May 8, 2013
The 1896 book Myths and Legends of our Own Land by Charles M. Skinner relates a rather gruesome version of the tale of the origin of Whitefish, which this photo reminded me of.
An Indian who lived far in the north was so devoted to the chase that he was never at home for the whole of a day, to the sorrow of his two boys, who liked nothing so much as to sport with him and to be allowed to practise with his weapons. Their mother told them that on no account were they to speak to him of the young man who visited the lodge while their father was away, and it was not until they were well grown and knew what the duty of wives should be that they resolved to disobey her. The hunter struck the woman dead when he learned of her perfidy. So greatly did her spirit trouble them, however, that they could no longer abide in their old home in peace and comfort, and they left the country and journeyed southward until they came to the Sault Sainte Marie.
As they stood beside the falls a head came rolling toward them on the earth—the head of the dead woman. At that moment, too, a crane was seen riding on the surface of the water, whirling about in its strongest eddies, and when one of the boys called to it, “O Grandfather, we are persecuted by a spirit; take us across the falls,” the crane flew to them. “Cling to my back and do not touch my head,” it said to them, and landed them safely on the farther shore.
But now the head screamed, “Come, grandfather, and carry me over, for I have lost my children and am sorely distressed,” and the bird flew to her likewise. “Be careful not to touch my head,” it said. The head promised obedience, but succumbed to curiosity when half-way over and touched the bird’s head to see what was the matter with him. With a lurch the crane flung off his burden and it fell into the rapids. As it swept down, bumping against the rocks, the brains were pounded out and strewn over the water. “You were useless in life,” cried the crane. “You shall not be so in death. Become fish!” And the bits of brain changed to roe that presently hatched to a delicate white fish, the flesh whereof is esteemed by Indians of the lakes, and white men, likewise. The family pitched a lodge near the spot and took the crane as their totem or name-mark. Many of their descendants bear it to this day.
The version I read in one of my all-time favorite books, Lore of the Great Turtle : Indian Legends of Mackinac Retold by Dirk Gringhuis is pretty dark as well. Michigan in Pictures has a post with all the information about Sandhill Cranes in Michigan, and you can also check out Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) from the Michigan DNR.
More birds on Michigan in Pictures.
January 31, 2013
Judas test: Will carp betray their own? on the Great Lakes Echo says that University of Minnesota researchers are working to put a new tool in the arsenal of those seeking to thwart the voracious and invasive Asian carp.
The researchers are fitting common carp, or “Judas fish,” with transmitters to lead them to other, larger schools of common carp, the station reports.
“(Carp) seem to be actually exceptionally social, they really hang out together,” researcher Peter Sorensen told the station. “We have to confirm that, but it sure looks that way.”
Watch the report from CBS Minnesota to learn how researchers hope to use the same technique to locate Asian carp populations for extermination.
More fish on Michigan in Pictures.
August 20, 2012
“We’re healing one of Mother Earth’s arteries. I think she’s been hurting for a long time.”
~Hank Bailey, Grand Traverse Band Natural Resources Official
The Boardman River watershed encompasses 291 square miles and flows 179 miles from its origin in Kalkaska County to West Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City. Last Wednesday, the process of removing three no longer used hydro-electric dams from the Boardman began at Brown Bridge Dam. The removal of the three Boardman River dams (Brown Bridge, Sabin & Boarman) will be the largest dam removal project in Michigan’s history, and the largest wetlands restoration in the Great Lakes Basin. It will allow the Boardman to return to a more natural state as a free-flowing, cold-water river. You can read all about the dam removal on the Boardman River website which explains:
The Boardman River was formed after the last retreat of glaciers covering Northern Michigan approximately 10,000 years ago. The proto-Boardman River was a tributary of the Manistee River and flowed south to Lake Michigan. The course of the river changed as early headwaters streams cut through glacial deposits and joined with the proto-Boardman River. This allowed the Boardman River to flow north and empty into Grand Traverse Bay. Glacial deposits, in particular the Kalkaska series soil, are responsible for the high quality of the Boardman River.
