DNR News: Charter fishing, Great Lakes fish research, NRC meeting in Royal Oak

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News Digest - Week of June 10, 2019

An older woman wearing glasses, cutting up her fresh fish meal with a fork and knife, while another woman looks on

Wrap up a great charter fishing trip by planning a "catch and cook" meal at the end of the day.

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the Michigan 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 additional ones, are available in this folder.

Charter fishing a great option for novice and experienced anglers

On a boat, a stockier man wearing a hat, long-sleeved shirt and shorts holds a chinook salmon by the gill and tail

Charter fishing is an ideal way to experience Michigan’s world-class fishing. Licensed charter captains, who provide the boat, the equipment and the knowledge needed to pursue fish, can make a full or half day of fishing easy and enjoyable. Charter businesses around the state help children and adults make great Michigan memories – from reeling in that first fish to targeting a brand-new species.

“Within Michigan’s waters last year, nearly 80,000 people participated in more than 19,700 charter fishing trips on Great Lakes and specific navigable waters,” said Donna Wesander, a DNR fisheries technician who tracks charter fishing data. “Different waters and areas of the state provide diverse fishing experiences. In 2018, charter anglers caught more than 284,000 fish, including salmon, trout, walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, whitefish, cisco and lake sturgeon.”

For catch-and-keep fishing, the fun doesn’t have to end when you arrive back at dock. Some charter businesses provide “catch and cook” options. Upon returning from a fishing trip, customers take their cleaned, fresh fish to a participating local restaurant that will prepare and serve the catch. Ask in advance whether charter businesses offer this option.

When hiring a professional charter to fish the Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, a large river or a small lake or stream, customers need only provide personal supplies and fishing licenses, which can be purchased online or through a DNR customer service center or license agent.

Explore your options by searching online for charter operators and regional charter fishing organizations, contacting area chambers of commerce or tourism offices, or visiting MichiganCharterBoats.com.

Questions? Contact Donna Wesander, 231-547-2914, ext. 223 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday in Royal Oak

Three boys kneeling down in the grass, looking for invasive species in the forest of Brighton Recreation Area.

Chronic wasting disease regulations, proposed fishing regulations for 2020 and an update on the stewardship program in state parks are just some of the discussion topics for the next regular meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, set for Thursday, June 13, at the Detroit Zoological Society, 8450 West Ten Mile Road, in Royal Oak.

All sessions will take place in the Ford Education Center Theater. Scheduled committee meetings include:

  • 8 a.m.: Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee.
  • 10 a.m.: Policy Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries.
  • 1 p.m.: Committee of the Whole.

See the meeting's full draft agenda at Michigan.gov/NRC. For more information or to schedule time to speak at the meeting, contact Cheryl Nelson at 517-284-6237.

Great Lakes research vessels collect valuable fish data

The DNR's research vessel Tanner cutting through the water

While at Great Lakes ports this summer or fall, you might see one of the DNR’s large fisheries research vessels conducting annual fish population surveys. The vessels are based out of Alpena, Charlevoix, Harrison Township and Marquette harbors.

“The staff on these vessels are working on a variety of studies to better understand Great Lakes fish communities, population sizes and habitats,” said Gary Whelan, DNR Fisheries Research Program manager. “Their work and the information produced are essential to supporting current and future fisheries management.”

  • The RV Tanner, launched in 2016, focuses on Lake Huron and the sunrise coast’s lake trout, walleye and forage fish populations. It also spends time in Saginaw Bay and the St. Marys River to evaluate fish communities.
  • The RV Channel Cat, in service since 1968, works on lakes St. Clair and Erie. This crew studies walleye, yellow perch and lake sturgeon in these waters that support some of the highest fishing activity in Michigan.
  • The RV Lake Char launched in 2007. It assesses the status of Lake Superior’s self-sustaining lake trout and whitefish populations, along with other members of the unique coldwater fish community found in that water.
  • The survey vessel Steelhead, on the water since 1967, focuses on yellow perch, whitefish, lake trout, chinook salmon and forage fish populations in Lake Michigan.”

When the vessels are in port, the public is encouraged to visit and talk with crew about their work. Learn more at Michigan.gov/FishResearch.

Questions? Contact Gary Whelan, 517-284-5830 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.


A girls' night out kayaking event, an adaptive cycling clinic and an ORV safety course are just some of this week's workshops and classes. Explore the calendar for more ideas.


Looking for interesting, unique, Michigan-themed gifts that give back? Check out our "These Goods are Good for Michigan" webpage for clothing, coffee, state parks gear and more!


Learn more about state forest management planning and offer your thoughts at upcoming open houses around Michigan this summer and fall. Check the schedule.

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