2022 Spring Presidents Report

From the Helm . . .

As I write this, a snowstorm is blowing through. The spring charter season is only a short month or two away. I am still hoping Traverse Bay will freeze soon so we can get in some hard water fishing for cisco and lake trout before the thaw begins.

Hopefully, COVID-19 is winding down and life can get back to somewhat normal. The sad part is that I, like so many others, have lost some very close friends to the virus. My son works at Munson Medical Center Hospital as a nurse. They are so short-handed that he has been working 12-14 hour days. He also has had to take on more on-call duty due to the short staffing.

By now, you should have received a packet from the DNR detailing the required transition to all on-line reporting. You should have also received emails from the MCBA describing how we attempted to work with the DNR, as required by the Charter Boat Act, to reach a fairer solution. Not everybody has internet access, and some of our members are not as tech savvy as others. The DNR refused our attempts to resolve the issues by negotiations, as we believe is required by our understanding of the Charter Boat Act. The DNR proceeded to issue the new rules over our objections. Under the new regulations there is supposed to be an option to keep using the paper forms if you meet the criteria that have established, however, it seems that there will be very few exceptions allowed. The DNR appears to be using its overwhelming authority to require all Captains to conform to its new reporting procedures despite our concerns.

Donna Wesander was the person in charge of charter boat reporting for the DNR for many years. Donna will retire at the end of April. She has earned a well-deserved break from the huge job she did so well. She will be very missed. The MCBA wishes her the very best in her retirement. Donna’s skill and personal friendliness was greatly appreciated by everyone. We always enjoyed meeting with her, and her reports at our annual meetings were always a high point in our program. She was always willing to answer the phone; she could and would talk pleasantly with any Captain. She would work with any Captain in the most pleasant way; helping and guiding them through the reporting system. We hope her replacement will be just as considerate. He or She have very big boots to fill.

My own boat is due for two inspections this spring. Dry dock and Dock Side. Be sure to pay attention to your own inspection situation. I spoke with Patrick Gerber, who does the dry dock inspections in our area. He noted that you would now need a working carbon monoxide detector installed on board if you have a closed bow or cuddy. Also, do not forget to check the expiration dates on your flares. They expire after three years. Expired flares will not be accepted and must be replaced. Also, check for working batteries in your life jacket lights and your water light. Test then to make sure they are in working condition. Just a few friendly reminders.

The Tribal Decree negotiations are still dragging on. I know I sound like a broken record. There is now a new extension of the Decree signed in 2000 until June 30, 2022. There may be additional court hearings before that. These negotiations are very time consuming, and at times,

Due to confidentiality agreements, we had to sign to participate in the negotiations; we have not been able to give any real updates on the negotiations for two and a half years. I am concerned that issues are being discussed, and decisions are being made behind closed doors that are going to be harmful to the charter boat industry and the sport fishing community. We are including with this issue an article printed in the Leelanau Enterprise written by Alan Campbell. I hope you will read and consider what he has written.

The Lake Michigan Citizens Advisory meeting will be held in Clare, at Jay’s Sporting Goods on April 5, 2022. It starts at 10:00 a.m. The next Lake Huron Citizens Fishery Advisory Committee meeting will be held at Jay’s in Clare on April 26, beginning at 10 AM. The Lakes Erie and St. Claire Citizens Advisory Committee meeting will be held by Zoom on March 22nd from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. Contact Jim Felgenauer or Jim Francis for details. It should be noted that these advisory meetings are open meetings. Anyone can attend, and listen to the reports and discussions, but voting is limited to the designated committee members. The very latest information known to the DNR is usually presented and discussed at these meetings.

The next MCBA board meeting is scheduled for April 24th in Clare at the Doherty Hotel. It also starts at 10:00 a.m. Please contact me if you are interested in attending. As in the case of the advisory meetings, MCBA board meetings are open to any MCBA member who wishes to attend.

Looking forward to spring!

Happy Easter

Captain Bill Winowiecki
Michigan Charter Boat Association