DNR News: Master Angler rules, outdoor skills help, March 1 license year start

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News Digest - Week of Feb. 18, 2019

campground view at Baraga State Park

Daydreaming about summer camping? Book your favorite spots now through our reservations website!

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and others, are available in this folder.

Master Angler program has some new rules for 2019

little girl dressed in winter gear on a boat, holding a pumpkinseed fish

Anyone hoping to submit a catch to the DNR’s Master Angler program – which each year recognizes the largest fish of several dozen species – will want to pay close attention to the 2019 application.

A few new rules have been added to the program for 2019, including:

  • No more than one entry for fish of the exact same size will be accepted for each species. (For example, if you catch two 10-inch bluegills, submit just one.)
  • Each entry must include at least one photo showing the fish being measured. Color photos of the entire fish are required, too; entries received without color photos will not be accepted.

“The DNR’s Master Angler program has more than tripled in popularity in the last five years,” said Lynne Thoma, the program’s administrator. “We want to recognize as many anglers as possible for their fishing accomplishments, while retaining the integrity of this program. We feel these new rules will help us do that.”

The Master Angler program runs on the calendar year (Jan. 1 through Dec. 31), rather than the fishing license year (April 1 through March 31). The program includes more than 50 species of fish in both catch-and-keep and catch-and-release categories. All fish entered must be taken by legal Michigan sportfishing methods, during the open season, and in Michigan waters open to the public.

Download the 2019 Master Angler application at Michigan.gov/MasterAngler. People are encouraged to review the application every year for program changes. Applications can be submitted via mail or email; the current year’s form is due Jan. 10, 2020.

Questions? Contact Lynne Thoma, 517-284-5838 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

Learn new outdoor skills from the experts February-June

close-up view of a butterfly on a bright yellow flower

What began with a handful of classes at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac, Michigan, has evolved into a statewide opportunity for in-depth learning about a variety of outdoor topics – from fly fishing to food plots to photography.

About 300 students participated in the DNR’s Outdoor Skills Academy during its first year in 2014. By 2018 that number had nearly doubled to almost 600 participants.

“Our classes offer more than just a brief taste of outdoor activities – we spend a full day or more teaching the needed skills to get out and try those activities,” said Ed Shaw, interpreter at the Carl T. Johnson Center and originator of the Outdoor Skills Academy. “We provide gear, hands-on experience and expert instructors.”

These instructors – also known as “pro staff” – are knowledgeable and proficient in the outdoor pursuits they teach. Among the upcoming classes, for example, are a whitetail food plot and habitat management clinic with staff from Killer Food Plots, a class on attracting butterflies with native plants taught by naturalist Craig Elston of CDE Nature, a walleye fishing clinic with professional anglers and a wildflower photography workshop by world-renowned photographer Tom Haxby.

close-up view of a Michigan white-tailed deer

Upcoming classes include:

  • Feb. 23-24: Hard Water School (ice-fishing class)
  • March 23: Steelhead Fishing Clinic
  • April 13: Turkey Hunting Clinic
  • April 14: Walleye Fishing Clinic
  • April 27: Bass Fishing for Beginners Clinic
  • May 4: Beginners Fly-Fishing Clinic
  • May 18: Whitetail Food Plot and Habitat Management Clinic
  • June 8: Attracting Butterflies with Native Plants

Get more details and register for classes at Michigan.gov/OutdoorSkills. Additional classes will be posted throughout the year, so check back often.

Questions? Contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321.

2019 DNR licenses go on sale March 1

DNR's eLicense website screen shot

Don’t wait to get your 2019 hunting or fishing license! Most licenses and permits go on sale March 1, when the new license year begins.

The March 1 start date includes hunting and fishing license sales, except for certain deer licenses and furbearer tags that are sold later in the year. Applications for the 2020 Pure Michigan Hunt also go on sale that day. 

Remember that 2018 fishing licenses, base/small-game licenses and ORV permits are valid through March 31, 2019. However, the 2019 versions of these licenses and permits can be purchased as of March 1.

Order online at MDNR-eLicense.com or visit any Michigan retailer that sells DNR licenses. Kill tags and trail permits ordered online are mailed to customers and usually arrive in seven to 10 days. Check the DNR website for the latest season guides and digests, which will be posted as they become available.

For license sales questions, email MDNR-E-License@michigan.gov or call 517-284-6057.


Recent weather trends suggest there's plenty of time for snowmobiling this month! If you're heading out, please take a moment to check out our Ride Right safety information before hitting the trails. 


Know any teachers (third-grade classrooms and up) who would enjoy taking part in Salmon in the Classroom for the 2019-2020 school year? Spread the word! Applications are due April 15.


If you're looking for an easy way to support the places, programs and projects you love during Michigan state parks' centennial anniversary year, text "Michigan" to 71777 or visit the new giving website for details.

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