Today is a day some people wait for all year - the opening of walleye season on the Bays de Noc. For anglers, it means another season of sport fishing is ahead. For those businesses that serve the recreational fisherman, it means a much needed economic boost. Soon, professional fishing tournaments will be holding their events in local waters as well - bringing an added shot in the arm to the local economy.
Living on the Bays de Noc, it is easy to take what is perhaps our most precious resource for granted. It is always there, and in most of our minds, it will remain unchanged for years and years to come.
In recent years, though, that has proven to be anything but true. The Bays de Noc have been increasingly under attack in recent years by a number of factors. If they are not kept in check, they have the potential to change the face of the Bays de Noc - and not for the better.
Several highly publicized cases of illegal commercial fishing have been seen on the Bays in recent years. I some cases, illegally set nets were found with hundreds and hundreds of pounds of rotting fish contained within them. They undoubtedly made a dent in the walleye population of the Bays de Noc.
If there is a silver lining to this cloud it was the effort to restock the Bays de Noc by local groups and members of the community after these incidents occurred. Their efforts have undoubtedly made a difference.
The bigger threat to the Bays de Noc is invasive species - namely the possibility of the Asian carp making its way into Lake Michigan. An established Asian carp population in Lake Michigan has the potential to decimate native game fish by competing with them for limited resources.
If you don't think invasive species are a threat, consider this. It wasn't too long ago when zebra mussels were unheard of in local waters and beaches. Just try to find a local venue that doesn't have signs of zebra mussels today. Zebra mussels, round goby, and other invasive species spread through the entire lake and they did it quickly. Asian carp would be no exception. Local waters would never be the same.
If you cast out a line today in hopes of hooking a walleye, take a minute to consider how important the Bays de Noc are to all of us. They provide recreation, boost the economy, and are one of the reasons this is a good place to live.
The Bays de Noc are precious. They need and deserve to be protected.