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Vote Moves Toward Extension of Minocqua Chain Walleye Catch-And-Release

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The state Natural Resources Board Tuesday agreed with a preliminary DNR recommendation to limit the Minocqua Chain of Lakes to catch and release walleye fishing for one more year.

In 2015, with the approval of tribes in the ceded territory of Wisconsin, the state closed walleye harvest fishing on the chain after surveys revealed a population crash. The goal is to restock the popular chain to rebuild populations along with improving natural reproduction.

The ban was set to end in April, but as DNR Fisheries Regulation Policy Specialist Meredith Penthorn told the board, they've been working with the tribes and many other interests and felt another year would be helpful...

"...They have noticed improvement over the last several years since the catch-and-release regulation only went into effect. That's based on routine surveys, creel surveys, that sort of thing, standard monitoring protocols. Based on the most up-to-date scientific information coming out of those surveys. The team expects that the goal for the walleye population will be achieved by 2021 if we extend this catch-and-release season for one additional year...."

The board approved the preliminary scope statement with little discussion. Penthorn says they will be having discussions with stakeholders and will follow up the board's preliminary approval by moving forward with an emergency rule, possibly next month.

Officials say public meetings in Oneida county showed strong support for continuing the no-harvest regulation for one additional year. They report 90 percent supported extending the current catch-and-release regulation one more year.

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