Panfish Limits-WI

  • Profile photo of slop_bassslop_bass
    Participant
    La Crosse, WI
    Posts: 4,962
    #1314997

    I was talking with people at Gander Mountain last night and we were discussing the limits of panfish in WI. Personally, from what I see on Lake Onalaska, I get worried about people over-harvesting panfish. Anyone that fish’s this area knows that in the fall you can have 80+ boats pulling limits for days at a time. Ice fishing is the same thing. Limit after limit after limit. I see so many small fish laying on the ice that in my opinion don’t even make a good filet.

    This begs the question…Should WI take after MN and drop the panfish limit from 25 to 10? I know this may sound strange, but what about putting in an 8″ size limit?

    What are your thoughts?

    Profile photo of blue-fleckblue-fleck
    Participant
    Dresbach, MN
    Posts: 7,912
    #408650

    I’m all for a reduction in the current limits. I believe 10 fish is plenty.

    I’m not too crazy about the size limit, as most people will knowingly go for larger fish if the limit is reduced. Case in point, I won’t take the first 10 fish I catch out of Lawrence Lake. What I typically do is keep some of the better ones throughout the day so I can fish longer. It hurts throwing back 9″ sunfish when I have ten 8″ fish in the bucket.

    MN boundary waters are still 25 fish limits if my memory serves correct. The 10 fish limit only applies to pool 8 on the MN side of the river.

    avatarfishinallday
    Participant
    Montrose Mn
    Posts: 2,114
    #408651

    Time will tell in Minnesota. I will be watching a couple area lakes to see what they do. (Fish Quality) It will probably help for a while. I fear that as the fish get bigger there will be more anglers pulling the smaller limit. Puting us in the same spot.

    I think we need to focus on education. Lokk at what it has done for the Bass fisheries that we all take advantage of. It wasn’t long ago that our fauther and grand fauters would put a piggie in the pan for dinner. Now the majority returns them to fight another day. If we could get people to use selective harvest on the Pannies that would be extremely powerful.

    Ok, insert the Bass Jokes here.___________________________

    Profile photo of rkd-jimrkd-jim
    Participant
    Fountain City, WI.
    Posts: 1,378
    #408659

    I’m happy to see that someone else is concerned about this situation. There is no possible way that people can catch limit after limit of panfish, in the numbers of “fisher-people” that are out there almost every day, and not do some type of harm to the resource. A 10 to 15 fish limit of bluegills over 7 or 7 1/2 inches would be a reasonable limit. Slop, you mentioned the small panfish left on the ice. I’ve heard statements like,”the cat’s got to eat too”!!!! Buy your damn cat catfood!!!!!!!!!

    My son has moved to Ohio and I was on the web looking for areas to fish there and found a lake named Lac Su Ann that is in the northwest corner of Ohio that has, I believe, an eight inch minimum size limit. I’m not sure of the posession limit. You also have to register at a check-in station before and after fishing. I don’t think, by any means, that this extreme is necessary, but reasonable bag and size limits would be ok.

    I think that Minnesota, GOD FORGIVE ME!!!! , has the right idea on some of the pools of the Mississippi. The only downfall to the trial is that after you catch your 10 bluegills on their side of the river, you can come over to the Wisconsin side and catch 15 more!!!!!!!!! By rights, if you dock your boat in Minnesota, or have a license from that state, your limit should be 10, period . I know this would be unfair and I think Wisconsin should have the same limits on the pools that Minnesota has. I’ve gotten an number of different answers from DNR personell about this situation, but that’s for another post.

    Profile photo of blufloydblufloyd
    Participant
    Posts: 700
    #408666

    The 8 in limit has not worked in Il lakes. All it did was drive panfishermen away and allow for more and smaller gills. Rumor has it it may be removed this spring where it was tried. I’d like to catch 7’s instead of 4’s. Also populations of yellow bass and drum seemed to skyrocket as well.
    I pitch them all back anyway but the 8 in deal has not worked. And the bucket people still fill their buckets…

    Profile photo of Steve RootSteve Root
    Participant
    South St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 3,262
    #408667

    People are going to have to change the way they look at fish consumption. Selective harvest works and will work for panfish too. We can’t look at panfish simply as food that we’re going to stock pile in the freezer. A meal now and then is great but taking limit after limit can’t be sustained in most lakes.
    I don’t know if Minnesota’s reduced panfish limits are going to solve any problems but I do think it woke a lot of people up and made them realize that the quality of panfishing has been on a steady decline here for many years. The original limits (30 sunfish, 15 Crappies) were numbers pulled out of a hat and had no basis in science anyway. Now when I think about 15 sunfish and 10 Crappies I think about what we may lose if we don’t do a better job of protecting the resource.
    I started fishing Bass seriously about 35 years ago. When I told my Dad I was releasing Bass…Letting them go!…He looked at me like I was insane. Almost nobody was letting anything go in those days. Now it’s part of our culture: releasing big fat Walleyes on Mille Lacs, releasing Bass, guys proud of the fact that they’ve never kept a Muskie, digital cameras. Next up is panfish!

