By Howard Meyerson
Michigan will have five experimental Upper Peninsula trout streams in 2013 where anglers can keep 10 brook trout per day rather than the current limit of five.
That change was approved by Michigan Department of Natural Resources director, Keith Creagh last month after angling groups opposed an earlier proposal to create a new Type V stream classification where the higher limit would be allowed on 10 U.P. streams.
“It ended up being a good compromise,” said DNR fisheries chief, Jim Dexter. “We’ll have five streams next year where we can start work (studying the impact of the new regulation) and then we will select three more to add in 2015 for a total of eight. This gives us time to discuss which streams may be good.”
The five experimental streams currently are classified as Type I streams. The new rules begin April 1, 2013 for portions of the Dead River in Marquette County, Driggs River in Schoolcraft County, East Branch Ontonagon River in Houghton and Iron Counties, East Branch of the Tahquamenon River in Chippewa County and East Branch of the Huron River in Baraga and Marquette counties. Maps and boundary descriptions are available at www.Michigan.gov/fishing
The compromise was received favorably by conservation groups that had opposed the Type V proposal. Many had been shocked by the agency’s decision to go forward with the Type V classification. It ran counter to what they had been told.
DNR staffers had studied angling preferences for months. They had concluded and announced that there was no reason to raise the limit from five to 10. Fisheries division staffers had proposed choosing a handful of U.P. streams for further study to determine if any could take the additional catch mortality that comes with a 10 fish limit.
A public survey of anglers around the state last summer showed that most want the five brook trout limit to stay in place. The DNR survey was launched after fisheries staff had proposed doubling the brook trout limit on all Upper Peninsula trout streams.
Critics of the recent Type V proposal said there was little to no science to support its creation. Politics and the wishes of a couple of Upper Peninsula natural resource commissioners were driving the decision, they said.
The proposal drew flak from Trout Unlimited, Anglers of the AuSable, Michigan United Conservation Clubs and the Michigan Sierra Club. The experimental category, they say, is more to their liking.
“It’s an alright compromise and groups that were opposed to it were happy in the end,” said Erin McDonough, executive director for Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
“We weren’t happy with the Type V proposal for a couple of reasons. A really good process had been put in place to get to the conclusion that no change was needed. The majority of people said ‘We really don’t want change.’
“But we have also been working with the DNR on prioritization (of staffing and spending). Jim Dexter had said doing these studies could cost 25,000 to $55,000. Why spend that money if people don’t care to have it change.
Public feedback about the Type V stream classification was almost all negative, according to Dexter.
“But the outcome was fairly good,” he said. “Most groups thought we were railroading a decision.”
Copyright © 2012 Howard Meyerson