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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Glory Lake Sunrise and Kettle Lakes

Glory Lake Sunrise

wGlory sunrise 1, photo by Jeff Caverly

The Michigan DNR’s page on Bright and Glory Lakes near Grayling includes maps. They say that both lakes have floating piers & boat launches for fishing – species include largemouth bass, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, sucker, sunfish, yellow perch:

These lakes are called Kettle Lakes as they are shaped like tea kettles. They are roundish and deep in the center (more than 40 feet). The lake bottom is marl, so wading and swimming are prohibited as people would sink in the marl.

Here’s more about Kettle Lakes from MSU’s Geology department:

Kettles are depressions left behind after partially-buried ice blocks melt. Many are filled with water, and are then called “kettle lakes”. Most lakes in Michigan could be described as kettle lakes, and the term “kettle lake” describes the way the lake basin was formed. Kettle lake basins were formed as the glaciers receded. While this was happening, a block of ice broke off the glacier, and just sat there. As the glacier continued to melt, the debris from the glacier (soil, rocks, stones, gravel, etc.) filled in around the block of ice. When the block of ice finally melted, all the debris surrounding it fell into the hole, creating the kettle type basin, which when filled with water, became a lake as we know it.

Many of our small, deep lakes in Michigan are kettle lakes. Some have since been infilled with vegetation and plant matter, to form bogs. Even some of our larger, deep lakes, like Higgins Lake and Walled Lake, are kettles.

View Jeff’s photo background big, see more including another view of the sunrise in his slideshow, and follow Jeff Caverly Photography on Facebook.

Dinner with the Ospreys

Dinner with the Ospreys

Can’t Wait, photo by Jiafan(John) Xu

Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan shares some information about Michigan Osprey:

An Osprey is a large bird with a length of 22-25 inches, a wingspan of 4.5-6 feet, and a weight of approximately four pounds. The Osprey has a dark brown back and a white belly, as well as a white head, which features a dark stripe running from its yellow eyes to the back of its head. Female Ospreys are slightly larger than males and may sport a dark speckled necklace

..The Osprey dines almost exclusively on live fish, often catching its meals by hovering over the water at an altitude of 50 to 200 feet, then diving feet first into the water to catch its prey. The Osprey’s feet are uniquely adapted to “air fishing.” Each Osprey foot has a reversible front toe, as well as barbs, called spicules, which help it hold onto a slippery fish in flight. Normally, an Osprey will aerodynamically position a fish headfirst in its talons before it returns to the nest.

These talons definitely look like fish hooks – read on for more!

View Jiafan’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow where you can also see shots from a trip out west.

More Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Know Your Michigan Fish: Northern Pike (Esox lucius)

Michigan Northern Pike Esox lucius

Northern Pike (Esox lucius), photo by Isle Royale National Park

The Michigan DNR’s Northern Pike page has this to say about this apex predator of the Great Lakes and Michigan’s inland lakes:

As predators, northern pike can have significant impact on their prey species. As with muskies, pike lurk in the cover of vegetation in the lake’s clear, shallow, warm waters near shore, although they retreat somewhat deeper in midsummer. Pike consume large numbers of smaller fish – about 90 percent of their diet – but seem willing to supplement their diet with any living creature their huge jaws can surround, including frogs, crayfish, waterfowl, rodents, and other small mammals. Their preferred food size is approximately one third to one half the size of the pike itself.

Great Lakes pike spawn in the shallows in April or May, right after the ice leaves, and before muskies reproduce. As a result of their eating habits, young pike grow rapidly in both length and weight. Females become sexually mature at age three or four years, and males at two to three years. Beyond sexual maturity, pike continue to gain weight, although more slowly. Great Lakes pike have an average life span of 10 to 12 years.

Pike eggs and new hatchlings (which stay inactive, attached to vegetation for their first few days of life) fall prey in large numbers to larger pike, perch, minnows, waterfowl, water mammals, and even some insects. Larger pike have two primary enemies – lampreys, and man. Spawning adult northern pike, exposing themselves recklessly in the shallows, are vulnerable to bears, dogs, and other large carnivores.

Northern pike flesh excels in flavor, thus making them a doubly rewarding game fish. Since their skin has heavy pigmentation and an unappetizing mucous coating, most people skin them or scale them carefully.