    Rootski

    Profile photo of herbherb
    Participant
    6ft under
    Posts: 3,246
    #408669

    If I remember right, these limits on pool 8 are in experimental stage to see if it helps the resource. I think it will. But, with the Miss. and it’s backwaters being classified as boundary waters, these limits should be a reciprical regulation, meaning wisc. should go the same way. I also think that on the Miss. river, it should be against the law to leave any game fish on the ice to be wasted. Too many people still think ‘stunted’ when all they catch are little fish, and that’s just not the case on a river system.

    Profile photo of luke_hauglandluke_haugland
    Participant
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Posts: 3,044
    #408677

    Hey, be happy you guys have a limit on panfish, In Iowa, you can keep as many as you want, there is no limit on panfish on inland waters. Smart guy running our fisheries…
    Slop, I am in total support of what you are saying.

    Profile photo of herbherb
    Participant
    6ft under
    Posts: 3,246
    #408758

    Luke, Lake Onalaska is part of the Miss.
    I agree totally about the lack of limits on inland Iowa waters. Especially the larger lakes. Best you can do is put you own limits on yourself and let others know what you do and why.

    avatarripper
    Participant
    Posts: 56
    #408759

    For once I completely agree with Slop. This is just one area of apocolypse type fishing pressure in the great state of WI. I’m not sure about a size limit however. Get your 10 and head out. I’d rather have someone leave with ten good eater fish and maybe leave a few of the very large ones to continue to swim. It might to into a real cull fest for the legally challenged though. hmmmm.

    What scares me is this is supposed to be the first year of retiring baby boomers. Good for them, they deserve it but…..used to be the fish would get a little break during the week. Grandma and Grandpa are going to do alot of fishing I think. It will be interesting to see how the resource holds up for the next 10 years.

    Happy new years all.

    Profile photo of Brian KlawitterBrian Klawitter
    Keymaster
    Lakeland, MN
    Posts: 44,452
    #408846

    Dad aways said…you can never fish a lake out of panfish…however, the last 10 years of his life he changed his tune after seeing the size and quantity of area lakes diminish.

    FYI~ in MN it’s already against the law to “waste a resource” ie leaving any fish on the ice or bank. This includes Carp, Dogfish and Bourbot.

    Also, if you are a MN resident, legally going over to the WI side and catching 10 more won’t work…if you are stopped by a MN CO. MN residents have to abide by MN rules no matter whose (border) waters you’re in.

    Many times I’ve cussed at the MN DNR’s rules and actions, but with the help of IDA and the quick response of the DNR’s email address… I’ve learned to ask questions before slammng them. I’m now a true believer they are enacting rules and makeing changes in the best interests of the resource (first) then the angler.

    PS In talking with the heads of the DNR in MN…it would be easy if WI would follow MN laws on the border waters…then they added …that’s what WI says too…. (it would be easy if MN follow WI’s laws!)

    avatarGreyghost
    Participant
    Posts: 131
    #408853

    Would think a reduction of the limits would be great. If you go tto the river a lot you will see the same people there catching limits after limtis I bet they have a small surplus in the freezer. Like the guys coming off the floats in the morning with 12 walleyes. 6 from yesterday and 6 from this morning that cant be right? That borders on greed. Dads have to teach their kids ethics and values no one else will……..

    Profile photo of cade-laufenbergcade-laufenberg
    Participant
    Winona,MN/La Crosse, WI
    Posts: 3,697
    #408888

