MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin fishery officials say more tournaments are abandoning their traditional catch-hold-release formats.

The Department of Natural Resources says the number of bass and walleye tournaments that have eschewed the traditional catch-hold-release format for catch-photo-release rules has increased from an average of six annually between 2010 and 2015 to more than 30 per year from 2015 to 2020.

Under catch-hold-release, anglers transport fish in their possession to weigh-in areas, where they're released but not in the areas where they're caught. Under catch-photo-release rules, anglers take a photo of the fish, weigh it on the boat and immediately release it.

DNR officials say catch-hold-release leaves fish nests unguarded and vulnerable to predators. Moving away from that format also eliminates crowds at weigh-in stations during the COVID-19 pandemic, minimizes stress on fish and keeps fish in their home areas. Participants in catch-photo-release tournaments also aren't limited by bag limits, they said.