Wednesday, March 30, 2011 a very important hearing was held in the Wisconsin State Capitol that impacts the sport of competitive bass fishing. Several different sportsmen’s groups attended to testify concerning Assembly Bill AB35. This bill, as written, would permit culling in Bass tournaments in the state of Wisconsin. As all of us anglers know, this is a significant part of competitive bass fishing and tournament bass anglers are largely the only ones following the law due to tournament rules which require them to do so.
Wisconsin is one of very few states that currently has a law on the books that prohibits “culling,” they are surrounded by states, who like most of the country, does allow it. Culling is not only an important part of modern day competitive tournament fishing, the fact that Wisconsin has not allowed the practice for years has meant the loss of millions of dollars injected into Wisconsin’s economy. According to the Wisconsin DNR’s own published studies, high profile, national events can and do bring millions to the state when they conduct a high profile event. The dollars from these few additional high profile tournaments adds up very quickly. Local communities and the state itself can reap large benefits by having these events come to the state. The passage of the bill to change the existing rule will bring those tournaments to Wisconsin.
The majority of those that testified were for the bill’s passage. Seven Wisconsin Bass Federation members were in attendance and two spoke on Wisconsin Federation’s behalf. Those who spoke were Aaron David and Dan Brovarney. The National President and CEO of TBF, Robert Cartlidge and Vice President and Media Director of TBF, Mike Hofmann also testified at the hearing.
In his remarks to the Natural Resources Committee, Cartlidge stated “This is a law put into place well before the advent of modern day livewell systems. Back when stringers and buckets were the norm. It is outdated and needs to change with the times. There is not a single study anywhere in the nation that we can find that says culling is a biological problem to bass fisheries management. If it were detrimental to the resource, to bass fishing or to common-sense conservation practices, we would not be supporting the change. Secondarily, Wisconsin is missing out on millions in revenue because of an outdated law. A modest 10% increase in non-resident fishing license sales and related expenditures, would result in an estimated 58 million dollar increase to the Wisconsin economy. Those are potential hard dollars that the people of Wisconsin could use right now, just for changing a law that no longer makes sense and, who every fishery professional agrees, will have no negative impact of bass populations. It is a win-win.”
The next step for all anglers in the state of Wisconsin is to contact your state Representative and Senator and let them know that you want this bill to pass.
Mike Simonds, President of the Wisconsin TBF stated, “The time is NOW, if you know any businesses/cities that would benefit from tournaments, big or small, coming to their town please encourage them to make contact with their State Senators and Representatives. This will help the whole state financially, as well as help tourism. Together we can get this done.”
To contact your Wisconsin Senator or Representative, visit http://www.wisconsin.gov/state/core/government.html. Under the Heading ‘Legislature’ there are email directories for all Senators and Representatives. The anglers of Wisconsin will appreciate all the support they can get!