This photo was one of Isle Royale National Park’s “Wildlife Wonders of the Week.” They noted that a five pound female pike will lay about 60,000 eggs. Two weeks later fertilized eggs hatch, hungry for microscopic morsels. Once to the fingerling stage, food scarcity may force them to eat their own siblings for nourishment.

View it bigger on Facebook and definitely follow their page for the latest from one of Michigan’s coolest parks!

More Michigan fish on Michigan in Pictures.

Return of the Grayling to Michigan?

michigan-grayling

Michigan Grayling, photo courtesy Old Au Sable Fly Shop

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is partnering with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians to bring back the Arctic grayling. Grayling were native to Michigan but are long vanished from our waters. Slate blue in color with a sail-like dorsal fin, they are of the salmon family and efforts will begin in the Manistee River watershed.

Regarding the grayling, the Old Au Sable Fly shop says in part:

According to William J. Mantague, “One spring the Grayling were running up the Hersey. We noted they had some difficulty passing an obstruction in the stream, so we placed a canoe crosswise at that point and caught over seven hundred one afternoon.”

The Grayling were eaten. They were packed in ice, loaded onto railway cars, and shipped by the thousands of tons per year to the larger metropolitan areas. In some instances, they were tossed on the banks and buried in mounds.

At the same time, the lumbermen came and cut down centuries-old growth of virgin white pine. The land leading to the rivers was stripped as well, slashed and burned, and the logs floated downstream to the large mills and cities during the spring run-off. The rivers were cleared of logs and debris, places were the Grayling flourished. Shallow riffles were trenched out and deepened, and dams were built so that the flow of the river could be better controlled. Vegetation on the banks of the rivers was cleared as well, and the river slowly filled with sand. The sand filled the deepest pools and covered the Grayling’s spawning beds. By 1885, the Grayling had disappeared from the AuSable River. And in a period of ten to twenty years, a land unrivaled for its fishing and beauty, became a barren wasteland of stumps and empty pools.

More about graylings at the Old Au Sable Fly Shop where you can pick up gear and learn about fish & fishing on Michigan’s most storied fishing river.

More fish & fishing on Michigan in Pictures!

This salmon is going up. The salmon population in Lake Michigan is headed the other way!

EDITOR’S NOTE: It looked for a minute that we had another Turtlegate brewing and that this might not be a Chinook but a brown trout. Read more in the comments on Facebook.

Salmon up and over the dam

Up & Over……….., photo by Julie

The Detroit Free Press reports that the salmon population is plummeting in Lake Michigan. The article begins:

They are the king of the Great Lakes sport fish, luring thousands of anglers to Michigan waters every year for a chance to try to land them — and helping fuel a multibillion-dollar fishing and boating tourism industry.

But the Chinook salmon’s numbers are plummeting in Lake Michigan due to a combination of natural forces, unnatural invasive species, and the state Department of Natural Resources’ own efforts to dial back the population and prevent a more permanent population crash as happened in Lake Huron about a decade ago.

The salmon population on Lake Michigan is down 75% from its 2012 peak, said Randy Claramunt, a DNR Great Lakes fishery biologist based in Charlevoix.

A leading cause is a reduction in alewives, a silvery fish up to 10 inches long that is the salmon’s primary prey on the Great Lakes. The alewife population has been decimated by invasive zebra and quagga mussels that have changed the nutrient dynamics of the lakes.

Read on for more at the Freep.

View Julie’s photo of a salmon jumping up into the weir at Charlevoix bigger and see more in her Wildlife slideshow.

More about Chinook salmon and more fish on Michigan in Pictures.

Testament of a Fisherman

Testament of a Fisherman by Aaron Peterson

Testament of a Fisherman, photo by Aaron Peterson Photography

My friend Aaron Peterson shared this on Facebook last night. It’s built around the words of one my very favorite writers, Michigander John Voelker (aka Robert Traver). I hope you enjoy it – Aaron writes:

Please enjoy this new video I did for Travel Marquette.

In 1964 Ishpeming native John Voelker published his essay “Testament of a Fisherman” summarizing in just 200 words the power of rivers and the solace one finds in trout fishing. When I came to Marquette in 2001 I didn’t have much, but I had a fly rod and a library card. In the library I found the words of John Voelker, and on the rivers of the Upper Peninsula I found a purpose. To be able to do this project and adapt Voelker’s words, with permission from his family, was very important to me on many different levels.

