement.
“By using angler harvest trend data from over 30 years of creel surveys in the Wisconsin ceded territory, in addition to actual and anticipated tribal harvest, we can now fine-tune bag limit adjustments, providing more opportunities for anglers while continuing to sustain a healthy fishery for all to enjoy,” Joe Hennessy, DNR treaty fisheries coordinator, said in a DNR news release Monday.
According to the DNR, angler success rates are highest in May, with more than 25 percent of the annual walleye harvest normally occurring. The emergency rule allows fisheries biologists to consider the impacts of a one-walleye daily bag limit on total annual angler harvest during the month of May and make adjustments.
“The goal is to sufficiently protect walleye populations while not being unnecessarily restrictive on individual anglers,” DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said in the department’s news release. “We aim to encourage participation in fishing, while in turn benefitting local businesses that provide equipment, lodging, and other support to local and visiting anglers.”
The DNR says it “will continue discussions with Chippewa tribes about long-term efforts that will yield less fluctuation and more consistency with angler regulations while still effectively managing and protecting the resource for all to enjoy.”
For more information on ceded territory fishing, visit dnr.wi.gov, and search the keywords “ceded territory.”
Lakes going from a one-walleye bag limit to a two-walleye bag
Oneida County: Buckskin, Clear, Tomahawk Chain.
Vilas County: Allequash, Anvil, Big Arbor Vitae, Big Gibson, Big (Boulder Junction), Big Muskellunge, Island, Star, West Bay.
Price County: Butternut, Round.
Sawyer County: Barber, Durphee, Little Round, Lost Land, Sand.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.