Friday, March 22, 2013

Tournament Anglers Help Prevent the Spread of Invasives

March 22, 2013

By Marie Zhuikov

Although ice remains on many Wisconsin lakes, today is the start of another season of fishing tournaments for Sea Grant staff across the Great Lakes. No, they’re not competing; they’re working to ensure that aquatic invasive species (AIS) aren’t spread by tournament activities.

“Fishing tournaments are known for their excitement and payouts as large as a half-million dollars,” said Phil Moy, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s advisory services manager and lead on the project. “Events can host up to 300 boats, which unfortunately can pose a risk for spreading unwanted plants and animals.”

Today’s tournament in ice-free Spring Valley, Ill., is hosted by The Walleye Federation. Organizers are expecting record participation. Moy will be at the tournament as part of a regional project designed to identify how tournaments spread AIS and to discover the best ways to educate anglers about prevention.

The project spans four years (2010-2014) and is in its final stages. Funding started through the National Sea Grant Office and then continued through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Partners include the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, Wildlife Forever, the Bass Federation, the National Professional Anglers Association, Cabela’s Master Walleye Circuit and The Walleye Federation.

By talking to tournament organizers and surveying participants, project members have discovered that the vectors for AIS spread at tournaments include scales used to weigh the fish, holding tanks, hoses, measuring boards, and angler equipment.

The good news is that most anglers pay attention to the threat of invasive species. In a project survey of almost 200 tournament anglers, 90 percent said AIS are a serious to very serious threat. Many already take measures to prevent AIS spread, including draining water from their equipment, disposing of bait in the trash and inspecting their equipment for invasive plants and animals.

In another survey of Cabela’s Master Walleye Circuit champions, researchers discovered that the reasons some don’t take action is because they lack the time and motivation, they consider prevention measures inconvenient, or the anglers are unaware of the risk. They also discovered the best ways to reach anglers include word-of mouth, signs at tournament boat ramps and presentations to fishing clubs. The survey questions were developed by the Great Lakes project members with help from Wisconsin Sea Grant Social Scientist Jane Harrison.

To help reduce the chance of spreading AIS, tournament organizers used boat inspection lines that quickly checked boats prior to launch each morning, developed youth education clinics, and boat washing stations in cooperation with local scouting groups as well as adopting measures in the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers campaign.

“This year, we really want to reach kids,” said Moy. “Angling kids, high school kids, and younger kids; the next recruit of professional anglers who are working their way up through the ranks. If we can instill in them the importance of not moving AIS around to preserve fishing, we expect we’ll have a longer-term and more meaningful impact.” Organizers plan to work with scouting groups and fishing clubs, which often provide support for tournaments.

Let the tournaments begin!



The meeting was called to order by President John Durben at 10:05 AM. There were four members present, Mike Staggs of the DNR and two guests.

The notes as taken of our last meeting by Mona Durben were published and approved as the official minutes, as there was no secretary to take minutes at this meeting.

Treasurer Cornell Stroik read the financial report as was published for the meeting. The report showed that we had $5,742.80 in the checking account and $3,064.36 C.A.S.T. savings account. A motion was made, seconded and approved to accept the report as published.

The issue of finding a Secretary for the organization was addressed. Ron Gray noted that he had talked with Brenda Rosin Schaff of the Badger Fisherman's League about taking the position. He noted she had some questions but he felt she may be interested. She will be taking the chair position of the Kids Fishing clinics upon Wayne Avery’s retirement which has a direct tie to the WCSFO. She was unable to attend the meeting today because of a previous family commitment. He stated if she did not take the position he would find someone that will and the organization should move forward with that in mind.

Cornell Stroik reported on Wisconsin Bass Nation, Wisconsin Bass Federation and tournament fishing.

Mike Staggs gave the DNR Fisheries report. He reported on the following and supplied hand outs with some of the topics.

  • The Wisconsin Fishing Report – Now sorted by spices, Fishing Regulations same as last year. Changes only every other year.
  • Planning for Pan fish – A survey of what the angler would like from pan fishing. Results could affect size limits, bag limits, season limits.
  • Working Relationship between Wisconsin Conservation Congress & DNR Fisheries Management Create a Fisheries Advisory Council. President Durben (representing WCSFO) was invited to a Round Table Meeting in Madison recently; however had scheduling problems on that day. Additional meetings will be scheduled in the future.
  • Spring Hearings & Fisheries Questions – Simplifying Regulations, April 8th all counties. Several Hearing Questions were discussed: Question #3 — Rough Fish Spearing Seasons, Question #4 — Apply Northern Bass management Zone catch and release season to smallmouth bass only and Question #6 — Allow trolling statewide. Wisconsin is the only state that does not allow statewide motor trolling.
  • Hatchery Study – Results of the study and executive summary of how changes will be implemented.
  • Driftless Area Streams – A master plan on how to manage 35,000 acres of stream shoreline properties.

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation – No report

Kids Fishing Clinics – Ron Gray reported that we now have fishing clinics in the following Counties. Milwaukee 11 Parks, Racine 1 Park, Sheboygan 1 Park, Washington 1 Park and Waukesha 3 Parks and we have 19 clubs participating. The next clinic meeting date will be March 21st with the spring clinics taking place on April 13th. He also report on the ice fishing clinics which took place on February 9th.

Lake Access: North Lake access site — construction is planned for this spring based on the last information from the DNR.

Old Business:

1. Kids fishing hand books - It was reported that the supply has been used and we will need a new printing for next year. It was noted that some of the club logo info needs to be updated. Ron Gray will work with Ted Lind to get the information necessary for updating the books/logos for this printing. He will also try to get more donations and club participation through the clinic meetings for future printings.

2. Club Dues – After discussion a motion was made seconded and passed that the dues structure for membership in the WCSFO remain the same as last year and that invoices be sent out to the clubs.

New Business:

Club News — No Club news reported

Meeting Adjourned at Approximately 12:30 PM

Next meeting scheduled for October 19, 2013

Respectfully Submitted: Ron Gray – Acting Secretary

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