A lot has changed in the 50 years since he wrote this, but the health of our water, wild fish and time spent away from phones and crowds is more important than ever. Enjoy, share, then get the hell off your computer and get in the woods. Maybe to Marquette, because they paid the bill for this inspiration smile emoticon Thanks to Fly Fishing Michigan’s U.P. Nick from Ore Dock Brewing Company and all those who fight for the sanctity of our water. –AP

(the video is beautiful – view it full screen if you can!)

View Aaron’s photo bigger on Facebook and follow his page for the latest. Definitely check out his website too. He has some crazy photos of the U.P.’s incredible adventure offerings!

Smallmouth bass eating round gobys

Round Goby

Round Goby, photo by Dave Brenner, Michigan Sea Grant

The Great Lakes Echo reports that although a study has found that invasive round goby are “one of the most successful aquatic invaders” ever in the Great Lakes, smallmouth bass appear to be feasting on gobies:

25 years after their discovery in the Great Lakes, “we’re not documenting specific harms from gobies,” Popoff said, referring to feared environmental, economic and human health concerns.

In fact, there are indications of possible benefits from their presence, he said. For example, “we are seeing amazing smallmouth bass,” as well as some “amazing walleye,” while lake trout have modified their diets from sculpin to round gobies.

One possible exception, according to Popoff, is a decline in sculpin population as documented in Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay because they compete with round gobies for space and food. However, scientists haven’t determined whether the lake’s overall sculpin population is down or whether they’ve merely moved to deeper areas with fewer round gobies.

…However, the study found the round goby is now a widely available food source for many native fish because of its “extreme abundance, tolerance to a variety of habitat conditions and relatively small size.”

In lakes Erie and Ontario, round gobies accounted for 75 percent of the smallmouth bass diet, Crane said. If all other species have maintained stable populations, that means the bass are putting less pressure on other food sources.

Nice to see the Great Lakes winning a battle – read on for lots more.

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

ArtPrize 2014, now with Fish on Rocks!

Catfish

Catfish, photo by Robert Bradley

ArtPrize returns to Grand Rapids for its 5th year next Wednesday and runs September 24 – October 12th. The 19 day event turns downtown Grand Rapids into a free & open art competition for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes. While you can certainly debate the merits of ArtPrize and the art displayed, there’s no question that this is one of the most engaging and immersive art events in the country.

You can check out the 2014 entries right here, look back through the years on their History page, and also see a video from 2013 that captures some on the flavor and fun. The only way to really experience it is to go, something that I heartily recommend!!

This is part of Kevin Sudeith’s Contemporary Petroglyphs installation along the Grand River.

View Robert’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his ArtPrize 2014 slideshow (which I expect will grow in the weeks to come).

Lots more ArtPrize on Michigan in Pictures!

Gone fishin’ with a Green Heron

Green Heron and Frog by John Heintz

GREEN HERON, photo by John Heintz, Jr.

The entry for Green Heron (Butorides virescens) at All About Birds says (in part):

From a distance, the Green Heron is a dark, stocky bird hunched on slender yellow legs at the water’s edge, often hidden behind a tangle of leaves. Seen up close, it is a striking bird with a velvet-green back, rich chestnut body, and a dark cap often raised into a short crest. These small herons crouch patiently to surprise fish with a snatch of their daggerlike bill. They sometimes lure in fish using small items such as twigs or insects as bait.

Some Fun Facts…

  • The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, earthworms, twigs, feathers, and other objects, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish.
  • Like many herons, the Green Heron tends to wander outside of its breeding range after the nesting season is over. Most of the wanderers stay nearby as they search for good feeding habitat, but some travel long distances. Individuals have turned up as far away as England and France.
  • Green Herons usually hunt by wading in shallow water, but occasionally they dive for deep-water prey and need to swim back to shore—probably with help from the webs between their middle and outer toes. One juvenile heron was seen swimming gracefully for more than 60 feet, sitting upright “like a little swan,” according to one observer.
  • The oldest Green Heron on record was 7 years, 11 months old.

Read on for more, with various Green Heron calls including the attack call. The Michigan Bird Atlas shows Green Heron distribution in the state.

View the photo bigger and see this heron’s fishing technique in John’s amazing slideshow. FYI, it doesn’t end well for the fish.

Many more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.