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Definitions of Fish Species

Minnows

Minnows encompass a variety of species, including suckers that are not listed as endangered or threatened, along with the central mudminnow, tadpole madtom, stonecat, banded killifish, blackstripe topminnow, brook silverside, brook stickleback, ninespine stickleback, trout-perch, darter, log perch, and sculpin. The term "minnow" extends to any cyprinid fish within the minnow family that isn't endangered or threatened and excludes goldfish, Asian carp, common carp, or rudd.

Rough Fish

Rough fish comprise suckers not categorized as endangered or threatened, common carp, Asian carp species (silver, bighead, grass, and black), goldfish, redhorse, freshwater drum, burbot, bowfin, gar, buffalo, lamprey, alewife, gizzard shad, smelt, mooneye, carpsucker, quillback, and chubs in inland waters exclusively.

Regulations for Set and Bank Poles

Licensing Requirements

Residents of Wisconsin are the only eligible candidates for acquiring licenses for set or bank poles. These licenses can be obtained from selected vendors, with details available on the DNR website. It's crucial to check which DNR Service Centers are currently operational for license issuance.

Tag Limitations

The number of tags issued varies depending on the waters. For instance, up to 12 tags may be issued for setlines used on WI/IA and WI/MN boundary waters. However, on WI/MN boundary waters, not more than 8 setlines may be utilized. On all other waters combined, only one setline is permitted.

License Validity and Usage

Licenses remain effective from April 1 to March 31 of the following year, aligning with the season dates. It's imperative to adhere to these designated season dates. Additionally, individuals are prohibited from using, tending, or operating a set or bank pole licensed to another person. Furthermore, tagging a setline, set, or bank pole with multiple tags is strictly prohibited.

Equipment Restrictions

While setting, lifting, or attending a set or bank pole or setline, possession of sport angling equipment is not permitted. These poles and setlines, once deployed, can fish without the angler's presence but must be checked daily.

Permissible Catch and Waters

Set or bank poles and setlines are solely designated for catching catfish, rough fish, and turtles during the open season. These gears can only be used on waters open to the use of specially licensed gear, as indicated by the DNR regulations on open waters.

Tagging Regulations

Tag Attachment

Each set or bank pole and setline must have a metal tag stamped with the authorizing license number securely affixed directly to the flag staff or pole. This ensures proper identification and compliance with licensing requirements.

Prohibition on Duplicate Tagging

It is strictly prohibited for any individual to mark or tag a setline, set, or bank pole with their license number or metal tag if it's already marked or tagged by another angler. This rule prevents confusion and ensures accountability for each licensed gear.

Hook and Line Regulations

Hook Specifications

Hooks attached to set or bank poles and setlines must adhere to specific guidelines. The gap of each hook must not be smaller than 3/4 inches, ensuring proper catch and release.

Line and Hook Limitations

Each set or bank pole is limited to one line, which can accommodate a maximum of two hooks. Additionally, the hooks used cannot be smaller than 3/0 in size, maintaining standards for responsible fishing practices.

Setline Hook Restrictions

Setlines are subject to restrictions regarding the number of hooks they can contain. A setline cannot exceed 25 hooks, controlling the impact on fish populations and ensuring sustainable fishing practices. Specific regulations for the number of hooks allowed on WI/IA and WI/MN boundary waters are available for reference.

Bait Usage Guidelines

Minnow Restrictions

Due to the risk of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), minnows cannot be harvested from VHS-infected waters. Minnows obtained from areas free of VHS can only be utilized on the water body from which they were harvested. It's prohibited to transport live fish away from a waterbody, except for minnows purchased from licensed Wisconsin bait dealers. Stay updated on the latest VHS and bait use regulations by consulting the DNR website regularly.

General Bait Regulations

There are minimal restrictions on the type of bait permitted for use, with the exception of live crayfish and whole or live fish less than 5 inches, which are prohibited on any inland water. Additionally, frogs and gamefish cannot be used as bait on the Mississippi River.

