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Public Input Needed on Michigan’s Muskie Regulations

April 12th, 2012

Muskellunge (muskie) populations are widely distributed across Michigan, but they are somewhat limited as they occur in only 116 waters. Although they can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions from warm to cool water, they typically enjoy only modest spawning success and are highly vulnerable to exploitation and habitat deterioration. Given some of their unique characteristics, fishing regulations directed at muskie need to be specialized. Fisheries managers use a variety of regulations (seasons, size limits, possession limits) to provide for different fishing opportunities while maintaining viable population sizes.

Over the past year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Division has been working with the Warmwater Resources Committee, a public advisory group that MUCC serves on, to discuss muskellunge regulations and to review muskellunge regulation proposals submitted by angling organizations. As a result, several regulation options have been developed. The regulation options meet the biological requirements determined by fisheries managers and they are a compromise between differing opinions from members of the Warmwater Resources Committee.

This discussion and proposal comes at an interesting time given the recent discussion this fall over opening and closing pike and muskie spearing on certain inland lakes (see Fisheries Order 219 for where we ended up).

Four regulation options have been proposed with a combination of season, size limit, and possession limits:

  1. Maintain the current fishing regulations for muskellunge.
  2. Change the harvest season and to allow for a few waters currently managed with the 42-inch minimum size limit to be managed with either a lower or higher size limit.
  3. Change the harvest season, reduce the possession limit to one (1) fish per season (with a harvest tag), and allow for a few waters currently managed with the 42-inch minimum size limit to be managed with either a lower or higher size limit.
  4. Change the harvest season, keep the possession limit the same, and to increase the minimum size limit for most waters, but allow for a few waters to be managed with a lower size limit.

Please see the DNR muskellunge regulations white paper for a more detailed description of the regulations review.

Public Survey
The public is being asked to comment on regulation options through an online survey available here.

You can also take the survey over the telephone by calling Debbie Robinson at the Plainwell Operations Service Center at (269) 685-6851. Please note the online and telephone surveys will close on Friday, May 25.

Numerous public meetings will also be held around the state to learn about these proposals and ask questions.

To read more about the muskie regulation review, please visit www.michigan.gov/fishing. You can also review the DNR’s proposals for U.P. brook trout and northern pike, as well as find links to those surveys on MUCC’s other blogs:

  • Kaerchersax

    Catch and release should be the only option at this point.

  • Natasha

    Fished Muskies for many years never kept a single one. Take a photo and release … carefully. Why costs over $400 to mount one…..
    For those who say they eat other game fish and ruin there fishing, I say ‘Oh Come on, Ever hear of the food chain?’

  • anson

    Not all, but many muskie lakes are in desperate need of more protective regulations. Please fill out the DNR survey online!

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