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Tag Archive | "Master Angler program"

Master Angler program’s popularity takes off in 2019


Michigan’s Master Angler program, which recognizes some of the biggest fish caught by recreational anglers, has grown in popularity in recent years. Here, Chad Kamm, of Metamora, shows off the rainbow trout he caught on the Manistee River in 2018 and submitted for Master Angler recognition. Learn more about the program at www.Michigan.gov/MasterAngler.

People love to fish Michigan waters. According to the state’s Master Angler program, they’ve been reeling in some real keepers the last few years. The program, managed by the DNR, enjoyed another successful year in 2018, accepting 2,698 fish.

The program has been in place since 1973 and recognizes large fish caught by recreational anglers. There were 522 more fish submitted in 2018 than in 2017, with anglers representing 28 states and Canada being recognized. The program has more than tripled in the last four years.

Of the entries accepted, 1,564 were in the catch-and-keep category, while 1,134 were in the catch-and-release category. Just over 500 anglers received certificates for fish that placed in the top five spots for both categories.

The most popular 2018 Master Angler entries by species included:

*251 bluegill.

*238 Chinook salmon.

*144 walleye.

*140 rainbow trout.

*137 smallmouth bass.

Master Angler entries for 2018 included two new state records, a 1.80-pound hybrid sunfish caught in Lake Anne in Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County) by Joel Heeringa of St. Joseph, and a 46.54-pound black buffalo caught on the Grand River (Ottawa County) by Brandonn Kramer of Muskegon.

The Master Angler program runs on the calendar year (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31). Submissions already are being accepted for 2019 and will be until Jan. 10, 2020. Because program requirements may change year to year, be sure to carefully read the application before submitting it. A downloadable application and more program details are available at Michigan.gov/MasterAngler.

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

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Master Angler program has some new rules for 2019


This pumpkinseed, caught by Harper Knust of Rapid City, was a 2018 catch-and-keep Master Angler Fish. In February 2019, the Michigan DNR announced some rule changes to the department’s Master Angler program.


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 sport fishing 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.

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DNR sees increase in Master Anglers


Janet Huff, of Marcellus, Michigan, shows off the 31.25-inch channel catfish she caught in Devils Lake in July 2016.

Janet Huff, of Marcellus, Michigan, shows off the 31.25-inch channel catfish she caught in Devils Lake in July 2016.

 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced the 2016 results from its Master Angler program. This program, in place since 1973, recognizes large fish caught by recreational anglers.

This past year, 1,807 anglers representing 24 states and the countries of Canada and Austria submitted catches that were recognized as Master Angler fish. That’s an increase from the 1,542 fish recognized in 2015 and nearly double the 987 fish recognized in 2014. Of the entries accepted, 1,078 were in the catch-and-keep category while 729 were in the catch-and-release category. A total of 241 anglers received certificates for fish placing in the top five for both categories.

Here is a breakdown of the most popular 2016 Master Angler entries by species:

  • 201 bluegill
  • 101 smallmouth bass
  • 93 crappie
  • 90 common carp
  • 89 pumpkinseed sunfish
  • 88 walleye
  • 87 freshwater drum
  • 75 channel catfish
  • 73 rock bass

Master Angler entries for 2016 included one state record: the 9.98-pound smallmouth bass caught on the Indian River by Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida.

Submissions already are being accepted for the 2017 Master Angler program, and will be until Jan. 10, 2018. To download an application, visit Michigan.gov/masterangler. Anglers are encouraged to submit their applications as they catch their fish and to not hold onto them until the end of the year.

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Bowfishing: combining two pastimes into one sport


DNR Fisheries Division boat captain Roy Beasley shows off a longnose gar he arrowed on Lake Erie. Michigan DNR photo.

DNR Fisheries Division boat captain Roy Beasley shows off a longnose gar he arrowed on Lake Erie. Michigan DNR photo.

