Living in Michigan, we’re lucky to be surrounded by the Great Lakes, thousands of inland lakes and many miles of rivers and streams. Enjoying our beaches, boating our lakes and rivers, and fishing our waterways is a summer tradition cherished by many Michigan families. I’m hopeful that you will find the time this year to enjoy some of the great outdoor recreation opportunities Michigan has to offer. However, it’s important to stay safe on the water as well. I hope the information on these pages will help you make the most of Michigan’s waterways this summer.
Summer Free Fishing Weekend
The summer Free Fishing Weekend is scheduled for June 13-14. All fishing license fees will be waived for two days. Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes waters for all species of fish. All fishing regulations will still apply. For more information visit, www.michigan.gov/freefishing.
Go Online for Fishing Regulations and a License
For information on fishing and to buy a fishing license, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.
To fish in any of our lakes, rivers and streams, you must have a fishing license if you are 17 years of age or older. Anyone under 17 can fish without a license, but must observe all fishing rules and regulations.
On this website, you can also read and download the Michigan Fishing Guide, which lists all rules, regulations, fishing seasons and more. The 2015 regulations are in effect through March 31, 2016.
Relaxing and cooling off at a pool or by the lake is a Michigan tradition – and a great way to get exercise. But lakes, pools and rivers can also be dangerous. Drowning is the leading unintentional cause of death for children ages 1-4, and an average of 390 children ages 14 and under drown in the U.S. each year, including two last year in Michigan.
Fortunately, there are safety precautions you can take to keep your children safe while still enjoying the water. Consider taking these steps:
- If you own a pool, be aware that Michigan state law requires a safety fence at least 4 feet tall with a self-closing gate around its perimeter. Check with your city, township or village hall for a complete set of pool enclosure requirements.
- If you have your own pool, add pool and gate alarms, so that you know when someone has entered the pool.
- Fit young and inexperienced swimmers with life jackets. Don’t rely on floatable toys for flotation support.
- Make sure an adult is watching anytime children are in water.
- Enroll children in basic swimming classes.
- Learn CPR and other first aid techniques.
Access State Parks with the Recreation Passport
Access to more than 100 state-owned properties – including state parks, state forest campgrounds and state trailhead parking – requires a recreation passport. Michigan drivers have the option of purchasing a passport when renewing their vehicle registration. You can also buy the passport at a Secretary of State office or a customer service center at state parks. Medal of Honor recipients, 100 percent disabled veterans and ex-POWs can enter parks without the passport.
For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.
Marine Safety Act Changes for Michigan Boaters
Boating is a popular pastime in our state, and to help visitors and residents safely enjoy our waters, changes to the Marine Safety Act recently came into effect. Several changes that will help protect recreation on our lakes in the years to come include:
- Requiring a vessel operator to comply with marine safety equipment requirements of the Department of Natural Resources or face a civil fine of $100.
- Requiring a person to wear a proper personal flotation device in order to be towed by a vessel.
- Extending laws regarding fleeing and eluding a police or conservation officer, including criminal penalties, to the operator of a vessel.
- New stipulations that a marine peace officer must have a reasonable and stated cause to believe that a watercraft is in violation of marine law in order to stop a boater and inspect the vessel. An officer may not stop a vessel solely to determine the number and adequacy of personal flotation devices.
The official Michigan boater safety handbook is available online at www.boat-ed.com/michigan/handbook.
Michigan conservation officers and county sheriffs encourage everyone who operates a boat to enroll in a boating safety course. Find a boating safety class in your area at www.dnr.state.mi.us/recnsearch.
Curbing Invasive Species
We must do all that we can to protect our waterways, wetlands and the natural beauty of Michigan. Unfortunately, some harmful visitors to our environment could pose a threat. That’s why House Democrats are working tirelessly to fight back against invasive species.
Invasive species, such as sea lamprey, are introduced to Michigan’s lakes, rivers and streams through various ways, such as being transported by boat’s ballast water traveling the waterways, hitching a ride in firewood, or being introduced to the ecosystem deliberately by those dumping the species to get rid of it, rather than disposing of it properly.
This term, House Democrats will again introduce legislation to take the extra steps needed to protect our beautiful and delicate ecosystem and ensure that Michigan can continue to be enjoyed by all.