Fish Lake Michigan From The Port of Ludington !


What will the Lake Michigan salmon stocking cut mean for Michigan anglers? Mass marking of Chinook salmon sheds new light on the relative importance of Chinook salmon stocked in Michigan. Reposted....

  • By Gary Smith
  • 31 Oct, 2016
Posted on   October 27, 2016   by   Dan O'Keefe , Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant

This year marks the 50th   anniversary of the modern Great Lakes salmon stocking program. When coho and Chinook salmon were first planted in the Great Lakes the results were spectacular. A nuisance invader (the alewife) became the prey of choice for salmon and fueled the birth of a world-class sport fishery.

Fifty years later we are struggling to adapt to the influence of new invaders, particularly quagga mussels and round gobies. Fishery managers also must adapt to the rising importance of natural reproduction, which now accounts for the majority of Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan. On top of that, the experience of Lake Huron’s alewife/salmon collapse in 2004 serves as a constant reminder that stocking too many Chinook salmon on top of wild fish can lead to disaster for coastal communities.

With this in mind, state and tribal agencies of the   Lake Michigan Committee   decided to reduce the number of salmon and trout stocked in Lake Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced its   plan   to reduce Chinook salmon stocking by 230,000 (in addition to reducing lake trout by 270,000 and cutting coho salmon stocking by 96,000).

Public reaction to Chinook salmon cuts in Michigan has been mixed, with a narrow margin of support from groups like the Lake Michigan Citizen’s Fishery Advisory Committee and Michigan Steelheaders (MSSFA) and opposition from Michigan Charter Boat Association and the newly-formed Great Lakes Salmon Initiative. What will the decision really mean for anglers?

Michigan stocking sites contribute little to Chinook catches

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Fish Tag and Recovery Laboratory, only 7% of Chinook salmon caught in Michigan waters during the open-water fishery (April – September, 2014 – 2015) were stocked in Michigan waters of Lake Michigan (see figure). Roughly 7 out of 10 Chinook salmon caught in Michigan waters of Lake Michigan were wild, and Wisconsin and Lake Huron plants contributed more than local stocking efforts.

For Michigan anglers, this means that Michigan DNR’s 46% reduction in Chinook salmon stocking absolutely will not cause a 46% reduction in open water Chinook catches. After all, the vast majority of fish being caught by Michigan anglers are not Michigan-stocked fish ( see factsheet for full details and results for other states ).

Fewer stocked salmon does not necessarily mean fewer salmon in the lake

According to the Michigan and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, about 6.8 million untagged/un-fin-clipped Chinook salmon smolts recruited to the population in Lake Michigan in 2012. While they believe that most of these unmarked fish were from wild, natural reproduction in Lake Michigan tributaries some did come from natural reproduction in Lake Huron tributaries and other sources. A small number of unmarked Chinook salmon smolts came from   Salmon in the Classroom stockings   (<10,000 unmarked fish) and from private hatchery stockings in Ontario waters of Lake Huron (214,352 unmarked fish). Even if all of these unmarked stocked fish migrated into Lake Michigan, the estimate of wild smolts recruiting to Lake Michigan in 2012 would be in the neighborhood of 6.6 million.  

In 2013, wild reproduction fell dramatically to around 1.4 million smolts. Reasons are not entirely clear but, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, may have been related to low water levels and warm water temperatures during the fall spawning migration that produced those smolts. Other possible reasons include low survival due to an abnormally cold and prolonged winter, slow growth and high mortality of young salmon after hatching, and/or low numbers of alewife to feed on once young Chinook salmon entered Lake Michigan.

One way or another, natural reproduction was dismal in 2013 and remained below average in 2014 (2.9 million smolts). The poor fishing many Michigan anglers experienced in 2015 and 2016 was due, in part, to these weak wild year-classes.

The overwhelming influence of natural reproduction

Back in the early days, fishery managers could control the number of Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan through stocking. If states stocked 2 million Chinooks, then that was it — nothing more to account for, no more mouths to feed.

