Anglers express concern over one-walleye bag limit - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Anglers express concern over one-walleye bag limit

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Western Wisconsin (WQOW) - Northern Wisconsin is known for its good fishing, but Monday, an announcement cast a cloud over the upcoming season.

Northern Wisconsin tribes plan to spear so many more walleye, in almost 200 lakes, anglers would be limited to keeping only one walleye a day in those lakes.  That's a big jump from recent years when restrictions were limited to no more than 10 lakes.

"Well it was really surprising and pretty discouraging." That was the reaction Western Wisconsin fishing guide, Jason Halfen had, when he learned Wisconsin tribes plan to spear many more walleye this spring. 

Will Moulton, the Manager of Mouldy's Archery and Tackle, says he wasn't surprised. "Well, I know there has been some grumbling going on from the tribes of being left out of the mining and the wolf issue and some people thought this might be a way to prove a point or get back at people for not being involved," says Moulton.  

He says it didn't take long for the announcement to have an impact. "A couple of the guys that were in this morning talked about a trip that they might have planned up in the Hayward area and were kind of interested in which lakes this would effect because that might change their plans on where they go," said Moulton.  

And if more people consider changing their plans, there's concern about the hit tourism could take.  Moulton says, "Unfortunately, I think a lot of these resort owners and sport shops in the northern part of the state will be affected because some of these tourists may not  choose to go up there. If they have a lake down south where they can catch more walleye, they might be more apt to just stay home."

Halfen says the majority of out-of-towners he guides, come to Wisconsin for the walleye.  "That will impact their decision when they know that the number of fish to catch is going to be reduced and the number of fish that they might be able to harvest for the table is going to be reduced even more. So that is going to impact those people's decisions as they start to make their summer travel plans," says Halfen.  

The DNR has said over the next few weeks it will work with the tribes in hopes of reaching a compromise. "We have to find a way to bring all the interested parties to the table and find a solution that benefits everyone because that's really what it is, a resource that's there for everyone's benefit," says Halfen.  

WQOW News spoke with a representative from the DNR who said there was a meeting Tuesday to discuss building stronger relationships and working to understand tribal cultures. The meeting had been set up in advance and was unrelated to the spearing issue,  but the topic did come up. 

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