There exists a fence in the muskie fishing community in Michigan. Which side of the fence are you on?
Very recently, a Facebook post about spearing muskies lit up my newsfeed over and over again. It seemed every couple hours, someone else would share this same post again, pushing it right back up to the top of my timeline. The person who originally shared it, muskie guide Spencer Berman, wrote out his point of view in the message box of the post which accompanied a photo of a man who was holding a huge muskie speared through the ice. Berman wrote:
Another monster bites the dust. One 38-inch muskie gets clubbed by a walleye guy on St. Clair, a lake that is overpopulated as it is, and people go nuts. This 55-inch 51-pounder, so the second heaviest fish in the state history had it been caught in sporting fashion, and yet the musky world is relatively silent.
As described above, and seen below, this post is about a giant muskie taken by a spear fisherman in Northern Michigan on Feb. 9 from Skegemog Lake. That tag on the tail? It’s his license to harvest a muskie.
So…you can probably understand exactly where this fence lies. If you remember, this video emerged from over the summer that spread all over news circuits of a man clubbing a muskie. That story went viral. The story about the man spearing a muskie will largely go unnoticed along with all the other muskies that get speared during the season. So here’s the question: Why?
Under Michigan state law, the only state in the country that allows this practice, spearing is legal for pike and muskie from Dec. 1 – Mar. 15 and only through the ice using a hand-propelled spear. This practice is legal on all waters except designated trout lakes and streams as well as Michigan-Wisconsin boundary waters. There are a few spearing exceptions.
The fishing community at large was upset about the guy clubbing a fish just to club it, yet people are largely silent on this guy spearing a fish just to spear it. The only difference: spearing is legal.
The Save The Chain Muskellunge Initiative, is a group founded to educate and inform the public about how detrimental this spearing practice is in the Northern part of the state of Michigan. According to their page;
The chain of lakes is home to a unique muskie fishery. It’s proven to produce record size specimens despite lack of proper management. The current management plan protects “most” of Michigan’s muskie fisheries. The current regulations in place are limiting the muskellunge population to extremely low densities. “Most” of the fisheries densities are measured in fish per acre whereas the chain and Indian river system are measured in fish per hundreds of acres. The muskellunge management plan states that special regulations could be considered and also directly states that theses two systems could use special regulations, yet still nothing has been done to make the changes needed.
If you believe spearing needs to stop, here’s a petition to make your voice be heard.