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This topic has been drilled and drilled but I had a question. I had never really even noticed before this site how important it is to watch the fisheries. I was fishing off shore from Metro this weekend using worms and catching lots of gills.. and seen lots of boats fishing and you could easily see they were bass fishing using tubes, worms and spinnerbaits in the canals etc. The law states not to "target bass" how is this enforced by the DNR? It does not actually say in the game laws no spinnerbaits to be used unitl June 22 on LSC? Just curiuous if they actually have to see you use a bait and catch a bass or what. Thanks...
 

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Good question David. One of the top 10 reasons I want to change the regulation. How do you ticket a guy for 'targeting' bass when other fish are legal in the same water using the same bait? Could it lead to anglers and law enforcement possibly singling out certain anglers? Pretty likely when you have a lot of dedicated anglers who fish out of boats commonly called bass boats.

I don't know about most guys, but I can't afford to own two boats. I have one and it happens to be a Ranger bass boat. Doesn't matter what I'm fishing for, from a distance, many anglers and others just know I'm bass fishing. Last weekend, I told a lady at a boat ramp that I had a slow day and only caught 5 up to about 11 inches, but I said it was enough for a fresh dinner for my wife and me. She was shocked and confused, and asked me if I knew about the season and such. I had to tell her I was talking about crappie. "Oh, I thought you were bass fishing." She hadn't even seen me fishing, but just assumed, as usual.

I'm not saying lot's of guys aren't bass fishing in the spring. Many are. Our own Michigan spring bass season study showed this, but my problem is that many people will see two boats catching bass in the spring and be more likely to think a tin boat is not purposely trying to catch bass, while the bass boat angler is trying to catch bass, even when they are fishing the same kind of lures in the same general area.

Similarly, I can go up into Anchor Bay throwing large spoons right now for pike and I will catch musky. Some guys will probably think I'm legally fishing for pike and some guys will think I'm a lawbreaker fishing for muskies out of season. The only purpose such a regulation can really serve is to hope that anglers voluntarily choose to follow it and maybe minimize the catch of the out of season fish. Incidental fish will still be caught since many gamefish use similar areas and eat similar foods, especially in the spring. Even if the closed season is really needed, the best it can hope to accomplish unless the entire body of water is closed to fishing, is this minimizing of the catch. If other popular legal fisheries exist on that water during this closed season, there might still be a significant incidental catch of the out of season fish.

As far as ticketing someone for catching a bass, the past MDNR Law Division Chief, Herb Burns flat out told me that he didn't want his COs ticketing bass anglers that let bass go, period. Doesn't mean some still didn't do it and don't now. If you keep a bass out of season, you'll probably get a ticket. That's pretty cut and dried. No gray area there.

Much of the supposedly increased emphasis on enforcing the closed bass season now, is coming from the increased discussions on it - literally from guys who say something like either enforce the regulation or admit we don't need it and do away with it. I have heard some COs say they will watch problem areas from hiding and if they spot a 'suspicious' angler, they'll observe him/her for a while. They may ticket the angler if after a time, they believe he/she is purposely catching bass. I don't really know how often a ticket is written to an angler who is immediately releasing them. It sounds like it definitely happens, but maybe not a lot.

Everyone says they KNOW when someone is fishing for bass on purpose or not. I don't think it is as clear as that since I don't know any mind readers and the law is based on intent. You can say someone who catches 10 bass intended to catch those bass, but another guy can also catch 10 bass, having every bit as much of an impact on the resource, but he's okay because he intended to catch something else.

Many guys say this intent can be decided simply by the lure someone is using. Tubes are often mentioned. I can catch almost any fish that swims on a tube. I could almost not use anything else if I wanted to. I have caught carp, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel, spotted bass, musky, pike, walleye, perch, crappie, white bass, bluegills, catfish, salmon, trout, striped bass, yellow bass, dogfish, and gar on tubes. Sure bass anglers use tubes for bass. Why wouldn't they? A tube imitates a minnow very well and probably crayfish too, and all these fish will eat minnows and crayfish.

The float'n'fly is another great example. I can use this same rig to catch cold-water bass and crappie and perch real well. Why would I buy something different for each fish, when I can buy one rig that catches them all. I guarantee, that when I use this rig in certain places, I will catch bass and crappie. Which one am I fishing for on purpose? Different people will reach different conclusions.

I will never support or like regulations who's main result is a lot of accusations and finger pointing, and not much else. My personal method of dealing with that is to try and get rid of them or at least change them so they are realistically enforceable.

In the case of the bass season, I think it's pretty clear when all other factors are considered. The only thing that makes sense if everything else stays the same is to leave it illegal to possess bass out of season, but not illegal if you catch a bass and throw it back immediately. It's enforceable and not a drastic change from what is already happening.
 

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Once again well said (or written...lol).

I agree on every point with the exception of the law change. I am still on the fence about that. I am all for changing it once I feel comfortable that we are not going to harm the fishery. I know there reams of paper reports that say nothing will happen if bass are immediately released, but almost all of them do not deal with Lake St Clair directly. This ecosystem is very unique and changing every day it seems. We need to protect what we have so others years from now can enjoy it too.

I catch more largemouth while crappie fishing in the spring and fall than I do any other time of the year, alot of that has to do with the rarity of me targeting largmouth (versus smallmouth) during the season.

More discussion will be had at our meeting next week with the PAC (Public Advisory Council) and the DNR....

BTW where are you fishing opening day????

I will be on Saginaw Bay


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If you're talking to me, I'll probably be on Lake Ovid popping a bunch of largemouths off the inside weed edges and from ditch edges. There'll probably be about a million anglers out there, but there's about 800,000 bass, so I have a chance still.

Sunday, I believe I have an appointment on Houghton Lake to spank some more largemouths (and probably more than a couple dogfish). Don't know if I'll bother the smallies. Depends on the weather and how many weeds are left after last year's massacre. Besides, I'll get enough smallie fishing later to keep me happy on St. Clair and Erie. I can hear them calling me all the way over here in Lansing (or Flint right now).

Monday, I'm thinking about throwing a dart at a Barry County map and fishing wherever it lands. I need to swing by D&R Sports Center down the road in Kazoo to see the nice people there for a few minutes, so I'll be in the neighborhood. Maybe Gull. Maybe 'secret' lake (I still have some of the fixin's for my crappie recipe and I'm only 1/3 of the way to filling my annual quota of 3 fresh fish meals - after that it's back to my regular diet of cheeseburger and pizza and Coke
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I will be fishing at Wamplers Lake on Saturday as I have a Club T there on June 1.

On Memorial Day, my wife and I will be going to an island lake near our house. Hopefully she can catch a bass or two on a Super Fluke. She would rather fish for bluegills or bream as she calls them (she is from the South).
 
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