Now fishery managers have much less control over Chinook salmon numbers. Lake Michigan stocking (from all states) is being reduced from 1.80 million in 2016 to 1.35 million Chinook salmon smolts in 2017. Wild spawning salmon produce around 4.5 million smolts on average, but this wild production can range from 1.4 million smolts to over 6.6 million smolts. This is a lot of variation!

To put stocking into perspective, the total number of Chinook smolts (stocked + wild) produced in 2017 is expected to be around 5.85 million based on an average year of natural reproduction. However, if natural reproduction is poor this could be as low as 2.75 million. If natural reproduction is high, which is a distinct possibility, we could have upwards of 7.95 million smolts entering Lake Michigan in 2017. In short, the impact of the stocking cut amounts to very little in comparison to this tremendous variation in wild fish.

For anglers, the bottom line is that there is good reason to expect the number of Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan to increase or remain steady despite the recent stocking reduction. If salmon numbers do dramatically increase, as they might due to natural reproduction, the result could be a permanent collapse of alewife and salmon.

If natural reproduction remains near recent lows, the worst-case scenario for anglers would be a slight reduction in the number of salmon over the short term. In reality, this worst-case scenario would also be the best-case scenario in terms of ensuring the long term viability of the salmon fishery because it would provide a better chance of alewife recovery.

For better or worse, the future will be determined in large part by wild fish.

Michigan Sea Grant  helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its   MSU   Extension , Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant  network of 33 university-based programs.

This article was published by   Michigan State University Extension . For more information, visit   http://www.msue.msu.edu . To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit   http://www.msue.msu.edu/newsletters . To contact an expert in your area, visit   http://expert.msue.msu.edu , or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Fishing Report - RodMaster Fishing Charters

