Article written by Logan Clark and published at greatlakesecho.org

For all you fisherman on Lake St Clair

small mouth bass
small mouth bass

As the weather warms up, anglers are returning to the water to try to catch their first fish of the year.

But they may not have caught the changes to Michigan’s fishing regulations for the 2015-2016 season. That first catch may well be a bass because of them.

The most significant change is allowing the catch and immediate release of bass all year, said Bob Gwizdz, communications representative for the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Traditionally the state opened the catch and release bass season on April 26 for the Lower Peninsula and May 15 for the Upper Peninsula. Now they can be caught and released all year, statewide. The fish can be caught and kept starting Memorial Day weekend.

The state’s Natural Resource Commission was not able to determine the changes in time for the printing of this year’s hard copy of the Michigan Fishing Guide, Gwizdz said. Parts of the guide were specially marked to indicate a possible future change. The new changes are now on the DNR’s website.

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“I had to hear about the changes from a customer,” said Kiisa Murphy, employee at Michigan Tackle Specialties in Battle Creek and alifelong angler. Murphy said that because the regulation changes were decided so last minute, the DNR failed to notify her establishment before fishing season began on April 1. That was a problem because she sells fishing licenses and is expected to be up to date with the regulations, she said.

The authority to regulate game fish was caught up in the state’s 2014 referendum on wolf hunting. One of the proposals would have given the Natural Resource Commission the power to designate certain game seasons including bass. The proposition failed, but that power was still given to the Natural Resource Commission in the appropriations of a bill passed by the state’s legislature. The DNR wasn’t able to make their yearly modifications to the regulations until spring, Gwizdz explained.

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