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Energy & Environment

Walleye Rules Draw Optimism and Concern at Public Hearing

Natalie Jablonski
The Minocqua-Tomahawk chain of lakes is catch and release only, under new rules put forward by the DNR.

People have until June 30th to submit written comments to the state DNR on how walleye are being managed in northern Wisconsin’s ceded territory.  That includes feedback how specific lakes should be regulated.

A public hearing held Friday on the topic drew few participants, with just four members of the public attending.  

Sports shop owner and fishing guide Kurt Justice says he has mixed feelings about the new rules to allow a three-fish bag limit on most lakes in the ceded territory.  


“I’m glad to see the state step up and open up a three bag limit, as far as us for our tourism business, which is very important," he said. "But I’m also concerned on the biological end, as far as what effects that will have going forward.”  

DNR Treaty Fisheries Coordinator Joe Hennessy says the state can compensate for the higher bag limit with more restrictive size limits when necessary.    

“If we have a high-density walleye population we can use a more liberal regulation," Hennessy explained. "In other places where the walleye are kind of trucking along, they’re doing okay, we’ll have a 15” minimum and a protected slot limit.” 


That means fish within certain dimensions must be thrown back.  

In previous years the state lowered bag limits in response to the number of fish that Chippewa tribes intended to harvest in northern Wisconsin’s ceded territory.  


Hennessy adds that now is the time for people to submit comments on how specific lakes should be regulated in terms of size limit restrictions.  

Once a permanent rule is set, it could take two years to reclassify an individual lake.  

The new regulations are currently in place under an emergency rule, with the state Natural Resources Board set to consider a permanent rule in August. 

Comments can be submitted by email to; or by calling 608-267-9427; or fax 608-266-2244.


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