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Common Terms

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Artificial Lure: A manmade lure manufactured to imitate natural bait. Artificial lures include spoons, spinners, flies and plugs made of metal, plastic, wood and other non-edible materials. They also include plastic products made to resemble worms, eggs, fish and other aquatic organisms.

Cast Net: A net not exceeding 8 feet in diameter without walls or sides that is thrown to take minnows, alewife, smelt and shad in the Great Lakes and Connecting Waters.

Catch-and-Immediate-Release: The act of returning fish immediately to the water without injury and without holding in livewell.

Daily Possession Limit: The total number of fish, amphibians or reptiles that may be caught and retained in one day. See also Possession Limit.

Designated Trout Lake: Any lake so designated by the state that contains a significant population of trout or salmon. All Type A, all Type D, and those Type B* lakes marked with an asterisk (*) are designated trout lakes (see Inland Trout & Salmon Regulations and check FO-200 on the DNR website).

Designated Trout Stream: Any stream so designated by the state that contains a significant population of trout or salmon. All Type 1, all Type 2, all Gear Restricted Streams, some Type 3 and some Type 4 waters are designated trout streams (see Inland Trout & Salmon Regulations and check FO-210 on the DNR website).

Dip Net: a square net that is constructed from a piece of webbing of heavy twine, hung on heavy cord or frame so as to be without sides or walls, and suspended from the corners and attached in such a manner that when the net is lifted no part is more than 4 feet below the plane formed by the imaginary lines connecting the corners from which the net is suspended. As used in fishing, it shall be lowered and raised vertically as nearly as possible (also referred to as a drop net or umbrella net).

Dropper Line: A line in addition to the main fishing line that contains a hook. Dropper lines are usually attached to the main line.

Drop-shotting: using a weight suspended below a hook that is tied directly to the main fishing line.

Drowned River Mouth Lakes: An area of a river where it enters the Great Lakes. Considered inland waters and are listed in Note 3.

FO: Refers to a Fisheries Order issued by the DNR Director that implements fishing regulations. FO’s can be found online at or contact a DNR Customer Service Center in your area.

Great Lakes Connecting Waters: Specific bodies of water in Michigan that connect the Great Lakes. Designated connecting waters are L. St. Clair, St. Marys R., St. Clair R. (begins at the Fort Gratiot Light) and the Detroit R.

Hand Net and Landing Net: A mesh bag of webbing or wire, suspended from a circular, oval or rectangular frame attached to a handle. These are the most common fishing nets used in Michigan.

Hook: A single, double or treble pointed hook. All hooks, single, double or treble pointed and attached to a manufactured artificial lure shall be counted as 1 hook.

Inland Waters: All waters in Michigan EXCEPT the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Connecting Waters.

Lake Sturgeon Fishing Permit and Harvest Tag:The fishing permit and harvest tag are combined into one item and the name has been changed. They are free and legally required for all anglers who fish for lake sturgeon. The fishing permit is the upper portion and the harvest tag is the lower portion. Lake sturgeon harvest is limited to 1 per person per angling year (Apr. 1 – Mar. 31), where harvest is allowed. The permit/tag are non-transferable and are only available at license agents or DNR Service Centers. For more information see Lake Sturgeon Regulations.

Minnows: Chubs, shiners, dace, stonerollers, sculpins (muddlers), mudminnows and suckers of a size used for bait in hook-and-line fishing. See Lawful Methods and pages Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus Regulations.

Muskellunge Harvest Tag: The tag is free and legally required for anyone to harvest a muskellunge (including tiger muskellunge) in Michigan waters. Muskellunge harvest is limited to 1 per person per angling year (Apr. 1 – Mar. 31). The tag is non-transferable and is only available at license agents or DNR Service Centers. A muskellunge shall be immediately released or tagged with a validated muskellunge harvest tag.

Possession Limit: In addition to 1 day’s daily possession limit of fish, a person may possess an additional 2 daily possession limits of fish taken during previous fishing days provided that the additional limits of fish are processed (canned, cured by smoking or drying, or frozen). This provision does not apply to lake sturgeon or muskellunge. Anglers who have not attained the age of 17 are entitled to the possession limit even though they do not have a fishing license. A person fishing waters bordered by other states or provinces AND possessing multiple fishing licenses may possess the limit allowed for ONLY ONE license while in transit, but while fishing in Michigan waters, must comply with Michigan possession and size limits.

Protected Slot Limit: Prohibits the possession or harvest of fish that fall within a protected minimum and maximum size interval (see General Hook & Line Regulations.)

Snagging: Attempting to take fish in a manner that the fish does not take the hook voluntarily in its mouth. It is unlawful to snag a fish.

Trapping: Catching or taking fish by use of a device, such as a cage or net, designated to capture a fish or animal.

Weir: A fence or enclosure set in water to block or retain fish.

Marked and Tagged Fish


In evaluating fish stocks, the DNR often marks fish with a visible tag, an internal tag or fin clips. If you catch a tagged fish, please record the tag number and as much of the following information as possible: species, length, weight, sex, and the date and location caught. Enter the data online at or take it to the nearest drop off location (see, “Coded Wire Tags”). If releasing the fish, carefully remove and retain the tag from all species EXCEPT lake sturgeon. This will allow for more accurate recording of the tag number.


Many Great Lakes trout or salmon have been marked with a microscopic coded-wire tag implanted in the head of the fish. Fish with these tags can be identified by the absence ofthe adipose fin. If you catch and keep a trout or salmon with ONLY its adipose fin missing, that fish could have such a tag. Please record the species, length, weight, sex and the date and location caught, freeze only the head and take it to your nearest drop site location as indicated above.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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