March 14, 2016
The End Of An Era
My nephew Chase contacted me yesterday. He was quite upset. He went to buy his 2016 Trout Stamp and new Wisconsin fishing license and he was told he could not get it yet. The guy behind the counter gave him the new and improved trout regulations for this year and told him to familiarize himself with the new regulations. The clerk told him he might need to read them closely because many things had changed and the regulations were much more cumbersome.
Chase read the regulations and immediately called me and asked me what I thought of the new regulations? I explained to him that the Trout Committee of the Conservation Congress and the WDNR had fashioned the regulations. Chase was perplexed. He told me all things he had read stated the trout population was at an all time high and the "good old days" were now. He quoted a Fish Manager he read in the Viroqua newspaper. He asked: "What gives?., Why mess with the regulations if they produced a record population?"
I explained to him about the trends and what the trout world was leaning towards these days. I told him the Trout Committee of the Conservation Congress was made up 80 percent of fly anglers and their mantra was catch and release and quite rigidly so. The deck was stacked and they ran over the folks that like keeping trout.
I pointed out to him that there are a few places where you could keep a few more than the year before. He responded with yes I saw that but they must be 12 inches or smaller. Who wants to keep tiny trout? If I go fishing I want to be able to keep some to actually make it worth my while going fishing.
We talked for quite a while about the changes. We talked about the good old days when I took him fishing when he was little. He remembered being so proud and showing off the big trout he had caught to his mother and father and relatives.
The conversation changed to whether it was even worth buying a trout stamp for keeping tiny trout. He thought many worm and spinner anglers that liked keeping trout would leave chasing trout and go for other species that were less restrictive. The new regulations had simply taken the fun out of trout fishing for him.
The conversation ended with him telling me he was done with trout fishing. He is 20 years old and he had chased trout since he was 5 years old with me but he was done because the WDNR and the trout committee had taken all the fun out of it.
I hope my nephew Chase is the exception not the rule when it comes to folks leaving trout angling. People keeping trout balance out the folks letting them all go. If the worm and spinner anglers leave, there will be a population explosion of trout. More trout mean eventually smaller trout. There is only enough food to feed a certain amount of fish.
I like to use the pasture analogy. If you typically pasture 50 dairy cows in a certain area for 20 years and then double the herd to 100, the growth rate and maximum size will decline.
Change can be good in some situations but these changes were not well thought out and I believe the entire trout fishing world in Wisconsin should have been allowed to vote on such drastic and radical changes.