Michigan's Department of Natural Resources(DNR) Fisheries Division has proposed to establish a new trout stream category. Currently, there are four categories of trout streams; this proposed additional category is referred to as a Type 5 trout stream. This effort is in response to requests from anglers to increase the daily possession limit on brook trout across the Upper Peninsula.
On Type 5 stream segments, the daily possession limit for brook trout would be 10 fish and the minimum size limit would be 7 inches. All or portions of 10 Upper Peninsula (UP) rivers and tributary streams are being proposed for the Type 5 category and have been selected from existing Type 1 streams (which have a daily possession limit of five fish and 7-inch minimum size limit).
The eastern brook trout (salvelinus fontinalis) is the predominant char species in nearly all UP streams and rivers. Most brook trout populations are dominated by pan-sized fish (6-12") and the occasional, broad-shouldered bruiser. If this proposed category becomes reality, continued study of both population and average fish size will be necessary to determine whether the increased take of brook trout causes selected recruitment size issues, or benefits the population as a whole by reducing stunting and allowing remaining fish more food and habitat.
Streams with waters included in the proposal are: Bryan Creek (Marquette and Dickinson counties), Dead River (Marquette County), Driggs River (Schoolcraft County), East Branch Ontonagon River (Houghton and Iron counties), East Branch Tahquamenon River (Chippewa County), Ford River (Dickinson and Iron counties), North Branch Otter River (Houghton County), Rock River (Alger County), Upper Tahquamenon River (Luce County) and West Branch Huron River (Baraga County).
Proposed Type 5 streams would constitute 6 percent of the current Type 1 stream mileage. If approved in November by the DNR director, then the proposed regulation would go into effect on April 1, 2013. During the next several years, Fisheries Division will work with a variety of partners to assess the biological effects of the possession limit increase on the brook trout populations in Type 5 streams.
It's important to point out that NO streams proposed for the Type 5 category are accessible to "coaster" brook trout from the Great Lakes. In recent years, rehabilitation of lake-run brook trout populations has attracted considerable interest among resource agencies, conservation groups and anglers, and a variety of measures have been taken to protect these populations. These “coasters” are a life history variant that lives in coastal areas of the northern Great Lakes, and are not a genetically distinct strain or sub-species. The DNR will be proposing future work in this area of brook trout management.
More information, in the form of maps and written descriptions of upstream (where applicable) and downstream boundaries for the proposed Type 5 regulation are available at: www.michigan.gov/fishing.