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There is reason to believe that Michigan bass season may take on a new look next year.

Michigan is one of only four states with a closed bass season during the spawn. As it stands now, the season closes from Jan. 1 through the last Saturday in April after which a catch-and-release only season is offered until Memorial Day weekend. Michigan anglers aren’t permitted to “keep” bass until the holiday weekend each year.

However, a bill passed by the Michigan House and Senate paves the way to more liberal changes.

Those changes could come as early as next year.

New legislation approved last week takes the bass season authority away from lawmakers and puts it in the hands of the DNR’s Natural Resources Commission. The Senate approved the law 37-0 and the House 108-1.

What this means is that the DNR can be more flexible with its bass seasons and there is a move afoot to liberalize them. That could mean a year-round catch-and-release season or perhaps a shorter closed season.

Liberalizing the bass season has been controversial over the years even though studies have shown that protecting spawning bass isn’t necessary since most bass anglers practice catch-and-release throughout the season.

The change drew support from tourism officials who note that a more liberalized season would draw more fishermen to the state and make it possible for them to host national tournaments during the pre-spawn season.

Once the bill is signed by the governor (which is expected), the DNR and the Natural Resources Commission will examine options and take on public comments.

Let’s hope they at least expand the catch-and-release season to include the entire month of April!