Muskellunge

The DNR will host a public meeting to discuss a proposed change to the length limit for muskellunge in Butternut Lake in Price and Ashland counties on Dec. 3.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will host a public meeting to discuss a proposed change to the length limit for muskellunge in Butternut Lake in Price and Ashland counties on Dec. 3. The fishing regulation change proposal removes the 28-inch minimum and replaces it with a 40-inch minimum length limit, which affects most waters statewide. The DNR published the notice earlier this month.

Several people expressed concerns about the change and have requested a public meeting to discuss the proposal. The virtual meeting on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. will provide information and an opportunity to comment on the proposed fishing rule change. Participants may join via Zoom or by dialing 312-626-6799 and using Meeting ID: 910 7324 3573.

The proposed change stems from Citizen Resolution 020120 presented at the Spring 2020 Fish And Wildlife Hearings hosted by the DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress. The changes would apply Wisconsin’s standard muskellunge harvest regulation of a daily bag limit of one and size limit of 40 inches or longer.

The musky population in Butternut Lake was reduced from high to moderate abundance, and musky growth rates and size structures have rebounded. Surveys in 2018 and 2019 confirmed that Butternut Lake’s muskellunge population now has the desired density (0.2-0.3 adults/acre) and size distribution (25-50% ≥ 38"), meeting the goals defined in the 2005 Butternut Lake Fishery Management Plan.

As a result, there is no longer reason to promote selective harvest of medium-size fish, making the 28-inch minimum size limit unnecessary.

Because it seeks to replace a special regulation with a standard regulation, the proposal can be routed through the streamlined procedures in Chapter NR 20.35 of Wisconsin’s Administrative Code. If enacted, signs will be posted at Butternut Lake’s pubic access sites before the change would take effect on April 1, 2021.

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