…Americans living in the area knew the River by another name. They valued the river as an important transportation route as well as a source of sustenance. Early European settlers called the river the “Ottawa” after the local band of Native Americans. Things changed when Captain Harry Boardman came to the area around 1848, established a sawmill, and acquired timber rights for the area. Captain Boardman stored logs for his sawmill in a natural lake on the Ottawa River, which became known as “Boardman’s Lake.” In time, the entire river became known as the “Boardman River.” In 1852 Captain Boardman sold his timber rights to the real timber barons of time, Perry Hanna & Tracy Lay. The Boardman River played a vital role in the economic growth of the region as it was cleared of debris in order to drive logs downriver to the mills. This process fueled a growing city but was devastating to the river’s aquatic habitat, contributing to the extirpation of Michigan Grayling in the river. After the logging era, several dams were constructed to provide power for the growing needs of Traverse City. These hydroelectric dams originally supplied a large percentage of the city’s electrical needs, but this declined over time. Before being decommissioned in 2005, these dams only provided 3.4% of the power used by Traverse City Light & Power customers each year.
Of approximately 179 miles of stream in the Boardman River Watershed, 36 are designated as “Blue Ribbon” trout habitat. These areas, located upstream of the Beitner Road crossing are premier fish habitat and important to anglers. Boardman River anglers have an important economic impact on the region. The entire watershed is also used for activities such as canoeing, tubing, kayaking, hiking, hunting, and bird watching. These uses make it a destination for an estimated 2 million Recreational User Days annually.
This project seems to me to be an excellent example of “government done right” – an adequately funded effort that leverages a wide range of scientific experts to protect property owners while restoring a natural resource to its natural state. There’s also a Boardman River Prosperity Plan that will seek to turn a solid environmental decision into a sound economic one was well.
Also see this feature on IPR News Radio and a cool video about the dam removals produced for The Grand Vision Natural Resource Network by Miles Chisholm of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The video includes some great old photos of activity on the river.
May 30, 2012
Lota is an ancient name for this fish, which has many common names. These include lawyer, eelpout, cusk, and freshwater cod. The last name is appropriate, because the burbot is a member of the cod family. Although sometimes referred to as dogfish, Michiganders more commonly use that name for the unrelated bowfin.
The burbot is a winter spawner, moving into shallows at night and often spawning under the ice. Burbot can spawn in lakes or streams. Small burbot (up to a foot long) are often common in cold and cool streams, although they are rarely encountered by anglers. Burbot are typically nocturnal, and feed during the dead of night. Divers in Lake Michigan often find adult burbot resting in rocky crevices during the daytime. Large adults are common catches while ice fishing in some lakes.
The burbot is not likely to win any beauty contests. Looking like a cross between a cod and an eel, this fish also has the odd habit of wrapping its slimy tail around the hand or arm of unsuspecting anglers when caught. Perhaps because of its appearance, the burbot has never been a popular sport or commercial species in Michigan.
The flesh of burbot is white, firm, mild in flavor, and as boneless as walleye or bass. This freshwater cod is most often prepared as ‘Poor Man’s Lobster” by steaming chunks of meat and dipping in drawn butter. They are also excellent when fried.
You can read today’s Weird Wednesday on Absolute Michigan that extolls the virtues of the burbot. This article from the Great Lakes Echo in 2010 doesn’t have a whole lot good to say about burbot, but it’s interesting to see how native fish in the lake can have an effect on pond-raised lake trout. In case you’re fearing the water a little more, consider that Wikipedia notes that the world record burbot weighed just a scale over 25 pounds. Michigan’s state record burbot, caught in 1980 from Munuscong Bay in the Upper Peninsula, weighed 18.25 pounds.
Christopher writes that Grand Traverse Bay is shockingly warm this year, with temps already between 57 and 63 degrees.
