Two dozen anglers, fishing instructors, representatives of conservation groups, bait shop owners and the Conservation Congress have been tapped for an advisory group to help shape the future of panfishing in Wisconsin’s inland waters.

“The stakeholder group is one more opportunity for us to gather public input to help create a management plan for inland waters,” says Joanna Griffin, the Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist leading the planning effort. “We are asking these stakeholders to work with us to use the angler surveys in combination with regulation evaluations and analyses to develop goals and objectives.”

DNR has had management plans in place for many years for game fish species; biologists and some anglers believe such attention is necessary for panfish, reflected in proposals from the Conservation Congress in recent years, including in 2013, to reduce the daily 25 fish limit on panfish on select lakes.

Such concerns and analyses of fish populations showing panfish size going down statewide have spurred DNR to develop a management plan. As part of the process, DNR held public meetings in the spring and conducted an online survey to gauge angler preferences for their panfishing experiences, Griffin says.

Panfish survey results [PDF] revealed that anglers are evenly split on whether to keep the current statewide bag limit of 25 panfish per day and differ on size and number of fish they want to catch.

“The survey results are interesting. There is a clear split between people who are satisfied with their panfish fishery and people who want a change,” Griffin says. “We hope the stakeholder group can help us try to get a better handle on panfish stakeholder diversity and attitudes.”

The stakeholder meeting runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 14, 2013, in the Legacy Room of the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Dreyfus University Center, 1015 Reserve St.. The meeting is open to the public but there are no formal input opportunities.

Panfish are by far the most commonly targeted and caught category of fish in Wisconsin. Wisconsin results for the 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey of anglers showed that 75 percent of them identified themselves as panfish anglers and that 71 percent of the hours spent fishing were spent fishing for panfish.

As a category, panfish are by far the most common fish caught by anglers in Wisconsin although anglers report walleye as their favorite target. Wisconsin anglers reported catching 88 million fish in the 2006-7 license year, of which 57.7 million were panfish, according to a statewide mail survey done that year. About 25.7 million of those panfish were kept.

More information about the panfish planning process, survey results and information on panfish is available by searching the DNR website for “panfish plan.

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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