Are 'carp boats' legal?

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:40 PM


Spring Lake Township Supervisor John Nash calls them “carp boats,” and a source of frustration for lakefront residents.

“They do not make any lakefront property owners happy,” he said. “And every time someone complains, they are told the boats are legal and nothing can be done.”

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Gerard Goulette said the practice does generate complaints from time to time, but they are considered legal fishermen and do provide a service by taking large numbers of invasive carp from local waterways.

Goulette said they are actually bowfishing, a legal method of fishing that certain species of fish are allowed to be taken using bow and arrow.

“One of the most common species taken this way is carp, hence people referring to them as ‘carp boats,’” the state conservation officer explained. “Even though people use bow and arrow, it is not hunting and treated in the law as fishing gear.”

Goulette said it is most effective for them to bowfish after dark so they don't have to contend with the glare of sunlight on the water. They use artificial lights to penetrate deep enough into the water to locate the fish.

“There can be a large amount of lights on the boats and it may disturb people in the middle of the night, as might the noise from the generators used to power the lights,” the DNR officer added.

CLICK HERE for the state rules on bow- and spearfishing.

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