Walleye bag limits to increase on 442 lakes in time for Memorial Day

MADISON (WITI) -- Daily walleye bag limits will increase May 25th on 442 lakes in northern Wisconsin in time for the long Memorial Day weekend as spring spearing winds down by the Wisconsin bands of Chippewa.

The adjustments follow Gov. Scott Walker’s announcement Wednesday of the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative to make available significant funding for use by state, tribal, and private fish hatcheries to produce more walleye for Wisconsin’s lakes.

“Walleye fishing is a great tradition for sport and tribal anglers alike and we’re happy to have such positive news heading into the Memorial Day holiday,” says DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

“DNR and the Chippewa tribes have worked hard for the last 30 years to share and sustain this great fishery, and we are excited about the prospect to make it even better.”

With the ice finally off northern Wisconsin lakes and walleye done spawning, all anglers should find hungry fish ready to bite, state fish biologists say. Find tips for fishing for walleye in “A walleye guy: Loving the chase and tips for landing big fish” in the June 2012 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, and check out the 2013 Wisconsin Fishing Report's fishing forecasts for walleye.

Anglers’ daily bag limit for walleye will increase to five per day on 288 lakes, to four per day on three lakes, and to three walleye per day on 131 lakes, according to Joe Hennessy, who coordinates the treaty fisheries management program for the Department of Natural Resources. All of the bag limit increases reflect actual spear harvest through May 22.

Of the 108 lakes with bag limits less than three, 101 lakes will have a bag limit of two walleye per day and seven lakes will have an bag limit of one walleye per day.

Together, the six Chippewa bands harvested 28,382 walleye and 249 musky as of May 22, 2013. The long-term average harvest of walleye since 2000 is 29,065, and the 2013 total is the lowest walleye harvest total since 2008, likely in part because of the late spring, Hennessy says.

Anglers should consult the 2013-14 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations, signs at boat landings, and the 2013-2014 Revised Ceded Territory Walleye Bag Limits for lake-specific information.

As part of a 1983 Federal Appellate Court decision affirming Chippewa off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, the six bands of Wisconsin Chippewa set annual harvest quotas for off-reservation lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory. To ensure combined tribal and recreational angler harvest does not exceed a sustainable level, the state reduces recreational bag limits in lakes declared for harvest by the Chippewa bands. An administrative rule passed by the state Natural Resources Board in 1998 allows the department to adjust initial bag limits annually to reflect actual spring spearing harvests and projected summer harvests.