Wisconsin’s Shrinking Panfish & New Fisheries Management Policy

Happy Fish Fry Day! Enjoy this post from the Long Term Ecological Research Network.

Bluegill hooked on Crystal Lake in northwestern Dane County, 1998. Photo: WDNR
Bluegill hooked on Crystal Lake in northwestern Dane County, 1998. Photo: WDNR

by Terra Alpaugh

Between 2013 and 2015, Andrew Rypel traveled the state of Wisconsin attending public meetings led by state and local fisheries staff— always with a set of graphs in hand. These graphs showed the steady decline in the size of panfish found in state lakes over the past seventy years. Panfish (unsurprisingly) are fish that fit nicely in a frying pan — as opposed to the larger, more charismatic, and better-regulated gamefish. Showing citizens his evidence of shrinking panfish size, Rypel and collaborating fisheries management staff asked, “What, if anything, should we do about it?”

Rypel, a fishery ecologist with Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and the Northern Temperate Lakes LTER, published the research behind those graphs in Fisheries in May 2016. It relied on fish surveys conducted by the WDNR and its predecessor, the Wisconsin Conservation Department, supplemented by 35 years of NTL LTER surveys and some careful statistical analysis. Their study found that while the mean size of panfish was declining, gamefish were mostly getting bigger — or at least holding their ground. Keep Reading –> 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *