Wisconsin’s Chippewa tribes say they want to spear more than 63,000 walleye across northern Wisconsin this spring. It’s the tribes annual declaration of the amount of fish they could potentially harvest under terms of a court decision which upheld their 19th century treaty rights.
“We haven’t really commented yet on the declarations,” said Mike Staggs, Director of the Buearu of Fisheries Management with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “We received them. Each year we then review them and work through them, to make sure that when we announce our bag limit adjustments everything is very final.”
The declaration is a record – some 5,000 more walleye than last year’s declaration, which forced the DNR to limit anglers to one or two fish on more than 500 lakes. But Staggs notes the spearing has historically netted fewer fish than the six Chippewa tribes declare.
“If you go back and look at the actual history of harvest, it’s relatively stable, 25,000 to 35,000 fish in about 200 lakes,” he said. The DNR has the ability to readjusting angler quotas after spearing is finished. Last year the Chippewa took only 28,400 fish – and the DNR raised bag limits.
The chairman of the state Assembly’s tourism committee, Representative Dean Kaufert, said Thursday that the Chippewa tribes’ new record spearfishing goals are too aggressive.