Lake St. Clair Fishing Forum banner
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

· Registered
484 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Unlicensed May Ice Fish This Weekend
DNR hopes offer lures new fishers

By Gene Schabath / The Detroit News

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources hopes the annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend will bring a new generation of anglers to state waters.

Martha Umbower and her 7-year-old son, Wesley, will go fishing Saturday at Kensington Metropark without a license, but they're not worried about being ticketed.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is allowing people to fish without a license on Saturday and Sunday under an annual program called Winter Free Fishing Weekend.

Officials created the program to lure more people into the sport of fishing, said Robert Haas, supervisor of the state's fishing research station at the mouth of the Clinton River at Lake St. Clair.

Sport fishing has taken a steep decline in Michigan, and introducing anglers to the sport on the free weekend may boost state revenue, Haas said.

Statistics compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed a decline of 470,000 anglers in Michigan between 1996 and 2001, based on license sales. That means money to the state: Revenue generated by sports fishing in the state declined $560 million during that same period, from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $940 million in 2001. The wildlife service conducts the surveys every five years.

Lake St. Clair is the state's most popular ice fishing lake, but anglers have plenty of other places to fish, with more than 11,000 inland lakes, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams and 3,000 miles of Michigan's Great Lakes shoreline.

Haas puts some of the blame for the state's loss of fishermen on technology.

"Some people think that all of this computer stuff is taking people away from fishing," Haas said. "I get the feeling younger people are getting away from fishing, and they certainly are into computers."

Umbower said it's not computer games that keep her son from fishing. It's soccer, piano lessons, gymnastics and Cub Scouts.

Umbower, who is the den leader for Cub Scout Pack 323, Den 2, at Wixom Elementary School in Wixom, will be with her Scouts and their parents for a fishing clinic Saturday being conducted by naturalist Michael Tucker at Kensington Metropark. Cost is $5 - and includes hot chocolate. The Saturday clinic is filled, but those interested in a Sunday clinic can register at (248) 685-0603.

"Everyone is excited about going," Umbower said. "I've never been ice fishing. I'm from Indiana, and we don't get ice. I bought these little feet warmer things for my toes."

The free fishing weekend may pay off by attracting people to the sport, Umbower said.

"There's a little neighbor boy who went fishing with his dad, and now he goes all the time," Umbower said.

Brian Ward, owner of Selfridge Sport and Tackle on Lake St. Clair in New Baltimore, expects a good turnout for the free fishing weekend.

"If the weather is nice, the families come out," Ward said.

The weatherman is calling for a high of 36 Saturday, with a low of 3 degrees. Sunday's high is expected to be 14, with a low of zero.

Despite the wildlife service's statistics, Ward said his business is booming.

"This is Lake St. Clair, and the fishing is superb," Ward said. "I've got people coming this weekend from Pittsburgh, and I have people coming from Ohio and Indiana. They know Lake St. Clair is an awesome fishery. My business is as good or better than it has ever been."

Ken Foster, a technician with the fishing research station, had a nice catch Thursday of 11- and 12-inch perch he caught south of the Clinton River.

"Fishing has been really good," Foster said.

His fishing tip is to use minnows with a perch spoon lure. Wax worms are also good bait.

Another tip for Lake St. Clair anglers: Avoid ice near rivers. Ice there tends to be weak.

Ray Haden ice fishes on Lake St. Clair. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service statistics showed a decline of 470,000 anglers in Michigan and a decline in state sports fishing revenue of $560 million between 1996 and 2001.

More Info about Winter Free Fishing Weekend
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.