Specific Restrictions

Whole or live fish are not allowed as bait on specific lakes and rivers, including Lakes Butte des Morts and Little Butte des Morts, Winnebago and Winneconne in Winnebago County, Poygan in Waushara and Winnebago counties, and the Black River in Jackson, La Crosse, and Trempealeau counties. These restrictions aim to preserve the ecological balance and prevent the spread of diseases in vulnerable water bodies.

Setline Maintenance and Usage Hours

Daily Lifting Requirement

To ensure responsible fishing practices, each set or bank pole and setline must be lifted, and the catch removed at least once every day following the day it was initially set. Exceptions to this daily lifting requirement may be authorized on boundary waters or by the DNR or its agents, depending on specific regulations.

Time Restrictions

Setting, attending, or lifting a set or bank pole or setline is prohibited between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise. This restriction helps protect fish populations during their natural resting periods and minimizes disturbances to aquatic habitats.

Seasonal Restrictions

It is illegal to place, use, set, or fail to remove a set or bank pole, setline, or any of its components from state lands or waters of the state during the closed season for the use of set or bank poles and setlines. Adhering to these seasonal restrictions ensures compliance with state regulations and contributes to sustainable fishing practices.

Length, Bag, and Possession Limits

General Inland Water Regulations

For individuals fishing with a set or bank pole or setline, the general inland water length, bag, and possession limits apply to rough fish, turtles, and channel and flathead catfish. These regulations ensure the sustainable management of fish populations and the protection of aquatic ecosystems.

Winnebago System Waters Exception

In Winnebago System Waters, including Poygan, Winneconne, Butte des Morts, and Winnebago, along with all their tributaries and specific areas outlined, different regulations apply:

  • Channel Catfish: There is no bag limit.
  • Flathead Catfish: The total daily bag limit is 1 regardless of the harvest method, including set or bank pole or setlines. The possession limit for flathead catfish taken by set or bank pole or by setlines is 2.
  • Minimum Length Limit for Flathead Catfish: 30 inches. Fish measuring between 36 to 42 inches in length may not be retained.

Sale Restrictions for Catfish, Rough Fish, and Turtles

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish caught on set or bank pole and setline can be sold only if taken from specific waters, including Lake Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne, Poygan, and the Wolf River from 500 feet below the Shawano Dam downstream to its mouth. However, flathead catfish taken on a set or bank pole and setline from these waters cannot be sold.

Commercial Fish on Boundary Waters

Any catfish classified as commercial fish on WI/MN and WI/IA boundary waters, and taken by commercial gear, may be sold legally.

Rough Fish

Rough fish caught on a set or bank pole or setline can be sold from any waters where such fishing is permitted. This regulation allows for the commercial use of rough fish from eligible waters.

Turtles

Turtles caught on a set or bank pole or setline can only be sold when they are deceased and only during the open season designated for turtles. This restriction ensures the proper handling and sale of turtles harvested by anglers.

Game Fish Release

Except for catfish caught in compliance with the regulations mentioned earlier, all other game fish caught by set or bank pole or setline must be promptly released back into the water.

Turtle Harvesting Guidelines

Harvesting Season and Sales

  • When: You can catch turtles from July 15 to November 30, but only when it's legal to catch catfish and rough fish in that area.
  • Sale: Turtles can only be sold if they're dead, and only during the open season.

Limits on Turtles

  • Bag Limits: You can keep up to 3 snapping turtles and 3 softshell turtles.
  • Total Limit: You can have a maximum of 5 turtles altogether, including other species.
  • Protected Species: Some turtles, like ornate box turtles, wood turtles, and Blanding’s turtles, can't be kept at all. They're protected to help their populations stay healthy.

Size for Snapping Turtles

  • Size Requirement: Snapping turtles you catch must be between 12 to 16 inches long from the front to the back of their shell. This helps make sure they're grown up enough to be harvested.

