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Wisconsin DNR and Natural Resources Board- Out of Control?
By: Mike Hofmann
Wisconsin Bass Federation


For the past two years The Wisconsin Bass Federation has been an active part of the Fishing Tournament Advisory Committee (FTAC) which was developed by the DNR to help promulgate potential rules and guidelines for tournament fishing in the state of Wisconsin . I have attended the meetings of the FTAC and voiced my concern and opinions at each meeting on the various topics concerning tournament fishing in this state.

The reason for the meetings was that the DNR wants to put new rules and restrictions on a special group of people because they perceive there is a growing problem with tournament fishing in our state.

They see a growing amount of tournaments that they feel is starting to cause user conflicts at the boat landings, crowded waterways, and a potential impact on the fishery.

They, instead of reaching out to the tournament organizers to help solve some of these problems, took a knee-jerk reaction and had legislation adopted that gave them the right to MAKE UP rules as they see fit.

We as tournament organizers are always trying to protect the resource; after all itís a renewable resource that needs to be protected for future generations. We have developed state of the art live wells to keep fish healthy and alive, we make sure at our weigh ins that all care is taken to protect these fish. We go to great lengths to make sure that landing spots at boat landings are available to the general public so they too can go fishing. We strive to make sure that invasive species are not transmitted from one lake to another by using boat washes and removing weeds from boats and trailers.

Could we do more? YES, and we are working toward that goal everyday at every event.

But the DNR, after years of trying to get legislation to CONTROL tournaments with an iron fist, they now seem to be succeeding.

This past week, the proposed rule package from the FTAC/DNR was sent to the NRB. This in hopes of getting hearings scheduled in a very short time and then to install them as actual rules.

There are new rules that cover the amount of boats allowed on a particular body of water, and how many days a tournament can come to an area.(one needs a slide rule to figure this out) There are restrictions on what tournaments need to do for Invasive species control. There are NEW fees, and, ok letís call them really what they are: TAXES on both tournament organizers and contestants alike.

There are many new restrictions in the new rules package but the worst of all is a proposed rule that not even the FTAC ever voted on or even mentioned-ever. The DNR and the NRB just decided by themselves to make 2/3 of the fishing season closed to all live release tournament fishing. From July 1st to August 31st!

You can see these new proposed regulations on their website, or you can visit our website and they are located on the main page.

This is preposterous! This is outright discrimination. They are taking away our chosen sport for most of our short Wisconsin fishing season, and then taxing us for the rest of the year.

This system was NOT broken. The system we had and still currently have only needed communication and cooperation to make it better. Not new taxes, not new restrictions by two groups, the DNR and the NRB who I feel has lost touch with current trends and is firmly locked in the past.

These kinds of regulations and restrictions on the scale of what they propose is unprecedented in the U.S.   While many of the rules they propose have roots in other states, the entire package they now want puts Wisconsin in a restrictive class of its own.

Instead of looking to other states that have rules that work, and DNR agencies that actually work with tournament organizers, and then adopt some of their rules and policies they chose to go to the other extreme.

This needs to stop.

I ask here for all of us in this state to tell the DNR that we are taxed and feeíd to death. We do not need more fees. We do not need more restrictions. We want to protect the resource. We simply want to fish.

We want to work with you, we always have.  

Mike Hofmann
Wisconsin Bass Federation


Please contact Pat:

P Patrick J. Schmalz
Treaty Fisheries Coordinator
Fisheries Policy and Operations Section
Bureau of Fisheries Management
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
(*) phone: (608) 266-8170
(*) fax: (608) 266-2244
(*) e-mail: