Bays de Noc fishery has declined


I’ve fished LIttle Bay de Noc since the mid 1950s and Big Bay de Noc since the early 1970s. I’ve seen the ups and downs. I was a member of the U.P. Game Protection Association that worked with Jerry Peterson in the 1970s to plant walleye fry in gravel pits and later back in the big lake.

My concern is that I’ve never seen our world class fishery in such poor condition. The smelt, burbot, and splake are gone. The perch, walleye, and northern pike have declined to beyond the critical point.

My friends and relations come a few times per year to visit and fish. Some of these guys are professionals. When they can’t catch anything, believe me, we can’t either. It’s been a steady but swift decline. I can no longer promise visitors anything but the most remote chance of success. These are mostly catch and release guys, they just want some action.

I don’t own a motel, restaurant or bait shop. I don’t sell boats or tackle. Thank goodness! But neither does the state of Michigan, so until there is enough complaining and license sales fall off, the solution may stay on the back burner.

I know the arguments… zebra mussels, cormorants, and gill nets. I’m not a biologist but I don’t believe planting will ever solve this.

There is excellent fishing in places with zebra mussels. Cormorants could be controlled with more aggressive tactics. Gill nets are a problem that will take negotiations, politicians, and money to fix.

I won’t live to see perch fishing like Ogontz in the 1970s; smelt like the Days River in the 1960s; bass fishing like shallow bays in Big Bay de Noc in the 1980s; or splake off Stonington in 1990s.

Walleye and Northerns have declined a great deal in the last five to 10 years.

Hopefully, my grandchildren will see improved fishing.

Mark Phillips

Rapid River


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