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fishing out of season

6680 Views 62 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  djkimmel
ok I realize that Bass season is the third sat in june, and Muskie season is the first sat in june. But do people really wait. I see alot of Bass, and a few Muskie fisherman hitting spots hard and catching fish in late April and May. It seems that people think catch and release gives them the right to fish out of season. What do you think, is this right or is it abusing the system.

Do you think that catching fish out of season, and releasing them has effects on the fish when its time to spawn.
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Cass, Pontiac and Kent Lakes have a catch-and-release bass season which began on April 1. I admit to fishing theses lakes prior to the June opener because it's a legal exception to the June opener...However, any other situations where fishing is not conducted "legally" I'm not too keen on. For example...has anyone else noticed the number of "panfisherman" throwing 3-4 inch tubes early spring?!
This is a really "sensative" subject. I have in the past seen MDNR warn bass anglers about targeting bass out of season. I think the major reason (correct me if i'm wrong Mini) they have this law is to protect fish that are on the beds.

I still haven't made up my mind if I agree with the "bass season" yet! But i guess i don't have a choice. Its just hard to abide by this rule when you see so many other people breaking rules that actually hurt the fishery.
guilty! but i feel that as long as " I " am not pulling fish off beds, and i always release my catch, that i am doing nothing more than fishing, and we all know that theres nothing wrong with fishing!

madman himself
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Oh,Oh.....Wait till Dan Kimmel sees this topic.
I agree with MadMan. As long as your not hurting the fish, your not hurting the fishery. Releasing the fish in the same area that you catch it in and doing so immediately should not be destructive at all. Has the MDNR ever thought of just making tournaments "illegal" before June, but allowing people to fish for fun before then? Or would that be too hard to oversee? I truely believe you have a wonderful fishery, but is it that way because of regulations or is it just Mother Nature?
This is one of the hardest things for us bass fisherman in this state. I Have mixed feelings on this. In one way by catch a release does it really hurt the female bass. I have not seen anything on the lake I do fish that has hurt them. On the other hand I do not want to do damage to a sport fish we love to fish for. I would like see what the DNR says about the Catch and Release lakes and if any damage has been done. There is a couple of lakes I have fished out of season and in the last 5 years I have not seen alot of damage. I do Relize I am only one fisherman. Both of these lake still have some very large bass 5 to 6 Lbs. range. I wish we could get a straight answer out of someone. All the lake that do not have a close season ( Done South ) What is there out come going to be. As a bass fisherman this is very hard to make a discission to make. My feeling are still mixed. Can not give anyone a straight answer until other people can prove fishing out of season is bad or good.

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I agree with madman, but it is a delicate situation because I DO NOT agree with pulling fish off of beds. Obviously there needs to be a closed season because every lake I go to I see shore fishermen that keep everything that they reel in; I could just see them limitting out on hawg 6lb largemouths for the table pulled off of beds.
Well, I have been stopped a few times fishing for bluegill and rock bass and dogfish, and as great of fishermen that we all are I hate to disappoint you, we can not catch every single bass bedding on a lake at every given time. I have seen fish mock bedding in 46 degree water and actually spawning in early april in 55 degree water in shallow channels. And my knowledge of them shows me that most fish spawn from april till late june in our neck of the woods. So what is the survival rate of frylings? I have heard about 3 out of every nest makes it to an adult fish, so in order for you to hurt any fishery you have to be catching every spawner, and we are not that good and for those who say that they dont want to fish a bedder out of season what happens when the season opens are those fish fair game? I have a lake about 15min. from me with quality greenfish in it and they make a big spawn about the 1-2 week in june, all legal to keep and catch. Look at Hardy Damm I slamm those fish every year and is it me or are those fish just getting bigger and more of them. But for those who disagree with pulling fish off beds, too each thier own.

again see you on the water

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I think this site alone put out about a million words on this topic last year and a bunch the year before from what I hear. I'd suggest a few things. If you belong to the BASS Federation and/or get BASS TIMES, read the March 2003 article by Bruce Shupp. If you get BASSMASTER magazine, they had an article on this topic too recently. In-Fisherman did too so it's a popular topic right now.

I'm running behind on getting the first study results from Michigan's early 90's study on the 6 test lakes posted (along with my separate commentary). I've posted a lot before on this site including interviews with various biologists. I've put responses that would specifically answer a number of points brought up again in this thread in the past. You can search for them by searching for spawn and catch-and-release / catch and release if you want to read them.

What I will say this time is what is important to the issue for Michigan anglers: there's been 2 meetings about the bass season by MDNR fisheries including 1 with representatives from Ohio, Indian and Ontario. As one MDNR biologist said to me, "this is the most we've (MDNR) talked about bass in a long time."

