President's Report

From the Desk of President Bill Winowiecki

The 2024 Charter season has started. Hearing really good reports of salmon up the West Coast of Lake Michigan. Lake Trout are plentiful from Frankfort north. We are actually seeing a bunch of smaller Lake Trout.

I want to welcome Jeff Panich to the position of Northern Lake Huron Director. Jeff runs Fish Cop Charters out of Harrisville. Jeff is a Michigan Conservation Officer, and is also a licensed Charter Captain. Jeff is replacing Rick Koecke who is stepping down. Rick has served as Northern Lake Huron Director for many years, and I want to thank him for his service and advocacy.

The Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources appeal to the tribal decree is still working through the process of affidavits and motions at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
The DNR Tribal Coordination unit along with the State fishing groups have created a new committee to make sure parameters and guidelines of the New Tribal Decree are being followed. The Tribal Co-management Citizens Advisory Committee (TCMFAC) was formed to advise, and give support or non-support to issues that may pop up in the Decree for the next 24 years. The committee met for the first time on April 18th 2024. I want to thank Central Lake Michigan Director Mark Williams for stepping up to chair this committee.

Sue and I attended the MSU Scholarship awards banquet at MSU. I want to congratulate Brandon Sprik, and Sarah Horger, on winning the Michigan Charter Boat Association Scholarship. These bright students are looking for a future in Natural Resources and Fisheries.
Recently I attended a meeting on the new Union Street dam and fish pass system in Traverse City. After many years of planning and court cases, the construction started last week. The goal is to remove the old Union Street dam, and construct a new dam with a state of the art fish pass system, that sorts out the species of fish which will be allowed to pass up the Boardman River. All native species will be allowed to pass and all others would be denied passage.
This is the first pass sorting system in the world. Natural Resources people from all over are involved and monitoring how this system will work for future fish pass system on other rivers. This project is fascinating and will be something to see once it is completed. We will be following its progress with much interest.

Commercial Fishing Bills

  • HB 5108 would reform commercial fishing on the Michigan great lakes and could greatly increase the take of sport fish in the future. This commercial fishing bill is designed to benefit the commercial fishing industry. The commercial fishers made a big push for Saginaw Bay Walleye at the Lake Huron Citizens Advisory Committee meeting. We refer to HB 5108 as the ‘bad’ fishing bill.
  • HB 5553 has also been introduced. It would also reform and modernize the commercial fishing act, and further, would continue to protect sport caught fish from commercial harvest. It has been approved by the MUCC. We refer to it as the ‘good’ fishing bill. We are monitoring it closely. As it advances through the legislature, the MUCC and the MCBA may be calling on our members for action in support of this important legislation.
The MCBA fall conference has been set for October 19th at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City Michigan. The conference is free for all MCBA members and will follow the one day conference format we used for the first time last fall. There will be coffee and donuts in the morning, and a nice lunch at mid-day. We are developing a very informative program and as usual there is always new information to be gained as changes in our business and in the environment occur every year. And as always, there will be opportunities to ask questions of those who make the news. If you are coming from out of town and wish to stay the night before or after, we have a block of rooms reserved which can be used by you and your family if you wish. All of the facilities and activities of the Great Wolf lodge would be available to you and your family. This is a great family entertainment location. You can call for reservations, at 1-888-478-9653. Reference Block code 2410MCBA. The rate is $250 for a Friday evening into Saturday. These rooms have to be reserved by September 18, 2024. Water Park passes are included with your room reservations. You can bring the kids or grandkids to use the water park while you are at the conference.
These are a few of the issues and events happening with our fishery and the MCBA. Even as our thoughts turn to fishing, you can be sure your MCBA officers and board members continue to work for you protecting and preserving our charter boat interests.
I hope the weather is safe all season long and you have a great summer.
Captain Bill Winowiecki
Vice President
Michigan Charter Boat Association