Wisconsin Surveys Public on Lake Superior Lake Trout

Fishing along the mouth of the Current River in Thunder Bay
Fishing along the mouth of the Current River in Thunder Bay

ASHLAND, Wis. – An online public survey outlining a variety of options for Lake Superior lake trout will help inform the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the development of new rules to help sustainably manage the fishery.

The options were outlined at recent public meetings and citizens and stakeholders have until Nov. 10 to provide feedback. Terry Margenau, DNR Lake Superior fisheries supervisor, said population assessments over the last eight to 10 years indicate that a decline in lake trout abundance is largely due to harvest. The current emergency rule expired Sept. 30 and recent surveys by the fisheries team show lake trout numbers remain well below historical averages.

In addition, new research indicates catch and release efforts with lake trout may result in hooking mortality rates that run as high as 38 percent. As a result, Margenau said, the new round of regulations includes options that extend the minimum size for harvest down to 15 inches to better account for the impact on younger fish that are caught.

The options for anglers and other stakeholders to consider include daily bag limits of:

  • one fish from 15 to 25 inches;
  • two fish from 15 to 25 inches;
  • two fish over 15 inches, but only one can be more than 25 inches; and
  • two fish from 20 to 25 inches and a trophy opportunity to keep one fish of 40 inches or greater.

Margenau said implementation of the last option would require the department to account for the relatively high hooking mortality of lake trout (particularly fish under the 20 inch minimum) by reducing the allocation for recreational anglers. The other options would maintain the existing allocation; however the proposals permitting more liberal harvest levels of two or more fish would increase the likelihood of an early season closure if harvest pressure resulted in reaching the sport quota prior to the end of the season on September 30.

“We appreciate the feedback we received from those who attended the recent stakeholder meetings and would like survey participation from others as well,” Margenau said. In addition to the online survey, citizens may provide feedback by mailing Terry L. Margenau, Lake Superior fisheries supervisor, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 589, 141 S. Third St. Bayfield, WI 54814; or emailing terry.margenau@wisconsin.gov.

To participate in the online survey, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov by Nov. 10 and search for “Lake Superior lake trout survey.” For more information about the fishery, search “Lake Superior fisheries management.”