/ Opinions / Because the state of Wisconsin said you can

Because the state of Wisconsin said you can

April 17, 2020 by Beckie Gaskill

With everything changing in our lives, seemingly by the day, it is comforting to know we can still do things to bring a touch of normalcy to our lives. As of this writing, and I for one expect it will continue, we can all still go fishing. That is not the case in some other states, but here in Wisconsin, they have yet to take away our right to enjoy the outdoors.

With that said, there were also many rule changes that went into effect on April 1. Many of them do not affect us in the Northwoods, such as the new three bag limit for walleye on the Winnebago system, or several regulation changes for the Mississippi River. But there is one change many I know have worked diligently to accomplish that does affect us. That is the change in bass regulations.

Now, there is no completely closed season on bass in the state. A new catch-and-release only season, which will be a year round one, went into effect on April 1. For anglers such as myself, that is a pretty exciting change. I only fish for bass, as many know, and not only fish many tournaments, but run several throughout the summer. This new catch and release season allows people like me to get out and target their favorite species during a time we normally would not be able to do so — directly before the tournament season begins. 

This will allow us to knock the winter dust off, if you will. It will also allow us to get out before our first tournament of the year and see if we can figure those fish out. Of course, that is provided the water is open. There have been times I remember not being able to fish a favorite lake on the normal opener. This year, though, it seems like many lakes will be open early, with stretches of river already fishable.

While the DNR has said fishing is still a go, we are all, of course, asked to fish as close to home as we can. That guideline mirrors the social distancing we have been asked to practice and may likely be asked to continue. With so many lakes and fishing opportunities in the Northwoods, it should not be too difficult to find a place to fish without traveling too far. 

Obviously, there is still ice on the lakes, and some have good ice yet, from what I am hearing from friends who ice fish. But the good news is it seems as though the season will go on as normal, once we can get out.

It makes sense to have no closures where hunting and fishing are involved. It is normally a fairly solitary practice, or one that is done with family members. Of course, the fall deer hunt draws larger groups together as we congregate at deer camps and such, but for the most part, enjoying the outdoors is more of a solitary endeavor.

Just getting out into the sunshine and breathing in some fresh air, after being stuck in the house all winter, and then being even further confined by the COVID-19 virus, can do nothing but good for anyone, in my opinion.

For those concerned about having contact with others, maybe stopping at a bait shop makes them nervous. But there is always the option of artificial lures. As a tournament angler, that is all I use. I still patronize my local bait shops to order what I need, and I would recommend that to anyone, but this would allow an angler to stock up on the things they need and maybe make only one stop to the bait shop rather than repeated visits. 

At the launch ramp, it is fairly easy to stay more than six feet away from others, but that may be a bit harder at popular shore fishing locations. It is still important to do that, however, according to the powers that be. I have even seen popular fishing places in other states closed down because anglers refused to practice social distancing protocol. Would that happen here? I truly have no idea, but I would suppose it could, depending on the trajectory of this whole thing. I did feel it was important to mention it, however. For those who enjoy a popular shore fishing spot, maybe this is the year to look for a new, not so crowded, spot to enjoy. Who knows. We may just find a new favorite fishing hole, and one that we do not share with so many people.

Getting outdoors and enjoying some fishing, or maybe just going for a hike on a local trail, can do a lot for a person’s outlook on this whole thing. Taking time to appreciate nature’s beauty is something we all enjoy. So, while we have this unplanned break in our lives, why not get out and enjoy it?

Beckie Gaskill may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]

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