Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials are notifying anglers and others recreating on the ice in Vilas County that the Lac du Flambeau tribe will sponsor a muskie spearing tournament on five waters within the county this Saturday, March 16.
Department conservation wardens are working cooperatively with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) to be sure the weekend’s activities are safe and that the public is notified of their occurrence.
According to tournament posters distributed in Lac du Flambeau, lakes named for the tournament are Big St. Germain, Big Arbor Vitae , North and South Twin, and Big Lake in Boulder Junction.
Spearing tournaments are legal pursuant to federal treaties, and regulations are enforced through GLIFWC and DNR conservation wardens, according to Karl Brooks, DNR deputy chief warden.
“One thing we are working together to be sure of, is that spearing holes are clearly marked. This is consistent with other spearing activities, and is meant to inform those who may not be expecting holes on the ice,” said Brooks. “We have been in communication with GLIFWC wardens early and often and will continue to be in communication throughout the weekend.”
The DNR also is continuing efforts to work cooperatively with GLIFWC and the Lac du Flambeau tribe to manage the fishery within the ceded territory. The department has issued a request to the tribe to provide tournament results, as a courtesy.
“The formal tournament format is uncharacteristic of winter spearing in northern Wisconsin, and could result in effort and harvest rates not typical of standard winter spearing activities,” said Mike Staggs, DNR fisheries bureau director.
“The DNR feels this data is necessary to examine any potential differences in harvest or effort rates with incentivized spearing harvest tournaments on these northern lakes,” said Staggs. “This is consistent with angling tournaments.”
In the letter, the DNR requested information on the number of spearers by lake, tournament hours, harvest numbers for all fish by lake, as well as species and size of fish harvested by lake.
“Sustaining the fishery is our priority. We have worked closely with the tribe on management of the muskie population and we will continue to do so,” concluded Staggs.