Controversy over boundaries in Bassmasters tournament
Photo: Video by nbc26.com
GREEN BAY, WI--The Bassmaster pro-fishing tournament kicks-off tomorrow in Green Bay.But not without some controversy. Some anglers are upset over a new DNR mandate that will keep the fishermen south of Sturgeon Bay.
The DNR says it is to protect the fish. But with $100,000 dollars in "prize money" on the line some fishermen are upset., saying the boundaries will prevent them from reeling in a big catch.
The fishermen we spoke with say Wisconsin has some of the best bass fishing in the United States but say it'll be very tough to catch the larger fish because sturgeon bay is off limits. The DNR's position is that it is too risky to try to bring in a fish from that far away and ensure it stays alive.
Ninety nine of the best pro bass fishermen in the country are all competing to reel in the winning catch. But Jay Todd Tucker isn't as confident as he'd like to be.
"We're limited to such a small area," said Tucker.
Fellow competitor Russell Parrish feels the same way. They're expecting a tough tournament.
"Everybody is pretty upset about our off limit areas," said Parrish.
The fishermen say the DNR limits mean they'll be crammed into a small fishing area where the big fish won't be accessible. And for all for the wrong reasons. The fishermen say they have the technology to keep the fish alive.
Live wells on boats are designed to transport the fish safely. And it's in the fisherman's best interest to do so
"We're all professionals, we get penalized if we come in with a dead fish," said Parrish.
"The wells are equipped to take care of fish for long runs many hours of the day," said Tucker.
But the DNR's director of Bureau of Fisheries Management tells NBC26, the agency is aware of the technology, and the boundaries of the tournament are created with fish safety in mind.
Michael Stagg says"Obviously the longer a fish is contained to a live well the more stressed it is. It can also knock around inside and risk mortality"
A rule the fishermen will have to deal with it.
"The weights will be down compared to what we originally thought they would be," said Parrish.
The DNR says they have already worked with the Bassmasters organizers to revise the boundaries when they expressed concern. The DNR says original ones, were even stricter.