Lake Michigan anglers: rejoice. Under an emergency rule approved by the National Resources Board, anglers may now bring home more lake trout.
A session held by the board in the first week of March will have anglers flocking to fishing supply stores, such as D&R Sports Center, to update their gear. During the hearing, the board approved an emergency rule that increased the season length and bag limits when fishing for lake trout. Anglers concurred that it was now feasible to increase the daily lake trout limits, as they believed that lake trout is a near-recovered species.
Restoration of Lake Trout a Success
The lake trout sport harvest has remained at or below levels that experts consider necessary for the species’ recovery since 1998. The restoration of lake trout began over three decades ago, with control measures implemented to overcome the ecosystem challenges posed by the growing population of sea lamprey. Despite their efforts, however, in 2016, the lake trout harvest was down 46% from that of the previous year.
This year, as stakeholders gathered to discuss the changes in the Lake Michigan ecosystem as well as strategies that could help improve the balance of predators and prey fish, they agreed to raise the daily lake trout bag limit from two fish to five. Doing so, they say, will not only reduce predation on the forage base but also open more opportunities for recreation.
Continuous Restoration Efforts
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assures the community that it would remain committed to the restoration of the species as well as to the promotion of a more diverse trout and salmon species fishery. DNR Great Lakes fisheries supervisor Brad Eggold says they intend to monitor the harvest throughout the emergency rule period and use the information to come up with a permanent rule.
The emergency rule is now for consideration by Governor Scott Walker. While it is still pending for approval, DNR will continue holding concurrent public hearings.
After the emergency rule and planned permanent rule takes effect in the 2017 season, the community looks forward to a more diverse fishery, as well as more exciting recreational opportunities.