By Mike Rader
Southern Lincoln County DNR Conservation Warden
With the general fishing opener just around the corner on May 7, I thought I’d pass along some new information and reminders regarding applicable spring/summer Department of Natural Resources regulations.
Check your boat, load life jackets
First, let’s review boating. Make sure your boat registration is current. Check your decals, too, and ensure your decals and numbers are displayed correctly on the boat.
Next, make sure you have a wearable personal flotation device, also known as PFDs or life jackets, for each person in your boat. This includes canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. These PDFs must be; US Coast Guard-approved, readily accessible, the appropriate size and in serviceable condition. I highly recommend you wear your PFD whenever you are on the water. Please note you must wear a PFD while operating a jet ski or a personal watercraft (also referred to as a PWC). In addition, boats 16 feet or longer (except canoes and kayaks) are required to have a throwable cushion or ring (Type IV PFD) on board.
All boats are required to have a Type B fire extinguisher on board if one or more of the following conditions exist:
• inboard/outboard or inboard engine
• closed compartments, or
• permanently installed fuel tanks.
Ensure boat batteries are secured against shifting and that both terminals are covered to prevent accidental shorting.
Safety course requirements, navigation rules
Those at least 16 and born on or after Jan. 1, 1989, are required to have completed a boating safety course accepted by the Wisconsin DNR to operate a motorboat. A person must be at least 12 to operate a PWC and must have completed boating safety. A person ages 12-15 only may operate a motorboat unaccompanied by an adult if they have completed boating safety.
You must display the required navigation lights between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of reduced visibility. On lakes, you cannot operate a vessel within 100 feet of the shoreline or any dock, raft, pier, or restricted area at greater than “slow, no wake” speed. Additional regulations for PWCs or jet skis apply and include: no operation at greater than “slow, no wake” speed within 200 feet of shore on any lake or within 100 feet of another vessel on any waterbody.
Fishing regulations for Lincoln County
Now I’ll highlight some of the new fishing regulations in Lincoln County.
• Experimental panfish regulations to increase panfish size are in effect on: Crystal Lake, Echo Lake, Hildebrand Lake, Hilts Lake, and Pesabic Lake.
• Consult the Lincoln County section of the fishing regulations and signs posted at the lakes for specific information.
• Largemouth and smallmouth bass of any length may now be kept during the open season on Ament, Henson, Larson, Moraine, and Tahoe lakes, as the primary management emphasis is for trout.
Lincoln County is in the Ceded Territory, bag limits
• Most lakes and specific river segments have a daily bag limit of 3 walleye. The total daily bag limit is still 5 walleye, but the additional 2 walleye must be caught on a separate lake or river segment. You cannot be in possession of more walleye than allowed for the particular waterbody you are on.
• There is a catch and release season for smallmouth bass north of Highway 64 in Lincoln County from May 7 – June 17. Also, many sections of the Wisconsin River in Lincoln County are open to year-round hook and line fishing for all species except muskellunge, lake sturgeon, trout, paddlefish and threatened or endangered fish. These sections are indicated in the Lincoln County section of the fishing regulations with a fish icon.
• Motor trolling is permitted county-wide, allowing 1 hook, bait or lure per person and a maximum of 2 lines per boat. Additionally, 3 hooks, baits or lures per person are authorized on the Spirit River Flowage and the Wisconsin River from County Highway A downstream, except Lake Mohawksin.
• As always, consult the Lincoln County section of the fishing regulations and signs posted at the lakes for specific information.
Be safe, have fun and introduce someone new to our Wisconsin outdoor heritage!