State fishing tourneys draw 80,000 anglers

Eighty-thousand anglers competed in 595 fishing tournaments in Wisconsin in 2010 and reeled in $3.9 million in prize money, according to statistics from the state’s fishing tournament permit system.

Larger fishing tournaments have had to get permits since the mid-1990s, but a 2004 law directed the DNR to update rules as tournaments increased. DNR worked with an advisory group to revise the rules to establish limits on the size and number of tournaments on some lakes and rivers to minimize concerns such as crowding, the spread of invasive species, and indirect fish mortality.

In 2010, there were 637 applications for tournaments; all but one were approved, although some applications were withdrawn or the forms incomplete, and some events were cancelled.

“Based on what we’ve seen so far, there doesn’t seem to be any major issues with the capacity limits-tournament organizers are getting the lakes and dates they wanted,” says Jonathan Hansen, fisheries biologist.

2010 Fishing Tournament Fast Facts

•Of the 595 approved tournaments, 61 percent were so-called traditional tournaments. A traditional fishing tournament is one that was issued permits 4 out of 5 years between 2004 and 2008 for the same water or waters and time period.

•61% of the tournaments were catch, hold and release.

•Fully 1/4th of the tournaments were ice fishing tournaments.

•Tournaments took place in 64 counties; Winnebago County was tops with 37, followed by Oneida County with 32 and Waukesha County with 30.

•Anglers spent 1.4 million hours fishing in tournaments, down from 1.67 million in 2009.

•The number of fish registered in bass and walleye tournaments decreased with the decrease in tournaments from last year; however registered catch of Great Lakes salmon and trout, panfish, and musky all increased.

•Bass were the target of 421 of the tournaments in 2010, followed by panfish at 324 tournaments and walleye at 204.

•99% of the musky caught in tournaments were released and 98 percent of the bass were released.

•Tournament permits are required when any of the following apply: the tournament involves 20 or more boats, or 100 or more participants; targets any trout species on waters classified as trout streams; has a catch-hold-release format with an off-site weigh-in; or the total prize value is $10,000 or greater.

A full copy of the 2010 report is available on the fishing tournaments page of DNR website.

Hard water tourneys

Organizers of ice fishing tournaments will want to apply for a permit for their 2011 event as soon as possible-applications must be submitted at least 30 days before their event. And organizers of all tournaments-open water and hard water-can apply for permits for 2012 events as soon as April 1, 2011.

The open period for applying for 2012 events runs through June 30, 2011. Organizers applying during that the open period have the best chance of getting their desired dates and waters for 2012 events.

After April 1, permits are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All applications will be reviewed by Aug. 1, 2011, and in conflicts with an organizer’s choice of dates or waters, DNR fisheries biologists will discuss options with the tournament organizers.

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