ORDER OF THE STATE OF WISCONSIN NATURAL RESOURCES BOARD
AMENDING, REPEALING AND RECREATING, AND CREATING RULES
The statement of scope for this rule, SS 114-14, was approved by the Governor on October 31, 2014, published in Register No. 707 on November 15, 2014, and approved by the Natural Resources Board on December 10, 2014.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board proposes an order to repeal NR 20.16 (1) (a) 2. and 21.04 (11) (b), amend NR 20.03 (31) (a), 20.16 (1) (a) and (a)1., 20.18 (12) (a), 21.04 (7), (8) (a), (11) (a), and (13) (a), 25.10 (1) (b) 1., 3., and 8., and 25.10 (3); to repeal and recreate NR 20.20 and 26; and to create NR 19.001 (3m), 19.05 (4), and 21.04 (7) (c) relating to fishing regulations on inland, outlying, and boundary waters of Wisconsin.
Analysis Prepared by the Department of Natural Resources
1. Statutes Interpreted: Sections 23.09 (2) (c), 23.22 (2), 29.014 (1), 29.041, and 29.053 (2), Stats., have been interpreted as giving the department the authority to make changes to fishing regulations on inland, outlying, and boundary waters of Wisconsin.
3. Explanation of Agency Authority:
Section 23.09 (2) (c), Stats., provides that the department may designate fish refuges to secure the perpetuation and adequate supply of any species of fish and provide safe retreats in which fish may breed and replenish adjacent fishing waters. Section 23.22 (2), Stats., directs the department to establish a statewide program to control invasive species, which are nonindigenous species whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. The department created ch. NR 40, Wis. Adm. Code, which lists several species of Asian carp as prohibited invasive species. Section 29.014 (1), Stats., directs the department to establish and maintain conditions governing the taking of fish that will conserve the fish supply and ensure the citizens of this state continued opportunities for good fishing. Section 29.041, Stats., provides that the department may regulate fishing on and in all interstate boundary waters and outlying waters. Section 29.053 (2), Stats., provides that the department may establish conditions governing the taking of fish for the state as a whole, for counties or parts of counties, or for waterbodies or parts of waterbodies. It also allows the department to establish a fishing season on specified bodies of water in certain urban areas to allow fishing only by persons who are under 16 years old or who are disabled, as specified in s. 29.193 (3) (a), (b), or (c), Stats.
4. Related Statutes or Rules:
The department is concurrently proposing a rule (FH-12-14) addressing minor changes to administrative code relating to the regulation of fishing. The rule is being pursued to ensure the rule language that governs fishing in inland, outlying, and boundary waters is accurate and properly reflects the desired management of Wisconsin waters. The objectives are to remove sections of code that are outdated or have been replaced by other statute or code changes, correct errors that occurred during the drafting of rules, and add or repeal language to clarify intent of original rules. FH-12-14 rule changes are reflected in this rule language.
The department is also concurrently proposing a rule (CR14-029) to allow trolling statewide that may affect language in this rule. This rule does not reflect those changes at this time. The rule has been under review at the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Compliance since July 2014.
5. Plain Language Analysis:
With this rule, the department will make changes to fish size limits, bag limits, seasons, and other regulations related to fishing in inland, outlying, and boundary waters. Fishing regulations are in place to help meet management goals and objectives for waters and their fish species, such as providing a trophy walleye fishery or a bass fishery that maximizes predation on smaller fishes. The regulation proposals included in this rule are based on surveys and analyses conducted by fish biologists and input from local stakeholders and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.
SECTIONS 1 and 2 create a definition of “Asian carp” and require that all Asian carp transported within or through Wisconsin must have been eviscerated (disemboweled/gutted) or the gills plate completely severed so that the fish cannot be revived under any circumstances. This is another tool to help the department work with other states and federal agencies to prevent Asian carp from becoming established in the Upper Mississippi River and in the Great Lakes.
SECTIONS 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 13, along with individual county bag and size limit regulations in SECTION 7, put in place new regulations to manage trout on inland waters statewide, including:
For all inland lakes and ponds, including put-and-take lakes and ponds stocked with trout, implement a statewide open season from the first Saturday in May to the first Sunday in March, which matches the general game fish open season, and a daily bag and size limit that matches the county base regulation (either 5 trout of any length may be kept per day or 3 trout may be kept per day if they are at least 8 inches). A small number of lakes will have special regulations that differ from their county base regulation.
Expand seasonal trout fishing opportunities on inland streams and connected springs and spring ponds by:
o beginning the early catch and release season (on streams where it currently exists) on the first Saturday in January and ending on the first Friday in May, and
o extending the end of the trout open season by two weeks from September 30 to October 15
Change the total daily bag limit for trout from inland waters to 5 in total but only 2 may be lake trout, and clarify that the possession limit for trout from inland waters is 10.
Change inland trout size limits and bag limits in every county of the state, which reduces the number of special regulation types, allows additional harvest opportunities, improves the range of sizes of trout, protects species from harvest in some waters, and expands opportunities to catch trophy-sized trout in other waters.
SECTION 8 repeals and recreates NR 20.20 that is the list of most of the fishing regulations throughout the State. Amendments to the table include the trout bag and size limit changes in every county that are mentioned above, as well as the following summary:
Apply one of the following panfish regulation options to approximately 100 lakes (counts differ if lakes in a chain are counted separately) in order to evaluate angler acceptance and the extent to which each regulation improves panfish average size. All of these regulations will sunset on March 1, 2026.
o 25/10 - a total of 25 panfish may be kept per day but no more than 10 of any one species
o Spawning season 15/5 – a total of 25 panfish may be kept per day except during May and June when a total of 15 panfish may be kept per day, but no more than 5 of any one species
o 15/5 - a total of 15 panfish may be kept per day, but no more than 5 of any one species year round
Allow 25 panfish of any size to be kept per day except only 5 or fewer sunfish (bluegill and pumpkinseed) may be over 7 inches on Big Sand Lake, Gunlock Lake, and Shishebogama Lake in Vilas and Oneida Counties and the Cloverleaf Chain of Lakes (Round, Grass, and Pine lakes) in Shawano County
Make regulations consistent between the connected Jackson and Namekagon lakes and clarify in Administrative Code and the regulations book that Garden Lake is part of Namekagon Lake in Bayfield County
Amend regulations for all species on Long, Herde, and Dark lakes in Chippewa County so that they will be applied to the lake chain as a whole (Long Lake Chain), and now allow largemouth bass of any length to be kept and maintain an 18-inch minimum length limit for smallmouth bass with a combined bag limit of 5 fish, but only 1 may be smallmouth bass on Long Lake Chain
Allow only 3 walleye to be kept and they must be at least 18 inches, and allow 5 largemouth and smallmouth bass of any length to be kept in the following waters: Upper and Lower Eau Claire lakes in Bayfield and Douglas counties; Sand Lake in Chippewa County; Squash Lake in Oneida County; Balsam Lake in Polk County; Pulaski Lake in Rusk County, and Durphee and Osprey lakes in Sawyer County