Chippewa spearfishing may unfold in an unusual way this spring.The DNR's Laurel Steffes says all six Chippewa bands are out, but got off to a late start this year. Lakes are open only in the north west and north east parts of the state, with many in north central Wisconsin still ice covered. "Typically the lakes thaw in the western part of the state, and that thaw moves to the east," says Steffes. "I don't think we're going to see as typical a thaw this year," meaning spearers may be on many lakes simultaneously once the water opens.
Spearfishing occurs just after ice out, as water temperatures reach the appropriate level, and walleye come in to shore to spawn. 4,795 walleye had been taken by tribal spearers through Monday night. The Chippewa bands have declared over 50-thousand fish for their harvest this spring, but typically, the actual harvest is around 30-thousand. After spearfishing, the DNR adjusts bag limits for sport anglers upward on lakes where tribal spearers did not take their full quota.