By Craig Sandell
© 2006

Recently, a group of respected and dedicated Musky anglers went public with their investigation into the decline of Wisconsin’s Musky fisheries and the culpability of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) in that decline.

Musky America has been very militant about this issue and I have received a fair amount of Email some of which I believe needs to be shared with everyone.

Below you will see the text of some of the Emails that I have received and my response to them. I have edited out the foul language as I usually do.

Email - 3/19/05-1

I just read you article on size limits in Wisconsin being useless and I think you have your head up your axx. Size limits and catch and release will give us bigger fish. The DNR knows what it is doing, so shut up and let them do their job.

Response – 3/19/05-1

I guess the fault is mine for not making the issue clear enough. If the fish in a lake will never get any bigger that 42 inches because they have been bred to be small, then a 45" or 50" size limit for that lake is useless. The DNR is supposed to be creating Wisconsin Musky fisheries that have trophy fish not fish that have a stunted growth potential…if the DNR was doing its job, this would not even be an issue.

Email – 3/19/05-2

I went to the Wisconsin Muskellunge Restoration Project website and I don’t understand all the stuff that is up there. I support trophy Musky fisheries for Wisconsin but I am not going to put my 2 cents in until I understand the issue.

Response – 3/19/05-2

I understand and concur with you. There is a lot of information on the WMRP website [no longer active], much of it very technical. I too had to wade through it a couple of times. The WMRP website distills down to this…

Wisconsin Musky fisheries are being stocked with fish that will not grow to be of trophy caliber.

Minnesota has been stocking their Musky fisheries with fish that will grow to be trophy caliber.

Wisconsin and Minnesota are fed by the same water systems so success in Minnesota translates to success in Wisconsin.

Email – 3/20/05-1

It seems to me that you and this Musky Project are just beating up on the DNR without even trying to get their side of the issue. You guys need to listen to what the DNR has to say and have a little faith.

Response – 3/20/05-2

First, let me clarify something…I had and have no input into the development of the WMRP information. I do know, from reading the WMRP information, that the team worked for months meeting with the DNR. There were multiple discussions and data presentations that, I guess in the final analysis, were ignored by the DNR. It is difficult to have faith in the DNR when it persistently ignores the fishery success of Minnesota in favor of fishery decline in Wisconsin.

Email – 3/20/05-3

There you go again grand standing and talking out your axx like you did when you criticized Pete Maina and Ty Sennett. Axxhxxxx like you need to shut up and mind your own fxxxxxx business.

Response – 3/20/05-3

Evidently, I am not one of your favorite folks. It is true that I have criticized Pete and Ty in the past, but this has nothing to do with any disagreement or bad feelings between myself and them. I don’t think that it is grand standing when I bring attention to a fishery issue that affects everyone in Wisconsin who fishes for Musky or makes a livelihood from Musky tourism. You may not have a high opinion of me but I would encourage you to put that aside and look at the WMRP information without letting your dislike of me cloud the issue of not having trophy Musky fisheries in Wisconsin.

Email – 3/23/05-1

I read you articles on the DNR and it looks to me like you have a hard-xx for them. You don’t seem to like anything that they do and that makes me wonder if this Musky Restoration stuff is real or just another one of your rants against the DNR.

Response – 3/23/05-1

First… I had and have no input into the development of the WMRP information. Yes, it is true that I criticize the DNR but I have also praised the DNR in articles on Musky America. I am sorry if my sometimes controversial positions of matters that affect Musky fishing are perceived as less than genuine. Like you and most Musky fishermen, I am passionate about Musky fishing. I say what I say because I think that it needs to be said…hold my feet to the fire if you want, but don’t ignore the fact that Wisconsin Musky fisheries are in decline because the DNR refuses to act even in the face of overwhelming good science and factual data from other state DNR authorities.

Email – 3/26/05-1

It looks to me like you are the only person promoting this WMRP. Why don’t I see stuff on other website like Musky Hunter and Exox angler. Are you just crying wolf?

Response – 3/26/05-1

I am not really sure what to tell you. It is my understanding that Muskies, Inc. chapters in Wisconsin are supporting the introduction of larger strains of Musky being stocked in natural lakes and rivers. In deed, larger strains are being stocked in the southern part of Wisconsin although not in natural lakes. I cannot speak for Musky Hunter or Esox Angler. Their websites are more commercially focused and perhaps that is why you do not see anything. I do not know if they will be running an article on it in their next magazine issue. I am convinced from looking at the WMRP information, that this is a real problem for Wisconsin Musky fisheries. Since the DNR is the administrator of these fisheries, it is at the center of the issue. Read the WMRP data and decide for yourself.

Email – 3/28/05-1

I looked at the WMRP stuff and it is disturbing but I heard that Russ Warye from Fishing Hot Spots thinks this is just a bunch of crap.

Response – 3/28/05-1

I hadn’t heard that Russ held that opinion. Not everyone that looks at the WMRP information arrives at the same conclusion. Not having seen anything in general publication from Russ or having been contacted by Russ, I cannot speak to what his opinion might be but I would certainly be surprised if he does not support the establishment of trophy fisheries in Wisconsin Musky waters as does the WMRP.

Email – 4/2/05-1

Is it true that the DNR is going to do a study on this larger strain issue?…a friend of mine told me that a new study in the works.

Response – 4/2/05-1

I hadn’t heard that, but it would not surprise me. It seems like the DNR always establishes a new study to investigate a problem that has already been studied to death. Another study would only serve to delay taking an action that numerous studies over the past 15 years have supported. It is time for the DNR to stop ignoring the good science developed by other competent and respected fishery authorities just because they (the Wisconsin DNR) did not conduct the study. While the DNR fiddles with an unnecessary study, Wisconsin Musky fisheries will continue to decline.

I hope that these Emails have helped some of you to put this whole thing in perspective.

Tight Lines