The Future

For the sportsmen: June 2011 - With fish populations in Lake Michigan refusing to recover, with the economic realities it brings, with the DNR unwilling or unable to make the same hard decisions that were made in 1989 to cut the fleet and eliminate quota. I believe that soon the DNR will attempt the same con against the sportsmen of this State as they did with Lake Trout in 1996. I predict that the DNR will again seek to buy back the public’s fish, from the commercial fishermen with the smallest quotas. As before they will claim to do this with conservation and recovery as the goal. But just like before, the fish bought with sport money will instead wind up going to the surviving commercial fishers, to justify the needed increase in their license fees.
In 1989, some commercials were told they couldn’t fish anymore. In 1996, half the Lake Trout commercials were bought out. What do you think is going to happen, commercial fishing will continue as is, until fish species are listed as ‘endangered’ by the federal government? Or perhaps our officials will become as insightful as those of Michigan 40 years ago and close all non-tribal commercial fishing? I don't think so.

For the perch sportsmen: At a meeting recently the DNR discussed commercial perch fishing. Upon any reopening of Lake Michigan commercial perch fishing in the future; in an effort to allow perch to spawn multiple years, the DNR might require commercial fishers to use larger mesh nets. A policy the DNR currently denies the perch of Green Bay.

Just when sportsmen are about to see a split of perch based on numbers, result in their split rising from 40% to 75% of harvestable perch, the DNR will want to change the game, guaranteeing the lions share of perch to the commercials in the future.

The results would be that the largest trophy perch would be caught by commercials and not sportsmen, that along with the 112,000 lbs. quota currently on record would basically create the same situation leading to the closure and restrictions of perch fishing in 1996. The loss of too many breeding females.

For the past 50 years the DNR has known that perch and commercial fishing don't go together. They have seen that it takes 20+ years and the stocking of 100+ million walleyes to Green Bay and it's tributaries to restore that fishery in waters so much more fertile then Lake Michigan. For 20 years the DNR has done nothing to endanger future commercial perch fishing, such as stocking, no matter what the consequences to sport fishing. While Michigan seeing the damage done in the 60's, closed commercial game fish to its netters in 1970, amazingly, the WDNR hasn't learned what MDNR learned 40 years ago?

History has shown that in the next 20 years you should not expect to see any restoration of the perch fishery, no $40 million in economic benefits to the local economy, no piers filled with kids and retirees. If your 5 year old child had a great time catching a lot of perch on the pier in 1993, just image, you haven't been able to do that since. That you'll have to be very, lucky in order to take your 5 year old grandchild perch fishing and be able to keep more then 10 perch. That's how long perch fishing has been so bad, and the DNR doesn't seem to want to fix it anytime soon.

But should the perch population get to large enough levels the DNR won't hesitate to welcome back commercial perch fishing over public demands not to. Then it's, Hello commercial perch fishing, good bye perch, for a third time.

On the plus side, in the next 5 – 20 years you will be able to travel to Illinois and catch a lot of their nice sized perch.