NRC to consider higher trout possession limits

LANSING — At next month’s meeting of the Natural Resources Commission in Lansing, Department of Natural Resources fish managers will recommend a small number of Upper Peninsula stream segments for inclusion under a 10-brook trout possession limit. The regulation was put in place earlier this year for 33 U.P. streams, while the current brook trout possession limit for all other inland streams in Michigan is five or fewer.

If approved, the additional streams would bring the total number of streams under the 10-fish possession limit to 40, representing 11 percent of the 14,100 miles of Type 1 streams in the Upper Peninsula. Type 1 waters generally are small, spring-fed streams with stable flows and cold summer temperatures, as described in the DNR’s Management Plan for Inland Trout in Michigan. These waters may have self-sustaining populations of relatively slow-growing trout and may be difficult to fish because of dense vegetation.

DNR staff identified the additional streams for consideration in compliance with Fisheries Order 200.18, which establishes inland trout regulations for the state.

Phil Schneeberger is the DNR’s Lake Superior Basin coordinator. He said the order directed the department to determine whether up to 20 percent of U.P. Type 1 waters could be recommended for the 10-fish possession limit, and then present its evaluation at an NRC meeting in 2018.

“Before 2000, a 10-brook trout possession limit applied generally to all inland streams in Michigan without any apparent detrimental effects documented at the fish population level,” Schneeberger said. “Historical surveys show that few anglers can attain the higher brook trout possession limits on these waters, but we support providing the opportunity for those who would like to try.”

The following stream segments will be considered in October:

_ Montreal River (Gogebic County), upstream of U.S. 2 (31 miles).

– Presque Isle River (Gogebic County), upstream of U.S. 2 (155 miles).

– W. Branch Sturgeon River, Dickinson County), upstream of Calumet Mine Road (81 miles).

– Upper Dead River (Marquette County), upstream of Silver Lake Basin (23 miles).

– Days River (Delta County), mouth upstream to M-35 (21 miles).

– N. Branch Stutts Creek (Schoolcraft and Alger counties), M-94 upstream (28 miles).

– McAlpine Creek (Mackinac County), Millecoquins Lake upstream (52 miles).

The seven DNR-recommended streams meet most of the criteria set out in stream-selection guidelines established in 2017. Potential future changes to this regulation exception would be based on whether significant changes to brook trout populations occur in any of the 10-fish-limit streams, as well as on public acceptance surrounding any proposed changes.

The Natural Resources Commission will meet Thursday, Oct. 11, at the MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, 4125 Beaumont Road, in Lansing. For more information, visit michigan.gov/nrc.