Slot Limits on the Wisconsin River: Here's your chance to make it permanent. Get out and vote "Yes" on question #5 next Monday, April 8th at the Annual Spring Conservation Congress hearings in your county.
QUESTION 5: Length and bag limits for walleye on the Wisconsin River. This proposal would make permanent a protected slot limit regulation on walleye, sauger, and hybrids where there is a daily bag limit of 5 fish and the minimum length is 15 inches, but fish from 20 to 28 inches may not be kept and only one fish over 28 inches is allowed. This regulation would apply with a year round open season on: • the Wisconsin River north of the Prairie du Sac Dam in Columbia County up to the Grandfather Dam in Lincoln County, including its sloughs, bayous, and flowages; and • certain waters connected to the Wisconsin River: the Eau Claire River upstream to the Schofield Dam in Marathon County; the Yellow River to Lake Dexter Dam in Wood County; Buena Vista Creek to the Nepco Dam in Wood County; and the Lemonweir River in Juneau and Monroe counties.
The regulation has been in effect since 2002 and is scheduled to expire in 2014. The walleye protected slot limit regulation would also be applied to additional waters connected to the Wisconsin River under this proposal, but the season would only be open from the first Saturday in May to the first Sunday in March for: • the Big Rib River downstream from Highway 29, Peplin Creek, Johnson Creek, Little Eau Claire River, and Little Eau Pleine River in Marathon County; and • the Little Eau Claire River and the Little Eau Pleine River in Portage County.
The management goal is to produce a walleye and sauger fishery that meets varied interests. It would allow harvest of 15 - to 20 - inch fish, a catch and release fishery for 20 - to 28 - inch fish, and harvest of trophy fish greater than 28 inches. Objectives include increasing the percentage (from 8% to 15 - 40%) and catch rate of fish 20 to 28 inches, and increasing the percentage (from 0.3% to 2%) of fish over 28 inches. This regulation is one tool to help meet the management goal because fisheries survey data have shown that the slot has not caused any decline in harvestable size fish, but a greater abundance of fish are now available for catch and release and there is greater opportunity for anglers to catch trophy walleye. Anglers have shown support for the regulation by extending its expiration date at the Fish and Wildlife Spring Hearings in 2006. In addition, biologists have talked with numerous angler groups and fishing clubs since the regulation was enacted over 10 years ago and the response has been overwhelmingly positive to continue the rule.