    Yes this is something I often think about. Stoddard is one of the areas i worry about the most. It gets fished so so so hard, and then the big ones move out. Fish are still in there but they are small. I am not a huge fan of fish, but it is good once in a while, so i might keep a few every month maybe. I mostly enjoy the feeling of success and the bend in my tiny ice rods. Its 90% sport and 10 percent harvesting for me. Thats the way it should be for most. It doesnt take long for a person to catch enough for a meal. I have about 30-40 gills in my freezer right now which i caught in the first few weeks of fishing. I am all catch and release now, and probably will be for the remainder of the year. I think a new bag size would be great. 10 gills is more than enough for a meal! for god sakes, you could feed a decent sized family with that, i would think. who wants to clean 25 gills each day anyway? I really hope they take down the limits soon or we (as in my generation) will be paying for it severely. I wish they would kick people off the ice at stoddard for a few weeks to let it replenish. I know i won’t be fishing there for some time now, until it starts to heat up again. it has been so hard, i bet there aren’t even enough 8″ gills to fill a one person limit down there that are even willing to bite anyway. Good luck guys, and notify someone about some of these ethics, it could make a huge difference if everyone stuck to them. God i could ramble on and on on this subject, it gets my blood pumping for sure. Nothing pi$$es me off more than seeing 5 inch bluegills just left on the ice for the birds, or as someone else said, for the cat. I think some people just want to say they got their limit

    Great post slop

    avatarVikeFan
    Participant
    Posts: 525
    #408902

    The experimental ten-sunfish limit is also in effect on Pools 5 and 5a. I fish 6 and 8 during the winter, and I do believe the size of the bluegills on Lawrence Lake (Pool 8)has gone up since the tighter limit went into effect.

    The Lake Winona bluegill study done by the DNR found that in fertile waters with ample food and habitat for bluegills, the key to improving the size structure of populations facing heavy fishing pressure lies in limiting the harvest of large male bluegills. I lived in Winona for seven years, and as anyone familiar with the lake knows, it is over-run by stunted bluegills, a situation the DNR has been trying to fix for twenty years. What they found was that when male bluegills begin spawning, all their energy goes into spawning and they stop growing. In a balanced bluegill population, large males rule the spawning beds, and stop smaller males from spawning. This allows those smaller males to keep growing. Remove too many of the large males, and smaller males begin spawning, and stop growing. This begins a vicious cycle, as anglers often respond by keeping those smaller males as the best available, thus allowing still-smaller males to spawn…the end result is Lake Winona. As I recall, the cycle is difficult to break, once the overall average size of spawning males has diminished to a certain point.

    This finding does not apply to all bluegill populations, but it did indicate that limiting the harvest of large bluegills in very good bluegill habitat could improve the average size of the bluegill in those waters. Building on that, a minimum size limit does not seem to be the answer in those situations where over-harvest is reducing the number of large male bluegill. Tighter limits on bluegill regardless of size may be more fruitful on Mississippi backwaters, based on the Lake Winona study. For the record, I release all my bluegills that are larger than 8″ flat for just this reason.

    On the subject of Iowa bluegills limits (none on inland waters), the prevailing belief down here is that the more sunfish you harvest, the better. When you point out that the panfishing is superior in Wisconsin or Minnesota where there are some limits in place, the response from the IDNR and public alike is that Iowa-lakes/ponds/reservoirs-have-small-panfish-because-Minnesota-and-Wisconsin-have-more-lakes-and-better-water-quality-and-there-is-no-point-to-limits-in-Iowa-because-the-bluegill-need-to-be-fished-heavily-otherwise-they-will-overrun-the-lake/pond/reservoir-and-you-will-have-nothing-but-small-panfish.

    This is true on some of the larger artificial lakes like Macbride, whose bluegills rival Lake Winona’s for puniness. While Macbride and Lake Winona are seemingly similar, with nearly the same surface acreage and average depth, the bluegill in Macbride are stunted due to lack of suitable forage owing to the scarcity of weedgrowth in Macbride, a situation made worse by competition with shad for the small invertebrates (which need weed growth to thrive) that both species eat. Tighter limits on bluegills on Macbride and reservoirs like it would do nothing to improve the size of bluegills in it, according to the IDNR fisheries biologists I spoke with about the problem.

    I am skeptical that this is true for the small ponds down here, though. I have found the best panfishing in southern Iowa to be on private ponds with little or no fishing pressure, while otherwise identical public ponds have noticeably smaller bluegills. When you point this out, you are told that Iowa-lakes/ponds/reservoirs-have-small-panfish-because-Minnesota-and-Wisconsin-have-more-lakes-and-better-water-quality-and-there-is-no-point-to-limits-in-Iowa-because-the-bluegill-and-crappie-need-to-be-fished-heavily-otherwise-they-will-overrun-the-lake/pond/reservoir-and-you-will-have-nothing-but-small-panfish. I am probably moving back to Minnesota next fall, so I won’t have to argue the point for too much longer.

    Profile photo of herbherb
    Participant
    6ft under
    Posts: 3,246
    #408997

    Well said vike fan.
    Moving to Minn. eh? Lucky butt!