They are concerned about a number of issues, but in general there is probably a good amount of support in the MDNR for providing some kind of additional bass fishing opportunities to Michigan bass anglers. It won't happen this year. Not sure about next, but I have a lot of work to do on my own personal goal which, as many times as I've said it, keeps getting misrepresented to some degree - I'm pushing for legal catch-and-immediate-release of bass statewide from January 1 until the present regular opening days for bass.

The ONLY thing this changes when compared to present regulations is that you are not a criminal if you catch a bass during the spring as long as you immediately release it. It is presently illegal in Michigan to 'attempt' to take any fish species during its closed season. Many people actually don't realize this, especially out-of-state anglers since the vast majority of states (including some northern ones) do NOT have a closed season.

I will be posting the detailed stuff on my web site and mention things here when I think people might be interested so they can choose to read it or not. I will post here anything interesting I hear that affects us all and I hope others will too.
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I will be attending a few meetings in the coming months and was told by a MDNR employee that the bass regulations will be looked at for possibility of changes, including but not limited to, early season immediate release bass fishing in Michigan.

I will, of course, post more on the subject as it comes to fruition.

I feel there is no reason for a *bass season* in our State. However, since there currently is a bass season I observe it and fish only in the pre-designated lakes for catch n release until Opening Day on Memorial Day weekend. As a tournament angler who fishes the Michigan Division of the Wal Mart BFL our first tournament of the year is on Lake St. Clair. Since I do not believe in breaking the law, I feel obligated to not pre-fish in Canada until the season opens. That day is the same day as the BFL tournament on Lake St. Clair I do believe. Therefore, I feel disadvantaged going into the tournament as others will be pre-fishing illegally. I wish the individuals at FLW Outdoors would consider this when next year's schedule is created. In fact, why can we not open the BFL season earlier in June and go to the Grand River early in June?
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The whole subject of seasons is touchy. When I was a young man the Bass season opened on June the 20th statewide. Muskie, Pike and Walleye opened the 15th of May. Now on St Clair Pike and Walleye are open all year. As stated Muskie 1st Sat of June and Bass also in June. I for one love to Pike fish and the best time to catch a big Pike is in April or May. I have a lot fellows that also like to Pike fish that I go out with and I feel that as long as I don't throw typical Muskie Baits that I'm not doing anything wrong. Just the same as if you don't throw typical Bass Baits the same should hold true. If they don't want us to catch Muskie or Bass out of season then they should close the other game fish until they all open. Then there would be no problem but then who would stand for that? Bob
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This is what our local biologists say about out-of-season bass fishing.
Taken from the Status of the Fisheries in Michigan Waters of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair 2002, Prepared for the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission Lake Erie Committee by Michael Thomas and Bob Haas, Mt. Clemens Fisheries Research Station.
"In recent years, 'preseason' fishing for bass has become increasingly popular on these waters (St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River). Many anglers are apparently unaware that it is a violation of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to fish for bass during the closed season (Public Act 451 of 1994, Part 487, Sec. 324.487126), even if the angler intends to release any bass caught. The objective of the season closure is to protect bass during the prespawning an spawning periods when they are particularly vulnerable to overexplotation. Male bass guard the nest and protect the eggs and fry from predation by other fish. Removing guarding males for just a minute of two has been documented to increase egg and fry predation. In 2003, low water levels may make spawning bass more visable and thus more vulnerable to fishing in Lake St. Clair. We urge bass anglers to show restraint and comply with the existing fishing regulations."

I agree with the biologist that removing guarding bass, even temporarily, opens the nest up to predation. The argument seems to be on how this affects the bass fishery as a whole.
Does anyone know if the DNR has any findings from the closed-season fishing being tested on several local inland lakes (Pontiac, Kent, etc.)? I believe it was originally set up as a five-year test.
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That's the study I'm in the process of posting on my web site in detail. I'll post when it's available. I have a copy of the 1-years results and the overall results both.

You've also pointed out what the real question is? I've never disputed that individual beds might be harmed. I have tried to clarify what that means.

I just finished watching a National Geo show where animals where more vulnerable because the watering hole was shrinking. To the individual animals that crocodiles ate, the outcome wasn't very good, but the population as whole has to have water, so they survive by risking some individuals. There's a natural balance all species achieve by giving and taking from other species. Individual bass beds have been 'harmed' forever. I think the bass have evolved to deal with that.

Only humans and/or continued catastrophic natural changes are probably able to unnaturally tip that balance. We as humans have tipped some balances because of our behavior. I think that just means we need to understand fully what our impact is (and isn't), and modify our behavior to account for that.

What we need to know is how we could possibly tip that balance too far. Without having accurate bass population knowledge and quantifying actual fishing pressure and impact, I have no idea how someone can make some of the claims that have been made. It's good the MDNR is doing a survey on St. Clair. That's a start (although I think it's an obvious mistake to discount what is happening on Canadian waters - the fish don't draw lines anymore than the anglers do and both move around the lake).

