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February 22, 2020

12/21/2019 7:30:00 AM
Natural Resources Board accepts donation from Walleyes for Tomorrow
Jacob Friede
Of the Lakeland Times

At this month's Natural Resources Board (NRB) meeting, the board unanimously approved and gratefully accepted a $50,000 donation from Walleyes for Tomorrow (WFT) for enhanced law enforcement on the Minocqua chain of lakes.

The chain is currently under a zero bag limit for walleye as part of a walleye rehabilitation project started in 2015 by a partner group that includes the Headwaters Basin Chapter of WFT, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), the Lac du Flambeau band, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR).

As result of the zero bag, adult walleye populations have made a strong recovery since 2015.

"It's been stocked every year since the zero bag took place and the population is coming back," said Mike Arrowood, state chairman for WFT, who represented the organization at the meeting.

There is concern some anglers will take advantage of the potent chain while it is still closed as well as when it opens to a restrictive harvest limit.

Therefore WFT, through the Headwaters Basin chapter, is putting up $50,000 to fund extra warden enforcement on the chain to dissuade any over harvest.

"There has been some bag by various individuals, so what we are anticipating is that this will enhance law enforcement by using Limited Term Employee (LTE) law enforcement people to give it an enhanced enforcement presence on the Minocqua chain," Arrowood said. "That's the purpose of this."

It is still undetermined when the chain will open for walleye harvest though the partner group has pushed to keep it closed this year, which would be an extra year from the original five year plan.

And that is because natural reproduction, the establishment of which was a major goal of the project, has not been observed during young-of-the-year fall surveys on the Minocqua chain.

With another year of no bag, however, the fertile adult population may increase to a level that can finally establish a year class, which is all the more reason to keep hands off, because the process is fragile as it is.

"Natural reproduction is a challenge there," Arrowood said. "That's the big challenge and that needs to be addressed."

In addition to the $50,000 donation for extra warden coverage, the Headwaters Basin chapter of WFT has already invested over $100,000 toward spawning habitat restoration on the Minocqua chain, as they have built two new spawning reefs over the last year.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or outdoors@lakelandtimes.com.





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