    Profile photo of Steve RootSteve Root
    Participant
    South St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 3,262
    #409004
    Quote:

    This finding does not apply to all bluegill populations, but it did indicate that limiting the harvest of large bluegills in very good bluegill habitat could improve the average size of the bluegill in those waters. Building on that, a minimum size limit does not seem to be the answer in those situations where over-harvest is reducing the number of large male bluegill. Tighter limits on bluegill regardless of size may be more fruitful on Mississippi backwaters, based on the Lake Winona study. For the record, I release all my bluegills that are larger than 8″ flat for just this reason.


    Exactly! That’s why size limits could work as long as they were a protected slot. For example, any sunfish over 8 inches goes back. Eventually you could move that up to 9 inches or even bigger. I think this would take a lot of time but would eventually fix the problem.

    I know of a lake in Northern Minnesota that has Bluegills that are over pound in weight. Some of these fish are over 11 inches long. We’ve been practicing selective harvest on this lake for this very reason.

    Rootski

    Profile photo of bret_clarkbret_clark
    Participant
    Sparta, WI
    Posts: 9,440
    #409161

    Just a question guys, don’t bite my head off but, isn’t the problem really the people not following a possession limit? And yes, that is greed I have thought a 10 fish daily bag limit would be good also. I have even mentioned it a couple times to friends this year. Is this going to stop the “stocking the freezer”? Don’t take me wrong, no one loves catching big pan fish through the ice any better than I do. I fish alot of spots that don’t produce numbers of fish, instead good sized fish. Thats what the camera is for

    With inflation, I guess thats 3 cents worth

    Good luck fishing people

    Bret

    avatarfishahollik
    Participant
    South Range, WI
    Posts: 1,776
    #410027

    If people are out day after day after day keeping limits, turn them in, possession limits mean how many you have in your bucket AND in your freezer.

    Yes Slop, there should be size limits…. for everything from ‘gills, to crappies, ‘eyes, bass, perch, and yes…..even outboard motors.

    Profile photo of slop_bassslop_bass
    Participant
    La Crosse, WI
    Posts: 4,962
    #410037

    Fish, there ARE limits on Outboards Motors…..nothing over 250 HP in tournaments. HA HA

    avatareronningen
    Participant
    Rochester, MN
    Posts: 1,893
    #410059

    Fish- you probably won’t need to worry as much about us bass boaters out on Superior.

    avatarblackduck
    Participant
    SE Minnesota
    Posts: 327
    #410114

    I think with recent (evolving) enhancements in equipment and in angler resources, ie the internet, gps, cell phones, electronics, etc… all fish limits/regulations would benefit from changes in limits/seasons. I don’t think preaching catch and release and selective harvest is going to do it by itself. I think humans in general are not capable of this as a whole. I would like to see limits cut back on the river. I know it’s a great resource and has fantastic fish reproduction, but in this day and age areas do get pounded in a hurry. I would like to see a slot limit on the river for walleye, and possibly a catch and release only below dams for the better part of the winter.
    I would like to see a slot that protects all walleyes from 20-30 inches. So yeah, I agree with the limit reductions. Yes Slop, I would like to see a size minimum for panfish too. I see a lot of little panfish going into buckets and I believe it’s because they think that if they get 25 of them they will have something.

    avatarbirdman
    Participant
    Lancaster, WI
    Posts: 483
    #411828

    Personally, I see no reason to have either a size limit or reduce the panfish limit. The numbers of fish and size of the fish seem to be improving every year, especially bluegills. Too many needless regulations will only decrease the number of anglers out there. If there was evidence that anglers were hurting the population of panfish it might be a different story.
    I think weed growth on the Mississippi has more of an effect on panfish numbers than anglers.

    avatarblackduck
    Participant
    SE Minnesota
    Posts: 327
    #412764

    birdman,

    I agree to a certain extent, but waiting until there is evidence is sometimes too late.

    Profile photo of cade-laufenbergcade-laufenberg
    Participant
    Winona,MN/La Crosse, WI
    Posts: 3,697
    #413302

    you say fewer anglers? i say For people like me who are mostly CPR anglers, occasionally keeping 5-10 gills, that is music to my ears! I see a lot of old folks keeping gills under 7″ and keeping there limits day in and day out. Im going to disagree with birdman and i have to say that a minimum size and a reduced limit can only help. i have seen stoddard loaded with over 100 guys. Figure on a tipical day, probably half will take there limit or at least try. If 50 people were to keep 25 fish each day, you do the math!thats 1250 bluegills kept out of one small area. IN ONE DAY! smaller areas will be the same. Maybe not so many will fish them, but on a smaller scale, for example, there were about 20 people at goose island today while i was there, and over half of them left with heavy bag fulls. Even if each one only kept 15 fish each, thats still 300 gills in an area that can’t be much bigger than 10 acres! im sorry but think about it…there really can’t be that many keeper gills in one spot, especially ones that are willing to bite!!! Now, of course this isn’t going to apply to everyday on the water, but at early season, i can tell you this could very easily be a reality at stoddard and probably very similar on lake onalaska. Think about it.