As for the Burbot. The pic was actually taken on May 25th a few years back. I was diving Elmwood – aka the Greilickville Park – and thought I saw something. I made a pass at about 15 feet of depth to get a better view and spotted a huge burbot. I dove on it with the camera in video mode, expecting it to spook. It didn’t and I was sort of alarmed to find myself mere inches from probably the weirdest looking fish I’d ever seen. I switched the camera to still mode, as I lay on the bottom at 36 feet, and took several shots of it’s amazing face. At about 3:34 in this video you can see the approach dive. For the record, I have never, before or since, seen a burbot that weird looking.
This Saturday (June 2, 2012) the Kingsley Library hosts the 1st Annual Adams Fly Festival. They will have northern Michigan fly rod maker R.W. Summers on hand (click for an interview with him on Absolute Michigan today). There will also be fly tying lessons, a silent auction with some great items, music, food and an original Adams fly on display.
In The Adams: History Revisited in Hatches magazine, Tom Deschaine writes that the Adams fly is probably the most famous fly in all of history.
It’s carried in the fly boxes of fishermen in every country where trout are found. It would probably be an understatement to claim that the Adams fly, with all its variations, has collectively caught more trout then any other fly pattern in existence. It can be used in a variety of waters, and, with its brownish-grayish coloration it imitates generally acceptable food items found almost anywhere in trout fishing environments. Most fishermen would agree that if they were allowed to use only one dry fly pattern — it would be the Adams (or some variation there of).
The story of the Adams begins just 12 miles south of Traverse City, Michigan, off County Road 611 in the small township of Mayfield. It was here, in 1922, at the Mayfield Pond where Leonard Halladay created the famous Adams fly.
Leonard Halladay (1872-1952) was originally from New York but his family, lured by the lumber industry, migrated to Mayfield when Leonard was just a young boy. As a growing young man he would see the last of the grayling and brook trout whose demise was brought about by over fishing, and habitat destruction from the logging industry. It was around this time when Michigan began introducing the German brown trout to its rivers.
…The historically accepted story goes on to say that on a summer’s day in 1922 at the impoundment of Swainston Creek known as the Mayfield Pond, Mr. Halladay said: “The first Adams I made I handed to Mr. Adams who was fishing in a small pond in front of my house, to try on the Boardman that evening. When he came back next morning, he wanted to know what I called it. He said it was a ‘knock-out’ and I said we would call it the Adams, since he had made the first good catch on it.”
Mike Cline took the photo and tied the fly. Click through to see it bigger.
May 15, 2012
Today is the opening day of walleye season in Michigan. I couldn’t find a good walleye photo, but even though Pearl Lake isn’t on the list of top walleye lakes in Michigan, I thought it captured the mood perfectly! Much more at Michigan Walleye on Absolute Michigan.
February 17, 2012
Two times a year, the State of Michigan has free fishing weekends, once in the summer (Jun 9 & 10, 2012) and once this weekend (Feb 18 & 19). All fishing regulations still apply, but fishing license fees are waived for residents and out-of-state visitors who can fish on both inland and Great Lakes’ waters for all species of fish.
All over the state there are special fishing events including the Ellsworth Shiverfest in Antrim County, the Winter Festival at the Bay City State Recreation Area, the Dam to Dam Ice Fishing Contest in Newaygo, the Higgins Lake WinterFest and the Free Fishing Weekend Special Event at Brighton Recreation Area.
You can get more on the weekend and some ice fishing videos on Absolute Michigan.
Catch more fish & fishing on Michigan in Pictures!
November 25, 2011
Three Trout, Photo by Christopher Morey
The Watershed Center advocates for clean water in Grand Traverse Bay and protects its 1,000-square-mile watershed across Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim and Kalkaska counties. Today’s photo by Christopher Morey was the winning shot from their 2011 photography contest. You can see a few at that link and see all of them and meet the photographers at the Art of the Watershed opening reception next Thursday (Dec 1) from 5-8 PM.
