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DNR evaluating walleye bag limits in light of tribal spearing projections

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Stuart Nelson's winning contest entry for the DNR's 2014 walleye stamp contest
Stuart Nelson's winning contest entry for the DNR's 2014 walleye stamp contest

MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- The Department of Natural Resources is preparing to adjust fishing bag limits based on Chippewa spearfishing projections. DNR Fisheries Management Director Mike Staggs says the DNR will look at lake management goals and fish populations to figure out what bag limits should be put in place.

“The department’s in the process of reviewing them right now. Our goal is to try to make sure that we get absolutely final numbers, get all of our issues resolved and questions answered, and then get out the revised bag limits soon before the opening day as possible so folks can make their plans.” The recent boost in walleye stocking programs will help, but Staggs says it will take a couple of years to see the difference because the small, stocked fish need to grow.

“For the larger fingerlings that survive a lot better out there, it’s going to be a few years. It takes probably three to six years for these fish to grow up to the size that folks want to harvest them, but when they do, we think that in the lakes that we've been stocking them, people will see the difference, and that fishing will improve and there will be more fish for everybody.”

Staggs says the Chippewa tribes have reserved over 63,000 walleye in the ceded territory under their treaty rights. Last year, they reserved 58,000 walleye but only harvested about 28,000 fish. He says anglers should expect adjustments after spearing season. “On many lakes after the spearing season is over, we re-adjust bag limits based on what was actually harvested, and traditionally and historically, the number harvested is only a fraction of what’s declared.”

Staggs says anglers should get their fishing regulations booklet, but to also check for flyers at bait shops and sporting goods stores, and posted at boat landings for changes in the bag limits. The modified bag limits will also be available at the DNR’s website.

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