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DNR reminds anglers of bait restrictions prior to upcoming Free Fishing Weekend

Contact: Gary Whelan, 517-284-5830 or Ed Golder, 517-284-5815
Agency: Natural Resources

Feb. 11, 2014

As the 2014 Winter Free Fishing Weekend (Feb. 15-16) approaches, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that the use of salmon eggs or minnows for bait is restricted in some waters as part of a continuing strategy to slow the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS).

Anglers who purchase minnows for bait should make sure they are certified as VHS-free. Certified disease-free bait is widely available and may be used anywhere for 14 days after purchase. Anglers no longer need to keep their bait receipts with them while using purchased bait.

The use of uncertified bait is restricted on where it can be used and can only be used for three days after purchase or collection.

  • Uncertified bait from the VHSv Free Management Areas can be used anywhere in the state.
  • Uncertified bait from VHSv Surveillance Areas can be only used in VHSv Surveillance or Positive Areas.
  • Uncertified bait from VHSv Positive Areas can only be used in VHSv Positive Areas and are those waters where VHS has been detected and confirmed.

All bait collected by anglers is considered uncertified bait. Information on what waters are in which VHSv Management Areas is in the fishing guide and online at

VHS is a viral disease that causes fish to die from internal bleeding and has caused mortalities among a number of species of fish in Michigan waters. The disease has been found in the Michigan waters of lakes Erie, Huron and Superior and has been detected in Lake Michigan, though not in Michigan waters. It has been found in at least two inland lakes - Budd Lake in Clare County and Baseline Lake in Washtenaw County.

"There is no known treatment for VHS," said DNR Fish Production Manager Gary Whelan, who monitors fish diseases for the department. "We must continue to educate anglers in an effort to prevent its spread."

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to

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