New date set
DNR announces new sucker dipping season date
ARENAC COUNTY — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced the new sucker season start date will be on March 20, which will remain the start date through 2017.
The DNR hopes the new start date will realign the season with the same time the sucker run. According to data collected by the McLavy family in Omer, the sucker run occurred before the season started in all but two years in the decade preceding 2012.
According to a press release by the DNR, the change went into effect Feb. 7, when DNR Director Keith Creagh signed off on a netting regulations order. The DNR can review and amend the date on an annual basis, but there must be at least one review by Aug. 1, 2017.
Dip nets are also allowed for bowfin, carp, smelt, gar, goldfish, and gizzard shad under the new order.
Omer Councilman Larry Daly and Mayor Alice Sproule attended a meeting Jan. 8 in Bay City with DNR officials to add their input on a new date, and Daly told the Independent afterward that the DNR was leaning toward a date in the March 18-25 range.
“We should catch most of the run,” he said. “We were missing them by two weeks or so, so by the time (fishermen) were setting up for the run, it had already been going for two weeks by April 1.”
“There may be an odd year where the ice goes out around the second or third of March, but it shouldn’t happen too often,” he added.
The DNR did not want to set the start date before March 15, Daly said, because it did not want to overlap with the walleye season.
Rep. Joel Johnson (R-Clare) introduced a bill last fall to amend the sucker dipping start date after hearing concerns from people in Omer about how missing the date has affected businesses and activity in the area. The bill unanimously passed both branches of the state legislature, and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on Dec. 27.