Special lake sturgeon spearing restrictions.
Sturgeon spearing licenses.
Ice fishing and fishing shelter restrictions.
Setline and set or bank pole restrictions.
General netting restrictions.
Minnow collecting restrictions.
Subchapter III — Authorized Methods, Open Seasons, Daily Bag Limits and Size Restrictions on Specified Waters
Special early catch and release season for trout.
Total daily bag limits.
County and statewide table.
Subchapter IV — Department Authority
Department permitted to take fish.
Special open and closed seasons.
Alternate size and bag limits.
Modifications in daily bag limit and minimum size limit in response to tribal harvest.
Special size and bag limits for Lac du Flambeau reservation.
Control of detrimental fish.
Permits for use of nonstandard minnow gear on inland waters.
Monthly sport trolling fishing reports.
Report of licensed guides.
Ch. NR 20 Note
Note: Chapter NR 20 as it existed on May 31, 1999, was repealed and a new chapter NR 20 was created effective June 1, 1999. This chapter interprets ss. 29.014 and 29.041, Stats.
This chapter establishes open and closed seasons, bag limits, possession limits, size restrictions and other rules governing the taking of fish in the inland and outlying waters of Wisconsin.
NR 20.01 History
Cr. Register, May, 1999, No. 521
, eff. 6-1-99.
In this chapter:
“Angler" means any person engaged in fishing.
“Artificial fly" means a single hook dressed with fur, feathers, hair, silk, tinsel, thread or similar material to imitate the natural food of fish.
“Artificial lure" means a spoon, spinner, jig, plug or other fish bait made of hair, feathers, cork, wood, rubber, metal, plastic or other synthetic materials, or combinations of these materials. An “artificial lure" may not include natural or organic food stuffs such as corn, marshmallows, dough, cheese, meat, living or dead organisms or parts of those items, except hair, feathers, cork, wood or rubber.
“Barbless hooks" means hooks with no barbs, or hooks with barbs that have been compressed to be in complete contact with the shank of the hook.
“Circle hook" means a hook that is curved in a circular or oval shape so that the tip of the point is turned and perpendicular to the shank and is designed so that the tip end of the hook is not offset or angled sideways and is in alignment with the shank.
NR 20.03 Note
Note: The top picture displays a J hook (left) and a circle hook (right). The bottom picture displays a non-offset hook (left) and an offset hook (right).
“Daily bag limit" means the maximum number of fish that may be reduced to a person's possession from a specified waterbody or portion of a waterbody in one day.
“Department" means the department of natural resources.
“Dip net" means a piece of netting suspended from a round or square frame that does not exceed 8 feet in diameter or 8 feet square.
“Fish length" means the distance from the tip of the snout in a straight line to the utmost end of the tail fin fully compressed.
“Fishing" or “fish", when used as a verb, means to take, capture, kill or attempt to take, capture or kill any variety of fish in the waters of the state.
“Fishing shelter" means any building, tent, vehicle, shanty or similar enclosure used for the purpose of fishing.
“Green Bay" means those waters of Lake Michigan located to the west of the Green Bay-Lake Michigan line. For the purposes of s. NR 20.20
, Green Bay shall mean Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer's Harbor, the Sturgeon Bay ship canal from Sturgeon Bay to a line located in the NE¼
of the NW¼
, section 22, T27N, R26E, Door county, commencing at a point on the southwest shore of the Sturgeon Bay ship canal directly beneath the center of the Wisconsin public service company power line and extending in a northeasterly direction beneath and parallel to the center of the power line to a point on the northeast shore of the ship canal and the Fox river from its mouth up to the dam at DePere. For purposes of this chapter, “Green Bay" does not include that portion of Green Bay bounded by the mouth of the Menominee river on the west, the “government pier" or breakwall on the south, the “lighthouse pier" or breakwall on the north, and a line connecting the eastern-most points of those breakwalls on the east.
“Green Bay-Lake Michigan line" means a line commencing at the northwest side of the Northport dock where it joins the shoreline in section 33, T33N, R29E; then running northeasterly to the range light (signal light) on Plum island; then running along the north and west shore of Plum island to the U.S. coast guard station; then running northerly to the southwesterly point on Shellswick dock, which is located on Lobdell's point on Washington island; then running along Shellswick dock to the shoreline of Lobdell's point; then running along the west shore of Washington island to Boyer's Bluff light; then running north to its terminus at the Wisconsin-Michigan boundary line.
