The state’s review of its inland trout program takes another important step this month when the Department of Natural Resources convenes a citizens’ task force group to help develop goals for the future of Wisconsin’s trout fisheries.

“We now have in hand, through our public meetings, a web survey, and statewide surveys of current and former trout anglers, a good representative sample of what trout anglers want from their trout fishing experience,” says Scot Stewart, the Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor leading the effort.

“We are creating a citizens trout management task force and asking the members to work with us to use this information to help develop goals for inland trout fisheries for the future.”

If the management goals the group sets require changes in regulations to achieve, DNR would develop alternatives that would later be the topic of public meetings and eventually voted on at the Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings, Stewart says.

The trout management task force is comprised of about 40 people from around Wisconsin who represent the Conservation Congress, conservation organizations, and businesses and fishing guides with an interest in trout fishing. The group will meet two or three times this spring, Stewart says.

Wisconsin launched its review of inland trout fishing management with public meetings in spring 2011 during which participants told DNR fish biologists what they liked about trout fishing now and what they think could be improved. An online survey with the same questionnaire given at those meetings drew nearly 2,000 respondents. A statewide mail survey of anglers who stopped fishing for trout was completed a year ago and results are expected to be unveiled at the task force meeting of a mail survey of randomly selected active trout anglers, according to Marty Engel, a member of DNR’s trout team.

That array of surveys showing anglers’ desires for their fishing experience and the size and number of fish they expect to catch will be compared to what the trout population surveys show is feasible given Wisconsin’s stream size and characteristics and fish genetics.

“Twenty years ago we didn’t have all of the information we have now on the populations in trout streams,” Engel says. “Our data can now be a reality check. It will help us understand what is biologically possible in Wisconsin, and work within those constrains to deliver the trout fisheries that anglers want.”

The meeting is open to the public and is set for Feb. 16, 2013, at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus. It runs from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. in the Dreyfus University Center Legacy Room, 1015 Reserve Street.

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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