With catch and release now allowed year around in most state waters, Michigan is considering opening 16 of its fisheries in the lower peninsula to bass tournaments during the spawn.
That means catch-and-delayed-release (CDR) would be permitted for registered tournaments from the last Saturday in April through the Saturday before Memorial Day.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources played host to public meetings about this and other proposed regulation changes during July. In addition, spokesman Nick Popoff said, "We will take input electronically as well for four or five months."
The proposed CDR fisheries would include Lake Charlevoix, Houghton Lake, Burt Lake, Mullett Lake, Hardy Dam Pond, White Lake, Muskegon Lake, Gull Lake, Gun Lake, Kent Lake, Portage Chain, Cass Lake, Half Moon Chain, Pontiac Lake, Wixom Lake, and Holloway Reservoir.
DNR said, "There is a limited biological uncertainty with liberalizing bass seasons. But, it added, "Most U.S. states allow bass fishing during the spawn without negative population impacts. Limiting the lakes will allow the DNR and public to gauge biological and social implications."
The agency also pointed out that local communities "could see economic boosts with more tournament activity."
Michigan had been considering allowing catch and release during the spawn for years, before initiating it this past April. The Michigan B.A.S.S. Nation was at the forefront of a campaign to make it happen.
"Throughout that time, we had six test lakes, and did a lot of research to determine does CIR (catch-and-immediate-release) negatively affect spawning bass, versus CDR," Popoff said. "All of our research has shown there is no negative impact on spawning bass populations to target and catch those fish and immediately return them to the water."