Skip to main content

Great Lakes Guide Information

Fishing Wisconsin

Great Lakes Guide Information

For purpose of maintaining sustainable fisheries in the Great Lakes, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has broad authority under established rules (NR 20.65) to require guide reporting in the Great Lakes. The Department issues a guide license which allows the licensee to be compensated to guide, direct, or assist any other person fishing on the Great Lakes. However, our present licensing system does not require the applicant to tell us what they intend to guide for, nor where they intend to guide. To learn more about becoming a licensed guide click here.

The DNR so far has held 3 public informational meetings, one in December 2016, December 2018, and one in February 2021 which provided stakeholders with valuable information concerning the new guide reporting system. These meetings brought fisheries staff and law enforcement together to answer questions and address concerns from the guide community.

Through the rulemaking process we intend to expand the guide reporting initiative, started in Green Bay, to all of our Great Lakes waters. Information from our Great Lakes guides will enhance our ability to manage several Great Lakes fish species including: Lake Whitefish, Walleye, Perch, Smallmouth Bass and several trout and salmon species. 

Recently the DNR has created a scope statement which will allow us to revise NR 20.65; Report of Licensed Guides. Information from previous meetings can be found on this page, as well as updates for future meetings and actions related to guide reporting.   

Green Bay Specific Guide Information

Along with the expansion of the lake whitefish population in Green Bay came opportunities for recreational ice fishing. As the fishery developed it became a popular destination fishery and guided trips are now widely available.  Even though the WDNR conducts a standard winter sport fishing creel on Green Bay, actual harvest rates and population statistics from guides are more difficult to obtain.  As well, guided trips often have higher success rates than non-guided trips.  This led to the development of the first guide reporting pilot study during the winter of 2015-2016. 

Using the authority granted by NR 20.65, the DNR first began a formal guide reporting system specifically targeting Green Bay lake whitefish guides in 2016. This system required the reporting of guided trip information for Wisconsin waters of Green Bay during the ice fishing season only.  The Green Bay ice fishing guide reporting project was innovative and proved that reporting by fishing guides does provide benefits to the management of the fishery.

The ability to gather catch and harvest information annually supports management decisions for the commercial and recreational fishery for lake whitefish. Guided trip catch and harvest information are combined with harvest estimates from the general sport fishing creel to generate a total estimate of harvested whitefish in Green Bay. These harvest estimates are an input parameter to the statistical catch at age model, and along with the commercial catch data, are used to generate the total whitefish abundance estimates for Green Bay from which safe harvest levels are derived. To learn more about whitefish management please go to the Lake Michigan Whitefish Management page.

PUBLIC MEETINGS

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - The Department hosted a meeting discuss the status of the Great Lakes Guide Reporting Program.   Representatives from Fisheries and Law Enforcement were present to discuss reporting requirements, answer questions, and gather feedback. 

Meeting Notes

Video recording of the meeting

 

Monday, December 19, 2016 - The Department hosted a meeting discuss the status of the Green Bay Ice Fishing Guide Reporting Program.   Representatives from Fisheries and Law Enforcement were present to discuss reporting requirements, answer questions, and gather feedback. 

Meeting Agenda

Lake Whitefish ice fishing guide presentation 

Monday, December 17, 2018 -The Department hosted a meeting discuss the status of the Green Bay Ice Fishing Guide Reporting Program which included updates on the first two years of reporting. Fisheries and Law Enforcement staff were available to provide direction, answer questions, and gather feedback. 

Meeting Agenda

Green Bay Guide Presentation 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 – The DNR will hold a meeting to discuss new rule developments to help clarify reporting requirements, such as who must report and when reports need to be filed, as well as proposed changes to the reporting method.

More information on the meeting and how to attend can be found here.