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Dark Ages

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The Dark Ages Of Wisconsin Trout Fishing


For about 5 years you have been hearing the trout management folks of Wisconsin singing their praises every meeting they had.  Their arms were sore from patting themselves on the back and grinning.  Things are about to change.

Just very recently they did surveys and wanted angler input about why folks had left trout fishing.  "They" tallied up the numbers and spun the statistics to suit their final decisions. 
I have log books that date back 35 years.  The numbers of trout held steady for many years.  The general size also was steady.  About fifteen years ago I noticed a change in numbers of trout.  This trend continued and three years ago I had my best numbers year ever and my fewest large trout to hand logged for the year.  This is not an anomolly .  More trout mean fewer big trout.  There is only so much food in a stream and the big trout of days past are disappearing at an alarming rate.
Part of the survey was asking why people left trout fishing???  A significant number remarked on the regulations being too cumbersome.  So what did the "Trout Committee" comprised of 80 percent of catch and release only anglers do???

They added "pages" of regulations.  They hid behind a parlor trick of making less classifications of streams and they called this simplifications. So now there are fewer classifications of streams and fewer colors on the county maps. The average trout angler in Wisconsin was totally ignored.  The regulations for the catch and release folks don't change and they are in the minority.  They can still mindlessly release trout no matter the results to the trout population and size overall. A shake-up and new blood needs to be added to this committee of the Conservation Congress.
They made the rules more restrictive and added numerous regulations making the regulations even more complicated and unattractive to the folks that like harvesting trout.  The trout committee is comprised of folks that eat one or two trout a year to make themselves look like "real"  trout anglers so they don't appear to only injure trout for sport alone. 

The overall size of trout is down and this is a fact.  The catch and release crowd blame it on over-harvest of large trout by worm and spin anglers.  They should be looking in the mirror because they are the reason for the size decline in the streams.  More trout equal small trout.  There is only so much food for trout to share and more fish mean fewer big trout.
Along with the regulations' "simplifications" they have changed the length of trout you may keep in many streams.  This they did along with an increase in the numbers you may keep.  These streams are the overpopulated streams.  They want to thin the herd with these simplifications. The days of taking a huge trout home to show the folks at home and to brag about will be getting fewer each year.

The catch and release anglers will continue to let everything go and that is their right.  The rest of the majority of trout anglers will leave trout fishing due to the "NOT" wanting to harvest five tiny bony trout.  The thinning of the herd gamble will backfire because the folks they are depending on to do the thinning will leave.  They will migrate to a different kind of fishing that is less restrictive and will allow them to take home a limit of fish that can feed their family without picking through bones.

Ten years from now the fish managers that were patting themselves on the back will be puzzled because they have way too many small fish and there has been a mass exodus of spin and worm anglers that like eating fish.  They will send out another survey and the results will fit the crime.

There will be thousands of trout every mile but they will be stunted skinny little catch and release play things.  A big trout will be 16 inches.  The days of the 20 inch brown trout will be gone. You may see a glimpse of one from time to time when the back patters have a new survey scheduled and they need to up the general size surveyed in a stream and they release some brooders in a stream that has historically been only a catch and release stream for decades to skew the sizes overall.

This will be a huge trout in 10 years.  The numbers will skyrocket in managed streams.  The only place you will find a big trout is in non-designated water where the WDNR has not micromanaged.  Welcome to the "Bad Old Days."

Welcome to the Dark Days of Wisconsin Fish Management.  The WDNR is so slow at change and when they do they are historically bad when it comes to getting it right.  They are the reason this will happen.  The one sided Conservation Congress Trout Committee and the WDNR are to blame.

I am seriously contemplating not buying a trout stamp next year.

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