Minocqua Chain to see another year of walleye catch and release

To protect the future walleye fishery of what once was a premiere destination, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is extending the catch-and-release walleye season on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes in Oneida County beginning May 2, 2020.

The catch-and-release regulation for walleye was implemented in 2015 to help rehabilitate the declining walleye fishery. Several years of no harvest has allowed the walleye population to grow, but natural reproduction and population goals are still not at target levels. The Natural Resources Board approved an emergency rule to put the extension into effect while a permanent rule is under discussion.

Walleyes are currently stocked into the Minocqua Chain to help re-establish populations, but populations on some of the lakes are still below established goals. Walleye population goals are expected to be achieved by 2021 under this emergency rule.

Waters subject to the extended catch and release season include Lake Kawaguesaga, Lake Minocqua, Mid Lake, Little Tomahawk and Tomahawk Lake.

A partnership of stakeholders including the DNR, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Walleyes for Tomorrow, Lac du Flambeau Tribe and Tribal Natural Resources Department and Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company have met over the past several years to evaluate the status of the walleye population and make recommendations to bring it to sustainable levels.

The stakeholder group has worked with the public to support extending the catch-and-release season for walleye to meet walleye population goals in Lakes Kawaguesaga and Tomahawk and solidify natural reproduction across the lakes, which will decrease the need for future stocking of young walleye to sustain the population. The Lac du Flambeau Tribe will also maintain the walleye spearing prohibition on the Minocqua Chain to help achieve these goals.

“One more year of catch and release walleye fishing on the Minocqua Chain will help increase walleye abundance to levels that will be more sustainable for harvest,” said Mike Vogelsang, DNR North District fisheries supervisor. “This will also give us time to bring partners and anglers back to the table to discuss permanent regulation options for future fishing seasons.”

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