Roy Beasley grew up fishing, but when he discovered bowhunting, he changed his technique. He became a bowfisherman. “I still bass fish at my parents’ cottage or with the guys at work,” he said. “But I like doing this more.”

A research vessel captain with the Department of Natural Resources, Beasley is one of a growing number of sportsmen and women who like to combine hunting and fishing, using bows and arrows to take a wide variety of fish, including many that are generally not targeted by hook-and-line anglers.

Bowfishing is legal for bowfin, bullheads, burbot, carp (including goldfish), catfish, cisco, drum, gizzard shad, longnose gar, smelt, all species of suckers—including buffalo and quillback—and whitefish.

Beasley has taken most of them, including a number of Master Angler fish of six different species. But he particularly likes chasing gar and gizzard shad, because their narrow bodies make them more of a challenge.

Roy Beasley, DNR Fisheries Division, surveys the shallows from an elevated platform on his boat at Lake Erie. Michigan DNR Photo.

Roy Beasley, DNR Fisheries Division, surveys the shallows from an elevated platform on his boat at Lake Erie. Michigan DNR Photo.

Except in the spring, when a number of species are in shallow water spawning, most bowfishermen go out at night, using lights to see down into the water. Beasley said going at night “is easier and your shots are closer,” but he likes going in the daytime “because it’s more challenging.”

“A lot of people associate carp-shooting with night, except in the spring when the fish are spawning and wallowing around on the surface,” he said. “You can still shoot carp during the day in the summer, but they’re spookier.”

Bowfishermen prefer clear water and calm days with sunny skies. “You can shoot them on cloudy days, but they usually see you before you see them,” he said. Bowfishing is a shallow-water sport.

Beasley said the transition from bowhunting to bowfishing is fairly seamless. Seth Rhodea, president of the Bowfishing Association of Michigan, agrees. “If you’ve got an old hunting bow lying around, you can buy a kit with a reel and a line and an arrow for around $40,” said Rhodea, who also is a DNR conservation officer in Sanilac County. “You don’t need a boat; if you’ve got a place to wade in the spring when the carp and gar are up shallow, you can have fun all day chasing them around.”

Rhodea, who started bowfishing half a dozen years ago, isn’t a bowhunter. He said a buddy took him, and he enjoyed it and got into it. Lots of people have the same experience. “In the last three years, it seems like it’s growing,” said Rhodea, who added there are about 175 members in BAM, but more than 2,000 “like” its Facebook page. “In the spring, it’s not uncommon to see half a dozen boats from one of the launches out bowfishing. A lot of guys have gotten into it in the last few years. Seems like every time you take a new person out, he gets hooked, gets his own boat, and gets going.”

As a conservation officer, Rhodea says he gets a lot of complaints about bowfishermen—lights bothering riparians or the sound of generators disturbing their peace, for instance. And there are complaints about improper disposal of fish.  That isn’t a problem for most bowfishermen, who put the fish to use, often for fertilizer in their gardens.

Beasley says he has no problem disposing of the fish. He’s given some to bear hunters for bait, some to raptor rehabilitators to feed the birds, and even some to the Department of Environmental Quality for contaminant testing.

“And I’ve eaten some,” Beasley said. “The gar aren’t too bad. The drum is a little bit different texture—sort of reminds me of alligator.”

Beasley gets started in April and bowfishes into December some years, adding that spring is usually the best time. “You can do big numbers,” he said. “My best day was about 40 fish—I shot until my cooler was full.”

But bowfishing is as much about quality as quantity. Of the five state records that have been set so far this year, three of them—a blackmouth buffalo and two quillback carpsuckers—were taken bowfishing. In the last two years, six state standards have been set by bowfishermen.

The DNR doesn’t have any data on how many anglers participate, but there’s reason to believe the number is growing because of increasing submissions of fish taken by bowfishermen in the Master Angler program. Either that or those doing it are just getting better at the game. “I’m usually pretty successful,” said Beasley, who says he’s had 100-shot days. “But it’s like anything else…you don’t always get them.”

To learn more about fishing in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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