Letter to the Editor: End Dockside Weigh-ins

I attended the Sturgeon Bay Parks and Recreation meeting on Sept. 28 about the proposed rule change requiring bass tournaments in Sturgeon Bay to “weigh on the water” during tournaments held prior to June 30.

During the meeting, we heard threats by speakers, some from out of town, about the economic impact Door County would face if bass tournaments that oppose weigh-on-the-water in the spring were to relocate to other areas.

A select few bass tournaments do not hold sway over our businesses. We take pride in the fact that Door County businesses have made environmental issues a priority for decades, and they have been justly rewarded for it by record numbers of visitors, the vast majority of whom are not towing bass boats.

Those who aren’t familiar with dockside weigh-ins can go to the social-media pages of these Sturgeon Bay tournaments that are still using them. Look at how the fish are being displayed in photos: They’re being held by their lower jaws in a manner known as “lipping,” while being exposed to air. Anglers have been warned against this method of handling larger bass because of the debilitating damage it can do to the mouth of a fish.

Tournament organizers brag about 100% live-release rates, but ask this question: Do you think those fish are still swimming 72 hours after being handled in that manner?

If bass tournaments have the ability to weigh the fish on the water and immediately release them in the location where they were caught during the spring spawn, then why would they continue to do the dockside weigh-ins? Notice in the background of those same photos the

sponsors’ names prominently displayed. There’s the answer as to why they’re fighting to continue the dockside weigh-ins: They generate sponsor money at the expense of our fish. It’s surprising to see sponsors and businesses supporting practices that harm the environment and wildlife.

Weigh-on-the-water technology is offered for free to tournaments held in Sturgeon Bay. End dockside weigh-ins, and weigh them on the water.

Paul Kwiatkowski

Fish Creek, Wisconsin