Recent regulation change helps anglers pursuing steelhead this spring

Recent legislation passed in Michigan has simplified fishing regulations for anglers, particularly those pursuing steelhead on the state’s rivers and streams in the spring.

The legislation removed a net size restriction that has been in place for many years to protect spawning salmon from illegally being harvested. The restriction can be found on page 10 of the printed 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide, under Hand Nets. It reads: “During April, May and June, hand nets larger than 5 ½ feet in circumference or having a handle exceeding 14” may NOT be used or possessed on designated trout streams…”.

With the removal of this restriction, which immediately took effect, anglers now legally may use hand nets with handle lengths longer than 14 inches.  The regulation created a safety issue for anglers fishing for steelhead from boats, as there was concern anglers would not be safe if they had to lean way over the side of their boat to net a steelhead with such a short net handle.

Anglers still can only use hand nets to help land lawfully hooked fish, except under a few circumstances (which can be found on page 23 of the 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide).

The 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide was printed prior to the passage of the legislation, so the net restriction on designated trout streams still is listed in the current guide available at license retailers, even though it will no longer be in effect or enforced. However, it has been removed from the online 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide, and will be removed from future versions.