Due to Unexpected Circumstances Michigan Bass Season Decision Delayed Until April 9th

Legislation was reintroduced in this new session that would give fisheries order authority back to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) early allowing the seven Commissioners to vote on the bass season a month early at the March 19th meeting. Unfortunately, the new leadership of the 2015-16 Legislature has decided they will no longer use immediate effect during this entire 2-year legislative session.

That means even if they pass the bill to give fisheries order authority back to the NRC through this separate legislation, the new law cannot take effect until the normal 90 waiting period after signing has passed. We have excellent support for the bill as we did late last session but the 90 day wait means it will not give the NRC authority back until after the return of all their authority the August 2014 Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (SFWCA) gives them on March 31st anyway.

This unforeseen decision means we are back to the original schedule – an official Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division recommendation at the March 19th NRC meeting at the RAM Conference Center at Higgins Lake, followed by a month of public comment and then the NRC Commissioners can vote on our new bass season at the April 9th NRC meeting when they have full scientific management authority again. You remember the SFWCA was necessary because the misnamed radical animal rights group Humane Society of the United States tried to gut all authority from the NRC in the guise of saving some wolves.

Last year’s bass season is still in effect and will remain so immediately after the new fishing guide takes effect April 1st, so Catch-and-Immediate-Release starts statewide the last Saturday in April. How soon after the April 9th NRC decision a new bass season can take effect is not know yet. There would need to be at least some time to notify the public of the change but we still could have additional bass tournament fishing opportunity on Lake St. Clair and possibly even statewide in May and June. Negotiations on the differences between the present MDNR Fisheries Division informal recommendation and our Option 4/D are ongoing. You can still comment on them at any time to and

The present overly conservative MDNR Fisheries Division recommendation is catch-and-immediate-release legal statewide year-round with the ONLY change to the regular ‘harvest’ season (including catch-and-delayed-release bass tournaments) being moving Lake St. Clair forward two weeks to open on the 1st Saturday in June instead of the 3rd Saturday in June. Everything else would still open on Memorial weekend. Our Option 4/D would align the bass opener with the inland pike, walleye and muskie openers – catch-and-immediate-release legal year-round with the ‘harvest’ season opening the last Saturday in April for the Lower Peninsula and May 15 for the Upper Peninsula providing two weeks to a month more bass fishing opportunity for all of us equally.

Their recommendation is only 2 more weeks of tournament bass fishing on one lake statewide while our Option 4/D that has the most broad-based support by far of any option would allow about 7 more weeks on Lake St. Clair, about 1 more month in the rest of the Lower Peninsula and 2 weeks in the Upper Peninsula while still allowing legal bass fishing of some type all year statewide. There are a tiny number of special exceptions where all fishing is closed to these regulations for areas such as Beaver Island, Sylvania tract, some designated trout waters and a couple other specialties waters.

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