This goes for the whole season issue. Why do we really have a season and what does it really accomplish? What would it accomplish even if a majority of anglers honored it? How can someone say our bass season has accomplished anything when no studies show this, the majority of serious bass anglers haven't honored it for years and almost half of non-serious bass anglers don't honor it either, and our bass fishing is still great?

I'm not saying it's right to violate regulations. I'm not saying we don't need our MDNR. I'm hoping anglers seek out the information and consider the issues logically by looking at the reality of the situation, not the rhetoric. It doesn't matter to me if you're an angler or a biologist. It's easy to see that I'm asking for a 'change' that already exists and has existed long enough that we'd know if it was bad - legal catch and immediate release of bass from January 1 until regular opening days.

I'm just asking to legitimize what is and has been going on for a long time and will continue. I'm also asking for relief for all those who own a bass boat, since as Bob the legend put it, it makes no sense to say you can't fish for one type of game fish, while you can for another at the same time, on the same water with the same lures (I don't believe in 'bass' lure and 'walleye' lures - I can catch almost any fish that swims just by using tubes).

I definitely fear the day that being in a bass boat, throwing KNOWN BASS LURES, in a closed season for bass will instantly get you a ticket for fishing illegally even if you say you're crappy/walleye/pike/whatever fishing, even if you have those fish in your possession. I saw the beginnings of this in the past two years because some people have forced the MDNR to demonstrate the regulation is necessary by increasing enforcement in the "either enforce it or lose it" vein. I've seen it for years too in the way some anglers consider me to be a lawbreaker, and other stereotypes, just because I happen to fish out of a bass boat.

I don't want to argue and debate with people. I don't want to type long responses. I don't want to spend a lot of my free time on the phone. I just want to fish as much as possible using the equipment I own, catching and releasing most of what I catch anyway, without worrying about having my enjoyment ruined by getting needless and judgmental tickets, and without having other anglers accuse me of being a criminal just because I happen to fish out of a 'bass' boat. Unfortunately, I can't accomplish one without the other.
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Here is my 2 cents worth.
From the places I fish the states with "bass seasons" produce better quality fish for a longer peroid of time, by that I mean that the bite in the season months is much better than states without a season. I am a die hard fisherman and our tourneys start in April. Me personally would like to see a season in every state and if that meant that tourneys couldn't start until June then so be it. St Clair is a gold mine for Smallies and Largemouth . Anyone who doesn't think a season works fish Ohio inland lakes for a year and then go back to Michigan or NY and fish for a year and let me know the difference of fish weighed in or caught. I will be up June 21st just to fish for fun. I hope that in years to come that Michigan fishing remains excellent so when my son gets the bug I can bring him to a place that has great fishing and people. This topic could be debated until both sides turned blue. Just ask yourself one thing..Why ruin a good thing?
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The Ohio portion of Lake Erie has no closed season on bass. If there is a lake that consistantly produces large numbers of big smallmouth than Lake Erie, I sure would like to know about it.

Our inland lakes here in Michigan have much tougher fishing throughout the year also, even though we have "seasons". So the comparison of Lake St. Clair to Ohio inland lakes or southern lakes is apples to oranges. Northern fisheries have a larger variety of species to target. Bass don't get fished as hard here as they do down south where they are the primary target of a large percentage of anglers.

Many of us are advocating a trial catch and release season on Lake St. Clair because there is no evidence that this early season would harm the fishery. Pre-season fishing has been going on for years now and the fishing is still exceptional. Studies that I've read show that environmental changes are the main factor in population changes, not fishing, especially catch and release fishing.
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yeah, yeah, what cameraguy said.

all I have to say is I go to Hardy and Muskegeon every year and still dont have any complaints about the fisherys and hardy gets pounded in the spring.

as for the tickets that Dan mentioned that is not fun to deal with but once they write one on you and you were not fishing for bass go to court and fight it, it gets thrown out, there is nothing in michigan fishing rules that say that you cant use a spinnerbait or buzzbait or even tubes, it says that if you are attempting to catch a fish out of season your breaking the law, and we all know how good a rockbass will crush the above mentioned lures.

see you on the water

I agree fully. I also believe that catch and imediate release doesn't hurt and I would be doing it if allowed. My point was that if Ohio adopted a season maybe some of the fished out lakes would prosper to be what they use to be. It's getting better since catch and release awareness has grown. As far as Lake Erie goes, yes it is a good fishery because they have room and most people don't target them as much. I don't think the true "bass fisherman" are the problem. We all know that we need to take care of the fish. How's this for a fix? Open early for catch and release. Make the penalty much stiffer if caught with fish in live well during this time. Hopefully this would shy away anyone who even though about keeping some.
That's basically what is being asked for on this board - legal catch and immediate release of bass during the non-open season.
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