Four options to go to the public through meetings and surveys

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is preparing public meeting schedules and locations for comment on proposed changes to the Michigan bass season. Michigan B.A.S.S. Nation (MBN) submitted a Michigan Bass Season Change Proposal (PDF of full document) to the MDNR Warmwater Resources Steering Committee (WRSC), a Fisheries Division citizens’ advisory group, on June 17, 2013 to start this latest effort to provide more bass fishing opportunity in Michigan.

The original MBN proposal calls for the following changes to Michigan Fisheries Orders: “1 – Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Catch-and-Immediate-release statewide on all waters including Great Lakes and Great Lakes Connecting Waters – January 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day. And 2 – Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Catch-and-Keep (harvest option) statewide on all waters including Great Lakes and Great Lakes Connecting Waters – Saturday before Memorial Day through the December 31.

Exceptions are also spelled out for a few special regulations waters such as inland trout and salmon waters where fishing is closed to all species, Michigan-Wisconsin Boundary Waters, the Sylvania Wilderness area and those defined Exceptions to General Regulations by County in the Michigan fishing guide.

After more discussion on the Michigan bass season at various citizens’ advisory groups, at the additional WRSC meetings, MUCC and with other major Michigan anglers groups we received a response from the internal MDNR bass season work group at the latest WRSC meeting on April 28, 2014. The MDNR proposed five (5) bass season options to the WRSC angler group representatives and each option was discussed. You can view the minutes of the April 28, 2014 WRSC meeting (PDF) online.

MDNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter took all of the WRSC discussion to MDNR Director Keith Creagh to make a final decision on which options they will take to the public through public meetings, an online survey and possibly a random mailed survey.

WRSC chair Patrick Hanchin and Fisheries Chief Jim Dexter have shared the outcome of their discussions with The following are the four (4) options we expect to go to the public very soon at meetings scheduled at various locations around Michigan. Note the exact language will probably be different and the order the options are presented in may be different. Please make sure you check the actual information that comes out from the MDNR. We will share meetings times and locations, and actual bass season options languages as soon as they are released.

Michigan Bass Season Change Options

  1. No change. Leave the bass seasons as they are now.
  2. Michigan Bass Nation Proposal: Year-round catch-and-immediate-release statewide; move Lake St. Clair system (LSC) harvest opener (from third Saturday in June) to statewide bass opener Saturday before Memorial Day when all other waters open for catch-and-keep choice (harvest).
  3. Year-round catch-and-immediate-release statewide with the same harvest seasons currently in place – Saturday before Memorial Day for all waters except third Saturday in June for LSC system.
  4. Year-round catch-and-immediate-release statewide. Change Lower Peninsula (LP) inland and LP Great Lakes (including LSC system) opening harvest (catch-and-keep choice) dates to last Saturday in April; Upper Peninsula (UP) inland and UP Great Lakes to May 15 to align with pike and walleye openers.

Options 1 and 4 (as ordered here) had the most group representative support during the April 28 WRSC meeting. Recently, MUCC members also voted to make the MBN bass season change resolution (PDF) matching option 1 above their official MUCC organizational policy along with a call to the MDNR and Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to consider Adaptive Management when needed to manage our bass populations.

Option 4 (as ordered above) has good support from state government leaders who have repeatedly stated they like the idea of allowing anglers a longer bass season and the opportunity to attract more bass tournaments because this can increase interest in bass fishing and boost our very important Michigan Natural Resources economy. The MDNR has gone on record at two hearings in the Senate Outdoor and Recreation Tourism and House Natural Resources Committees on SB 869 (PDF) – now state law as Public Act 145 of 2014 – also saying more bass fishing and the opportunity to attract more bass tournaments will be good for Michigan.

You can find more information on the Michigan bass season, ask questions and discuss this post and other topics on the Michigan Bass Season forum.

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