The Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are reminding spring anglers to exercise caution and use river etiquette while out steelheading this spring. Many of the state’s rivers are experiencing high water due to the significant recent rainfall and spring run-off.
“Spring means anglers are out in search of steelhead, but it also means high and fast-moving water on many of our river systems,” said Lt. Dave Shaw, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in Cadillac. “We are asking anglers to use extra caution this spring due to the significant recent rainfall and snow melt.”
In the past few years, the DNR has had to perform several water rescues in the spring due to dangerous high water.
Shaw also said that anglers should keep in mind that a slow, “no wake” speed is appropriate river etiquette. Boat operators who cause high wakes that push water over banks and onto private property or who swamp other boats are responsible for their wake and any damages it causes.
“Water is a force that can cause property damage, particularly bank erosion, for homeowners on rivers,” Shaw noted. “It is proper river etiquette to pass private property and other boats at a slow speed, creating less of a wake, to reduce the risk of damage.”
Fishing guides on the Muskegon River have developed protocols using hand signals to let other boats know when it is safe to pass, Shaw said. They will give a “thumbs up” sign when it is safe to pass their boat. Knowing the hand signals before you go out is important. Boat operators who are unsure should slow down when approaching any boat on a river.
“The most important thing is that we want everyone to have a safe and fun experience while out steelhead fishing,” Shaw said. “Using caution in high water on the river helps everyone – the angler, the property owner and others out enjoying spring.”