Michigan Fisherman

Michigan Fisherman by Cheryl

Michigan Fisherman by Cheryl

You could definitely do worse than floating in one of Michigan’s lakes this weekend – here’s hoping it’s a great one!

Cheryl took this last August. See more in her massive SUMMER gallery on Flickr.

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Running Dry: Climate change & river fishing in Michigan

Fishing on Michigans Au Sable by J Carl Ganter

Fishing on Michigan’s Au Sable by J Carl Ganter

“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.

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Restoring the Arctic Grayling to Michigan

Arctic Grayling by Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative

Arctic Grayling by Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative

The Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative is a group of more than 50 partners working to restore self-sustaining populations of the Arctic grayling within its historical range in Michigan:

Arctic grayling thrived in Northern Michigan’s coldwater streams until the onset of the 20th Century. Fishermen and wildlife enthusiasts visited destinations such as the Au Sable River in Grayling for this iridescent fish. But by the 1930s, three factors contributed to the grayling’s demise: habitat destruction, unregulated harvest and predation/competition from non-native fish species. The local extinction of this wild fish was a tragic loss for Michigan. 

The Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative documentary was created by a group of Troy Athens high school students & I encourage you to check it out!

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Fighting for Fishing

via leelanau.com

Fishtown's Joy by Mark Smith

Fishtown’s Joy by Mark Smith

The Leelanau Ticker reports that the Michigan Fish Producers Association (MFPA) has filed a class action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to protect the future commercial fishing in Leland’s Fishtown and the rest of the Great Lakes:

In its lawsuit, the MFPA alleges that the DNR is retaliating against the industry’s opposition to a series of bills considered by the Michigan Legislature last year. The complaint also alleges that the imposition of new rules under the DNR’s Fishing Order 243.21, which took effect January 8, was an attempt to punish commercial fishers for their involvement in the political process.

Fishtown Preservation Society (FPS) Executive Director Amanda Holmes says the complexities surrounding the laws for commercial fishing is nothing new for the State of Michigan and for Fishtown. “One of the reasons that Bill Carlson and his family decided to let go of Fishtown was because of the challenges to the commercial fishing industry — they fought long and hard and then decided to let it go.” (In June of 2006, the nonprofit FPS reached an agreement to purchase Fishtown for $2.8 million for the Fishtown real estate and $200,000 for the two fishing boats, fishing licenses and equipment from the Carlson family.) Carlson’s Fishery continues to operate as a processor and distributor, buying fish from commercial fishers and selling it locally and through wholesale channels.

Holmes tells the Leelanau Ticker, “Fishtown the place would continue without commercial fishing, but one the things that makes Fishtown so exceptional and special is its unbroken and documented heritage of commercial fishing for nearly two centuries.”

If the new fishing order rules stand: “The limitations on the fishing depths and the season alone will make it a challenge to fish out of Fishtown. What this means is that…a way of life is at risk of closure,” says Holmes.

Read on for more in the Leelanau Ticker.

Mark took this photo back in December of 2018. See his latest at Downstreamer on Flickr

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First Day on the Water

First Day on the Waterby John Trapp

First Day on the Water by John Trapp

John took this photo the other day and writes:

After a long, cold winter, that first day on the water is always a special thrill, no matter how many times you’ve experienced it. The maples are just leafing out and there may still be a nip in the air, but it’s time for some fishing!

Indeed! Check out more of John’s photos on his Flickr.

Fish for Friday: Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout by Cheryl

Rainbow Trout by Cheryl

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that the rainbow trout are:

Native to the Pacific watershed, rainbow trout came to Michigan when eggs were imported from California in 1876. First stocked in the Au Sable River, then four years later in the Lake Michigan watershed, rainbows can now be found in all corners of the state. Large specimens that inhabit the Great Lakes but travel inland to spawn in streams have come to be called steelhead.

Young rainbow trout first eat waterfleas and then add aquatic (water) insects, like caddisflies, mayflies, and midges, to their diet. As they grow larger they include smallfish, but continue to consume larval and adult insects.

Like any trout, stream rainbows can be caught by a variety of techniques; live bait, artificial lures and flies all produce. In large lakes, rainbows can be caught by trolling or by fishing with bait or jigging through the ice in winter. Though most commonly associated with clear-water lakes in northern Michigan, rainbow trout have been successfully stocked into a number of southern Michigan lakes as well, where they provide a unique fishery. Fishing after dark at the thermocline — the depth at which there is a major change in temperature — with live bait, salmon eggs or corn is the principle technique.

More info from the DNR and see a lot more photos from Cheryl on her Flickr.

More Michigan fish & fishing on Michigan in Pictures!

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Stay at home order extended … and relaxed

Off Fishing by Julie

Off Fishing by Julie

Yesterday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended Michigan’s stay at home order until May 15th. mLive reports that some controversial restrictions have been removed:

Certain restrictions previously included under the state’s stay-at-home order, including bans on motorized boating, golf, and retail operations like garden centers, are lifted under the new order.

Landscapers, lawn-service companies, nurseries and bike repair shops will be allowed to return to work subject to strict social distancing, and big-box stores will be allowed to reopen closed sections of the store. Other retailers will now be allowed to reopen for curbside pick-up or delivery.

