Lansing – Muskie and pike spearers received an early Christmas
gift – the opportunity to spear through the ice before the
Spearing season will begin early this winter – a month early to
be exact – and run two weeks longer. That’s one of several
regulation changes approved by DNR Director Rebecca Humphries at
the Nov. 6 meeting of the state Natural Resources Commission in
“In order to provide additional ice-angling opportunities
beginning in December of this year, we are recommending these
changes be made effective immediately. The Michigan Darkhouse
Angling Association supports these changes,” the DNR wrote in a
memo to the Natural Resource Commission explaining the proposed
Effective immediately, pike and muskie spearing season will run
Dec. 1 through March 15. In the past, the season was open in
January and February.
The change was made possible earlier this year through
legislation that transferred the authority to regulate spearing and
bow-fishing seasons from the Legislature to the DNR.
“Mike Holmes and the Michigan Darkhouse Anglers have wanted this
change and been working on it for several years,” DNR Fisheries
Division Chief Kelley Smith told the NRC’s Policy Committee on
Fisheries and Wildlife during testimony on the recommended
Spearing remains illegal on designated trout lakes and streams,
and muskie spearing is illegal on Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, the
Detroit River, and the St. Clair River.
Beginning in April, anglers across the state will be able to
fish with three lines instead of two. Humphries also signed an
order allowing for the extra line.
Great Lakes anglers fishing for salmon and trout have been
allowed to use three lines for several years. Beginning April 1,
2009, all anglers will be able to fish with three lines, regardless
of the species or the water body.
There are concerns that allowing three rods in some instances
could results in anglers “hoarding” an area where there is limited
“The one bump in the road we had was from pier anglers, but I
think that will straighten out over time,” Smith said.
The whitefish-spearing season on the Great Lakes and connecting
waters also has been extended to include the month of November. It
will now be open year-round, and the change takes effect
Humphries also signed an order limiting the daily limit of
smelt. Beginning April 1, 2009, anglers will be limited to taking 2
gallons per day, either by hook and line or by dip net.
“During negotiations to resolve 1836 inland tribal hunting and
fishing disputes, discussions took place between the state and the
tribes regarding harvest of smelt and the need to limit the
individual take,” the DNR wrote in a memo to the commission. “Smelt
are an important forage fish for many game species and also provide
a fishery during the spring and winter for recreational anglers.
Smelt numbers statewide are generally reduced from their historic
levels, and observations of spawning runs in Great Lakes
tributaries are few.”
Biologists said the goal of the 2-gallon limit is to reduce
waste during times of high abundance and to provide protection when
the numbers are depressed.