Michigan Fishing License changes: Editorial

Michigan has made some changes in the structuring of their fishing licenses for this upcoming season. The new season starts on March first so it’s time to get the new license figured out. Well there is not much to figure, not much for options, basically there is a resident license or a non-resident license. All licenses will be for all species, there will be no more restricted license available.

Michigan_DNR_logo-SmallWhat this means for someone who would normally get a license for all species is a slight reduction in cost with a two dollar savings. What this means for a person that would usually purchase a restricted license is an increase in cost of eleven dollars up from $15 to $26. Non-resident license fees have increased to $76 a major jump but it is now more in line with other popular fishing states.

I would think this would make available a considerable amount of extra funds. Hopefully these funds will be used wisely but only time will tell. The official word is this restructuring will allow Fisheries Division to tackle additional opportunities to maintain and improve Michigan’s amazing fisheries for current and future generations. That sounds all well and good but it is not very specific.

There is likely to be some disagreement in how the extra funds should be spent. After all there was a reason there was an extra cost to fish for trout and salmon. The maintaining of the trout and salmon fisheries are vastly more expensive as it is much harder to sustain the populations of these type fish.

There is likely to be two distinct sides on this issue those who just fish native species and those who fish mostly for salmon. These are two very different groups with very different wants and needs. There are very few programs that will benefit both it is most likely good for one or the other rarely both.

The way I see it is that most of the new money is going to be paid by those who fish for bass, walleye and panfish. Does that mean we will see a dramatic increase in stocking of those species? Does it mean we will see a lot more artificial structure programs? That’s just a couple of the questions that we will expect to see answers about in the near future. With an increase of 70% in the cost of a license you would hope there would be a noticeable increase in services for those anglers burdened with the extra cost of this new structuring of the license system.

I am all for paying my fair share but trying to figure what is fair can be very complicated. I do understand that the DNR and other government agencies need or want more money the question is where they get it from and what they do with it. In my opinion sportsman absolutely pay their fair share. As fisherman we pay to register our boats, our trailers and the trucks we pull them with. We pay every time we launch our boats. We pay taxes on the gas and equipment we buy. Fishing tournaments bring in millions of out of town and out of state dollars to restaurants and hotels.

I think this could be a great thing for Michigan fisheries as this should generate a considerable amount of new funds. On the other hand I have to remain a little skeptical of the government forcing one group to pay so much more without giving them any real say in how the money is used. For the most part bass, walleye and panfisherman have felt left out when it comes to sharing available DNR funds and now they will be responsible for an even bigger portion of the cost to maintain MI fisheries. My biggest fear is that more funding will be spent on education and awareness programs that will have little to no positive effect on the quality of fishing in our state. I personally don’t want to spend my hard earned fishing money on programs that are little more than a DNR feel good programs or a public relations campaign.

Then there are all of these overpriced expensive surveys that are rarely used to affect any real change in policy or fishing opportunities. This should be all about proper and efficient use of resources to maintain and ensure fishing opportunities. Anything other than that we as sportsman have already paid for in other ways. Instead of paying someone who has no vested interest in that particular fishery to spend a couple of hours on the water making decisions that affect those waters for year to come, maybe spending more time asking those who spend their valued free time on those waters what they think. After all it is their money being spent. Most fishermen I know have plenty to say about the health and welfare of their favorite lake if just asked.

If these changes were mostly about the simplification of the license system as stated by government officials they could have accomplished that without a 70% increase in the price of my fishing license. What that means is that it is more about money than anything else. I think fisherman have been targeted to pay these extra cost because we have proved we will pay whatever it takes to fish making us an easy target. This time we should expect and demand a real return on our investment enough is enough.

These are just this writers thoughts, on this particular day and are subject to change with new information or change of mood.





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