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Trolling plan back on ballot for vote at spring hearings PDF Print E-mail

One-line trolling aimed for lakes in Vilas, Oneida

By Gary Ridderbusch

News-Review Editor

A revised proposal to allow trolling on inland waters statewide — including one-line trolling on lakes in Vilas and Oneida counties — is up for a vote at the 2014 Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings next Monday, April 14.

The trolling rule change is the only proposed specific rule change to be voted on at the 2014 hearings, which will be held in each Wisconsin county starting at 7 p.m. All other votes that evening will be advisory.

The meetings in this area will be at the St. Germain Elementary School

for Vilas County; at the James William Middle School in Rhinelander for Oneida County; and at Crandon High School for Forest County.

Under the 2014 trolling proposal, anglers on inland waters could troll with one line anywhere in the state without having to consult the regulations booklet for county- or water-specific rules. There also will be many inland waters where trolling will continue to be allowed with three lines per angler and additional areas where three-line trolling would be allowed.

George Langley, fishing guide and owner of Eagle Sports in Eagle River, said one-line trolling would be better than three-line trolling, but he’s against any trolling.

“Obviously, someone in the DNR has an agenda for trolling,” said Langley. “We’ve been fighting it for decades and we have always voted against it.”

“Trolling,” according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), means trailing a lure or bait from a boat being propelled by means other than drifting or rowing.

“This is an improved version of the statewide ‘three-line’ proposal that was voted on last year at the hearings,” said Tim Simonson, DNR fisheries biologist and co-chair of DNR’s muskie team. “After last year’s mixed vote results, local biologists and Conservation Congress representatives developed this compromise version with several key opponents and county delegations to gain broader support.”

The compromise was adopted by the Natural Resources Board last May, but the Governor’s Office on Regulatory Compliance then asked the board to get broader input on the modified rule at this year’s spring hearings.

Last year, the vote tally from all 72 counties showed 2,775 voters against three-line trolling and 2,391 for trolling. By county, however, the proposal was approved in 44 counties and rejected in 27 counties.

In Vilas County, the trolling proposal was rejected 146-48. In Oneida County, it was rejected 86-48.

This time around, Vilas and Oneida counties would be among 17 counties that would be limited to one-line trolling under the proposal, however, Oneida County will have five lakes where three-line trolling would be allowed because it is already legal on those waters. Those waters include Thunder Lake, Rainbow Flowage, Willow Flow­age, Sugar Camp Lake and Columbus Lake.

Simonson says that one key goal of the compromise proposal was to allow muskie anglers to trail a sucker behind a boat, under power, while casting with another rod.

Under current rules, trailing a sucker or other minnow behind the boat while under power, however briefly, is considered trolling and is allowed in a confusing patchwork of counties and locations.

Langley said regulations could just allow muskie anglers to drag a sucker with an electric motor and eliminate trolling.

“That would be the perfect solution,” said Langley.

“I really think the vast majority of the people that live up here don’t approve of trolling.”

But fishing guide Todd Powell, owner of Tadpole’s Sports in Eagle River, supports trolling.

“I personally don’t see the difference in row trolling or power trolling,” said Powell. “I would like them to make it simple for everyone and just make it three-line trolling across the board.”

Powell also thinks trolling will help businesses, bringing more anglers who already troll to the North Woods.

“The trollers from Wausau and Merrill and beyond will be coming here in bigger numbers,” said Powell. “There will be people buying kickers (small outboard moters) and electric motors for trolling, along with other equipment.”

Trolling is currently allowed on all waters in 18 counties; on one or more specific waters in 45 counties (105 total waters); and on the boundary waters with Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan, except on Vilas County boundary waters. Certain disabled anglers can troll anywhere by special permit.

Powell said he has witnessed few problems with people trolling in this area.

“Look at Butternut and Franklin lakes in Forest County, the Upper Peninsula lakes and the Rainbow Flowage,” said Powell. “I don’t see any conflicts on those waters with trollers.”

St. Germain resort owner Ken Jackson said he has a problem with bringing trolling to all waters.

“I am concerned about the guys from the back-trolling days that will go out there with lead-core line and troll over deep water for big muskies and walleyes,” said Jackson.

According to Simonson, trolling has no known harmful biological effects where trolling is already allowed in Wisconsin or in surrounding states and provinces.

See the Outdoors pages for other advisory questions that will be offered to sportsmen and -women at the spring fish and wildlife hearings.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 1:13 PM
Last Updated on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 4:19 PM

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