Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Good news for fishing in Wisconsin

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Greg Peck
Friday, May 23, 2014

It was good to read in today's Gazette that the state Department of Natural Resources is boosting this season's walleye bag limits on almost 450 lakes in northern Wisconsin in time for the Memorial Day weekend. The DNR says it's doing so in light of lower-than-usual spearing harvests by Chippewa Indian bands. Years after angry protests during spearing season, those treaty rights still don't sit well with many Wisconsinites in our north woods.

The DNR is boosting walleye limits to five per day on more than half of those lakes and to three on the rest. That's not only good news for anglers but the merchants and restaurants that depend on tourists.

Last May, Gov. Scott Walker unveiled his Wisconsin Walleye Initiative. The DNR boosted walleye fingerling production from 40,000 to 400,000 last year. Fingerlings for stocking are expected to reach 700,000 by 2016.

Walker's administration said this program should dramatically increase walleyes available for anglers. That's good news, too. Maybe I'll have incentive to fish more often.

On Wednesday, The Gazette printed another fishing-related item on our state wire page. It said the DNR plans to send more than 1,000 questionnaires to randomly selected fishing license holders each month. These surveys will ask us where we fished, what we caught and what we kept during a given month. The DNR last did such a survey in 2006. Information gleaned helps fisheries staffers identify trends, catch and harvest rates, and what species anglers favor.

I do love walleye fishing the most. But I rarely fish for walleyes in Wisconsin. In most recent years, I've joined buddies in a week-long outing to Pickerel Arm Camp, the well-run fishing resort in Ontario, Canada, owned and operated by Janesville's Lee and Julie Edwardson. We're planning another trip this summer.

In fact, had I received such a survey from the Wisconsin DNR last year, filling it out would have been simple. That's because, last year, I bought a state fishing license but never used it. It was the second time in the last few years I've done so.

That won't happen this year. Later this summer, we're taking our grandkids for a week of fishing at Loon Haven Resort in Mercer. I also hope to get up to the Menominee River on the Wisconsin-Michigan border to fish with my high school buddy this fall.

Where and when do you plan to fish this year? Got plans to fish this weekend?

Do you have a favorite “fishing hole”? What's your favorite species?

Has it been a while since you fished in Wisconsin? If so, consider casting a lure Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8. That's Wisconsin's annual Free Fishing Weekend. That weekend, you can fish without a license or trout stamp on any inland water and on Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.

Fishing is one of Wisconsin's great outdoors sports. Get out there for fresh air and relaxation!

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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