Fishermen facing unique challenges

Anglers are facing restrictions when it comes to fishing. (Herald Review photo)

Anglers are facing restrictions when it comes to fishing. (Herald Review photo)

BIG RAPIDS -- Fishing has been in the news lately, and not just for where the anglers are catching them.

Where and how anglers can fish, given the restrictions imposed by the governors office, has been rising a lot of questions.

Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell told a Pioneer news reporter earlier this week his office may not be strictly enforcing some aspects of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order.

On Wednesday, four other northern Michigan sheriffs, including in Manistee, Benzie, Leelanau and Mason counties, announced they will not have strict enforcement of the executive order and will instead deal with each case individually as well.

Among the parts of the order is banning the use of all motorized boats for recreational purposes, including motorboats and jet skis. It does, however, allow for non-motorized boating, such as kayaking, canoeing and sailing.

"It is difficult to tell an elderly man he can't take his boat and go fishing when he lives on a lake," Purcell said.

Locally, at the Morley Pond, "there's a little bit of shore fishing," Tom Vernon, at Frank's Sporting Goods in Morley, said. "They're catching a few, but there's so much stuff shut down by the DNR. They're still getting some steelhead at Croton Dam along with the Hesperia Dam in Hesperia. On just about any inland lake from the shoreline, they can catch fish."

A spokesman at Triggertime Outfitters, in Big Rapids also said fishing activity has been light.

"Everyone is ticked off with what (Governor) Whitmer said about motor boats," he said. "She had said you can only use something like row boats and canoes. We haven't had much going on for fishing stuff. It's mostly guns and ammo. The weather isn't ideal now (for fishing)"

Avid angler Jeff Greene, of Rodney, came up with a different solution.

"I reluctantly removed my motor from the boat and went to Haymarsh Lake on Saturday (April 11)," he said. "My wife and I rowed around and caught all the bluegills we wanted. Sunday afternoon I rowed around Hillview Lake and caught all I wanted. This cold snap will keep me home for a few days but I have supplied a couple of widows with fish and we are having them tonight at our house."

In Manistee County, avid angler Bob Guenthardt said it's been slow.

"There's been guys on the pier and that pretty much might be it," he said. "I'm guess there's some fishing at the Little Manistee River. That's about it."

Larry Scharich, of Shipwatch Marina in Manistee, noted charter fishing is not allowed under the current restrictions.

"They've put a clamp on most of it," he said. "You can fish from shore but all motorized boats are on hold. Most people have motorized boats."

The Frankfort Tackle Box has been closed, noted owner Christine Murphy, who indicated the announcement by sheriffs in her area could have an impact on fishing.