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I'm opposed to Senate Bill 766, introduced by Sen. Tom Tiffany earlier this year.

The bill would allow for the taking of "catfish by hand or with a bow and arrow or a crossbow." It is currently illegal to shoot catfish with a bow and arrow or to take them by hand (noodling).

Bowfishing and handfishing are two totally different practices, with different consequences. If they are up for discussion, they should be discussed individually, not lumped into the same law.

The legislation is essentially relegating catfish to rough fish status, as the only fish currently available to bowfish are rough fish. such as carp and suckers.

Bowfishing prevents catch-and-release, as once a fish is shot, it dies.

"Noodling" has no cultural history in Wisconsin or surrounding states and will damage the flathead catfish population. Noodling is essentially climbing into a catfish "nest" and pulling out a huge male with your hands while it’s guarding eggs — not good for reproduction.

Catfishing is rising in popularity, precisely because people are learning that they are not rough fish, but a great game fish that is good eating. Why change that?

This bill relegates catfish to 'rough fish' status, and I that is a mistake.

I encourage people to contact their state senators to voice opposition, and to go to their Conservation Congress Hearing on April 9 to support resolutions against the bill.

Terry O'Connor, Viroqua

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