Word has it there's something catchy going around these days. Reported symptoms include: Difficulty concentrating, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, obsessive/compulsive behavior and an aversion to weekend yard work. The diagnosis: Fishing Fever has officially hit the Upper Peninsula.
With the trout season now open, and the walleye, pike, muskie and catch-and-release bass openers less than two weeks away, the month of May is full of reasons to get outside and enjoy the quality inland and Great Lakes fishing opportunities found in the U.P.
This year, anglers will once again notice DNR creel clerks visiting lakes and streams as part of the Statewide Angler Survey Program, a data collection process that helps fisheries biologists better manage recreational fisheries based on your experiences on the water.
Creel clerks will typically ask what species you were fishing for, how many fish were successfully landed, and how much time was spent fishing an interaction that usually only takes a few minutes, tops. If an angler has a trophy fish or other notable specimen, the clerks may also ask to take measurements and scale samples for our records.
Although taking the time to answer these questions may not seem like a priority when you're ready to head home for a fish fry, it's important to keep in mind that those who spend a few minutes chatting with a creel clerk are providing valuable information that will directly contribute to future management of that fishery. So even if you got skunked, that's something we want to know. And keep in mind, it doesn't have to be a one-way street - DNR creel clerks are a great source of information if you're curious as to where and when the fish are biting, so don't be shy about asking a few questions of your own!
Fishing regulation changes in effect for the 2012 season include liberalized bow and spear fishing rules, a reduced bag limit of 25 perch on Lake Gogebic (with only five fish measuring 12 inches or larger), and new restrictions on using cisco for bait fish, due to VHS concerns. Full details can be found in the 2012 Fishing Guide under the "Major Regulation Changes for 2012" header, or in red print throughout the guide.
Another way for anglers to get involved with fisheries management in Michigan is to share their opinions about proposed fishing regulation changes that are currently on the table regarding the U.P. brook trout bag limit and the statewide regulations for northern pike and muskie.
A series of public meetings were recently held across the U.P. to introduce these proposals to the public and gain some preliminary feedback. But those meetings weren't the only opportunity to share your opinion on the matter. Until May 25, you can also participate in surveys - either online or by telephone - that will help us gauge public support for the proposed changes.
To participate in the surveys and find details regarding each proposed change, go to michigan.gov/fishing. Be sure to click on each section (one each for brook trout, muskie and pike) to access the separate surveys for each respective species. Those who prefer to participate by phone can call 269-685-6851 to do so. Just remember, the surveys close on May 25, so don't miss your chance to be a part of this policy setting process!
Debbie Munson Badini is the DNR's Upper Peninsula communications representative. Contact her at 906-226-1352, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @michiganDNR_UP.