Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Application period for 2015 fishing tournament permits now open and changes on the horizon

MADISON - Organizers of fishing tournaments planning events for 2015 can apply for their permits as of April 1, 2014. New this year, the applications will be reviewed as they come in and awarded on a first-come, first served basis, state fisheries officials say.

"We are awarding permits on a first-come, first-served basis to improve the process for organizers and DNR biologists," says Jon Hansen, the Department of Natural Resources fish biologist who works on tournament issues. "So get your applications in for both 2014 and 2015 as soon as you can to ensure your spot!"

There is a cap on the maximum amount of tournament fishing pressure allowed on some waters. In past years, DNR would run an open application period from April 1 through June 30 to see if there were more applications received than spots available for the same waters. If there were, DNR would conduct a lottery to decide which tournaments got the needed permits on a specific water.

There has never been a situation in which DNR needed to hold a lottery, so removing the application open period deadline is one of a few changes going into effect this summer to the rule regulating fishing tournaments, Hansen says.

Over the last two years, a group of tournament stakeholders and DNR staff identified potential changes to the 2009 fishing tournament rules to simplify the rule and increase its effectiveness while still addressing public concerns about crowding, tournament associated fish mortality, and the spread of invasive species.

Changes include clarifications and more specifics on how fish need to be handled as well as when certain conditions the DNR uses to reduce fish mortality will be used.

Applications for 2014 events still being accepted

Tournaments still being planned for 2014 can be applied for right now and applications will be reviewed as long as it is received at least 30 days in advance and room is available, Hansen says. These applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the caps have been reached.

Tournament organizers will need a permit if any of the following apply. The tournament:

  • involves 20 or more boats, or 100 or more participants;
  • targets any trout species on waters classified as trout streams;
  • is a catch-hold-release tournament with an off-site weigh-in;
  • will have fewer than 20 boats but participants will cull bass; or
  • has a total prize value of $10,000 or greater.

Starting in 2015, traditional tournaments (events that were held 4 out of the 5 years between 2004 and 2008) may apply starting Jan. 1, 2015, and non-traditional tournaments may apply April 1, 2015.

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