An emergency rule governing the lake trout harvest in Lake Superior gained approval Wednesday from the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board. The rule calls for a daily bag limit of three lake trout in key recreational areas.
The new rule, which will be sent to Gov. Scott Walker for review and approval before it takes effect, establishes a recreational daily harvest limit east of Bark Point at two fish between 20 and 25 inches and one fish greater than 40 inches. Throughout the open harvest season in these waters, if the recreational lake trout harvest reaches 7,350 or 75 percent of the allowable recreational harvest of 9,800 fish, the fishery will transition to catch-and-release only for the remainder of the season, which ends Sept. 30.
For waters west of Bark Point, the three-fish total daily bag limit includes a 15-inch minimum size limit and only one fish that is greater than 25 inches. Bag limits in the waters west of Bark Point will not be affected by the 75-percent requirement.
Population assessments over the past six to eight years indicate a decline in lake trout abundance. The new emergency rule follows a previous emergency rule that had reduced the daily bag limits on lake trout to two fish.
The new rule also separates lake trout from other trout species for clarification. This change will allow sport anglers to harvest five trout in addition to their lake trout bag.
The rule also revises harvests for commercial fishers and prohibits previously allowed fishing in the Gull Island refuge. However, because of agreements among the parties to the Lake Superior Fishing Agreement, the rule also removes restrictions from the Hagen’s Beach area, opening this area to commercial fishing between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2016.