Marking Requirements for Setlines, Sets, and Bankpoles

Flagging and Marking

  • Flag Placement: When using a setline, set, or bank pole, you must display a white flag that's at least 10 inches square. It should be mounted on a staff or pole positioned 3 feet or higher above the water or bank. Avoid placing the flag in the main channel of a navigable waterway.

  • Numbering: The flag must be numbered with figures that are a minimum of 3 inches high. These numbers should correspond to the license number authorizing the use of the setline, set, or bank pole.

  • Flag Staff/Pole Specifications: The flag staff or pole should not exceed a diameter of 2-1/2 inches. The portion extending above the water or bank must be banded with horizontal, alternate black and white markings ranging from 2 to 6 inches wide.

  • Use of Buoy: If a buoy is used to hold the setline’s flag staff or pole, it must be cylindrical in shape, with a diameter of 15 inches or less. Similar to the flag staff or pole, the buoy should also be banded with horizontal, alternate black and white markings of 2 to 6 inches.

Note: Lower Wisconsin River Regulations

  • Lower Wisconsin River Exception: On the lower Wisconsin River, setlines must be marked as described above. However, set or bank poles do not require marking with a flag or black and white bands.

Waters Open to Set or Bank Poles and Setlines

Seasonal Opportunities (From the Saturday nearest May 20 to Sept. 30)

  • Embarrass River: From 500 feet below the dam at Pella in Shawano Co. downstream to the Wolf River, Waupaca Co.
  • Fox River:
    • Princeton to Wicks Landing at Fox River Drive (Green Lake and Marquette counties)
    • From 500 feet below the first dam upstream from Princeton, Green Lake Co. downstream to 500 feet above the Eureka Dam, Winnebago Co.
    • From 500 feet below the Eureka Dam downstream to Lake Butte des Morts in Winnebago Co.
    • From Lake Butte des Morts downstream to the dam in the city of DePere, Brown Co.
  • Lakes:
    • Butte des Morts, Little Butte des Morts, Winnebago in Calumet, Fond du Lac, and Winnebago Co.
    • Winneconne in Winnebago Co.
    • Lake Poygan in Waushara and Winnebago counties.
  • Shioc River: Outagamie Co.
  • Waupaca River: From 500 feet below the dam at Weyauwega, Waupaca Co. downstream to the Wolf River, Waupaca Co.
  • Wolf River: From 500 feet below the dam at Shawano, Shawano Co. downstream to its mouth, Winnebago Co.

Continuous Open Season

  • Black River: From U.S. Highway 12 bridge in Black River Falls, Jackson Co. downstream to the Burlington Northern railroad tracks, La Crosse Co.
  • Blue River: From the State Highway 133 bridge, Grant Co. downstream to the Wisconsin River.
  • Grant River: From Porters Bridge on State Highway 35 downstream to the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks, Grant Co.
  • Kickapoo River: From 200 feet below the Gays Mills Dam, Crawford Co. downstream to the Wisconsin River.
  • Pecatonica River: In Green and Lafayette counties, and the West Branch (downstream from U.S. Highway 51) and the East Branch of the Pecatonica in Lafayette Co.
  • Platte River: From the State Highway 81 bridge downstream to the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks, Grant Co.
  • Lower Wisconsin River: From the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific railroad tracks, Sauk Co. downstream to the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks, Grant Co.

Waters Open to Set or Bank Pole Fishing Only

Continuous Open Season

  • Buffalo River: From State Highway 37 bridge downstream to the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks, Buffalo Co.
  • Chippewa River: From the dam in Eau Claire, Eau Claire Co., downstream to the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks, Buffalo Co.

