Home Commercial Commercial fishermen begin bidding on lake trout nets on Lake Michigan

Commercial fishermen begin bidding on lake trout nets on Lake Michigan


The Lake Michigan Commercial Fisheries Council has asked the Department of Natural Resources to begin developing a rule allowing commercial netting of lake trout in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan.

“We believe the time is right,” Charlie Henriksen, chairman of the board, said at a meeting of the LMCFB on Monday.

The prospect of opening the lake to commercial lake trout fishing has been discussed since 2016 but no rules have been proposed. The LMCFB therefore made a formal request on the matter on Wednesday to the MNR and the Natural Resources Board.

After being decimated in the mid-20th century by sea lampreys, Lake Michigan’s lake trout population has increased in recent decades thanks to stocking efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as protective fishing regulations. athletic.

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Natural reproduction of lake trout is now common in the lake.

The species is designated as a sport fish in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan, but no commercial fishing is permitted. Michigan tribal fishers are permitted to net lake trout in Michigan waters.

Lake trout harvests by anglers on Lake Michigan have remained well below the 82,000 fish limit since 1998. A rule approved in 2021 by the Natural Resources Council increased the daily catch limit for lake trout to five fish and creates a year-round season.

Todd Kalish, MNR’s deputy director of fisheries, said Friday the agency would begin looking at lake trout population models and review demand from commercial fishers.

“We are open (for discussions),” Kalish said. “When we increased the sport catch limit for lake trout a few years ago, we said we would also consider a change in the commercial fishery.”

Researchers at Michigan State University’s Qualitative Fisheries Center have developed two models for Lake Michigan lake trout, including one that predicts population under various harvesting and stocking scenarios.

Kalish said the DNR will review the models’ reports when they are completed as part of their process.

An administrative rule change should be approved to allow commercial lake trout fishing in Lake Michigan. The scoping statement would be the first step in a process that will likely take years.

“While we greatly appreciate the Commercial Fisheries Council’s interest in this, we need to do more work,” Kalish said. “We are not ready to submit a scope statement because we believe that the information we need to properly start this conversation is not complete. And before we can have meaningful conversations about this, we need to talk to all stakeholders.”

Bob Wincek, president of the Great Lakes Sportfishing Federation, said his group is against the idea of ​​allowing commercial lake trout fishing.