The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will hear information about several fisheries order amendments and could act on an order restricting water entry from state-managed beaches under certain conditions.

On Thursday, the NRC will meet in-person at the Okemos Conference Center. There will not be a hybrid meeting option that allows for remote public comment, but MUCC will be streaming the meeting live on its Facebook page. An agenda for the day can be found here.

Disclaimer: MUCC provides live-streaming services at no cost to the public in an attempt to better transparency and access.MUCC staff works to try and provide the best quality audio and video we can with the resources available to us. 

The DNR director’s report will include a bear patch update from the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, an overview of proposed amendments to the fisheries orders, a CWD surveillance strategy update and legislative report. 

Restrict Beach Access Under Certain Conditions

At the July NRC meeting, a proposed land use order spurred several public comments of opposition from surfers and members of the public. The proposed order would restrict entry into the water from a state managed beach under dangerous conditions. Discussions regarding criteria, as well as an exemption for paddle sports occurred. Both of these provisions are now within the proposed order and listed below:

“5.1 State parks and recreation areas, certain conduct prohibited. Order 5.1 A person shall not do any of the following in any SP or RA:

…(6) Use a state managed beach area, or knowingly allow, for the purpose of entry into the water, when entry is prohibited by signage and/or communication by a department employee due to a human health and safety risk, including, but not limited to, contamination, unsafe debris washing ashore, rescue/recovery efforts, severe weather event identified from the National Weather Service, or identified wave height in excess of 8 feet. 

This prohibition does not apply to board sport recreational individuals accessing the water for the purpose of surfing utilizing a self-propelled wave riding board, including longboard and shortboard; kiteboarding; body/”boogie” boarding with swim fins; and, skimboarding and the following applies: 

(a) Entry into the water to conduct any of the above identified activities shall be at their own risk. (b) Users will follow commonly accepted safety rules and procedures which includes the following: controlling boards at all times, always using a safety leash, and wearing appropriate cold weather gear as conditions dictate”

MUCC does not have member-passed policies on this issue, but the organization has concerns with any restriction of access.

Proposed Fisheries Order Amendments

There are several proposed amendments to different fisheries orders. An overview and highlight of each is provided, and click the hyperlinked memos to learn more. 

Fisheries Order 200.22: Inland rivers and streams – trout and salmon

The DNR is recommending a language change clarifying the downstream boundary of the Bear River by inserting “northern edge of foot bridge north of Lake St.”

Bowens Creek (Manistee County): The DNR is recommending modifying regulations from Type 1 to Type 4 in the section of this creek between St. Pierre Road and M-22.

Hurricane River (Alger County): The DNR is recommending modifying regulations from Type 4 to Type 3 regulations from Hurricane River Truck Trail (CO Rd 724; T49N, R15W, S25) downstream to Lake Superior. The purpose of this recommendation is to increase protection for brook trout by increasing the minimum size limit from 7 to 15 inches. 

Additionally, the DNR is recommending modifying regulations from Type 4 to Type 1 for the Hurricane River (and tributaries) upstream from the Hurricane River Truck Trail (CO Rd 724; T49N, R15W, S25). The recommendation would result in reducing the duration of the open fishing season to be the last Saturday in April through Sept. 30th . The intent of this recommendation is to provide additional protections for brook trout in this section of river during their spawning season

Salmon Trout River (Marquette County): The DNR is recommending changing regulations from a “Research Area” to “Brook Trout Restoration Area” by increasing the minimum size limit from 18 inches to 20 inches, while also restricting harvest of lake trout, splake, and brook trout to 1 fish per day, total combined. The recommendation also includes retaining the closed fishing season from August 15 – the Friday before the last Saturday in April. 

Fisheries Order 206.21: Special fishing regulations for warmwater species on select waters

Following the recent acquisition of the Crystal Waters State Game Area in Monroe County, the DNR is proposing a catch and release season year round. According to a 2016 DNR Fisheries Division survey, the two large, man-made lakes contained bluegill, hybrid sunfish, green sunfish and largemouth bass. All were in low abundance and there were no smaller forage fish found. MUCC is committed to restoring and enhancing fish populations and will work to ensure that regular assessments of regulations occur. MUCC is encouraging the DNR to communicate the regulations through various channels since the fishing digest for 2021 has already been published.

The DNR is also proposing adding 21 waters where up to five northern pike, with no more than one being greater than 24 inches, may be possessed. Scroll down in the hyperlinked memo above to see the proposed additions.

Fisheries Order 219.22: Bow, spear, and crossbow fishing regulations

The DNR is proposing that a new category called underwater spearing be added to the fisheries order at the request of the Michigan Spearfishing Association. This would expand harvest species for underwater spearfishing to include lake trout, northern pike and walleye in southern portions of Lake Michigan and Huron, and in Lake Superior waters west of Chocolay River.

All underwater spearfishing anglers would be required to obtain a no-cost permit and report harvest monthly. Currently, the DNR and Michigan Spearfishing Association estimate around 150 underwater spearfishing anglers and said this change won’t have a negative biological impact on the resource.

A five-year evaluation will occur on the number of permittees, harvest numbers and angler effort to see what potential impacts, if any, occur. MUCC feels that there is no negative biological implication should this order pass.

Fisheries Order 248.22: Possession limits for fish

Would add a definition for “eviscerated”, and prohibit the possession of prohibited and restricted species listed in Michigan.

Fisheries Order 252.22: Statewide – lake whitefish, round whitefish, cisco, rainbow smelt and arctic grayling Regulations

With a rearrangement of fisheries orders, the added definition of Great Lakes connecting waters is being proposed to FO 252.22. The DNR is also proposing that the daily possession limit for cisco in Indiana Lake (Cass County) be zero.

Several proposed land transactions could be acted upon by the DNR Director at this month’s meeting. There are also a large number of parcels for auction as a result of the DNR Land Strategy.