Following Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer At Home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers to fish close to home and practice social distancing, whether fishing from a boat, dock or shoreline this Saturday, May 2, the opening day of the Wisconsin general fishing season.

Meanwhile, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians announced tribal land access limits on the tribe’s reservation until further notice, including boat landings.

On Wisconsin waters, regular fishing rules and regulations apply for all DNR properties. It is recommended that only anglers living in the same household should fish within 6 feet of one another.

DNR boat launches within open state parks are open. However, all state parks have updated hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will be closed on Wednesdays. Anglers who want to fish within a state park on Wednesdays may still do so that day.

All restrooms, water fountains, buildings and facilities are also closed at all state parks. 

Anglers are encouraged to have a backup plan in the event there is crowding or unsafe conditions where they plan to fish.

“This year anglers will find themselves experiencing a nontraditional fishing opener. Instead of traveling to their favorite spot, they will create a new tradition of fishing closer to home and finding new local spots to catch a fish or two,” said Justine Hasz, bureau director of Fisheries Management. “Fisheries staff have maintained hatchery operations and have been stocking fish out across the state for anglers to go test their skills.”



Tribal closure

Lac du Flambeau tribal officials said the top priority is the safety and security of all who live and work in Lac du Flambeau and those who visit Lac du Flambeau.

“There are zero confirmed coronavirus cases on the reservation as of this announcement,” said Tribal President Joseph Wildcat Sr. “We’re doing everything we can to keep it that way.”

After weighing numerous options, the tribal council voted unanimously to close access to public boat landings, campgrounds, parks, trails and tribal roads located within the exterior boundaries of the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation until further notice. 

LDF Country Market, LDF Gas Station, LDF Smoke Shop, and Lac du Flambeau tribal government buildings also are closed to visitors.

“As our busy season approaches, we’re seeing more visitors to the reservation who are not sheltering at home and we want to ensure we’re up front about what we’re doing to keep everyone as safe as possible,” said Wildcat. “The areas that are closed will be posted with signs to reduce confusion.” 

The Tribal Council issued a Shelter-At-Home Declaration March 25 that asked visitors to the reservation to self-quarantine for 14 days. Certain exemptions exist for work-related activity, but these exempt visitors must follow special safety protocols.

“We truly appreciate all our visitors to our reservation, and we’re hopeful we get beyond this pandemic soon, so we can open things back up,” said Wildcat. “Many people are making sacrifices to their everyday lives during this pandemic to protect community public health. We’re grateful for all who are striving to keep people as safe as possible.”

As with the Shelter-At-Home Declaration, the Lac du Flambeau Police Department and conservation law enforcement will work to ensure tribal land access limitations are observed. 

To answer questions from secondary homeowners and others interested in visiting the reservation, the Tribal Council has set up an email address at covid.inquiries@ldf-tribe.com.

“The last thing we want are families traveling to enjoy time on the reservation only to find out once they arrive that certain tribal lands are closed during the pandemic,” said Wildcat. “There’s no plans for checkpoints or barricades, but rather we are sharing information to help people understand what’s happening and why.”