The Department of Natural Resources has announced new hook-and-line fishing restrictions for the Clinton River cut-off channel in Macomb County. These changes will go into effect on April 1, 2014, and include special gear restrictions established to protect spawning walleye, northern pike and muskellunge at the Clinton River cut-off channel from the spillway weir to the Harper Road Bridge.
This change is due to the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) approval of Fisheries Order 226, Hook and Line Restrictions during Walleye Spawning Runs at the September 12, 2013, NRC meeting. Originally written for the Saginaw River and its tributaries, Fisheries Order 226 reads as follows:
During the period from March 16 through the Friday before the last Saturday in April:
1. It shall be unlawful to fish with artificial baits or minnows, except that minnows may be used on the Saginaw River and some other designated streams;
2. Other natural baits may be fished only on single pointed hooks not more than 1/2 inch between the point and shank;
3. Weights may not be rigidly attached to hooks;
4. No hook may be attached to the line between any weight and the rod except on an unweighted dropper line at least 3 inches long;
5. No beads, spinners or reflectors may be attached to the line within 6 inches of any hook.
In email correspondence with staff from the DNR Lake Erie unit, I learned that conservation officers have observed unlawful fishing activity at this site for many years where anglers were targeting species during a closed season. Anglers have been cited for targeting an out-of-season species, but many of these tickets get thrown out when the judge inquires whether or not panfish could be caught on those rigs.
The additional restrictions for the cut-off channel are as follows:
The restricted area will be from the weir to the Harper Road Bridge - approximately 1/3 mile. The only legal bait will be worms, no minnows or artificial lures of any kind.
The DNR hopes that these restrictions will protect the spawning gamefish while allowing anglers to fish legally for perch and panfish. For 2014 this regulation on the Clinton River cut-off channel will be in effect April 1-25. For subsequent years the regulation will be in effect March 16 through the Friday before the last Saturday in April.
You can watch www.michigan.gov/fishingguide for more information, although the information regarding this restriction yet to be added to that page.