DNR Proposes Expanded Spearing & Bowfishing Regulations

Fisheries Order 219 governs spearing regulations statewide for anglers who harvest fish with a spear or bow. This Order sets the regulations for gear, season, species, and waters open to spearing activity. The DNR is recommending significant changes to the Order after a lengthy review of the regulations. The DNR believes that the recommended changes simplify spearing regulations and increase the diversity of fishing opportunities while maintaining effective protection to the resource.

Previously, authority for spearing regulations was assigned to the Legislature. In 2008, MUCC worked with lawmakers and the DNR to amend the statute and move the authority to the DNR. These changes were significant, as spearing regulations had been set in statute for more than 50 years and were significantly outdated.

The Fisheries Division worked with stakeholders on the Warmwater Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC) to develop means to simplify and expand the bowfishing and spearing regulations. MUCC is represented on this committee, as well as MUCC club affiliates including the Bowfishing Association of Michigan, Michigan Muskie Alliance, and Michigan Darkhouse Angling Association.

Highlights of the proposed changes to spearing regulations include:

  • Expanding the season for bowfishing opportunities on many waters to the entire year.
  • Expanding the waters where pike and muskie spearing opportunities exist
  • Expanding the type of gear that can be used
  • Expanding the list of species available for harvest to include gizzard shad, goldfish, and grass carp
  • Consolidation of spearing provisions in other Fisheries Order
  • Elimination of many restrictions and exceptions

The entire proposed changes to Spearing Regulations in FO 219 can be found here. These are scheduled to be approved on November 10 at the NRC meeting, however they would not go into effect until April 1, 2012.

MUCC and BAM have testified already that we fully support the movement towards expanded bowfishing opportunities, according to several MUCC resolutions from the last decade. However, a 2005 MUCC Resolution stated that we should “work with MDNR Fisheries Division and the NRC to review darkhouse spearing closures and present scientific, research evidence, that darkhouse angling has a detrimental effect on northern pike and musky populations on these, “closed to spearing” bodies of water.”

We have requested additional data on why the DNR is maintaining closures on 19 inland bodies of water. MUCC continues to work with the Fisheries Division to ensure the reasoning behind the closing is based on current scientific data and will work with the WRAC to identify other possible areas to open going forward.

Below is the list of inland waters proposed to remain closed to pike and muskie spearing, with the reason:

Put in place to reduce harvest pressure on northern pike and to protect and enhance their growth:

  • Fletcher Floodwaters – Alpena/Montmorency County
  • Lake Gratiot – Keweenaw County

 Broodstock lake for muskie:

  • Thornapple Lake – Barry County
  • Lake Hudson – Lenawee County
  • Big Bear Lake – Otsego County

Protection of stocked muskie and low pike population:

  • Caribou Lake – Chippewa County
  • Budd Lake – Clare County
  • Lake Ovid – Clinton County

Protection of stocked muskie and backup broodstock lake (where indicated by *):

  • Campau Lake, Murray Lake – Kent County
  • Long Lake* – St. Joseph County
  • Bankson Lake*, Round Lake* – Van Buren County

Protection of the small muskie population with limited natural reproduction:

  • Brule Lake, Chicagon Lake, Paint Lake, Paint Pond, Stanley Lake – Iron County

Closed to spearing due to statute:

  • Houghton Lake – Roscommon County

Stay tuned for updates from MUCC after the November 10th Natural Resources Commission meeting.

 Many thanks to MUCC Intern Veronica Gracia-Wing for assistance on this story!

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