Save the PM Update

Please click here to read important information about upcoming public meetings in Michigan regarding the proposed gear restrictions.  A summary of the issue can be found here.

Recent efforts to get the Pere Marquette River reconsidered for new gear restrictions has attracted attention from local news organizations and those opposed to new gear restrictions on the river. We would like to clarify some aspects of this developing story.

Brian Mulherin of the Ludington Daily Times quoted several sources in his story “Bait Debate” (Friday May 28th) that claimed or implied that the new gear restrictions on the PM would be fly fishing and catch and release only. This is not true. The proposed gear restrictions are NOT flies only and NOT catch and release.

As Mulherin noted at the beginning of the article, gear restrictions are a wide ranging and inclusive category of regulations that can include flies-only and no-kill restrictions, but often do not.  All the rivers in Michigan that are currently managed under gear restrictions have only the following in common: “it is unlawful to use or possess live bait, dead or preserved bait, organic or processed food, or scented material on any of the waters or on shore”. Creel limits vary from zero to two fish per day. Some gear restricted water allows only artificial lures to be used while others allow only artificial flies to be used.

We have been advocating for artificial lures only and one fish per day creel limits from Gleason’s Landing to Walhalla.

The open ended and diverse nature of the gear restricted management category in Michigan (category 4) is the main reason why we believe it is absolutely critical to get more gear restricted miles on the PM now.  There is no middle ground in terms of bait restrictions and creel limits in Michigan’s current regulatory structure.  Categories 1, 2 and 3 stipulate creel limits of 5 fish per day and no bait restrictions, they are mainly concerned with differences in minimum size limits and length of season.  Category 4, gear restricted, is the only possible way to get reduced creel limits and bait restrictions, whether they are flies-only no-kill, artificials-only two fish per day or something in between.  And importantly, gear restrictions are reviewed at long, irregular intervals of more than ten years, so the current opportunity is most likely the last for some time.

Regarding assertions made in the article by quoted sources that these new gear restrictions will not have the desired effect of improving the fishery, we agree that while there is no scientific evidence that the fishery is in decline, this is because no scientific research has been conducted.  Most anglers who fish the PM with any frequency agree that fish numbers have decreased over the past decade. We believe that taken a cautious and conservative approach to managing the PM is the right course of action in this case.  We believe that in the absence of scientific data about the fishery we should institute more conservative regulations until appropriate scientific data can be obtained.

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