Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Ban on fish movement brings concerns

By Mike Zielinski Correspondent

Trenton, Mich. — Officials with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are now
saying that viral hemorrhagic septicemia was responsible for the
recent spring die-offs of muskies, yellow perch, mud puppies,
sheepshead, gobies, and gizzard shad. As a result, on Oct 24, the
USDA banned the importation of these live fish species and 35
others from Ontario and Quebec, and imposed an interstate ban on
moving fish from Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana,
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Species on the list include black
crappies, bluegills, blunt nose minnows, brown bullheads, brown
trout, burbot, channel catfish, chinook salmon, coho salmon,
emerald shiners, sheepshead, gizzard shad, largemouth bass,
muskies, pike, pink salmon, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass,
redhorse suckers, rock bass, round gobies, walleyes, white bass,
white perch, whitefish, and yellow perch.

What has some people worried is that the USDA also is
responsible for the treatment of ballast water on ocean-going ships
entering the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence River.

Scientists speculate that at least four new non-native species
are introduced each year into the Great Lakes from ballast water
discharges of ocean-going freighters the department monitors.

The muskie fishery is of great concern to many anglers in
southeast Michigan. The die-off of large adult muskies early last
spring in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River is now being
attributed, at least partially, to VHS.

Jim Johnson, of Grosse Ile, is one of the deans of Detroit River
muskie fishing.

“I’ve been fishing muskies here along the lower Detroit River
for more than 40 years,” Johnson said. “The fishing was so bad that
I gave up about July, when it is generally the best. There were
just no fish.”

Billy Dougherty, of Bottom-Line-Tackle in Trenton, is concerned
about the ban on certain kinds of minnows.

“Emerald shiners are our bread-and-butter minnow here on the
Detroit River and Lake Erie,” Dougherty said. “At one time we
bought most of our minnows from Ontario and Quebec, but getting
across the border back into the states with them became such a
hassle in time lost at the border that it became unprofitable. Now,
the minnows we buy come from around Saginaw. We do, on occasion buy
from dealers outside of Michigan and this could hurt us in the long

Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, and Lake Erie have become
hotbeds for tournament angling. A chunk the money spent during
tourneys is on live bait, mainly emerald shiners

What makes tournament angling so attractive here is not only the
great fishery, but also the almost limitless amount of water to
fish. The problem now is crossing Michigan borders with Ontario to
fish, and then bringing live fish back across these borders – a
violation of the new rule. The same goes for local anglers who are
accustomed to crossing over to Ontario and Ohio to fish for perch
and walleyes.

Charter boats from Ontario, Ohio and Michigan also will be
affected when crossing each state borders.

The USDA is considering a modification to the rule.

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