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Fishing Tournament Rule Changes May Wait

Proposed rule changes for fishing tournaments that use City of Sturgeon Bay facilities might not be considered for implementation next year.

At the end of the Oct. 26 Joint Parks and Recreation Committee/Board meeting, municipal services director Mike Barker suggested holding off on making any changes effective until 2024 because the city’s facilities have already been reserved for tournaments in 2023.

Committee/board members, whose next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 21, have been considering whether to allow the use of the city’s facilities for catch-and-release bass and walleye tournaments early in the year when the fish are taken to a boat-launching ramp to be weighed.

The two proposed changes state that: 

  • Because of the timing of the smallmouth bass spawn, no permits for bass tournaments will be issued prior to June 30 unless the tournament uses a “weigh-on-the-water” format. Scales are available at no cost through the Sturgeon Bay Bass Tournament. Contact the city’s Parks Department for a point of contact.
  • No permits will be issued for walleye tournaments prior to May 15 unless a weigh-on-the-water format is used.

Committee/board members took no action on the proposed rule changes during their Sept. 28 meeting, when the council chambers were filled with a majority of people who spoke opposing the revisions. 

Those speaking in opposition noted that the tournaments are regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which they said the city should not be involved in restricting, and tournament fishers contribute money to the local economy.

Barker said the rationale for the proposed rule changes involves weighing the fish where they are caught and releasing them in that area so they are not moved off their spawning beds, based on concerns about the fish population possibly being negatively affected by moving them during that time.

However, he said the rule revisions would not prevent tournaments that don’t use the weigh-on-the-water format from taking place in the Bay of Sturgeon Bay during the spawning period in the event that those tournaments were headquartered outside the city limits, such as in Little Sturgeon.

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