If this is about the bass season, hope you can report what all is covered there (if it's about various topics, it would be nice to know what they are mixing together too) and more importantly, who exactly is there representing anglers. So far, all I've heard is you and no one else. Seems strange so I assume there has to be others representing something/somebody.
If you happen to see this before you go, let them know that so far, it's 39 Federation clubs to zip in favor of a statewide catch and release bass season from January 1 until the regular openers. That is the position the Federation will be officially taking. Anyone can confirm that with Ron Spitler and Dennis Beltz.
I did say the same things based on our earlier discussions. I did not state numbers, but did say "that of all of the clubs that have responded we have a 100% encouragement to an early bass season on St Clair."
There were representatives from the Lake St Clair Bass Anglers, the MUCC, various charter boat captains (Jim Barta is the only one I knew personally), Captain Dan from Lakesdie Fishing, and two other recreational fishermen. I don't have the meeting minutes and all that were in attendance, but that will become available soon.
Ok, I didn't really want to do this now, I haven't had dinner yet, still have to pack for the weekend at the GNT Saginaw Bay event, pour additional jigheads and I am scheduled to leave at 4:00am. So the cliff notes version will have to do.
Going in order by the agenda:
1. Introductions and Division Updates - Kurt Newman MDNR Fisheries Division
Basically introduce all of the people in the room. Spent some time on the general state of the department, but didn't get too detailed.
2. Lake Erie Walleye (From Celeron Island out in the lake)
a. Declining Population - Lake is managed by an International Committee that has determined a quota system. Each participants (states and province) are allotted so many fish depending upon the size of the lake that is in their jurisdiction. It has been tasked to all participants to reduce their own harvest by 40-60%.
b. Potential Changes to the Lake Erie regulations and creel limits. In order to reduce the harvest many factors have to be taken into consideration and estimates must be calculated by using data on hand (mainly creel studies and Angler Diaries, so your input is very vital to this program). By projecting catch rates per angler hour and overall angling effort for walleye and taking into consideration of the current year class recruitment and sizes of said year classes, estimations were made as to what kids of regulation changes are needed. Only three ways to control harvest: 1. Seasons, 2. Minimum Size Limits, 3. Daily limits. All three were discussed at length both individually and in combinations. I will not say what has been proposed as it still needs approval of the International committee.
c. Impacts on Lake St Clair and Detroit River regulations. There are chances that the minimum size limits and daily limits could become the same on the entire system (St Clair River, Lake St Clair, Detroit River and Lake Erie).
Lunch…..well needed at this point
Piscirickettsia and the Musky of Lake St Clair
A ton of research has been going on about this and fish have been sacrificed (probability of detection increases with live fish or recent mortality) in the name of scientific study. The synopsis is that the MDNR does not know the effect of this disease on the fishery and this is the first outbreak of the infection outside of culture situations (fish farms or hatcheries) Ontario may have had the problem in Georgian Bay, due to the similarities of the lesions on the fish. The MDNR Mt Clemens Station will be asking anglers for help on certain days this summer in collecting fish and submitting them as samples. Sampling is lethal to the fish. Anglers can also help by participating in the Angler Diary program with the MDNR, Pictures of the sores (preferably digital), record observations of dead muskies. The amount of large dead muskies during this spring was also mentioned and discussed. The MDNR is unsure of what is causing the deaths and are not saying it is the piscirickettsia infections, it is just too early to tell. For more information please contact the MDNR Mt Clemens Fisheries Research Station at the South River Road (Harley Ensign) Public Access.
Creel Survey results for Lake Erie Management Unit including Lake St Clair and both the rivers.
A lot of facts and figures were discussed including but not limited to the amount of fish harvested by species and the amount of angler effort based on creel studies. The manner in which creel studies are taken and the locations and numbers of creel clerks and how they have changed to reflect the fishing pressure, namely increasing the southeast mi presence. THIS IS WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO ADD YOUR INPUT TO THESE CREEL STUDIES WHEN YOU SEE A CREEL CLERK!!!! There has been a lot of hard work to get the monies appropriated to fund this research method and while not foolproof, it certainly is the most direct contact and input we as anglers have. Use it, it will help us all out!
