Wisconsin Bass Summer Tournament Rule for 2011
This rule was said to be "not new" by the Wisconsin DNR. It's just going to be enforced for the first time this year. The rule for bass tournaments requiring a permit in Wisconsin states that, although the legal bag limit on most lakes in Wisconsin is 5 fish, from the first Sunday in July to the second Sunday in August, the bag limit for tournaments requiring a permit will be 3 fish. This regulation, however, is only for catch and release tournaments.
It doesn't really affect the club I fish with, because our tournaments are too small to need permits. The thing that bothers me is that if we were to have catch and kill tournaments, we would be able to harvest the normal 5 fish limit in tournaments that require permits during those months. This does not just apply to bass, but also to walleye. The restrictions on walleye tournaments (catch and release), however, extend for most of the summer months. I'm not sure how catching and keeping more fish than we catch and release is better for the overall ecology of our fisheries, though. It doen'st make sense. But then, this is a DNR who has been told (and agrees) that bass eat walleye fry and length limits on bass should be dropped on several lakes to prevent this... but still makes more stringent limits on bass to protect the bass. It all makes no sense.
Wisconsin is also a no-cull state. This would be understandable years ago when anglers used stringers and live wells weren't commonplace, or even heard of. It would make sense, under those conditions, to limit catch and release - fish mortality was much different under those circumstances.
As a blogger who is free to simply share my opinion, I have to say that one of two things is happening: either the DNR lags far behind on their knowledge of how bass anglers have progressed over the years (hard to imagine), or political powers are at play. Does a small mouth really care about politics? Stupid question, I know, but the situation here is getting pretty ridiculous, so it begs a stupid question.
I think it's time that anglers in Wisconsin get together - whether we agree with holding tournaments on Wisconsin waters or not. Before this all goes too far, we need to get together and make a statement. When I mention that to other anglers, sadly I get the "What can I do?" shrug. My answer would be to write to your legislators. Talk. Talk to anyone who will listen. Let's get our message out. In the state of Wisconsin, I would think that there are more people who have been exposed to fishing at some point in their life than who have not. In fact, most studies show this to be the case.
My question, then, is why does everyone say no one is listening to us? Are we not presenting our arguments? My guess would be the latter. If anglers turn their back on this recent change because it does not necessarily affect them, then when it gets to the point that a regulation does affect them, I believe they have no one to blame but themselves. Of course, this is just my opinion.
Tournament anglers in our state continually look for ways to improve fish mortality, and to preserve our fisheries for future generations. It is our heritage, and one that we want to pass down to our children and our grandchildren. It's a way of life here, and one that we'd do anything to preserve. Yet, by and large, we sit by and let it go by the wayside due to differences of opinion that revolve around which species of fish we enjoy catching and how we go about it. It's time to stand together and protect our rights as well as our fisheries.