By Louie Stout
If you boat in Michigan, you better take note of a new law that went into effect last month.
The newly-amended Michigan Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act now makes it an offense if you launch a boat in Michigan waters with any aquatic plant attached.
Violators face up to a $100 fine. The law is designed to help protect Michigan waters from the spread of aquatic invasive species.
In addition, you are required to remove all drain plugs from bilges, ballast tanks and livewells before leaving the ramp.
Also you can not release any baitfish in any waters of the state. If you collect your own baitfish, you must use it only in the waters where it was caught. All unused bait must be disposed of on land or in the trash.
The same applies to anglers who practice catch and release. You must release fish back in the waters, or connecting waters, where they were caught and not in another body of water.
Another bill presented to the Michigan legislature proposing to limit boating hours to 8 a.m. to sunset on Michigan waters couldn’t have been dumber.
Fortunately, the bill authored by Reps. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance and David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids, was to be altered before it could advance.
The bill sent shock waves through anglers who like to be on the water before daylight and often fish after dark. It didn’t do any favor for kayakers or pleasure boaters who enjoy the early morning calmness. And it really fired up pontoon boaters who enjoy late evening sunset cruises.
The proposal received intense backlash from the public and sportsmen groups shortly after it was introduced.
Sheppard made amends, saying his intent with the bill was to do away with individual lake restrictions that prohibit high-speed boating before 10 a.m. and after 6:30 p.m.
While his intent may be good (although some lake residents with high speed restrictions may disagree) the language in the bill had the opposite effect.
It’s still pending in the legislature.