Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Thanked 17 Times in 17 Posts
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Re: Gill nets (Great Lakes)
Both gill nets and trap nets are legal for commercial use on the Great Lakes and are favored by those who target whitefish. However, both are almost always set so the nets themselves are well below the surface. Trap nets by definition are set directly on the bottom. Gill nets can be floating, suspended, or on the bottom, but most fishermen I'm aware of set them down in the water column on the Great Lakes. As such, the only real entanglement danger is from the buoy lines, which are obviously marked.
I've literally sailed directly over hundreds of these nets in Lake Michigan and have even hit multiple net buoys without a problem. In my experience, most of the buoys are fairly small and become easily hidden if there is any swell. Even if you do run over a buoy line, your keel will likely force it aside so it escapes entanglement on your prop or rudder. I'd be more concerned if I were one of the twin-screw powerboaters blowing through the fishing areas at high speed.
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