Dozens of trout meetings set for March, April

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Sessions seek feedback from trout anglers

MADISON — Trout anglers can attend one of more than 30 meetings across the state in late March and early April to give feedback on inland trout fishing now and express their hopes for the future.

The public meetings, part of Wisconsin’s review of inland trout fishing, come as recent studies are showing increased brook and brown trout populations, more trout streams, and changes in angler attitudes and habits.

“As secretary I hope all people will take full advantage of this opportunity to help the department better manage this critical resource,” says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. “I am very interested in seeking your ideas on DNR program improvements that matter to the citizens of Wisconsin. We can’t do this without your help.”

Twenty years ago when the Department of Natural Resources switched to its current category system of regulation, fisheries officials said the department would review the trout regulations every 5 to 10 years. Those were internal reviews, and they led to some changes, like eliminating one of the original five categories of regulation established in 1990.

“Trout fishing in Wisconsin has changed a lot in recent times and we want to hear from anglers if they’ve changed their trout fishing habits, preferences and hopes for the future,” says Scot Stewart, the southern Wisconsin fisheries supervisor who is helping lead the effort.

“This time around, our trout team was putting together some ideas for possible changes for our 2010 review when we decided we needed to take a step back,” says Marty Engel, a veteran fisheries biologist for Dunn, Pepin, Pierce and St. Croix counties.

“We realize that the trout world has changed significantly since we moved to the category system and last asked anglers what they wanted from their trout fishery,” he says. “We think it’s crucial to understand more about those changes before we go any further with our review.”

Participants at the meetings will have a chance to tell DNR fish biologists what they like about trout fishing now, and what they think could be improved. Participants will also be asked to fill out a survey to give more specific feedback on everything from where and how often they fish, how often do they harvest fish, and what size, and what streams they consider good.

DNR biologists also will present information about a recent statewide analysis of trout populations, and other important trends.

Feedback and survey answers will be used to help fine tune a statewide mail survey of randomly selected trout anglers scheduled for fall.

“Our trout team also will be reviewing the feedback, along with the mail survey results, as part of Wisconsin’s trout review. We’ll bring the results back out to you next year at this time, and then ask you to help us set management goals.”

The survey given at the meeting also will be available for anglers to take online. The interactive survey will start early this month and run through the end of the early trout season.

The good news, Engel says, is Wisconsin is starting from a very strong foundation. DNR staff past and present, conservation club members, and individual anglers have worked hard to improve fishing in Wisconsin. “We want your help to make it even better.”

A full listing of meetings and other information are found on the DNR’s Trout Fishing Review web pages. Anglers can sign up to receive e-mail notices or mobile alerts when new information is added to this page.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Marty Engel (715) 684-2914 ext. 110; Scot Stewart (608) 273-5967