And residents will be allowed to travel between their residences again, although such travel is “strongly discouraged,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Public-facing businesses like gyms salons, bars and in-person dining at restaurants will remain off-limits under the order.

In a statement, Whitmer said social distancing remains the “best weapon” to defeat COVID-19, but said some of the restrictions put in place are being lifted because new COVID-19 cases appear to be leveling off.

More in mLive.

Julie took this photo of a boat out at sunrise last summer. See more in her UP of Michigan gallery on Flickr.

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Great Lakes on the line: It’s time to act on Asian carp

Doing it again this summer, photo by Kevin Povenz

If Asian carp ever get into the Great Lakes, fun in boats as shown above could well be a thing of the past. These invasive fish jump out of the water when disturbed by noise and vibrations. With an average weight of 30-40 pounds and some weighing in over 100 pounds, they can cause injury or death to boaters.

The Freep reports that a plan tentatively recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep Asian carp from the Great Lakes would cost $275 million plus annual costs for maintaining and operating it of nearly $20 million a year:

Of all the options considered by the Army Corps for blocking the advance of Asian carp at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Ill., the tentatively selected plan was the most expensive. It would use noise to block the fish, along with an electric dispersal barrier, water jets, a flushing navigation lock and more.

…The plan, however, doesn’t guarantee success: The Army Corps estimated the species known as Asian carp would still have a 10%-17% probability of becoming established in the Great Lakes, down from 22%-36% if no action was taken.

The Corps estimated that closing the navigation lock altogether would have the greatest likelihood of stopping bighead carp and silver carp — the two invasive species that are known as Asian carp — from reaching Lake Michigan, bringing the probability down to 1%-3%. But the cost to inland shippers and the companies they serve would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars with some shippers going out of business.

I hate to be a jerk, but PUT THOSE SHIPPERS OUT OF BUSINESS. Asian carp in the Great Lakes would be a disaster* and seriously impact BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in wages tied to the health and recreational value of the Great Lakes.

View the photo bigger and see more in Kevin’s slideshow.

*Don’t take my word for it. Jet skiing or pleasure boating anyone? Note that this video is 3 years old and also is PG-13 for language.

The future of Great Lakes is slipping through our hands…

Silver Carp in hand, photo by Dan O’Keefe, Michigan Sea Grant

The Herald-Palladium reports that an Asian carp has been found just 9 miles from Lake Michigan:

…the news is a reminder that the Trump administration needs to take the problem seriously, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton said Friday. The St. Joseph Republican on Friday called on the president to release a bottled-up blueprint for tackling the problem.
“The time to act is now. I am calling on the Trump administration to immediately release the Brandon Road Study so that we can have a full grasp of our options to stop this destructive force,” he stated in a news release. “Asian Carp have the potential to decimate the Great Lakes we all love and depend on.

“It is absolutely imperative we step up our efforts to further protect our lakes. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle here in the House and the Senate to take action to stop Asian Carp from entering our waterways.”

Earlier this week, Upton signed on as a co-sponsor of the Stop Asian Carp Now Act. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation would compel the Trump administration to release the Brandon Road Study within seven days of the bill’s enactment. The Brandon Road study will provide important guidance on how best to prevent Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes. The entire Michigan Congressional Delegation supports of this legislation.

The live Asian carp has been discovered in a Chicago waterway – well beyond an electric barrier network designed to prevent the invasive fish that have infested the Mississippi River system from reaching the Great Lakes, officials said Friday.

I would encourage you to read on for more, and you can also see the whole text of the Stop Asian Carp Act (HR 892). I would note that this bill was originally introduced in 2011, so maybe make a couple of calls to your representatives.

View the photo background big and see more in the Michigan Sea Grant’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) slideshow.

$1 Million Asian Carp Challenge

Fish On, photo by Terry Murphy

ABC News reports that the State of Michigan is turning to the public for new ideas and plans to offer a prize to whoever comes up with a way to stop the voracious Asian carp:

Michigan’s global search challenge comes after the U.S. government and others have spent hundreds of millions searching for a solution to stop the carp from entering the world’s largest freshwater system. If they aren’t stopped, officials fear the aggressive fish will crowd out prize native fish and hamper recreational boating in large sections of the lakes, which stretch from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in the west to New York and Pennsylvania in the east and from Ontario, Canada, in the north to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio in the south.

“I think in the fight against Asian carp, there aren’t really any bad ideas,” said Molly Flanagan, vice president of policy for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “We have to try a bunch of different things.”

Michigan alone has a $38 billion tourism industry, much of it focused on the outdoors, and the Great Lakes region has a $7 billion fishing industry. Asian carp have been spotted 45 miles from Lake Michigan. If the fish make it into that lake, they could make their way into the other Great Lakes.

Details on how much prize money will be offered are still being worked out. Officials also haven’t determined how many winners might be chosen.

The Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder allocated $1 million to develop the challenge. Most of the money will go toward a prize for an idea or ideas that are deemed feasible, Michigan Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Joanne Foreman said. The rest will be used to create the challenge, which includes working with InnoCentive, a crowdsourcing company that will host the event online. The campaign is expected to go live this summer.

If you have an idea, now’s the time to start working!

View Terry’s photo background big and see more in his Terry Murphy Portfolio Selects slideshow.