CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is making changes to yellow perch regulations on Lake Michigan to reflect the wishes of perch anglers while continuing to protect the lake’s perch fishery. For the first time since 2001, perch fishing will be open during the month of July, the most popular month for perch angling. The number of fish allowed per angler remains at 15 per day. Starting in 2015, yellow perch fishing will close from May 1 to June 15 to further safeguard the spawning stock. Illinois perch anglers have indicated support for a spring closure to protect pre-spawn and spawning perch from harvest.
IDNR Director Marc Miller announced the new administrative rule is effective today.
“Perch anglers told us they want to be able to fish during the month of July, and this regulation change is intended to provide that opportunity,” Miller said. “We listened to anglers and experts alike during the Lake Michigan Yellow Perch Summit held March 22, 2014 in Chicago, and this rule change was developed as a result of that meeting.”
Director Miller initiated the Yellow Perch Summit in 2013 after writing to other natural resources agencies seeking support for a refocusing of management efforts on Lake Michigan yellow perch. The number of yellow perch available to anglers and commercial fishing operations peaked in the mid-1980s, declined precipitously in the early 1990s, and has remained low since that time. Commercial harvest was reduced in the mid-1990s and closed in all Lake Michigan jurisdictions except for Green Bay by 1997.
Invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels have altered Lake Michigan’s food web, removing the microscopic plants and animals many fish rely on during the early life stages of their existence. As a result, fewer fish are surviving to adulthood, and yellow perch have not rebounded to levels seen in the mid-1980s.
“Illinois’ regulations are part of a multi-jurisdictional approach to managing yellow perch in Lake Michigan,” said IDNR Lake Michigan Program Manager Vic Santucci. “We work with other state natural resources agencies to develop policies that promote recreation and protect this valuable resource. We also take into account the local abundance of yellow perch, spawning habitat available, and the number of anglers in the Chicago region with access to the lake when we set season dates and daily limits for Illinois.”
To see a summary of the Lake Michigan Yellow Perch Summit, visit: http://www.glfc.org/lakecom/lmc/Lake_Michigan_Yellow_Perch_Summit_Report_2014.pdf
For more information on the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, visit: http://www.glfc.org/