The Opener: New Fishing Regulations for 2015-2016 Season

By Lia Biondo, Policy Intern
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission met Thursday, April 9th to approve various fishing regulations that will affect the 2015-2016 season. The Natural Resources Commission temporarily lost regulatory authority this year that prevented the final decisions of their rulings being published in the 2015-2016 Michigan Fishing Guide. However, those regulations that were more apt to change at press time of the Michigan Fishing Guide received an orange star next to them to indicate a potential change in the rule.
A few of the changes are highlighted below:
  • Statewide Rusty Crawfish Restrictions: changed to allow for the possession of rusty crawfish for consumptive purposes only. Rusty crawfish may not be transported interchangeably between different bodies of water.
  • New Hook Restriction: In certain waters of Benzie County, Manistee County and Mason County, terminal fishing gear is restricted to single-pointed, un-weighted hooks, measuring ½-inch or less from point to shank or treble hooks, measuring ⅜-inch or less from point to shank only when attached to an artificial lure during the months of August 1 through November 15.
  • Bass Fishing Season Change: Allow for immediate catch-and-release bass fishing on all waters statewide, except those waters closed to fishing.
  • Green Bay Walleye Regulation Changes: In the Michigan waters of Green Bay only, the boundary line for the early walleye season (March 2 – Friday before the first Saturday in May) is lengthened to six miles north of the Cedar River.
  • Special Northern Pike and Muskellunge Fishing Regulations: These lakes - Benzie County, Long Lake; Montmorency County, Robarge Lake; Ogemaw County, East Twin Lake – may now retain up to five northern pike, with one over 24 inches. Remove Van Buren County – Bankson, Brownwood and Round Lakes - from special possession season category to align with statewide regulations.
  • Great Lakes Trout and Salmon Regulations: Change MH-1 and MH-2 Lake Trout and Splake regulations from Season of May 1 – September 30 to January 1 – September 30 to align all of Lake Huron into one season. In Lake Michigan, change MM-1, MM-2, MM-3, and MM-4 to allow the minimum size limit to be 15 inches and the maximum limit to be 27 inches. The daily possession limit cannot include more than one lake trout at 34 inches or greater. In MM-5, MM-6, MM-7 and MM- 8, change the minimum size limit to 15 inches. In MM-1, MM-2, MM-3, MM-4, and MM-5, the daily possession limit of lake trout has been reduced from three to two.
  • Exceptions by County Listing: In Alpena County, remove the Beaver Lake Pike Marsh closure. In St. Joseph County, look for the removal of the special catfish possession restriction. In Luce County, remove special bass regulation on Twin Lake.
  • Inland Trout and Salmon Regulations: Statewide, the Type 4 trout stream minimum size limit for brook trout has been reduced from eight inches to seven inches. Consult the for additional new regulations onindividual Michigan streams and rivers.
While the changes on this list outline the highlights of the new fishing regulations finalized by the Natural Resources Commission, be sure to check the online Michigan Fishing Guide for details on individual lakes, rivers, streams, and management units where you plan to fish!
Additionally, don’t forget to renew your Michigan fishing license for the 2015 – 2016 season. For $26, you have access to all-species fishing in Michigan until March 31, 2016 and your purchase directly supports DNR wildlife and fisheries habitat management and conservation efforts.
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