“Lake Michigan" means those waters of Lake Michigan located east of the Green Bay-Lake Michigan line and those waters of the Sturgeon Bay ship canal east of a line located directly beneath the center of the Wisconsin public service company power lines.
“Lake Michigan tributaries" means the Pike river and its tributaries, Kenosha and Racine counties; Kewaunee river and its tributaries excluding Little Scarboro, Scarboro, Roger and Casco creeks, Kewaunee county; Milwaukee river upstream to the Grafton dam in the village of Grafton and tributaries to the Milwaukee river upstream to the first dam or lake; Menomonee river upstream to the Lepper dam in the village of Menomonee Falls and tributaries to the Menomonee river upstream to the first dam or lake; Sheboygan river and its tributaries excluding
Unnamed tributary (locally known as Willow creek), Sheboygan county; and all other tributaries to Lake Michigan upstream to the first dam or lake.
“Lake Winnebago system" means Lakes Buttes des Morts, Winneconne, Poygan, Winnebago and all their tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam including the Fox river from Lake Winnebago upstream to the dam above Princeton and all its tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam and the Wolf river from its mouth upstream to the dam in the city of Shawano and all its tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam including Cincoe lake, Partridge Crop lake and Partridge lake in Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago counties.
“Live fish" means, for purposes of s. NR 20.08
, any fish that is handled or treated in a manner that will keep it alive, such as keeping it in water, or that is revived later by placement back into water. “Live fish" includes any minnow possessed by a person for use as bait and that dies while the person who possesses it is on the water, bank or shore for the purpose of fishing, but only until the minnow is transported away from water, bank or shore where it died.
“Landing net" means a net suspended on a frame with an attached handle and used to land a fish that has been caught using hook and line or to net fish as authorized with the use of dip nets under this chapter or chs. NR 21
“Live fish eggs" means, for purposes of s. NR 20.08
, fertilized or unfertilized fish eggs that are handled or treated in a manner likely to keep them alive or viable for the purpose of propagation.
“Lower Wisconsin river" means the Wisconsin river including all sloughs, bayous, flowages and tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first highway bridge in Columbia, Sauk, Dane, Iowa, Richland, Grant and Crawford counties upstream from the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroad tracks in Grant and Crawford counties.
“Major Green Bay tributaries" means Duck creek upstream to the first dam above the Pamperin park foot bridge in the village of Howard excluding its tributaries, Suamico river upstream to CTH HS, East river upstream to Hoffman road (CTH XX) excluding its tributaries, Brown county; Peshtigo river upstream to the Peshtigo dam, Little river upstream to Radar road, Marinette county; Little Suamico river upstream to CTH J excluding tributaries, Pensaukee river upstream to CTH J excluding tributaries, Oconto river upstream to Stiles dam excluding tributaries except Little river, Little river upstream to state highway 141 excluding tributaries, Oconto county.
“Mendota lake" means Mendota lake, Cherokee lake, Warner Park lagoons, Pheasant Branch creek from its mouth upstream to county highway M, Sixmile creek from its mouth upstream to state highway 19, and Yahara river from its mouth upstream to state highway 19, Dane county.
“Mid lake reef complex" means those waters of Lake Michigan within the following area: All waters bounded by a line beginning at a point where 43 degrees 7 minutes north latitude and 87 degrees 40 minutes west longitude intersect, northerly to 43 degrees 20 minutes north latitude, easterly to 87 degrees 20 minutes west longitude, northerly to 43 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, easterly to the Wisconsin-Michigan state line, southerly to 43 degrees north latitude, westerly to 87 degrees 14 minutes west longitude, northerly to 43 degrees 3 minutes north latitude, westerly to 87 degrees 18 minutes west longitude, southerly to 43 degrees north latitude, westerly to 87 degrees 23 minutes west longitude, northwesterly to 43 degrees 7 minutes north latitude, and westerly to 87 degrees 40 minutes west latitude. This area encompasses the elevated areas of the lake bed commonly known as the Sheboygan reef, the Northeast reef, the Milwaukee reef, and the East reef.
