The Great Walleye Grab

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The Great Walleye Grab

CREATED Mar. 27, 2013

Under existing law, the six bands of Chippewa in northern Wisconsin are allowed to declare how many walleyes they intend to spear during the annual spring harvest.  After the bands announce their numbers, the DNR sets sport bag limits for everyone else.

This year, the six bands have declared their intention to take almost 60,000 walleyes.  Of this number, the Lac du Flambeau band in particular says it wants over 24,000 walleyes.  As a result, the bag limit on 197 northern Wisconsin lakes will be reduced to one walleye.  One!  The bag limit will be two fish on another 331 lakes.

In other words, say goodbye to any effort to draw tourists to the area to fish.

The law is clear that the tribes have the right to do what they are doing.  Still, one has to wonder whether this is anything more than a naked power play?

By deciding to take such an enormous quantity of fish, the Lac du Flambeau band will lose an $84,000 payment from the State.  That payment was conditioned on the tribe allowing at least a three-walleye-per-day bag limit on the lakes it speared.

My guess is that $84,000 is a drop in the bucket when compared to other ways the Lac du Flambeau band generates revenue.  I'm referring specifically of course to income from tribal gaming. 

Which raises the question: If tribes want to essentially exercise a monopoly on walleye fishing in the northern third of the State, should we perhaps review other monopoly rights they've obtained over the years?

Do you think there's a private developer who might like the opportunity to compete with the Lake of the Torches casino?  Just saying ....

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