September NRC: Fisheries regulations, loss of commissioner

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to commissioner Michael Lashbrook after his passing this weekend. Although MUCC was not able to work with NRC Commissioner Lashbrook long, his tenacity and willingness to dig into the issues affecting all of us as hunters and anglers will be missed. May there be brown trout sipping dry flies and birds holding for points wherever you are. From all of the MUCC family, you will be missed, Mike.

NRC Meeting

The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will hear information regarding several new fisheries order amendments and could act on a number of amendments that were introduced at the August meeting.

A state land-use order that would restrict individuals from exiting state-managed Parks and Recreation Division beaches is still pending action before Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Daniel Eichinger. 

The in-person commission meeting starts at 9 a.m. on Thursday, September 16 at MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory located at 4125 Beaumont Road Lansing, Michigan 48901. Tune into MUCC’s Facebook page to watch the meeting live if you are unable to attend. An agenda for the day can be found here.

Disclaimer: MUCC provides live-streaming services at no cost to the public in an attempt to better transparency and access. MUCC staff works to try and provide the best quality audio and video we can with the resources available to us. If the public abuses this service or uses it to belittle MUCC, we will make the decision to no longer stream public meetings. Differing opinions are encouraged, but civility and common sense will be required moving forward.

The director’s report will consist of an introduction of the DNR Wildlife Division Chief Jared Duquette and an overview of the new fisheries orders that are being proposed by the department.

An overview and highlight of each fisheries order both new business and old is provided below, and click the hyperlinked memos to learn more. 

New Business Fisheries Orders

Fisheries Order 210.22 Designated Trout Streams for Michigan 

The DNR is recommending the removal of Devils Creek from the designated trout streams in Michigan due to not collecting a single trout in the surveys that were conducted there due to habitat loss. Effectively, this was a coldwater stream that has transitioned to a warmwater stream due to increasing temperatures and habitat loss. If passed, this would institute general fishing regulations which would allow for year-round fishing on the creek.

Fisheries Order 215.22 Statewide Warmwater Regulations for Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Muskellunge, Channel Catfish, Flathead Catfish, Yellow Perch, Sunfishes, and White Bass 

The DNR is recommending the removal of an exception to the statewide minimum size limit (MSL) in effect for walleye in the St. Clair River beginning at the Ft. Gratiot Lighthouse and extending south through Lake St. Clair.

The recommended change involves removing the 13-inch MSL exception on these waters and reinstituting the statewide MSL of 15 inches. This change will result in a consistent walleye MSL of 15 inches throughout the connected water bodies of the SCDRS and Lake Erie, which will benefit anglers as well as law enforcement personnel.

Fisheries Order 216.21 Minnow, Wiggler, and Crayfish Regulations for Commercial Purposes and Waters that are Closed to the Personal Take of Minnows  

The DNR is recommending that the following two waters be removed from the banned list for commercial harvest and personal take of minnows. These were originally banned from commercial and personal harvest due to a concern of Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) which is no longer presenting a threat to native fish species as initially thought.

1) Silver Lake and its tributaries in Oceana County

2) Kent Lake including the Huron River upstream to the Hubell Millpond dam in Milford, in Oakland and Livingston counties. 

Fisheries Order 226.22 Hook and Line Restrictions During Walleye Spawning Runs

The DNR is recommending the following change to hook and line restrictions during walleye spawning runs. This is due to fisheries managers seeing an impact on the resource when the Flint River regulatory boundary change from Holloway dam to Mott dam resulted in less protection for walleye in the upstream reaches of that system.

During the period from March 16 through the Friday before the last Saturday in April: 

  1. Anglers are limited to using only the following: 
  2. a) unweighted single-pointed hooks, natural bait, and sinkers or weights, or 
  3. b) artificial lures with unweighted single-pointed hooks

Genesee County: Flint river downstream from Mott Holloway dam and all respective tributaries. 

Old Business Fisheries Orders

Fisheries Order 200.22: Inland rivers and streams – trout and salmon

The DNR is recommending a language change clarifying the downstream boundary of the Bear River by inserting “northern edge of foot bridge north of Lake St.”

