HAYWARD, WI--After years of promoting catch-and-release fishing, some largemouth bass anglers and biologists are actually encouraging anglers to put a fillet knife to the nation’s favorite freshwater fish.
The result can be some tasty fish nuggets--and bitter debate.
In northern Wisconsin, the second annual “You Hook ‘Em, We Cook ‘Em” fishing event brought out 400 anglers to Nelson Lake, where Wisconsin officials encouraged anglers to catch and cook bass between 10 and 14 inches. Nelson Lake suffers the same problem as many northern Wisconsin lakes--a statewide 14-inch minimum size limit has caused an overabundance of small bass, which often die of old age before reaching 20 inches.
The overabundant bass are also consuming Nelson Lake’s walleyes, and biologists say it’s time to start killing some bass.
About 400 bass were harvested during the event, but fisheries team leader Dave Neuswanger and others got an earful on the Internet. Writing in a local newspaper, Neuswanger said anglers and sponsors were called “killers,” “uneducated morons” and other nasty words in Internet chat rooms.
“Wow. Take a breath, folks,” Neuswanger wrote. “This is not Baghdad.”
He explained that strict catch-and-release fishing is not appropriate all the time. Other biologists agree-a movement is afoot to lift the bass size limit on dozens of northern Wisconsin lakes, giving anglers the green light to eat a bass.