New Fishing Regulations in Michigan Expand Opportunities, Limit Smelt Harvest

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New Fishing Regulations in Michigan Expand Opportunities, Limit Smelt HarvestMichigan anglers will have several new opportunities, but also will face a new restriction, because of fishing regulation changes approved at the Nov. 6 Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing.

Department of Natural Resources Director Rebecca Humphries signed fisheries orders that extend the spearing season through the ice for pike and muskellunge in certain waters, extend the whitefish spearing season on the Great Lakes and connecting waters, allow all anglers to use three rods, and establish a two-gallon limit on smelt.

The spearing season for pike and muskie will now run from Dec. 1-March 15, instead of just January and February and the whitefish spearing season will now be open year-round. The new seasons are the result of legislation enabling the DNR to set spearing regulations. These regulations take immediate effect.

Anglers have been allowed to use three rods when fishing for salmon on the Great Lakes for a number of years, but were restricted to two rods elsewhere and when pursuing other species in the Great Lakes. A survey of anglers showed overwhelming public support for three rods. The new regulation, which takes effect April 1, 2009, allows anglers to use three rods on all waters and in pursuit of all species, though the DNR retains the authority to reduce the rule to two rods if necessary.

The two-gallon limit on smelt, which historically have been unregulated, is designed to prevent waste during periods of high abundance and offer some protection to smelt as an important forage and sport species. The limit applies to both dip-net and hook-and-line anglers. This new regulation also takes effect April 1, 2009.

For more information about fishing in Michigan, visit the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing.