The public will have an opportunity to provide input on proposals to simplify existing inland trout fishing regulations and provide more quality trout fishing opportunities.
The state Department of Natural Resources has scheduled 10 public meetings – including one in Waupaca in September – that will be held throughout Wisconsin.
The Waupaca meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, in Room B of the Waupaca Area Public Library, 107 S. Main St.
Meetings are also scheduled in Waukesha, Dodgeville, Green Bay, La Crosse, Wausau, Hayward, Eau Claire, Fitchburg and Ashland.
Beyond simplifying the rules for anglers, communities that serve as home to Wisconsin’s 13,000 miles of trout streams will likely see additional economic benefits as a result of proposed extensions to the spring and fall seasons and elimination of the current five-day closure, according to DNR trout coordinator Joanna Griffin.
“Wisconsin’s trout fishing regulations and seasons were last reviewed in 2003 and much has changed, including improved fish populations,” DNR district fish supervisor Scot Stewart said. “Guided by public input, we’ve developed draft rules that support the continued health of our trout waters while making the fishing experience easier for anglers.”
The DNR has sought public input throughout the rule review process and the next step is to bring the proposed rules to the public for final comment. Since 2011, DNR staff members have hosted 31 public meetings, developed three angler surveys, organized trout task force stakeholder meetings and developed advisory questions for spring hearings hosted by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.
The public feedback has resulted in a proposal that reduces the number of special regulations from more than 40 to 12. The proposal also creates uniformity on streams within small geographic areas.
The new system uses color-coding resembling a stoplight to guide anglers.
Under the proposed rules:
• Green means go fish, with no length limit, a bag limit of five fish and no bait restrictions.
• Yellow means caution, with an 8-inch length limit, a bag limit of three fish and no bait restrictions.
• Red means special regulations are in place. Anglers are advised to stop and understand the regulations before fishing.
Changes also are proposed in the season dates for inland trout fishing. The current early catch-and-release season runs from March 1 up to five days before the regular fishing opener. The proposal would extend the early catch-and-release season to Jan. 1 and run right to the regular fishing opener with no five-day closure period.
“Thanks to the participation of anglers and interested citizens throughout the state, we are ready to move forward with the next steps,” Stewart said.
The DNR will gather additional citizen comments at the 10 meetings. The process will conclude with spring hearings and a vote in conjunction with a meeting of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.