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No walleye till 2025: Wisconsin DNR extends harvest ban on Minocqua Chain of Lakes
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NATURAL RESOURCES BOARD | MINOCQUA CHAIN OF LAKES

No walleye till 2025: Wisconsin DNR extends harvest ban on Minocqua Chain of Lakes

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Zero harvest for walleye on the Minoqua Chain of Lakes

John Kubisiak, a fisheries supervisor for the state Department of Natural Resources, transfers netted walleye to a holding tank on Kawaguesaga Lake in Minocqua in 2015.

Anglers will have to wait another four years to eat walleye from one of the state’s premier destinations.

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved a plan Wednesday to extend a harvest ban on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes as part of a decade-long rehabilitation plan.

The board also voted unanimously to impose permanent harvest restrictions starting in April 2025 that will limit anglers to one walleye per day. The new rule also prohibits harvesting walleye shorter than 18 inches or between 22 and 28 inches.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, the plan will allow the walleye population to continue recovering while allowing anglers limited opportunities to keep the fish they catch.

The DNR, in partnership with the Lac du Flambeau Band, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and Walleyes for Tomorrow, imposed a five-year walleye harvest ban in 2015 in response to dramatic population declines that started in the early 2000s.

Surveys this spring showed the walleye population had reached the goal of two to three fish per acre, but were not reproducing fast enough to sustain that level.

Minocqua Chain of Lakes

The DNR also discovered there are too many females among fish being stocked.

While about two-thirds of public comments supported extending the catch-and-release restrictions through 2021, sentiment was mixed on a further extension.

DNR Secretary Preston Cole said the regulations seek to balance science and the state’s $10 billion annual outdoor recreation industry.

“This is the culmination of the DNR’s responsibility to protect the resource and the economy,” Cole said.

Surveys this spring showed the walleye population had reached the goal of two to three fish per acre, but were not reproducing fast enough to sustain that level.

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