Catch and release bass fishing during the closed season. Report on the several inland lakes in SE Michigan where closed season catch and release was studied. Lake St Clair was mentioned also as a possible candidate for this regulation change. Early (preliminary) discussions were made regarding the effects of fishing for bass during the spawn compared to walleye, pike and musky. Bass are different as they do not spread their eggs nor do they produce the massive amounts as the other species do. Therefore they protect their eggs, nests and fry with a vengeance and we all know how vulnerable they are at that point in the spawning cycle. IF changes are to take place on the bodies of water it will mean a legislative change to the wording of the law. There are papers being drafted by the MDNR and two "other" parties to be submitted to legislators on this issue prior to the vote of change. No timeline was given as to when any action will take place other than if it is to happen for 2004, it must be signed by Sept 03. I gave my personal view about it, as did others in attendance. I said I would like nothing more than to extend my fishing season a couple of months by having a catch and immediate release season prior to the traditional bass opener as long as I was convinced that we are not harming the fishery. I suggested that additional studies be done, as difficult as they are, before any changes are made. I was vehement in my defense of Lake St Clair and its smallmouth fishery. It was also mentioned about bass tournaments during the special season, I had not discussed that here, but I do not like the idea UNLESS it is immediate release, not a traditional weigh-in. If tournament directors can devise a way to insure that the fish will be released in a matter of seconds, great I might change my view, but other than that I don't like the idea. It was mentioned also that the economic impact will have a lot to do with the decision and may make it hard to impossible to change any regulations back….we need to insure this is what we want and that it will not affect the future of the lake.
Then Kurt Newman wrapped it up and we all left tentatively setting our next meeting.
Now I have too much work to do and I am leaving in 6 hours, I will be back on Saturday night.
Some of the other groups represented at the meeting were the Lake St. Clair Walleye Association, Southeast Michigan Conservation Club, Monroe Rod and Gun Club, Detroit Area Steelheaders, the Downriver Walleye Federation (through Jim Barta), and MSU Extension. Some of the changes to Lake Erie walleye fishing regulations that the DNR is looking at for the 2004 season are, raising the minimum size limit to 15", reducing the daily bag limit from 6 walleye to 5 or 4, or establishing a closed season (maybe the months of April and May), or possibly a combination of all three. The Great Lakes Fish Commission's Lake Erie Committee, made up of representatives of all four states that border Lake Erie, and Ontario, is meeting next month to discuss what cuts each will make to lower the walleye harvest. Whatever changes are chosen, they will probably go before the NRC at the August meeting and will be signed into law by the Director in September. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the regulations during this time.
QUOTEMini: "There are papers being drafted by the MDNR and two "other" parties to be submitted to legislators on this issue prior to the vote of change. No timeline was given as to when any action will take place other than if it is to happen for 2004, it must be signed by Sept 03."
Who are the mysterious two "other" parties and what are they submitting and why?
How much detail did the MDNR go into on what they are submitting. I'd hate to see them go to far down the old "here's what we think is best for you anglers" until they've allowed more input than this. If I don't like what the MDNR proposes, I might consider become a 3rd "other" party with some help from legislatures and the federation, but I sure hate to go that route.
It would be better and easier to handle more of this up front by having the MDNR put their proposal out to interested parties, like the federation itself (Ron and the board, not just you and one club) before it goes too far, like to the legislature saying here's what we want FOR Michigan anglers.
Hey Mini, is that the meeting you were going to see about me being able to go to. I'd like to be able to report to my listeners about what happens at those meetings and kind of represent their interests as well. . .goin' fishin with Bob Sr. on Thursday. . .taking Ken (if he can get away) and Mike "The Producer". . .B.