Bass season opens statewide on Saturday, May 28, and the Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers that the use of 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 minnows for bait should make sure they are certified as VHS-free. Certified disease-free bait is widely available and may be used anywhere for 14 days. The use of uncertified bait is restricted to only those waters that have been detected with VHS. All bait collected by anglers is considered uncertified bait.
VHS is a viral disease that causes fish to die from internal bleeding and has caused mortalities among a number of species of fish in Michigan. The disease has been found in the Michigan waters of Lakes Erie, Huron and Superior and has been detected in Lake Michigan, though not in Michigan waters. It has been found in at least two inland lakes – Budd Lake in Clare County and Baseline Lake in Washtenaw County.
“There is no known treatment for VHS,” said DNR Fish Production Manager Gary Whelan, who monitors fish diseases for the department. “Our best defense against it is trying to prevent its spread.”