MADISON - Wisconsin’s longstanding season structures for bass and musky have been officially restored and the early-season barbless hook requirements eliminated for some catch-and-release seasons under a bill Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law earlier this month.
As a result of the changes made by 2009 Wis. Act 6 (Assembly Bill 4):
* The normal musky season opening dates will remain in effect. This means the northern zone musky season opens May 23 this year and no person may actively fish for musky before that date in waters north of Highway 10. Southern zone musky season opens May 2.
* The largemouth/ smallmouth bass season opens May 2 on most state waters. In the northern zone, anglers may fish for bass but as in the past, must release all bass they catch until June 20. Anglers are NOT restricted to barbless hooks and artificial lures during this catch and release portion of the season in the northern zone or on other waters which have a catch and release bass season.
This bill was initiated and adopted in response to a statutory change – not a Department of Natural Resources rule change -- in the 2007 budget bill that would have required the DNR to create an early musky catch-and-release season and required anglers to use barbless hooks during that season and any bass catch-and-release season.
“Both of these statutory requirements caused considerable consternation among the angling public, and we are grateful that those laws have been repealed before the May 2 fishing opener,” says Joe Hennessy, the DNR fish biologist who coordinates fisheries regulations