With fishing season heating up, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment reminds anglers that the use of salmon eggs or minnows for bait is restricted in some waters as part of a strategy to slow the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS).
Anglers who purchase spawn or minnows for bait should make sure it is certified as VHS-free. Certified VHS-free bait is widely available and may be used anywhere in the state for 14 days. The use of bait that has not been certified as disease-free is restricted, depending on where the bait was collected, and anglers need to follow the regulations to use uncertified bait in the correct locations. Uncertified bait can only be used for three days after purchase. All bait collected by anglers is considered to be uncertified bait.
VHS virus, a virus that causes fish to die from internal bleeding, has caused mortalities among a number of species of fish in Michigan. The disease has been found in Michigan’s waters of lakes Superior, Erie and Huron. VHSv was detected in yellow perch in Lake Superior from the Paradise area in 2009 and in lake herring from the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin’s waters. The virus has been found in fish sampled in Lake
Huron from Cheboygan and Thunder Bay in 2006 and in spottail shiners from Saginaw Bay in March 2010. Fish have been found to be positive from Lake Erie in Ohio’s waters each year since 2006. VHS virus has been found in fish in Lake Michigan, but not in Michigan’s waters. And it has been found in at least two inland lakes—in Budd Lake in Clare County in 2007; and in Baseline Lake in Washentaw County in 2009.
“There is no known treatment for VHS,” said DNRE Fish Production Manager Gary Whelan. “Our best defense against it is trying to prevent its spread. It is important to anglers to realize that the virus is not yet widely distributed in Michigan, thus anglers have the opportunity to help slow its spread by using baitfish properly.”