“Minnow dip net" has the same meaning as “dip net".
“Minnow seine" means a seine that does not exceed 35 feet in length with mesh that does not exceed one-half inch stretch measure.
“Minnow trap" means a device for catching minnows that does not exceed 24 inches in length and does not exceed 16 inches in width with an opening in the throat of the trap that does not exceed 1½
inches in diameter.
“Muskellunge" means fish of the species Esox masquinongy
and includes muskellunge - northern pike hybrids.
“Openly exposed" means open to view by a person in a passing vehicle.
“Outlying trout and salmon waters" means those waters designated as outlying trout and salmon waters pursuant to s. 29.2285 (1)
, Stats., Lake Michigan tributaries as defined in sub. (18)
, and the Little river from its confluence with the Oconto river upstream to the highway 141 bridge.
“Panfish" means the following fish species: yellow perch, bluegill, black crappie, white crappie, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, warmouth and orangespotted sunfish.
“Position fishing" means fishing from a boat in a manner where the fishing line extends vertically into the water while the boat is maneuvered by the use of a motor.
“Possession limit" means the maximum number of fish that a person may possess, which is twice the total daily bag limit specified in s. NR 20.18
except for the following:
The possession limit for trout from inland waters is 10.
There is no possession limit for catfish caught on setlines, set or bank poles on the Fox river upstream from the DePere dam in Brown county.
There is no possession limit for panfish on Twin Valley lake in Iowa county.
There is no possession limit for any species on Nebish, Pallette, Mystery, Spruce or Escanaba lakes in Vilas county unless specified in s. NR 20.20 (64)
There is no possession limit for white perch on Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Lake Michigan tributaries, major Green Bay tributaries, all other tributary streams, rivers and ditches to Green Bay upstream to the first dam or lake.
There is no possession limit for fish possessed by a
food distribution service, as defined in s. 29.001 (28)
, Stats., that lawfully receive fish for purposes of redistribution.
“Quick-strike rig" means a bait rig with one or more treble hooks attached to the body of a minnow, behind the head. This rig may include a jig or other hook in the snout of a minnow along with one or more treble hooks attached to the body of a minnow.
“Safe harvest" means a level of harvest that incorporates an appropriate margin of safety, estimates of the population and acceptable exploitation rates which will reasonably prevent harvest of more than 35% of the population of adult walleyes or 27% of the population of adult muskellunge. The margin of safety assures that the true safe harvest is not exceeded in more than 1 of 40 cases. For waters where a population estimate has not been made, a regression model based upon population estimates from other waters will be used.
“Secretary" means secretary of the department of natural resources.
“Setline" means a line with one or more hooks fastened to it and designed to be set or left unattended in the water for the purpose of taking fish.
“Set or bank pole" means a pole equipped with a line with one or more hooks fastened to it, designed to be used for fishing from the banks of lakes or rivers and set or left unattended.
“Sheboygan marsh" means waters within the area commonly known as Sheboygan Marsh county park including Sheboygan lake and its tributaries upstream to the first road crossing.
“Sinker release device" means any device that is designed to release a weight or sinker from a fishing line upon a strike from a fish while trolling.
“Spear" means a pole or shaft with an attached sharp barbed point or points designed for the purpose of impaling a fish, but does not include a snag line or snag pole, snaghook or cluster of hooks that might be used for snagging as prohibited by s. NR 20.06 (8)
“Spearing" means fishing with a device consisting of a shaft with an attached sharp point or points and includes devices such as spears, bow and arrow, spear guns or similar devices.
NR 20.03 Note
Note: Under s. 29.405, Stats., if the department establishes an open season for taking rough fish with a bow and arrow on a particular body of water, the department shall also allow the use of a crossbow to take rough fish on that body of water under the same conditions that apply to the use of a bow and arrow to take rough fish on that body of water.
“Telemetry device" means any device attached to or implanted in a fish that transmits a sonic or electronic signal.
“Total daily bag limit" specified in s. NR 20.18
means the maximum number of fish that may be reduced to a person's possession in one day from all waters or portions of waters fished that day.
“Treble hook" means three evenly spaced hooks joined by a common shaft to form one hook with three points.