La Crosse, WI-
Close to 200 experts in the trout fishing
community attend the 5th Annual Driftless Area Symposium held at the
Radison Hotel on March 27 and 28.
Experts from the US Fish and
Wildlife, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of
Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, stream
restoration contractors, and students from various universities gathered
to discuss various issues and current industry trends that face the
trout fishing community of today.
Topics included the impact of
frac sand mining in Central Wisconsin; new approaches to designing an
effective trout stream; monitoring climate change; invasive species; and
the social and economical impact that trout fishing has on the
Various officials of the Iowa, Wisconsin, and
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also gave reports of results
of different studies conducted on trout anglers and the impact of rules
and future proposed rule changes.
One presenter, Scott Stewart
gave a presentation on the status of Wisconsin trout regulations, a
current hot topic for a lot of anglers and groups.
model for Wisconsin trout regulations was formed in 1990, where the
panel decided to develop a set of regulations on 3 principles: physical
nature of a stream, biological needs of a stream, and the social needs
of the people fishing it.
The panel then based regulations on a 5
point category system: 1) northern based streams with slow growing
brook trout, 2) Sand based creeks, 3) southern based streams with a
population of 9 inch brown trout, 4) higher quality fishery containing
12 inch brown trout and 8 inch brook trout, and 5) the social
characteristics of the people fishing a certain body of water.
trout angler habits, climate, and fish behavior on a stream change; the
panel decided to review the policies every 5-10 years.
past year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been
conducting surveys on a multiple of spectrums: web based , drop out
(people that hasn't purchased a license recently), random (active
license holders), and statewide (mail in surveys). The results are
still trickling in, but Steward indicated that he was impressed with
both how receptive people were with the survey and the response he's
been seeing from the surveys.
From 1950 to present Trout
population has increased; brown trout size has increased to greater than
12 inches average, and brook trout size has increased to greater than 8
inches average. This success is contributed to improvement with land
management, changes in precipitation and ground temperatures, catch and
release tactics, habitat improvement, and stocking wild strain trout.
survey results show that anglers prefer to catch wild trout; anglers
want a chance to catch a trophy size fish; have public access to
streams; have medium sized streams; and have streams designated for
catch and release and artificial baits only. Anglers were then asked on
what they thought of how trout fishing has changed over the years and
the response was that they (anglers) felt that there are more
opportunities to fish and more size to the fish.
was asked on what they thought of the trout fishing season. The
response was: anglers are satisfied with the current season, the like
the early catch and release season, anglers are receptive towards having
longer season; especially if harvest is not a factor.
next for this round of rule and regulation review? The Wisconsin DNR
wants to complete the survey analysis; work with a biologist to
incorporate public decisions; and lastly, hold another round of surveys.
The biggest issue they face with this process is how to simplify
boundaries. When the rules are formulated, they want to make sure
social considerations are in place. We want to give people different
experiences on the same stream.