Around Lake Winnebago, boaters spend substantial cash to launch their boats at the various launches. With a huge watershed, boaters understand that off the water transportation of the vessels is required to maximize their efforts. Time and fuel costs would become overwhelming to navigate the system via the water, unless you are just out for a pleasure cruise.
For years, area residents have been saddled with trying to determine if their yearly launch passes are valid at each launch. Each county and each city typically issues a yearly launch permit, if you do not opt for the daily fee. For anglers and recreational boaters, research has to be completed to determine who maintains each launch.
For fishermen who chase migrating fish on the system, this gets to be an expensive proposition.
For myself, Fond du Lacís fee is $20 (resident), City of Oshkosh is $35 (non-resident), $35 for Calumet County, club memberships for ramp use runs another $20 and this only covers a small portion of the launches I use on the system. All other ramp launches cost $5 to $7 per launch.
In 2014, Fond du Lac, Calumet and Winnebago Counties have joined together to issue a countywide permit. Main launches included in this permit are Black Wolf, Eureka, Lake Poygan (county only), Buttes des Mortes, Boom Bay, Asylum, Brothertown, Stockbridge and Grundman launches.
The permit costs $50 annually. This is a nice first step towards making things more manageable, but just does not go far enough to resolve the problem. This permit does not cover any city launches in these counties.
Here lies the confusion (and expense) for area boaters.
It is time for the major cities and counties, including the lower Wolf River and Fox River to come together to issue a Universal Winnebago System boat launch permit. This Universal Winnebago System launch permit could cover every public launch on the lake, regardless of who operates it.
Having a universal boat launch would eliminate confusion for boaters, add revenue to city and county budgets and reduce traffic at some of the most congested launches.
Anglers often attempt to launch at the ramp closest to their final destination. When that launch point is under a different fee structure than their annual permit, they might go to the next closest landing which is under their current permit.
For example: the city launches are completely full, while the county launch remains nearly empty, even if the county launch is closer to the final destination.
I understand my thoughts are a pipe dream.
Having five or more government agencies come together for the good of their constituents is almost unconceivable. There is credit due to Fond du Lac, Winnebago and Calumet Counties on the current three county launch idea, but its expansion is needed beyond the county owned launches.
Read more posts from Mark Schram.
Mark Schram is an avid tournament fisherman, focusing most of his efforts on the Winnebago System in East Central Wisconsin. Mark's blog will focus on the current fishing conditions and selected topics related to the Lake Winnebago region, outdoor sports and life in general. As an angler, he ultimately strives to educate new and established fishermen on the joys of nature. Mark is the founder of www.myfishingpartner.com, a published outdoor writer and an active member of many fishing organizations including the National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA #182).