This picture was taken near the end of October off the north breakwall of Clinch Marina. In fall, as water temps drop into the upper forties, the Lake Trout come in to spawn. They are quite challenging subjects for photography, requiring very long, completely motionless breathholds in cold water.
I spent quite a bit of time observing these fish before I finally figured out how to get near them with some consistency. My first attempt at implementing my strategy took place at the cooling intake cribs from the old power plant, about 300 yards off the open space and about 33 feet deep.
With a school barely in sight near one of the cribs I dove directly down. Kicking perhaps 3 times with my monofin, I let myself slowly glide the remaining distance; like a carp settling to the bottom. The sight of me disappearing behind the crib was too much for them and two large Lake Trout appeared overhead, quickly swimming very close. (click this photo by Alicia Higham to see it bigger)
The one I got the best shot of was so close it would not fit in my wide-angle lens.
Since then I’ve noticed, usually about once a year, that they sometimes inexplicably come very close, as if recognizing me. I wonder about this, since these are always older fish and since they live to be nearly 30.
November 5, 2011
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
~Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968
Michigan has 16 nationally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers (management plan pdf) . Two of them are called the Sturgeon River: this one in the Ottawa National Forest in the eastern UP and the Sturgeon River in the Hiawatha National Forest in the western UP. This Sturgeon River is even the photo on the main page at rivers.gov, so it’s clear that they really liked it!!
Also note that Field & Stream tapped Michigan #1 for flyfishing in the USA in 2011. One of the reasons is the portion of the Sturgeon River within the Ottawa National Forest is classified as a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream!
September 13, 2011
Michigan has two species of salmon, Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). I’m thinking this is a chinook as it looks like the spots are all the way down the tail fin. The DNR says (in part):
The salmon family, or Salmonidae, includes the salmon, trout, and whitefishes. All are characterized by adipose fin, and have a preference for cold water with a high oxygen content, making the Great Lakes an ideal habitat.
The chinook is a fairly new variety of salmon introduced into the Great Lakes in the 1870s. Sometimes called “King Salmon”, these fish did not reproduce successfully and eventually disappeared. In 1966, Great Lakes states Michigan, New York and Wisconsin, with the help of the province of Ontario reintroduced the Chinook. Great Lakes populations of Chinook are maintained by annual stream stocking programs
Chinook live in Great Lakes shoals or near-shoal waters (less than 100 foot depth(s)) as a rule. In the fall they move into the southern reaches of each of the great lakes, traveling 5-15 miles offshore as they go. In the spring they retrace their route and by the following fall, they congregate at the stream they began their journey at and begin their spawning runs upriver.
…Chinook spawn in streams over beds of large gravel, near riffles. Within two weeks after spawning, adult chinook die. Chinook compete with other salmon and trout for scarce spawning grounds. The following spring the eggs hatch, and the young usually remain in the river for one year before they migrate down to the lake.
Once in the lake, males tend to remain for 1-2 years and females for 3-4 years. The King Salmon average a weight of 30 to 40 pounds and 38 inches in length.
Young chinook in rivers eat insects, insect larvae and crustaceans; adults in the lakes eat fish almost exclusively. In the Great Lakes, smelt and alewives make up their main diet. Predators include rainbow trout, coho salmon smolts and fish-eating birds. The young also compete with trout and other salmon for food.
Anglers prize chinook partly because of their large size and the challenge they present for fishing, and partly because they make a delicious meal. While other pacific salmon species have red flesh, chinook meat is often white.
Speaking of salmon, the annual Grand Haven Salmon Festival takes place this weekend (September 16-18, 2011). It pays tribute to the annual salmon migration and features hands-on learning, education and exhibits about Michigan’s coastal waterways. There’s also arts, crafts, live music, wine, food and all kinds of family fun!
More Michigan fish on Michigan in Pictures!