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Extending the season sounds good until you realize the majority of anglers will not be able to fish.
Extending the season sounds good until you realize the majority of anglers will not be able to fish. / Len Harris/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
Len Harris/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com

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A live chat with Wisconsin DNR experts about the upcoming proposed rule changes for trout fishing was held on February 18.

Revisit the chat.

First off, I asked the experts what the typical Wisconsin trout angler looks? Do they have a fly rod in their hand? Do they have a spinner attached to their rod or are the vast majority of Wisconsin small stream anglers worm or live bait anglers?

Matthew Mitro WDNR answered my question by quoting a 2011 mail survey, sent to a random sample of Wisconsin trout anglers, indicates that about 55% of resident trout anglers "often" or "always" fish with bait, about 44% "often" or "always" fish with spinners or lures, and about 27% "often" or "always" fly fish.

I asked next if the typical Wisconsin trout angler is 55 percent a bait angler, why are they being excluded from the extended seasons proposed? The current trout season runs from the first Saturday in March through the last Sunday in April as a catch and release only and artificial only season. The live bait anglers are excluded currently from that season. The regular season opens the first Saturday in May to all anglers.

More on fishing: Fishing news from around the state | Your fishing photos | Build a map | Read fishing reports

The new proposals by the DNR trout experts is to extend the seasons. The season would begin on January 1 as catch and release and artificial only anglers and this season would run through the last Sunday in April.

The live bait anglers who are the vast majority of trout anglers in Wisconsin again are totally ignored. One of the other proposals is to extend the season through October 15. And I bet you guessed what type of season it will be? It will be a catch and release only and artificial only season. The 55 percent or majority of trout anglers in the state will be excluded. If the DNR experts have their way there will be 4.5 months of catch and release only with artificial lures and 5 months of the possibility of keeping trout.

I asked the experts three different times why the majority were being ignored. Jordan Weeks, the fish manager from LaCrosse, told me to write a proposal to the Conservation Congress at the spring meeting if I was so concerned. I felt like the 55 percent when my comment was ignored by Weeks.

I was a Conservation Congress member for half a year. I had to resign due to medical reasons. In the short amount of time in the congress I met many like-minded trout anglers. I ran in to one of the heads of the congress, Larry Bonde, and he told me that the bait and spinner anglers that liked keeping trout were not represented on any committees and he welcomed me to the congress. Larry told me he had heard for years from congress members that the bait angler and spinner angler was being ignored by the DNR when it came to rules.

He helped me get in on a trout committee through the DNR. He appointed me as the Conservation Congress representative.

Later two more names were added to the committee. These two conservation congress members were not appointed by Larry and he checked to see how they were appointed. Larry had them removed from the committee. Both anglers removed were catch and release advocates.

The yearly Conservation Congress Meetings throughout the state will be held on Monday, April 14 at 7 p.m. There are six proposed rule changes on the agenda. I am one of the 55 percent anglers that are tired of being ignored by the DNR. Go to your meetings in your counties and vote "no" on extending seasons that leave out 55 percent of the trout anglers in the state.

The minority "27 percent" should not rule when it comes to trout fishing. I urge you to go to those meetings and let your voices be heard.

Read more from Len Harris.

Len Harris blogs from the "Heart" of Wisconsin's Driftless Area. Len's passion is small stream trout fishing with every legal means possible. When trout season is closed he writes and takes photos. He even dabbles in a little cooking. Read more of Lenís writing on his blog at http://lenharris.blogspot.com/.

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