Bowens Creek (Manistee County): The DNR is recommending modifying regulations from Type 1 to Type 4 in the section of this creek between St. Pierre Road and M-22.

Hurricane River (Alger County): The DNR is recommending modifying regulations from Type 4 to Type 3 regulations from Hurricane River Truck Trail (CO Rd 724; T49N, R15W, S25) downstream to Lake Superior. The purpose of this recommendation is to increase protection for brook trout by increasing the minimum size limit from 7 to 15 inches. 

Additionally, the DNR is recommending modifying regulations from Type 4 to Type 1 for the Hurricane River (and tributaries) upstream from the Hurricane River Truck Trail (CO Rd 724; T49N, R15W, S25). The recommendation would result in reducing the duration of the open fishing season to be the last Saturday in April through Sept. 30th . The intent of this recommendation is to provide additional protections for brook trout in this section of river during their spawning season

Salmon Trout River (Marquette County): The DNR is recommending changing regulations from a “Research Area” to “Brook Trout Restoration Area” by increasing the minimum size limit from 18 inches to 20 inches, while also restricting harvest of lake trout, splake, and brook trout to 1 fish per day, total combined. The recommendation also includes retaining the closed fishing season from August 15 – the Friday before the last Saturday in April. 

Fisheries Order 206.21: Special fishing regulations for warmwater species on select waters

Following the recent acquisition of the Crystal Waters State Game Area in Monroe County, the DNR is proposing a catch and release season year round. According to a 2016 DNR Fisheries Division survey, the two large, man-made lakes contained bluegill, hybrid sunfish, green sunfish and largemouth bass. All were in low abundance and there were no smaller forage fish found. MUCC is committed to restoring and enhancing fish populations and will work to ensure that regular assessments of regulations occur. MUCC is encouraging the DNR to communicate the regulations through various channels since the fishing digest for 2021 has already been published.

The DNR is also proposing adding 21 waters where up to five northern pike, with no more than one being greater than 24 inches, may be possessed. Scroll down in the hyperlinked memo above to see the proposed additions.

Fisheries Order 219.22: Bow, spear, and crossbow fishing regulations

The DNR is proposing that a new category called underwater spearing be added to the fisheries order at the request of the Michigan Spearfishing Association. This would expand harvest species for underwater spearfishing to include lake trout, northern pike and walleye in southern portions of Lake Michigan and Huron, and in Lake Superior waters west of Chocolay River.

All underwater spearfishing anglers would be required to obtain a no-cost permit and report harvest monthly. Currently, the DNR and Michigan Spearfishing Association estimate around 150 underwater spearfishing anglers and said this change won’t have a negative biological impact on the resource.

A five-year evaluation will occur on the number of permittees, harvest numbers and angler effort to see what potential impacts, if any, occur. MUCC feels that there is no negative biological implication should this order pass.

Fisheries Order 248.22: Possession limits for fish

Would add a definition for “eviscerated”, and prohibit the possession of prohibited and restricted species listed in Michigan.

Fisheries Order 252.22: Statewide – lake whitefish, round whitefish, cisco, rainbow smelt and arctic grayling Regulations

With a rearrangement of fisheries orders, the added definition of Great Lakes connecting waters is being proposed to FO 252.22. The DNR is also proposing that the daily possession limit for cisco in Indiana Lake (Cass County) be zero.

Land Transactions/Information

A report on the oil and gas leases and auctions can be found here. Of the 23,743.03 acres offered, 15,382.311 acres received successful bids (7,808.77 acres development, 7,573.54 acres nondevelopment) in 12 different counties. The total revenue generated at the auction was $276,893.62. 

The second group of land parcels for auction based on the DNR’s Land Strategy is available for viewing here. If there is a parcel you are opposed to the DNR auctioning, attend the August meeting and voice your concerns. Email with your name and the topic of your intended testimony. 

There are four proposed land transactions for Oakland, Chippewa, Cheboygan and Washtenaw counties which can be viewed via the hyperlinks.

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