Anglers question brook trout proposal
Many anglers and trout guides are not pleased with a recent decision by the Natural Resources Commission to override a Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division recommendation on Upper Peninsula brook trout creel limits.
Earlier this year, the Department of Natural Resources sought to get anglers' opinions on the brook trout creel limit. Currently set at five fish per day after having been set at 10 fish for several years, the department was asked by some anglers to examine the biological and social impact of increasing the creel limit again.
After many public meetings and an online survey, the DNR Fisheries Division found no strong public support for the 10-fish limit and recommended the five-fish creel limit be maintained. But the NRC decided it wanted more data and decreed that 10 U.P. streams will get the 10-fish creel limit. Trout guides and others have cried foul.
I don't blame them. The NRC's job is to listen to its staff as well as the public in deciding what is best for the resource. In this case, it seems as if the members listened more to some special interests.
I attended a public hearing in my area over the summer – and wrote about it in this space – and I came away believing that it doesn't really matter whether the creel limit is five or 10 fish. Biologists at the public meetings said the question of 10 vs. 5 is more of a social issue than a biological one. So, if most of the anglers who bothered to fill out surveys expressed a desire to keep the creel limit at five fish, why not go with it?
The NRC said it wants more data from Fisheries Division and that's why it's setting the creel limit higher in these 10 streams. Meanwhile, fisheries resources are stretched thin and this just adds another project to the pile.
If the NRC was going to come to this conclusion, then it may have been better to skip the public comment period so the fisheries staff could have spent more time in the field instead of standing at the podium in meetings