A Threat to St. Clair

A giant musky being handled by MNR biologists. Despite professional handling, see the eggs pouring out of this female. - Photo courtesy of Spencer Berman.

A giant musky being handled by MNR biologists. Despite professional handling, see the eggs pouring out of this female. - Photo courtesy of Spencer Berman.

Since Lake St. Clair is the only lake where I’ve targeted musky, and because it produced all eight muskies that I’ve landed, I’d have to say that it’s my favorite musky fishery.

Lots of people seem to agree with that assessment, and even though it’s fairly fertile for these ornery and fickle toothy bastages, it’s also fairly fragile. Too much pressure, too many mishandled fish, or inappropriate management of muskies and/or their forage and it could go from world-class to dog-crap in a short time.

Currently, anglers can only target muskies on St. Clair from June 15 through December 15 of each year. Right now there is a proposal before the Natural Resources Commission of Michigan that would open it up to a year-round catch and release program, with no closed season.

I know very little about musky biology or the effects of catch and release fishing on the musky spawn, but I’m inclined to trust the views of the experts I know up there. I’ve fished with Captain Spencer Berman and several of his associated guides, and I know that they care deeply about the fishery they work on. I also know that they stand to gain – at least in the short term – if the season were made year-round. Simply put, they could book a lot more $500+-a-day trips in months when they’re currently doing other things. During some of those months, the muskies would be especially vulnerable, making for lots of happy clients.

The fact that Spencer and his colleagues, along with Lake St. Clair Muskies Inc., Michigan Ontario Musky Club and the Lake St. Clair Charter Captains Association all came out against this proposal leads me to believe that they are extra-credible in this case – willing to sacrifice short-term gains for the long term health of the resource. While their opposition to the measure is not decisive, I generally tend to listen closely when someone takes a stand that is against their financial interest.

If you want to learn more about the proposal, go to the petition and sign it. Better yet, send an email to the Natural Resource Commission at NRC@Michigan.gov voicing your opposition to the proposal.

Hurry -- the vote will take place on November 9th.