MDNR Online Survey, Meetings on Bass Season

| July 19, 2014

In order to get public input on proposed regulations to expand Michigan’s bass fishing seasons, the Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) has announced an online survey and public meetings throughout the state in July. For the past year the DNR’s Fisheries Division has been working with the Warmwater Resources Steering Committee (a public advisory group) to discuss possible expansion of bass seasons.

The regulation expansion options being discussed would increase fishing and harvest seasons. Under all options, bass populations would still be protected and include a winter no-harvest season, 14-inch minimum size limit and daily possession limit.

To gauge public opinion, both anglers and non-anglers (particularly lake property owners) are encouraged to complete the DNR’s bass regulations survey, available here: The goal of this survey is to determine the level of support for increasing angling opportunities for largemouth and smallmouth bass through changes to existing fishing seasons.

Additional public input will be gathered via a series of public meetings. Dates, times and locations include of upcoming meetings (6 others have already been held):

  • Wednesday, July 23, from 7-9 p.m. (EDT), Ishpeming Town Hall, 1575 U.S. 41 West, Ishpeming.
  • Wednesday, July 23, 6-7:30 p.m. (EDT), DNR Field Office, 1732 W. M-32, Gaylord
  • Thursday, July 24, 7-9 p.m. (EDT), Portage Lake District Library, 58 Huron St., Houghton

A random selection of 1,000 licensed anglers also will receive a survey in the mail.

For more information on these meetings, visit or contact: Patrick Hanchin, 231-547-2914, ext. 227; Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839 or Ed Golder, 517-284-5815 from the MDNR.

The 4 Bass Season Options from the MDNR Online Survey

  • Catch-and-immediate-release fishing from the last Saturday in April (Lower Peninsula) or May 15 (Upper Peninsula) to the Friday before Memorial Day. Harvest season from the Saturday before Memorial Day to December 31. Harvest season for Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers from the third Saturday in June to December 31 (current regulations). (NO CHANGE)
  • Maintain current harvest seasons for Lower Peninsula, Upper Peninsula, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, but allow catch-and-immediate-release fishing for bass at all other times of the year. (ADD Catch-and-Immediate-Release (CIR) REST OF YEAR ONLY, Lake St. Clair (LSC) STAYS THE SAME)
  • Maintain current harvest seasons for Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula, but change the harvest opening date for Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers to the Saturday before Memorial Day. Allow catch-and-immediate-release fishing for bass at all other times of the year. (ORIGINAL MICHIGAN B.A.S.S.S NATION PROPOSAL, ADD CIR REST OF YEAR, MOVE LSC REGULAR OPENER TO MEMORIAL WEEKEND WITH REST OF STATE)
  • Change the harvest opening dates to match the respective opening dates for walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge in the Lower Peninsula (last Saturday in April) and Upper Peninsula (May 15). Bass seasons would still close December 31. Allow catch-and-immediate-release fishing for bass at all other times of the year. (NEW OPTION – WOULD ALLOW ALL BASS ANGLERS EQUAL CHOICE TO FISH THE WAY THEY PREFER INCLUDING TOURNAMENTS)

TBF of Michigan is supporting the 4th option listed above with the 3rd option the minimum change we will accept. The 1st (no change) and 2nd options (no change to Lake St. Clair) are not being supported. Please note the options may be supplied in a different order in various sources such as the public meetings, the mailed survey and the online survey.

Part of the statement from the MDNR on the proposed bass season regulations changes from the online survey:

Largemouth and smallmouth bass populations are widely distributed across Michigan and populations are maintained by natural reproduction. Expanding either the catch-and-immediate-release or traditional harvest seasons (by setting earlier start dates or year-round fishing) would pose a slight risk to bass populations in that it would likely increase fishing effort during the spawning period. Current bass seasons allow fishing (catch-and-immediate-release and then harvest) over spawning bass. The regulation expansion options being discussed would, to varying degrees, increase the extent to which possession and harvest are allowed during the spawn. However, bass populations would still be protected by a winter no-harvest season, the 14-inch minimum size limit, and the daily possession limit of five fish. Fisheries Division biologists are not in full agreement with the proposed changes, and conservation officers have some concerns related to law enforcement; however, the regulation options meet the biological requirements determined by fisheries managers and they likely only present a slight risk to bass populations.

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