Exciting news is coming to Lake Michigan for anglers as the area will soon be including more opportunities for underwater spearfishing to the 2022 season. According to the state’s Department of Natural Resources, Michigan is expanding underwater spearfishing to include additional species starting on April 1st.
Previously, the state allowed for anglers to spearfish species like bowfin, bullheads, burbot, carp, catfish, drum, gizzard shad, goldfish, grass carp, cisco (lake herring), longnose gar, smelt, suckers and whitefish. Now, local fishermen can spear lake trout, walleye and Northern pike. But, there is one catch – the expansion only exists for Lake Michigan and Lake Heron.
For some, the expansion might not seem like a huge difference for most Michigan fishermen. However, Great Lakes Spear Fishing pointed out that this is nonetheless an important step.
“Yes, the boundaries are a bummer, especially when compared to the liberal season every other angler in Michigan enjoys,” the site wrote. “But it’s our responsibility to show the DNR that we can follow these rules to hopefully get it expanded in the years to come.”
Specifically, fishers can test the waters with their spears in waters south of the southernmost pier at Grand Haven in Lake Michigan. For Lake Heron, you can spearfish in waters south of the southernmost pier of the Thunder Bay River, extending south to the mouth of the St. Clair River/Fort Gratiot Light.
In order to take advantage of these expanded opportunities, you’ll need to get a new underwater spearfishing license. There are also requirements for monthly effort and harvest reporting. The new license is complimentary. However, you may need also need a DNR Sportcard, which you can find here.
What to Know While Underwater Spearfishing Opportunities in Michigan
Before you go plunging into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan, there are a couple of things to know. The state’s DNR has released some guidelines that anglers need to adhere to in order to access these extra species.
First and foremost, you need to submerge yourself completely underwater to spearfish in Lake Michigan. Second, you can only fish from sunrise to sunset. Once the sun goes down, all spears need to be out of the water. You also need to be aware of your surroundings while fishing. Try to keep at least 150 feet between you and any designated swimming areas, boat docks and similar areas. You also can’t underwater spearfish where placement of a mandatory “diver down” flag would restrict boat access.
In terms of actual spearguns, these devices need to “have the bands unloaded from the spear and the safety on when divers are moving between fishing areas and when entering and exiting the water.”
Michigan DNR does not permit the use of artificial breathing gear like scuba tanks.