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New regulations for popular Benzie County salmon fishing location

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission today adopted regulation changes to Fisheries Order 204 – in effect starting Friday, Sept. 11, and for the remainder of the 2020 fall salmon run – that closes the Betsie River Homestead Dam in Benzie County to fishing within 300 feet of the lamprey barrier and fish passage facility from Aug. 1 to Nov. 15.

In recent years, Betsie River salmon fishing has been immensely popular, attracting thousands of anglers to the area annually. Some high-use access sites, including the Homestead Dam site, have been severely degraded by bank erosion, littering and unlawful activities. Department of Natural Resources conservation officers have responded to hundreds of complaints from the area, including illegal snagging, exceeding daily fish limits, cutting trees, illegal fires, trespassing and angler conflicts.

The new fishing regulations came in response to these reports, with recommendations by DNR staff.

“These new regulations will reduce the degrading land use practices currently happening, reduce the amount of illegal fishing activity, and provide protection for the current population of wild run Chinook salmon in the Betsie River and to ensure that population continues to provide a world-class fishery into the future,” said Scott Heintzelman, Fisheries Division’s Central Lake Michigan Unit manager.

Recent changes to the DNR land-use order for the Homestead Dam access site also prohibits, between 1 and 4 a.m., the use or occupancy of certain state forest lands in the area to prevent camping and tending fires, which have caused extensive resource damage at these locations.

More information about fishing and camping rules and regulations is available at Michigan.gov/DNRLaws.