Walleye bag limit reduction incenses Northern Wisconsin localsSome in northern Wisconsin are worried that a reduction in walleye bag limits — a Chippewa tribal policy enacted to accommodate an expanded tribal spearing season — is going to hurt tourism and the fishing industry.
By: By Rich Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Some in northern Wisconsin are worried that a reduction in walleye bag limits — a Chippewa tribal policy enacted to accommodate an expanded tribal spearing season — is going to hurt tourism and the fishing industry.
Wisconsin’s Chippewa tribes have set their spring walleye spearing quota at near-record levels. In total, they plan to spear more than 59,000 walleyes in off-reservation lakes. Because of the larger-than-usual take, 197 lakes will have a walleye bag limit of one fish per day for anglers.
Lac du Flambeau Tribal Chairman Tom Maulson has said the increased spearing levels is meant to put more fish in members’ freezers during tough economic times. But Mike Bilodeau, who owns the Rod and Gun Shop in Chetek, says instituting a one fish per day bag limit will hurt anglers and his shop: “Historically in Wisconsin the opener to go out, Walleye fishing was a big thing. Around here it’s not a big thing anymore; hardly anybody looks to do it because it’s a lot of work to go out to catch one fish.”
In Washburn County, AAA Sports Shop co-Owner Rick Anderson says fewer people will travel from Minnesota or Chicago because of the reduced walleye bag limits: “They weren’t coming up because it got reduced from three to two. So, I can’t imagine anybody coming up here knowing that the bag limit is one just to fish walleyes.”
Anderson says he respects the tribe’s right to spear fish but this new harvest quota is not right: “All of our natural resources belong to everybody and need to be managed by everybody, and when that type of quota is being put out there I don’t think that’s managed correctly.”
Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp has criticized the tribes’ decision and says she will work with members to negotiate a more reasonable spearing level.