Latest reduced bag limits
Daily walleye bag limits of less than three fish on 345 lakes in Vilas, Oneida and Forest counties are the devastating result of spearing declarations made by Chippewa bands this spring.
In the tri-county area, there will be a three-walleye bag limit for sport anglers on just one lake, a two-fish bag limit on 209 lakes and a one-fish bag limit on 136 lakes, according to information released Monday by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
One-fish and two-fish bag limits for walleye anglers have been labeled a tourism killer by chamber officials and sport shop owners. Even anglers who don’t routinely catch a limit of five walleyes a day aren’t excited about the prospects of a fishing vacation on some lake where they can only keep one or two walleyes. And quite often, they go elsewhere.
Since the tribes began exercising their off-reservation spearing and gathering rights in 1985, this is only the second time that so many lakes will carry one-walleye and two-walleye bag limits. Last year was the first in 16 years that the Lac du Flambeau band ended a state/tribal agreement that guaranteed anglers a three-walleye daily limit on all lakes speared by the tribe.
We’re disappointed in the tribes for not partnering with a tourism industry here that helps feed their own tribal casinos. It appears that the casinos get no support from vacationers who come here to fish, otherwise they might try to accommodate these frequent North Woods visitors.
It is disturbing that the tribal declarations are allowed to impact the daily bag limit on hundreds of lakes that won’t be speared and that are never speared. The tribes have to know that 60% of the walleye harvest by sport anglers occurs in May, and that locking in low bag limits for much of the month is harmful to that segment of the tourism industry.
DNR must keep looking
While it is good news that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently awarded $1.6 million for projects that will help control the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), another $2.6 million in control projects were left unfunded — including $164,000 for Little St. Germain Lake.
There was enough money in the pipeline to give about $100,000 to three Phelps area groups that are controlling invasives or planning such measures on Lac Vieux Desert Lake, North and South Twin and Big Sand Lake. There was money to give the Minocqua Kawaguesaga Lakes Protection Association $157,900 and the North Lakeland Discovery Center received $48,800 to contain AIS.
But the existing funding mechanism, which comes mostly from the boating account, came up short on 62% of the control project requests. And that is a lot of Eurasian water milfoil and curly leaf pondweed not being managed on a timely basis, which increases the chances of spreading those weeds.
This problem is only going to get worse in the years to come, hence the DNR needs to find additional, permanent funding sources.
Behind the editorial ‘we’
Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.
|Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:36 AM|