Big Eau Pleine, Big Problems Ahead

Scott Stankowski
Senior Outdoor Writer

August 10, 2017

Stevens Point-   For Father’s Day we were supposed to play baseball, but Mother Nature had some other plans.  Seems as though I might not need to trailer my boat to the boat landing if this weather keeps up the way it is.

With baseball fields washed out the boys, Kara and I headed to the Big Eau Pleine to fish for some walleyes.

The day started by jigging a break line.  We soon found out the fish were in about 10 feet of water and holding.  Problem was the weather again.  With the wind it was tough to keep the boat in position for a good drift.  On top of that the eyes were biting light and we needed stinger hooks.   After several passes and a few short walleyes we decided to try a different tactic.

We had brought along the trolling rods so we set aside our spinning rods and set up with a set of flicker shads and salmos.  We tried a few spots to no avail and decided to head to another area.  The key to locating fish on stingy, bad weather days like this is to not give up.

The next step was to try different lead lengths and lures behind the boards and different depths.  We finally started getting some fish and were surprised to see a school of perch hitting our presentations.

In addition the boards were picking up walleyes from the 8 to 14 inch range.  The action was steady but our live well was not filling up very fast.

Then I had a thought.  I wondered why this body of water was regulated for walleyes the way it was.  First the bag limit is 3.  The minimum size was 15” and fish between 20” to 24” must be released.  At first I did not have a major problem with this, but I got to another thought.

Based off of history of the flowage these fish that I was throwing back would end up dying due to another winter kill.  The Big Eau Pleine has aging aerators in the system that work in a slight effort to offset the decaying matter that flows in from surrounding agricultural areas.

If you think that will end guess again, as Cathy Stepp our great DNR secretary and outdoor protector has been pushing for lowering regulations for farms as well as monitoring.  That means the runoff will get worse before it gets better.  There will be another die off and the big fish are the ones that suffer first.

Sure in a perfect world it would be great to have a slot limit to protect the breeders and created a trophy fishery.  That has been done over 3 times in my lifetime where the fishing has been great only to be thwarted by a fish kill.  Then I have to travel elsewhere to find fish to catch.

Then I had another thought that compounded my frustrations.  I was throwing back fish that Native Americans were allowed to keep.   Well I could say at least someone will get use out of the fish before they die from asphyxiation.   But why should I in the year 2017 suffer because of the past.  In the 80s the courts decided that the native Americans more directly the Chippewa tribe should have their rights back.

I understand the suffering that their ancestors took, my Polish ancestors had suffering yet I am not begging for handouts because of it.  Instead, I take my family of four, pay for gas, gear and likenesses, catch fish that I have to throw back at reduced bag limits so they can get exactly what they want.

There needs to be a compromise.  To be honest my direct ancestors did nothing to cause this to happen.  Yet I am put into the same melting pot as non-natives.  To me that seems racist in itself but do I dare even make that comment for being accused of the same?

It’s a new generation with new times.  With that being said we need to come together so that all people no matter their backgrounds do not have to step on eggshells around others for what was done years ago.  Just because someone’s father is Japanese and served in the war and killed others doesn’t mean that their children or grandchildren should have to pay the price.

I would like to not have to pay that price either and be able to catch fish and eat them as well.

Those are just my thoughts and until something is done on either front I will be catching fish and throwing them back for nothing.

Until next time, shoot straight.

One thought on “Big Eau Pleine, Big Problems Ahead

  1. Angela Morris

    No one is asking for Polish immigrants to suffer. I’m a descendent of polish immigrants. If you want to discuss rights of Polish fisherman, then perhaps Poland would be the place to go. The Native Americans owned this land and were forced off of it. To repay them, we try to provide them just enough money to survive in poverty, and keep them on reservations. We aren’t doing them any favors. They still rely on living off the land. The Native Americans hunt and fish to survive in many cases. They have been silenced, and de marginalized since their land was stolen by the “Americans.” They didn’t really have an option, as my Polish ancestors did, to go somewhere else. They were surviving and doing fine, had created ways to hunt and fish and survive. Then their land was taken.
    What we are forgetting is Native Americans lives revolve around the earth itself. Most non natives hunt and fish for leisure and sport. They were not afforded this. No one is blaming Polish immigrants, German immigrants, or anyone. Helping one set of people and making guidelines that help them, is nothing against others.
    The relationship between Native American societies and the rest of society, is still contentious at best. If one would visit a Native American reservation, you would see that they still hold dear their heritage, history, and culture.


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