Set or Bank Pole and Setline Definitions for Wisconsin/Iowa Boundary Waters

Definitions

  • Length of Fish: The measurement from the tip of the snout to the outermost end of the tail, following a straight line with the tail compressed.
  • Dressed Fish: Fish with the head and viscera removed, but the tail remains intact.
  • Minnows: Includes various species such as suckers, central mudminnow, tadpole madtom, stonecat, and others. It encompasses any minnow family cyprinid that isn't endangered or threatened, excluding certain carp species.
  • Rough Fish: Encompasses various species including suckers, common carp, Asian carp, goldfish, and others.
  • Commercial Fishing Gear: Equipment authorized for use in commercial fishing operations under a commercial fishing license.
  • Commercial Fishing Licenses: Include commercial net licenses and setline licenses but not set or bank pole licenses.
  • Commercial Fishing Operation: Fishing conducted under the authority of any commercial fishing license.

Setline Definitions for Wisconsin/Minnesota Boundary Waters

Definitions

  • Length of Fish: The measurement from the tip of the snout to the outermost end of the tail, following a straight line with the tail compressed.
  • Dressed Fish: Fish with the head and viscera removed, but the tail remains intact.
  • Minnows: Includes various species such as suckers, central mudminnow, tadpole madtom, stonecat, and others. It encompasses any minnow family cyprinid that isn't endangered or threatened, excluding certain carp species.
  • Rough Fish: Encompasses various species including suckers, common carp, Asian carp, goldfish, and others.
  • Commercial Fishing Gear: Equipment authorized for use in commercial fishing operations under a commercial fishing license.
  • Commercial Fishing Licenses: Include commercial net licenses and setline licenses but not set or bank pole licenses.
  • Commercial Fishing Operation: Fishing conducted under the authority of any commercial fishing license.

General Restrictions for Wisconsin/Iowa and Wisconsin/Minnesota Boundary Waters

Commercial Fishing Licensing

  • License Requirement: No individual may conduct commercial fishing operations without obtaining the appropriate license.
  • License Carrying: Commercial anglers must carry their licenses at all times during commercial fishing activities and present them upon request by the Department or its wardens.

Setline and Set/Bank Pole Regulations

  • Monthly Reports: Commercial anglers using setline licenses on boundary waters must submit monthly reports, regardless of fish sales.
  • Release of Non-Commercial Fish: Any game fish not designated as commercial or listed as endangered or threatened must be promptly released with minimal harm.
  • Bag Limits: No bag limits apply to commercial species unless specified.
  • Improper Gear Handling: Commercial fishing gear placed or tagged improperly is considered a public nuisance and may be seized by the Department.
  • Possession of Non-Commercial Fish: While operating commercial gear, no person may possess non-commercial game fish.
  • Unauthorized Gear Possession: Possession or control of commercial fishing gear not authorized for use in boundary waters is prohibited.

Reporting Requirements

  • Monthly Reports: Commercial anglers with setline licenses must submit monthly reports to the Department by the 10th of the following month. Reports must detail all fish sold or kept, including buyer information.
  • Fish Sales: Fish taken with commercial gear may only be sold by the licensed commercial angler using the gear. Selling another angler's fish requires a wholesale fish dealer's license.

Additional Regulations

  • Shovelnose Sturgeon Harvest Permit: A $50 permit is required to harvest shovelnose sturgeon with commercial gear on boundary waters.
  • Egg Removal Prohibition: Removing eggs from commercial fish species while on the water is illegal. Fish must remain intact until reaching the final processing facility or the commercial angler's place of business.
  • Cease Fishing Operations: The Department may require cessation of fishing operations deemed destructive to game fish or endangering other wild species.
  • Inspection Authority: The Department or its agents may raise commercial fishing gear for inspection in the absence of the licensee.
  • Setline Limits: Setline licensees have specific limits on the number of setlines and hooks allowed on WI/IA and WI/MN boundary waters.
  • Bait Prohibition: Frogs or game fish, dead or alive, and any part thereof, cannot be used as bait on setlines or set or bank poles in the Mississippi River.
  • Setline Marking: Setlines must be marked with a metal tag indicating the license number of the commercial angler. Tags must be visible above the water's surface.
  • Daily Maintenance: Setlines and set or bank poles set in open water must be lifted, and all fish removed at least once daily.
  • Nighttime Restrictions: Operating setlines and set or bank poles between one-half hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise requires prior permission from the Department. Contact local DNR authorities to request permission.
  • Turtle Prohibition: Set or bank poles and setlines may not be used to take turtles on WI/IA and WI/MN boundary waters.

