“I grew up hearing stories about how great fishing was just five years ago. It’s sad, knowing that I’ll most likely never be able to experience the amazing fish that these waters used to have … that these rivers will never be what they used to be.”
-Michigan angler Landen Finkel
The above quotation & photo are from an excellent Circle of Blue article on the impact of climate change on our nation’s trout streams. It’s a great read with a focus on Michigan that I hope you can check out:
In some places, the effects of climate change manifest as immediate catastrophe. Violent storms. Extreme heat. Deep drought. On the Au Sable, the threat is a slow burn. Intensifying weather patterns have gradually added stress to the ecosystem, chipping away at wildlife’s ability to adapt. As the atmosphere continues to warm, severe weather events have gone from occasionally urgent to relentless assault.
“The guides of the Au Sable, we’re on the front lines,” (Au Sable River Guide) David McCool said. “Just a small change in temperature can have a massive impact on this resource. We need to make sure we still take care of it, as things change in our environment.”
Ecologically speaking, fish are the canary in the coal mine. Trout are an indicator species in the Au Sable ecosystem, meaning that their well-being reflects the health of the ecosystem. “Healthy trout is indicative that the whole system is healthy,” said Randy Claramount, a biologist with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources. Likewise, unhealthy populations are an alarm bell: the poor water quality conditions that cause trout to suffer are likely also stressing invertebrates and other biota.
“You start piling these things on top of one another, and it just gets harder for those fish to adapt to what nature’s throwing at them,” said Keith Curley, a conservationist with Trout Unlimited.
…The decline of river ecosystems is intensifying young anglers’ anxieties about the health of the planet. At just 14 years old, Landen Finkle worries about the condition of the river near his home in Traverse City, Michigan. He’s particularly concerned about the loss of biodiversity.
Like a majority of his generation, climate and environmental issues weigh on his mental health. Finkle is fascinated with freshwater ecology, and hopes to guide fishing expeditions one day. But increasing signs of the river’s decline make him feel helpless at times, and fearful for the future of the pastime.
“River fishing is a really calming thing. And just to know that that could be coming to an end here is kinda sad,” he said. “It creates a lot of anxiety. There are a lot of things we can do to help, but there’s not really enough resources to help.”
Read on for more including more pictures from J. Carl Ganter & even some video of Landen fishing! Be sure to check out Circle of Blue for all kinds of features on climate & resources in Michigan and worldwide.
PS: If you still think climate change is a hoax, I not only do not want to hear about it, I would prefer that you find someplace else for your daily Michigan photos. It’s not & it’s long past time for you to have woken up to reality.