Madison--The state Natural Resources Board has approved extending for one more year a catch-and-release walleye fishery on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes.
A zero bag limit, catch-and-release only season has been in effect for the past five years after fisheries scientists found a sharply declining walleye population.
The goal is to restore natural reproduction. DNR Northern Fisheries Supervisor Mike Vogelsang says in 2009 they noticed a sharp trend downward in walleye populations. He says prior to that time, there was good natural reproduction.
He says the five-year catch-and-release rule has worked so far...
"The good news is Minocqua is on track, we're well above goal there, based on the 2019 survey. Kawaguesaga is very close. We have every reason to believe with the stocked-year classes moving up, Kawaguesaga lake will be at goal. Meanwhile, (DNR) staff will be on Lake Tomahawk doing a survey out there to hopefully see that two(walleye) per acre met..."
Vogelsang reported the state effort beginning in 2012 to plant larger young walleye has been working. Vogelsang says the chain got out of balance and enabled the rise of bass and crappie species to further reduce the walleye populations.
"When the adult walleye numbers crashed, it was apparent that bass filled that void, crappies as well and everything got out of balance. Right now we have some momentum. We're pushing that scale back the other way and seeing good things out there..."
This emergency rule will extend the catch-and-release season for one more year while the department and partners discuss appropriate permanent regulations.
Vogelsang says the majority of anglers back the move to extend catch-and-release one more year.