whether fishing rules have become too complex
DULUTH, Minn. (AP) -- Some experts in the Department
of Natural Resources worry the state' s fishing regulations
have become too complex.
As more of the state' s 5, 400 fishing lakes and 15,
000 miles of fishable rivers get special regulations,
some anglers, conservation officers and resource managers
say the complexity is starting to work against them.
Across the state, there are nine different bass length
regulations, seven different length regulations for walleye
and nine for pike. And more than 130 lakes and streams
have their own rules governing the length of a fish that
can be taken by an angler.
Fisheries biologists like the flexibility of tailoring
regulations to the specific biological needs of a lake
or stretch of river. Some regulations have been credited
with restoring fishing on Rainy Lake, the St. Louis River
and other areas.
But Ron Payer, the DNR' s director of fisheries, said
the agency needs to look at standardizing regulations.
" We don' t want to go down the road toward a hodgepodge
of regulations that makes it so confusing that people
can' t or won' t pay attention to the regulations, " Payer
But simplification won' t be easy. The state' s size
and varied bodies of water work against it.
And the DNR wants to make sure rules lead to improved
fishing. Special regulations must force anglers to release
some fish they otherwise would keep or the size and number
of fish won' t improve.
Wisconsin has a broad 15-inch minimum length for walleyes.
That' s simple to understand, but there' s no data that
it' s done much to improve fishing, said Paul Radomski,
a DNR fisheries researcher in Brainerd.
At the annual fishing roundtable last month in St. Cloud,
DNR fisheries officials sought comments from resort owners,
guides, anglers and conservation club leaders on fishing
issues. One group discussed developing regional fishing
regulations as a compromise between statewide and lake-to-lake
But that idea was poorly received because some people
believe it might pit areas of the state against each other
to attract anglers and tourists.
" Special regs and individual waters management may sometimes
be confusing to the public, but they are showing positive
results for the overall health of the fisheries, " said
Butch Eggen, a guide at Crane Lake. " I believe today'
s angler is informed... and willing to practice them if
it shows improvement."
The DNR has an internal team looking at ways to simplify
experimental regulations. It will begin work in earnest
this summer and could bring its ideas to the 2003 fishing