    avatarbirdman
    Participant
    Lancaster, WI
    Posts: 483
    #413310

    Cade, Cold Springs has been hammered with fisherman for over 10 years. They start in September and fish it hard right up through the winter. You would think that they would have fished it out years ago but guess what… they keep catching big gills there every year. I don’t want to even try to do the math to figure out how many fish have been taken out of there.

    I would agree that if there was evidence of a fish decline perhaps then it MIGHT be appropriate. Even then I would like to see evidence that the decline was the result of angling pressure.

    I personally have only taken a limit home perhaps twice in the last few years. For me about 15 fish is about all I want to clean for the most part. But I know alot of people who don’t fish as often as me who do take a limit on the occasions they do make it out. Many times the size of their fish may not be all that big either. As long as their cleaning their catch I don’t have a problem with them. I don’t think reducing the number of anglers fishing is a good thing for the resource in the long run. Think about the current proposals for the Mississippi River. Less anglers = less political force.

    Profile photo of cade-laufenbergcade-laufenberg
    Participant
    Winona,MN/La Crosse, WI
    Posts: 3,697
    #413654

    Quote:


    I personally have only taken a limit home perhaps twice in the last few years. For me about 15 fish is about all I want to clean for the most part.



    Same here. I have never kept a limit of gills actually, and i don’t think I will ever need to keep a limit. Most of the people who do keep limits are the older guys, (not to be judgmental) but this is something i have observed in my years of fishing. You got to wonder what they are doing with all those fish, because when you are 60-70 years old, its not like you are providing for a family any more, at least its not real likely that those people are. For example, i see this one guy at stoddard nearly every time i fish there. He keeps his limit every day. He’s a great fisherman, but in less he is supplying a resturant, or eats fish every day, i have no idea how a guy could want that many fish!
    I can agree with you in on a few points, but i still don’t see how a 10 fish limit could hurt. It could only help, and for those of us like me and you that only keep 10-15 fish on an outing, it wouldn’t be hard to keep your catch at 10 fish. The only thing i see that could get annoying is that you can fill that limit real quick and then you have to leave. I think even if they reduced it to 15, you would still help the fish population. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you, but it all makes perfect sense to me.

    avatarjeffsedlmayr
    Participant
    Wisconsin
    Posts: 272
    #414500

    8 inch size limit on sunfish, and 10 inch size limit on crappies

    avatarVikeFan
    Participant
    Posts: 525
    #414534

    Cut the sunfish bag limit to ten per person per day on the entire MN-WI stretch of the Mississippi, without any size restrictions. A minimum size limit on bluegills would place more fishing pressure on the large males needed to keep the population size structure intact, while leaving smaller fish to spawn, and thus stop growing. The result of a minimum size limit for sunfish would be a population made up of smaller fish.

    Older people tend to keep more of the fish they catch in my experience, as well. I think this is because they came of age before increased fishing pressure and technological advances made C and R as necessary as it is now. Forty years ago, there were no Vexilars, LCDs, or GPS units, and don’t think they don’t make it easier to catch more fish. More generally, many people today in their sixties and seventies came of age during the Depression and World War II, when many people really did need the extra food that came from fish and game. These older anglers (I am NOT talking about all anglers over sixty), also came of age before anyone really thought of C and R at all for any reason. For instance, go back and look at photos from the earliest BASS tournaments in the 1970s, and you will see that all legal largemouth caught in BASS tournaments were put on stringers and kept for the fry pan.

    In my own family, my grandparents’ generation of fishermen, who taught me to fish when I was a little kid, never threw any legal fish back if there was a scrap of meat to be had from it. My grandfathers and great uncles are all gone now, but they would have found the idea of catch and release both ridiculous and strange if they were around to read this discussion.

    Profile photo of herbherb
    Participant
    6ft under
    Posts: 3,246
    #414748

    Well said Vike Fan.

    avatarwaterfowler99
    Participant
    Midwest
    Posts: 1,558
    #416659

    just remember, everyone who buys a lic in wi or anywhere is entitled to keep ther limit everyday. i generally keep 5-10 to eat, but everyone still has the right to keep there limit.

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