West Michigan Fish Notes
Highlights from the Ludington Regional Fisheries Workshop
On January 12, fisheries scientists and managers met with Lake Michigan anglers at the Ludington Regional Fisheries Workshop. Jay Wesley of MDNR discussed the decision to reduce Chinook salmon stocking by 50 percent in Lake Michigan for 2013 and gave reasons for reductions at each stocking site in Michigan waters (see full article and video). Chuck Madenjian of USGS provided an overview of declines in baitfish abundance and lake productivity that set the stage for the stocking decision (see stocking page).
Randy Claramunt of MDNR presented the most recent findings on natural reproduction of Lake Michigan Chinook salmon. The proportion of wild vs. hatchery salmon increases with the age of fish. This could be attributed to differences in mortality, maturation, or mixing of stocks or the movement of wild Lake Huron salmon into Lake Michigan.
The MDNR’s Statewide Angler Survey Program was explained by Tracy Kolb, who presented results of creel surveys at Ludington and on the Pere Marquette River. River surveys are not conducted on a regular basis, and this was the first study of angler effort and catch on the Pere Marquette since 1982 (see full article).
Brian Roth of MSU’s Quantitative Fisheries Center discussed his recent work modeling the effect of commercial fishing on Asian carp populations. His results suggested that commercial fishing will not be enough to control, much less eliminate, carp where they are established unless small and large bighead and silver carp are targeted. Current fishing effort focuses on large bighead carp for human consumption.
The Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) was introduced by GLOS Executive Director Jen Read, who gave audience members the opportunity to preview a Boater's Forecast tool for all Great Lakes waters. The tool integrates current, surface temperature, depth, wave, launch, and marina amenity data into Google maps in user-friendly format. Look for the tool on the GLOS website this spring.
Lake Trout Reproduction on the Rise in Lake Michigan
Lake trout were once the most abundant open-water predator in Lake Michigan, but sea lamprey predation and overfishing led to the collapse of wild Lake Michigan lake trout in the 1950s. Since that time, lake trout have been maintained by stocking with very little evidence of natural reproduction. That is, until now. Researchers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported capturing 88 unmarked lake trout over the past two years. Most of these wild fish were less than 20 inches long. Unmarked fish accounted for 14 percent of lake trout off of Door Peninsula and 20 percent of lake trout off of Milwaukee. Aging revealed that reproduction and recruitment were successful in each year from 2005 to 2010. Declining prevalence of alewife in adult lake trout diet is likely contributing to the increased survival of young.
Reference: Hanson, S.D, M.E. Holey, T.J. Treska, C.R. Bronte, and T. H. Eggebraaten. 2013. Evidence of wild juvenile lake trout recruitment in western Lake Michigan. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 33:186-191.
Ottawa County Study Finds Human Sewage Contamination at ‘No Risk’ Level in Grand River
The lower Grand River has an image problem when it comes to water quality, but recent monitoring of fecal indicator bacteria suggests that some of the Grand’s historic problems have been remedied. Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) from the City of Grand Rapids have been all but eliminated, but upstream sources remain and certain tributaries continue to contribute fecal contamination to the Grand River.
See Details on Study Results
Learn More About CSO Reductions
Making the Most of Online Water Temperature and Current Data for the 2013 Fishing Season
Salmon and trout in Lake Michigan often relate to specific water temperatures or edges where warm and cold water or conflicting currents meet. Savvy anglers have been using websites such as CoastWatch to plan trips and find fish for years — and online resources keep improving.
More on Finding and Interpreting Online Data
Charter Captains Can Now Access Training Videos Online
Presentations on safe fish handling for the Catch & Cook program, health issues that impact Coast Guard license renewal, and Drug & Alcohol Program compliance are now available on YouTube at the Michigan’s Charter Boat Industry playlist.