03 Jun


Anglers of the AuSable


If you care about the future of catch-and-release, flies-only angling in Michigan , we need you and your fishing friends to be in Grayling on Tuesday night, June 8, for an important meeting at the Crawford Au Sable Primary School Cafeteria, 306 Plum Street (in Grayling).  

That’s our best chance to show the Michigan Department of Natural Resources how serious we are about protecting the wild fisheries of the rivers we love.

New trout stream regulations proposed by the DNR Fisheries Division fall short of what many anglers told the DNR they wanted. Five specific problems:

UNUSED INVENTORY: By law, the DNR can impose gear restrictions such as “flies-only” and “catch-and-release” fishing on up to 212 miles of river. The new regs as drafted call for only 160 miles of gear restricted water. So, one-fourth of that gear restricted inventory remains unused.

NO ADDITIONAL PROTECTION FOR THE MANISTEE OR PIGEON RIVERS: The DNR received very strong public comment in favor of additional gear restrictions on both of these rivers. (For the Manistee, the general idea was to extend flies-only fishing above M-72). Both the Manistee and Pigeon meet most, if not all, of the department’s own criteria for gear restrictions. A coldwater committee of angling groups lobbied intensely for additional restrictions on these streams. Still, the DNR says no. It appears that only very strong public pressure (as in high attendance at the June 8 meeting) could convince the DNR to reconsider.

WEAKENED BROOK TROUT REGS: The brookie size limit will drop from 10 inches to 7 inches on many rivers throughout Michigan.

A DEAL’S A DEAL: The Legislature authorized up to 212 miles of gear restricted water in 2002 as part of a compromise that also allowed kids under 12 years of age to harvest trout from the no-kill stretches of the Au Sable and Pere Marquette rivers. Today, kids can kill trout on our best waters but we’re not even close to 212 miles of gear-restricted water. At this point, it’s an unfulfilled promise.

WE’RE WAY BEHIND OTHER STATES: Research is compelling in fisheries across the country… Flies-only, catch-and-release restrictions improve fisheries and also improve local recreational economies. Under the DNR’s new regs, only 3 stretches totaling 21 miles are catch-and-release, flies only. Seven peer states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin , Colorado , Montana , Wyoming , California , and Idaho – have almost 400 combined stretches of catch-and-release angling. We’re not asking for the moon — even if the Michigan DNR authorized gear restrictions on a full 212 miles, three-quarters of the state’s blue ribbon trout water would still be open to all forms of fishing.

We need a large turnout on June 8 to reinforce our angling culture. The DNR needs to see our strength in numbers. Angling groups have already worked very hard this year to beat back DNR attempts to actually relax the flies-only, no-kill designation on the South Branch of the Au Sable! You can expect some officials in the DNR to continue to attempt to erode our hard-fought fly-fishing protections unless we all keep showing up.

And, we also owe a word of thanks to the DNR for listening to angler comment and improving fishing regulations in several ways, including new gear restrictions from Wakeley to McMasters and in Mio on the Au Sable Mainstream and higher brown trout size limits (up to 18 inches) on portions of the South and North branches of the Au Sable.

So, please have your say before public comment on gear restrictions is closed and new rules go into force for the 2011 fishing season. To read the full draft of 2011 regs, go here… (

The DNR will hold numerous meetings across the state in early June to discuss the trout regulations. The full list of meetings is here… (,1607,7-153–237622–,00.html). But, as you’ll see, most of the meetings are in relatively remote locations. The Grayling meeting on June 8 is our best opportunity to present strength in numbers. Again, it’s at 7 p.m., June 8, at the Crawford Au Sable Primary School Cafeteria, 306 Plum Street in Grayling (next to the hospital and library). 

Please be there!!!  Or, at a meeting of your choice!!!

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