Specific Commercial Fishing Restrictions for Wisconsin-Minnesota Boundary Waters

Setline Operations

  • Angler Presence: Commercial anglers must be present at all times during the setting, placing, tending, or operation of setlines.
  • Tagging Restrictions: No individual may mark or tag a setline with their license number or metal tag if it's already marked or tagged by another licensed commercial angler.
  • Unauthorized Use: It's prohibited to set, place, tend, or operate any setline marked or tagged with the license number or metal tag of another person, except for crew members under the licensee's direction while the licensee is present.

Setline Regulations: Seasons, Closed Areas, and Restrictions

  • Seasonal Use: Setlines may be utilized in the Wisconsin portion of the Mississippi River from the Saturday nearest April 1 to Oct. 31, with exceptions for closed areas.
  • Permanently Closed Areas: Certain areas are permanently closed to commercial fishing operations using setlines, including specific sections of the Mississippi River and designated lakes.
  • Seasonally Closed Areas: Other areas have seasonal closures during specific periods to protect spawning or sensitive habitats.
  • Buoy Requirements: Each setline must have a buoy at each end, with a staff extending at least 3 feet above the water's surface. Flags and license numbers must be displayed prominently on the buoys.
  • Traffic Considerations: Setlines must not be set in a manner that obstructs more than ¾ of the width of any slough, bay, or channel to any type of boat traffic.

Additional Regulations

  • Bank or Set Pole Prohibition: Bank or set poles are not permitted for commercial or sport fishing on the Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters. These regulations aim to ensure fair and sustainable commercial fishing practices in the area.

Wisconsin-Iowa Boundary Waters Regulations

Reciprocity

  • Compliance: Anglers and commercial anglers must adhere to the regulations of the state's territorial waters in which they are fishing when differences exist between Iowa and Wisconsin boundary waters regulations.

Definitions

  • Wisconsin/Iowa Boundary Waters: Extends from the Burlington Northern and Sante Fe railroad tracks on the east side of the Mississippi River in Wisconsin to the state line between Wisconsin and Iowa.
  • Commercial Fish: Includes rough and detrimental fish, shovelnose sturgeon within specific size limits, catfish over certain lengths, and bullheads when taken with commercial fishing gear.
  • Shovelnose Sturgeon Size Limit: Must be at least 27” but less than 34” in fork length.
  • Fork Length: Measurement from the tip of the snout to the tip of the median caudal fin rays of a fish.

Open Seasons

  • Set or Bank Poles and Setline: Continuous open season.

Bag and Possession Limits

  • Restrictions: Only commercial fish may be taken, with no additional bag or possession limits specified.

Setline Regulations

  • Usage: Residents can use setlines year-round.
  • Flag Requirement: Each licensed setline must have a white flag, at least 16 inches square, with numbered figures at least three inches in height corresponding to the setline license number. Alternatively, buoys can be used, numbered with figures at least three inches in height matching the license number.
  • Roe Removal Prohibition: It's illegal to remove roe from commercial fish while on the water, bank, or shore. Fish must remain intact until reaching the final processing facility or the commercial angler's place of business.
  • Prohibited Areas: Setlines cannot be used within 900 feet below any U.S. Corps of Engineers lock or dam.

Set Or Bank Poles Regulations

  • Commercial Gear Exclusion: Set or bank poles are not considered commercial gear.
  • Usage: Residents can use set or bank poles year-round.
  • Limitations: Up to five set or bank poles may be used for taking rough fish or catfish, with one line and a maximum of two hooks allowed for each set or bank pole.

Other Regulation Requirements

  • Possession Prohibition: Licensed commercial anglers, crew members, or individuals in their boat cannot possess panfish, game fish, or sport angling equipment while operating licensed commercial gear, including setlines, or traveling to or from such operations.
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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.