LA CROSSE, Wis. – Minnesotan bass anglers dislike the no-cull rule for fishing waters here, and not just because it cost them a Fantasy Fishing pick in Brandon Palaniuk.
Tim Schneider and son, Matthew, were sitting in the stands for the Day Four weigh-in – seven hours early. The two from Austin, Minn., drove the hour-plus for Saturday’s weigh-in, stayed over and were at Sunday’s launch. They sat in the audience chairs and watched the goings-on of the B.A.S.S. crews as they waited for the expo to open.
The club tournament fishermen, who recently competed in Bass Bowl XX on Cedar Lake, say the state rule that no fish can be culled once in the livewell is antiquated.
“I just don’t like the no-cull rule,” said Matthew, who added that he and his dad usually photograph bass on a measuring board before releasing to evade catching a fish they might want to keep, say, a state record.
They said that even while fishing for walleye to eat, there’s an issue with throwing back a dying fish. Tim said he’d rather be able to throw back a healthy one from their livewell if by chance they happen to gut-hook one. The state doesn’t afford them that luxury.
“I disagree with the no-cull rule,” Tim said. “I’d rather keep one that’s gut-hooked, one that’s going to die.”
Tim, 50, added that the no-cull rule has been in place since he can remember, most likely from the times when anglers dragged a basket of fish alongside the boat. The rule is out of date now with the recirculating, aerated livewells.
“The state is behind with the technology of the livewell,” he said. “It’s just the way it is. All the states have rules that should be looked at periodically.”
Palaniuk didn’t follow these rules inadvertently – by culling a fish in Minnesota rather than Wisconsin – and was disqualified after looking like he’d run away with the Diet Mountain Dew Mississippi River Rumble presented by Power-Pole.
The 100-yard mistake most likely cost Palaniuk an Elite Series win, its $100,000 purse, and a Classic qualification with its $10,000 guarantee. Palaniuk was probably due another windfall, too, as the new crankbait he was using was in position to become a hot commodity when it debuts at ICAST next month.
Tim said he looked at his Fantasy Fishing team early Saturday to see how he was doing, then found out Palaniuk had been DQ’d.
“Sucks, poor guy,” he said. “And he was on my Fantasy team.”
When in those gray areas of the Mississippi River, most anglers don’t know what state they’re fishing in, Tim said. He added that both Minnesota and Wisconsin licenses allow fishing in either state along this border river, as long as fishermen are “inside the railroad tracks.”
“They need to make a decision on border waters,” said Matthew, like clearing up the issue Palaniuk experienced.
There are other fishery differences, too. Matthew said in Minnesota, angles can only have one line per angler in the water while Wisconsin allows more than one.
“There’s probably 90 percent of fishermen who follow the rules,” Tim said, “and 10 percent that give us a bad name.”