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Hearing attendance, vote crucial on trolling issue

A Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) proposal to allow motor trolling statewide with up to three lines per angler comes up for a vote at hearings in every county next Monday, April 8.


DNR officials predict the proposed rule change will pass on the statewide level, but that doesn’t mean the final rule can’t be modified to exclude some counties if hearing attendees show overwhelming opposition to the change.


So the future of motor trolling and everything it might bring to Vilas and Oneida counties rests in the hands of common folk. They can choose to show up at a hearing in St. Germain, Rhinelander or Crandon and cast a vote next Monday, or they can let fate take its course.


We have heard from fishing guides, avid muskie anglers, muskie organizations and lake associations — and it appears the vast majority oppose motor trolling on what is undisputably the largest concentration of small inland lakes in Wisconsin.


Arguments against motor trolling range from added stress on muskie, walleye and lake trout resources to added lake congestion, user conflicts and increased pollution. The DNR says the change would simplify regulations and help those who have difficulty fishing by conventional methods.


The agency in charge of protecting our natural resources claims motor trolling won’t have adverse biological impacts on any fisheries. We disagree. The method is especially effective on trophy muskies, walleyes and lake trout — the largest fish that often suspend in deep water and are difficult to catch by other methods.


Motor trolling allows anglers to run baits deeper over longer stretches, keeping the bait in the strike zone. For muskies, it invites the use of a method called power trolling, a high-speed form of trolling that triggers larger fish to strike. It was highly effective power trolling for huge muskies on Kentuck Lake that prompted early attempts in Vilas County to ban motor trolling.


Chamber and lake association officials have expressed deep concern over the added congestion that might occur when motor trollers pulling multiple planer boards have to share waters that are already extremely busy. Trollers need a wider swath of water than boaters or other anglers use.


It is encouraging that so many people and organizations have written members of the Natural Resources Board, asking that the final rule exempt counties that don’t want widespread motor trolling. But nothing would be more effective than having several hundred opponents of trolling show up in each county to cast a no vote — the one measure of public input that is crystal clear.


Without that overwhelming show of opposition, it will be difficult to convince the Natural Resources Board to continue the exemption that all Vilas County lakes and most Oneida County lakes enjoy today. The DNR, the agency that board members rely on, is clearly on the side of motor trollers.


Every vote from every person who makes it to a hearing will carry weight on this one.

Behind the editorial ‘we’


Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 2:12 PM


-15 #4 2013-04-04 21:35
Would someone please clarify this for me. Does motor trolling include minnow and jig bottom fishing using a trolling motor over structure so I can catch my ONE walleye for the day? And with these quotas and bag limits how exactly does this put more pressure on the fisheries? Does the average weekend angler even troll for muskies anymore? Just prohibit it in musky tournaments.
+25 #3 Denny Erardi 2013-04-04 18:09
I have to agree with you, Don. I own property however don't live there year round. Would love to be able to "vote" regardless.
+26 #2 2013-04-03 20:50
There is enough pressure on the fishing stock in Vilas County with Indian spearing. Motor trolling would only put more pressure on fish stocks in the northern counties of Wisconsin. Please keep motor trolling off Vilas County lakes.
+26 #1 2013-04-03 16:08
I agree that motor trolling is not good for the fishery. It's impossible for me to attend any of these meetings. There should be a way for landowners to vote without being present. Smacks of another attempt to push something through before the busy summer season!

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