March 26, 2016 – Five Lakes in Manitowoc County have been selected by the DNR for special regulations on panfish to be effective beginning April 1, 2016. Those lakes are Bullhead, Long, Pigeon, English and Harpt Lake. A total of 94 lakes across the state were identified by biologists and anglers as underperforming – that is the mean length of bluegill and crappie is less than desirable but growth potential is good. The goal is to determine the best regulation that will increase the average size of bluegill and crappie on the selected lakes. Ultimately, a single regulation will be chosen and used to address similar lakes not meeting Panfish management goals. The effectiveness of each regulation will be evaluated in 2021.
Project background information:
The five lakes will have one of the three regulations that are being evaluated. The three regulations include a 25/10 regulation: A total of 25 panfish but no more than 10 of any one species; a 25/5 regulation: A total of 25 panfish but no more than 5 of any one species; and a regulation that in May and June ONLY, 15 panfish may be kept but no more than 5 of any one species, with the remainder of the year the standard 25 panfish bag limit. All other lakes will retain the current panfish limits.
Harpt and Pigeon Lakes will have the 25/10 regulation. A total of 25 panfish but no more than 10 of any one species such as 10 bluegill, 10 black crappie and 5 yellow perch.
Long and English Lakes will have the 15/5 regulation: A total of 15 panfish but no more than 5 of any one species, such as 5 bluegills, 5 crappies and 5 perch.
Bullhead Lake will have the 15/5 seasonal: A total of 15 panfish but no more than 5 of any one species during May and June (15/5 seasonal) – 25 panfish in total the rest of the year.
Silver Lake near Manitowoc has had 10 panfish bag limit since the lake restoration to reduce over harvest. Always check the signage at the boat landing to identify any local restrictions and identify the bag limits for that lake.
Dave Pozorski, past MCLA President said “in 2004 MCLA developed a proposal to have a limit of 10 panfish to encourage larger panfish on County Lakes.” Fish surveys were indicating that our pan fish were growing at rates of the State average or better however larger fish were not present. Manitowoc County has one of the highest fishing pressure in Eastern Wisconsin and it was concluded that on our small lakes, generally 100 acres or less, anglers were taking too many of the larger panfish. It is not uncommon for fisherman to throw back smaller panfish when a larger one is caught.
The MCLA proposal for a 10 panfish bag limit was voted down by sportsman at the Spring Conservation Congress hearings the following spring in 2005.
Tom Ward, AIS coordinator reminds fisherman to remember to not transport their catch in water but place them on ice to be in compliance with AIS laws, which helps prevent exchanging fish from a different lake to keep a larger fish. Be sure and drain your boat and equipment and never exchange water from your minnow bucket and livewell between different lakes to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other organisms.