How Will Walleye Bag Limits Affect Guides?Submitted: 03/20/2013
Story By Kailey Burton

MINOCQUA - Fishing tourism puts money in many pocketbooks in the Northwoods. For those who depend on that revenue lowered walleye bag limits are a big concern.

Both the DNR and local Chippewa tribes say they want a better agreement when it comes to walleye and managing resources. Until that happens though, towns that depend on fishing tourism could take a hit.

The links between the lakes and the economy are complicated to say the least. Still for fishing guides like Russ and Jake Smith of Minocqua, the conditions of the lakes and the populations of fish have a clear economic impact.

"I can remember when all the motels were full," said Russ Smith, "And all the bait shops were very busy… restaurants. It's a snowballing effect. It affects everybody when the fish population and the bag limits are down and people go other places."

The science of caring for fisheries is much more complicated. Life would be easy if the lakes held an unlimited number of walleye. But DNR fisheries expert John Kubisiak knows those desires can't always be met.

"You can make some changes and some tweaks to it, and you can change which species is dominant in a lake, if you push hard enough, but the basic parameters, the basic ability of a lake to sustain fish populations is finite. It's not unlimited."

Kubisiak says lake ecosystems change. There are dozens of reasons why: weather patterns, temperatures, quality of vegetation, number and balance of other predatory fish, shoreline development, and the introduction of non-native species all have an affect.

Economies can change though, and the people of the Northwoods are resilient.

For guides like the Smiths, walleye aren't their only target.
"Pike, perch, crappie, musky, and small mouth bass, and sometimes we take some real little kids out for bluegill and panfish too," says Jack Smith.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

"People come to this whether there's good weather of bad weather," said Executive Director of the Eagle River Chamber Kim Emerson. "And with this year being great weather, we had above-average crowds and it was just spectacular. We're so happy about that."

By 3 p.m. Saturday, the World's Largest Cranberry Cheesecake had already been devoured. Sales of slices go towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin. 

Organizers said they also almost sold out of cranberries, but they said they would still have more to sell on Sunday. 

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Algoma 24, Sturgeon Bay 8

Almond-Bancroft 61, Tigerton/Marion 6

Amherst 56, Manawa 6

Antigo 42, Lakeland 28

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People can get trapped in tree stands, water, or a tight spot. 

Local fire departments respond to those emergencies.

Merrill's first Citizen's Fire Academy learned about these specialized rescues Thursday night.

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VILAS COUNTY - In July, Karen Wessel gave her life to save a boy from drowning in Vilas County's Star Lake.  Now she is being recognized for her heroism.

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