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NEWS STORIES

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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 IN OTHER NEWS

MADISON - Leaders of the Senate and Assembly plan to hold a news conference on Wednesday morning to announce terms of the agreement. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos's spokeswoman Kit Beyer said Tuesday the deal had been reached and details would come out Wednesday.

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- Find out how a local group is trying to help the endangered Monarch Butterfly population.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MADISON - Update: 6/30  5:40pm

Republican Sen. Luther Olsen says the budget-writing committee hopes to meet on Thursday to complete its work so the Legislature can vote on passing the state budget next week.

Olsen commented Tuesday after leaving a five-hour closed meeting with Republican senators.

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MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker will greet President Barack Obama when he comes to La Crosse on Thursday to talk about the economy.

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WISCONSIN - With the Fourth of July right around the corner, many people will enjoy the holiday out in the warm weather. If you do, it's important to remember food safety to avoid getting any food illness this weekend.

Bacteria spreads much faster in the heat. Any food left out for more than an hour could go bad. 

Health Department workers say to keep your food out of what they call the "food danger zone".

"It's 140 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and ways that they can do this is to put cold food items on top of ice and water baths and hot items, you're going to want to keep them covered with foil or kept on the cooler side of the grill," said Forest County Health Department Nutritionist Karly Johnson.

Food kept inside at room temperature should be put away after two hours. Make sure to wash any utensils or plates used for raw meat before reusing. That's the best way to avoid common food illnesses.

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VILAS COUNTY - Earlier this month, legislators put a proposal into the state budget that would take away a county's ability to make its own shoreline zoning regulations. Here in the Northwoods, two counties have come out against that proposal.

If the state budget went through as it's written right now, individual counties and lake associations could lose their power to set zoning regulations. That's a big issue for many in the Northwoods. Vilas County alone has 1,300 lakes. The proposal has caused great concerns.

"The concern was that the proposal had the potential for doing great damage to the environment, had the potential for causing a severe problem as far as assessment procedures, and generally was opposed by the citizens-the residents-of this county," said Chuck Hayes, a Vilas County supervisor.

Vilas and Oneida counties both held board meetings last week. Both counties voted to ask for removal of zoning changes from the budget. They argue the issue of shoreline zoning was never given any time to be discussed.

"At the very least, I think the public should have had a chance to weigh in on this issue that affects the environment," said Hayes. "The counties, the municipalities and individual residents, their opinion wasn't sought on this. It was simply put in."

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WISCONSIN - Wisconsin's maple syrup season saw success in 2015.

Maple syrup production rose 14 percent compared to last year.

The total production was 215,000 gallons.

That amount is the second highest ever for the state behind 2013.

Newswatch 12 visited Whataview Farm in Phelps in March.

They had a great season and are excited to supply its customers.

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