Daily walleye bag limits have been adjusted on 537 lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory in response to harvest declarations made by six bands of Chippewa in Wisconsin, the state Department of Natural Resources has announced. These bag limits are effective between May 5, 2012, and March 3, 2013, inclusive.
There will be a three-walleye bag limit for sport anglers on 225 lakes, a two-fish daily bag limit on 311 lakes, and a one-fish daily bag limit on Grindstone Lake in Sawyer County.
“DNR strives to maintain recreational opportunities for the public while assuring the tribes can exercise their court-affirmed rights,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “Our mutual goal is a healthy, sustainable walleye fishery for future generations of all of our respective constituencies.”
Most off-reservation Chippewa tribal harvest takes place during the spring spearfishing season. Tribal spearers typically harvest walleye from 170-180 lakes annually, regardless of the number of lakes initially declared. DNR will review tribal harvest following the spring spearfishing season and may revise bag limits upwards on lakes lightly or not speared. An administrative rule passed by the state Natural Resources Board in 1998 allows the department to adjust initial bag limits to reflect actual spring spearing harvest and projected summer harvests.
The adjusted walleye bag limits are available in portable document format on the fishing regulations pages of the DNR website. They will also be posted to the fishing regulations page of the DNR Fishing Wisconsin website and are being published as an insert to the 2012-2013 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations. Lakes not listed are subject to the regulations printed in the regulations pamphlet. Anglers should check the regulations for special size and bag limits that are in effect on specific waters.
Of 232 lakes declared by the Lac du Flambeau Band, 217 will have a daily bag limit of three walleye for sport anglers, while 14 lakes and chains will have a daily bag limit of two walleye. Those lakes are: Rice River Flowage and Lake Mohawksin (Lincoln County), Clear and Tomahawk lakes, Rainbow and Willow flowages (Oneida), Butternut and Pike (Price), and Ballard, Big (Boulder Junction), Big Muskellunge, Island, and Star lakes (Vilas).
2012 marks the 15th year the Lac du Flambeau and state have cooperated on the agreement giving the band authority to sell fishing licenses in return for making declarations at a level that allows a three-walleye per day recreational angler bag limit.
“This year’s agreement assures a three-walleye per day bag limit for sport anglers on most lakes the Lac du Flambeau spear,” said Stepp. The band declared 14 lakes at the two-bag level. Also, the band has promised that it would not select any lake for a two-bag, two years in a row.
“We believe that the agreement is good for both the northern tourism interests and the tribe,” said Stepp. “Our cooperation and respectful government-to-government consultation serves tribal members and the public alike.”
As part of a 1983 federal Appellate Court decision affirming Chippewa off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, the six bands of Wisconsin Chippewa set annual harvest quotas for off-reservation lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory. As part of court agreements, the Department of Natural Resources reduces bag limits for recreational hook and line anglers in lakes declared for harvest by the Chippewa bands to assure the combined tribal and recreational angler harvest does not jeopardize the ability of walleye to sustain its population in any lake.
For background information on Chippewa treaty rights, a description of the management and monitoring system used to ensure the long term viability of fisheries in the Ceded Territory, and to see data collected as part of that monitoring system, including walleye population estimates and creel survey summaries for all game fish, go to DNR’s Fisheries in the Ceded Territory page and search for keywords “ceded territory.”