A fish disease known as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) was discovered in Michigan waters. In an attempt to slow the spread of fish diseases like VHS, the following regulations have been put into place. NOTE: the regulations in effect concern only those species listed as VHS Susceptible Fish Species. Be sure to check michigan.gov/vhs for the most up-to-date regulations and information.
- Baitfish – live or dead species of fish, or parts of fish excluding roe, that are used by anglers to catch fish.
- Baitfish and Roe Exclusion Zone – waters designated as critical to hatchery operations where possession and use of baitfish and roe as defined is susceptible.
- Certification Process – a process used by the DNR to grant or deny applications from individuals who want to conduct certain activities that are regulated by the department.
- Susceptible Fish Species – Baitfish and other species of fish identified by the department as susceptible to being infected with VHS.
- Roe – eggs of fish.
- VHS Free Management Area – VHS has not been in these waters: Lake Superior and all Inland waters in the watersheds of Lake Superior. All Inland waters in the watersheds of Lake Michigan except for those listed under the VHS Surveillance Area below.
- VHS Positive Management Area – VHS has been confirmed in these waters: Lake Huron including Saginaw Bay, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, and Lake Erie. All tributaries to Lake Huron including Saginaw Bay, to the St. Clair River, to Lake St. Clair, to the Detroit River, and to Lake Erie in their entirety or from their confluence upstream to the first barrier that prevents the upstream passage of fish if such a barrier exists. VHS has been documented in Budd Lake (Clare County) and Base Line Lake (Livingston and Washtenaw Counties).
- VHS Surveillance Management Area – VHS has not been found in these waters but the likelihood of detection is high: Lake Michigan including Grand Traverse bays and bays de Noc, and the St. Marys River. All tributaries to Lake Michigan including Grand Traverse bays and bays de Noc, and to the St. Marys River in their entirety or from their confluence upstream to the first barrier that prevents the upstream passage of fish if such a barrier exists. All Inland Waters in the watersheds of Lake Huron including Saginaw Bay, of the St. Clair River, of Lake St. Clair, of the Detroit River, and of Lake Erie, except for those tributaries to Lake Huron including Saginaw Bay, to the St. Clair River, to Lake St. Clair, to the Detroit River, and to Lake Erie that are classified as a VHS Positive Management Area.
Baitfish and Roe Exclusion Zones
The following locations are vital to hatchery operations and require greater protection. Therefore, baitfish and roe shall not be used or possessed on the following waters:
Benzie County: Brundage Cr. and tribs., Kinney Cr. and Stanley Cr., from its confluence with the Platte R. (T26N, R13W, S7), to their headwaters, including Brundage Spring Pond.
Chippewa County: Pendills L. (T47N, R4W, S25, 26) including tributary Pendills Cr. downstream to its confluence with L. Superior (T47N, R4W, S28). Sullivan Cr. from its headwaters (T46N, R4W, S32) downstream to its confluence with the N. Br. of the Pine R. (T45N, R4W, S23). Viddian Cr. from its headwaters (T47N, R4W, S32) downstream to its confluence with Pendills Cr. (T47N, R4W, S28).
Marquette County: Cherry Cr. from the location of the Cherry Creek Rd. (T47N, R24W, S18) to the headwaters at County Rd 480 (T47N, R25W, S22).
Susceptible Fish Species for VHS
- Black crappie
- Bluntnose minnow
- Brown bullhead
- Brown trout
- Channel catfish
- Chinook salmon
- Cisco (lake herring)
- Coho salmon
- Emerald shiner
- Freshwater drum
- Gizzard shad
- Lake whitefish
- Largemouth bass
- Northern pike
- Pacific herring
- Pink salmon
- Rainbow trout
- Rock bass
- Round goby
- Shorthead redhorse
- Silver redhorse
- Smallmouth bass
- Spottail shiner
- Trout perch
- White bass
- White perch
- White sucker
- Yellow perch
The VHS regulations below only concern use of those fish species (and their associated roe) that are listed as Susceptible Fish Species for VHS (as indicated above). Therefore, use of all other fish species as bait (and their associated roe) is not covered by these regulations.
General Statewide Provisions
- A person shall not stock baitfish, live fish or roe in public waters of the state prior to receiving a Fish Stocking Permit from the department and the permit must be in possession when transporting and stocking the fish. It is unlawful to import any uncertified baitfish species found on the list of Susceptible Fish Species. This also is a violation of the federal order.
- Fish caught in a waterbody should only be released into the waterbody where originally caught and not transferred into another location where the fish could not have freely moved to.
- A person shall not use or release baitfish in any public waters of the state, unless the baitfish are attached to a hook. Use of roe is restricted per the specific regulations outlined in the Management Area Regulations for Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHS).
- A person who trailers a boat over land shall drain all water from the live well(s) and the bilge of their boat upon leaving any body of water.