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LETTER: Driftless area needed for trout fishing

To the Editor:

Over the past 20 years the Wisconsin Driftless Area in western Wisconsin has evolved into one of the best trout fishing areas in America. This occurred as a result of changing land use, which improved water quality, habitat projects and wild trout stocking. The trout resource in this area is now at least 25 times greater than it was in 1990. What has been the WDNR regulatory response to this remarkable transformation? There has been no response.

In 1975 nine counties in the southern part of the driftless area were opened for trout fishing on Jan. 1. Intensive monitoring showed that nine month fishing had no impact on wild trout in these counties. However, Wisconsin Conservation Congress members demanded that nine month trout fishing be closed in this area because early fishing never expanded beyond these nine counties. This season ended in 1995 solely for "political reasons." There was no biological basis to terminate early fishing in these nine counties.

Iowa also has a driftless area. The trout resource in this area is identical to the trout resource in the Wisconsin Driftless Area, but is much, much smaller. Iowa has year around trout fishing. Iowa fish managers have not documented any negative impacts on their trout resource due to year around fishing. This strongly suggests that the Wisconsin Driftless Area also could have year around trout fishing.

Trout rules will be revised in 2015. The Wisconsin Driftless Area should be separated from the rest of Wisconsin and be given a no-closed season with a 10 bag limit. The east boundary of this zone would be Interstate 90 from Beloit to Tomah and Interstate 94 from Tomah to Hudson.

To remove the "fear factor" (fear of making a mistake and getting fined), all special trout rules in this zone should be terminated. Also, many trout angler creel censuses in the 1970s and 1980s showed that the harvest of trout was always less than one trout per angler trip even when the bag limit was 10. Moving the bag limit from three or five to 10 is incentive to get anglers to start trout fishing again or start trout fishing.

Anyone wanting to comment on this proposal can contact me at 5388 Highway MS, Boscobel, WI 53805.

Roger A. Kerr

Retired WDNR

­fish manager