The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will reimplement a lake trout bag limit and season for Lake Michigan beginning Jan. 1, 2021. The new bag limit and season will mirror previous lake trout regulations. The open season will now run from Mar. 1 to Oct. 31 with a new daily bag limit of two lake trout.
“Due to a variety of reasons including COVID-19, partial fishing seasons and the sunset clause, the original season length and bag limit will have to be implemented starting Jan. 1, 2021,” said Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes District Fisheries Supervisor. “We are working towards a continuation of an open season and bag limit of five lake trout, which will hopefully be in place for the majority of the 2021 fishing season.”
In 2017, the DNR implemented temporary Lake Michigan lake trout regulations in response to stakeholder input requesting additional harvest opportunities. These temporary regulations included a year-round season with a daily bag limit of five lake trout.
These regulations were made permanent in 2018 by the Natural Resources Board and expire on Jan. 1, 2021. This sunset clause allowed the DNR to appropriately assess the regulations and ensure they did not negatively impact Lake Michigan lake trout restoration efforts.
The DNR assessed the regulations from 2017 through 2019. Although 2020 data has yet to be tabulated, the data indicates that sport angler lake trout harvest did not increase significantly. There is no indication that new regulations would negatively impact Lake Michigan lake trout populations.
A research group that is part of the Quantitative Research Center at Michigan State University is currently working on updating lake trout models. The DNR will develop appropriate, permanent regulations moving forward using the research group’s nearly completed project on a lake trout statistical catch-at-age (SCAA) model for Lake Michigan waters outside of the Consent Decree area, including Wisconsin waters and the Southern Basin.
Based on the positive Lake Michigan lake trout data and continued stakeholder support for revised lake trout regulations, the DNR will be pursuing permanent regulations for lake trout, including a continuous year-round open season and a daily bag limit of five lake trout.
The pursuit of revised Lake Michigan lake trout regulations will occur in early 2021, and if approved, would be implemented by the summer of 2021.
However, until permanent regulations are developed, an open season from Mar. 1 to Oct. 31 and a daily bag limit of two lake trout will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2021.