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Letter from Rep. Petryk: 49th annual Governor's Fishing Opener

On Friday, May 2nd, I was fortunate to be in attendance at the 49th Annual Governor’s Fishing Opener banquet hosted by Wisconsin Indian Head Country and the Polk County Information Center.  As all you anglers know, this is the big kick-off event to the start of the state’s new fishing season.  There were approximately 200 people in attendance at the banquet held at the convention center at Trollhaugen Outdoor Recreation Area. It was my honor to be able to sing “America the Beautiful” dedicating it to the many veterans in attendance.  Special guests included Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Cathy Stepp, Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett, dignitaries from businesses, and public sector leaders from around Wisconsin all in attendance to celebrate one of Wisconsin’s great tourism attractions, fishing. 

Fishing has a strong history here in Wisconsin.  According to the DNR, anglers in our state catch roughly 88 million fish each year.  Our beautiful state has over 13,000 miles of trout streams and the sport of fishing has a $2.3 billion annual economic impact on Wisconsin employing nearly 22,000 people. In 2012, the state sold 1.3 million licenses which was the second highest amount of licenses in the past decade.  Of those 1.3 million, 29 percent were sold to women.  Also, the total three year growth for tourism in Wisconsin is more than $2.7 billion, an 18 percent increase since 2010.

If you would like to get into the great outdoors this fishing season, the DNR has the fishing licenses you will need to be successful.  This session, as part of the state’s new biennial budget, the legislature and the Governor included a one-time free annual license to honor and support our state’s veterans who are returning from active duty.  Also, if you are a first time license holder, you can obtain a reduced fee license or if you just want to check out what all the fun is about, there is a one-day license available for you as well.

This session, the Walleye Initiative was also developed to help support Wisconsin’s proud fishing heritage.  This initiative was supported by the legislature in the 2013-15 budget and included $8.2 million in infrastructure improvement and $1.3 million each year for annual operating costs.  These funds will be used to expand walleye production at the DNR fish hatcheries.  Due to this important initiative, the DNR was able to exceed its 400,000 walleye stocking goal. 

To make sure you are able to fully utilize your fishing license this year, please be aware of the dates that are important to this year’s fishing season.  Those dates include:

General Inland Fishing:  May 3rd – March 1st, 2015

Largemouth Bass Northern Zone:  May 3rd – March 1st, 2015

Smallmouth Bass Northern Zone Harvest:  June 21st – March 1st, 2015

Musky Southern Zone:  May 3rd – December 31st, 2014

Free Fishing Weekend:  June 7-8th, 2014

For a full list of dates as well as other information on the fishing season, please visit the DNR website at