Special fishing regulations for warmwater species on select Michigan waters

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission today approved new regulations aimed at protecting fish populations in a newly acquired state game area and Lake Gogebic and allowing for increased harvest opportunities for northern pike on several lakes throughout the state. The regulations are in effect starting Friday, Oct. 15.

Crystal Waters State Game Area (Monroe County)
Catch-and-immediate release regulations are now required on all bodies of water in the Crystal Waters State Game Area in Louden Township, Monroe County. The 680-acre property was acquired by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources earlier this year. No harvest of any fish species will be allowed. This regulation provides protection from overharvest to the limited fish populations that currently inhabit these lakes and ponds.

DNR Fisheries Division surveys of the new state game area’s waters – former sand and gravel mining pits – indicated limitations in the existing fish habitat and communities. The new regulations are meant to protect the existing fish population from harvest while the DNR works to enhance habitat that will promote populations of aquatic insects and smaller fish to help improve food availability (and size structure of the fish population). This is expected to have long-term benefits to the existing fish community.

Lake Gogebic (Gogebic and Ontonagon counties)
Walleye regulations on Lake Gogebic are returning to the statewide 15-inch minimum size limit, with a daily possession limit of five fish in response to concerns from anglers over greatly reduced walleye catches. The previous, more liberal regulation, approved in 2016, allowed a daily possession limit of up to two walleye between 13 and 15 inches. The change in 2016 was in response to anglers’ desire to take advantage of an abundance of walleye smaller than 15 inches.

Additionally, northern pike regulations will move to the no-minimum-size limit with a daily possession limit of five fish, of which only one may be greater than 24 inches. This change is in response to increasing northern pike abundance, with a high proportion of the population being smaller than 24 inches.

Northern pike limits on 22 waters
Twenty-two bodies of water now welcome anglers to enjoy a new daily possession limit for northern pike. Up to five northern pike of any size may be taken, with only one greater than 24 inches allowed. The new regulations are meant to address abundant and slow-growing northern pike populations and to provide additional harvest opportunities in the following waters:

Clare County: Long Lake
Dickinson County: Hamilton Lake, Lake Louise and Lake Mary
Emmet County: Crooked Lake
Gladwin County: Lake Lancelot and Wiggins Lake
Gogebic County: Lake Gogebic and Sunday Lake
Houghton County: Prickett Impoundment
Iron County: Bass Lake, Paint Lake, Perch Lake­­­ and Shank Lake
Menominee County: Bass Lake
Montcalm County: Indian Lake
Ogemaw County: Sage Lake
Ontonagon County: Lake Gogebic
Roscommon County: Lake James
Schoolcraft County: Colwell Lake and MacDonald Lake
Wexford County: Pleasant Lake and Stone Ledge Lake

Due to the regulations taking effect outside of the typical April 1 start date, the regulations will not appear in the printed fishing guide until the 2022 edition becomes available next spring. For current regulations, anglers are encouraged to view and refer to the digital version of the fishing guide at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests.

The DNR manages Michigan’s fisheries resources for current and future generations by making scientific, research-based decisions and regulatory recommendations. Regulations are one tool the DNR uses to implement management strategies to protect, conserve and improve Michigan’s fisheries. Learn more about these efforts at Michigan.gov/Fishing.