By Gary Smith 04 Sep, 2017
Fishing report for September 2nd PM and September 3 rd AM
Thank you Layne, Norm , Kirk, John, and Alan for joining us . Warm and rough water fishing was very slow and a tough bite both AM and PM trips . Fished from south of pier to bathhouse in 80 to 100 fow and in PM lake. Bites came on high diver out 70 ft with white slick 8 inch spindoctor / pickled sunshine fly, 250 copper / blue bubble spindoctors and blue bubble fly, 5 color with flounder pounder and 80 copper with copper naked jordo.
By Gary Smith 04 Sep, 2017
Fishing report for September 2nd AM
Thanks Anthony, Hunter, Colin, Mark and Joey for a fun fishing time! The fishing was slow but the enthusiasm high! We fished north and south of point in 80 to 150 fow and did manage 3 of 5 fish to the box. Bites came on high diver out 130 with white slick 8 inch spindoctor / pickled sunshine fly, 200 copper with magnum flounder pounder moonshine spoon, 5 color dreamweaver starburst SS spoon, Downrigger at 52 with Mountain Dew slick spindoctor / liquid sunshine spoon , and low diver at 150 with blue bubble spin doctor / blue fairways meatrig.
Thanks Anthony, Hunter, Colin, Mark and Joey for a fun fishing time! The fishing was slow but the enthusiasm high! We fished north and south of point in 80 to 150 fow and did manage 3 of 5 fish to the box. Bites came on high diver out 130 with white slick 8 inch spindoctor / pickled sunshine fly, 200 copper with magnum flounder pounder moonshine spoon, 5 color dreamweaver starburst SS spoon, Downrigger at 52 with Mountain Dew slick spindoctor / liquid sunshine spoon , and low diver at 150 with blue bubble spin doctor / blue fairways meatrig.
By Gary Smith 04 Sep, 2017
Fishing report for September 1st
 Thank you Mark, Mitch, Jeff and Robert for fishing with us today! We fished from the pier head north then south in 60 yo 80 fow of the project. The bite was tough today but we did manage 2 for 3. One was a big 15 lb coho!
Our fish came on high wire out 50 with 10 in white slick dreamweaver spindoctor and pickled sunshine fly, Downrigger at 42 with yeck Scotty blue magnum spoon.
By Gary Smith 04 Sep, 2017
Fishing report for August 30th
Thank you to the fishing team of Luke, Norm, Tim, and Steve for joining us today! We started North in 150 to 250 fow and with only one bite in the first couple hours decided to run west to deeper water. We ended the day with 12 bites and 7 fish in the box. Our bites came on Downrigger at 92 with dreamweaver regular wonderbread spoon, Downrigger at 120 with Mountain Dew nbk 10 inch spindoctor / uv ice meatrig, Downrigger at 75 with yeck blue Scotty spoon, 250 copper with Happy meal mag moonshine spoon, 250 copper with yellow sparkler 8 inch spindoctor / gasoline meatrig , high diver out 240 with white slick 8 inch spindoctor / pickled sunshine fly, low diver out 220 with 8 inch blue bubble spindoctor / blue fairways meat rig, high diver 240 with 8 inch blue bubble spindoctor / blue bubble fly, 400 copper with yeck blue Scotty spoon, 300 copper with 8 inch green echip paddle with butt ugly green fly.
By Gary Smith 28 Aug, 2017
Fishing report August 27th
Rough seas didn't stop this family fishing team... thank you Bob, Todd, Kyle, and Lois for being aboard with us today! We fished north and south of the pier head in 60 to 70 fow boating 3 coho and 1 brown trout with three other hits.
Our bites came on high diver out 120 with 8 inch green slick spindoctor / green meatrig, Downrigger at 40 with dreamweaver Super glow wonder bread SS spoon, Downrigger at 58 with Striptastic moonshine spoon, Downrigger at 47 with dreamweaver Super glow wonder bread SS spoon on free slider, 150 copper with lucky charm plug and 5 color leadcore with green ladderback ace high plug.
By Gary Smith 28 Aug, 2017
Fishing report for August 26th
Thank you to Gene, Jeff, Jim and Jim for fishing with us today. We fished south again today, bait and big fish everywhere! After picking up a king and losing a fish on 10 color lead core with magnum moonshine happy meal in 65 fow, we moved to deeper water and hit a big king on 250 copper with regular moonshine orange hulk. Unfortunately we lost it at the net . A Rigger down 75-85 with green salmon slayer 8 in spindoctor and green fly took a nice coho then a lake trout ate our
10 color leadcore with mag happy meal moonshine spoon. Our last fish was on a high diver out 165 with green e chip 8 inch paddle with blue howie fly.
By Gary Smith 28 Aug, 2017
Fishing report for August 25th
Once again John, Kevin, Bob and Nick presented their catching skills of 100% for day two. Unfortunately it was a lock jaw morning and we only had 2 bites .. putting both into the cooler. They came on Downrigger down 76 with ghost plug and high diver out 90 with dreamweaver 10 inch black slick spindoctor / pickled sunshine fly. We trolled south and for more than 4 miles marked big fish after fish mixed with bait . Turning around we trolled back 6 miles marking bait pile after bait pile. Tomorrow brings another day hopefully with hungry fish!
By Gary Smith 28 Aug, 2017
Fishing report for August 24th
Thank you long time charter friends Nick, Bob, John and Kevin. You guys are awesome and your fishing skills shined with 10 fish on and all 10 to t h e box! We started in 140 fow to the south and trolled in to shallow water. Our bites today were on High diver out 160 with 10 inch dreamweaver black slick spindoctor / pickled sunshine fly, low diver out 120 with 10 inch chrome killer spindoctor / white moo moo meatrig, Downrigger at 45 with Yeck blue super glow spoon, 200 copper with moonshine flounder pounder spoon, 300 copper with 8 inch green echip paddle / blue Howie fly, Downrigger at 46 with dreamweaver wonderbread regular spoon on main line and dreamweaver wonderbread SS spoon on free slider, 250 copper with ace high green sides plug.
By Gary Smith 23 Aug, 2017
Fishing report for August 21 AM
Thanks to the crew of Ike, David, Gerry , and Dwayne for fishing with us this am. We had an awesome time and the bite was much improved with 10 fish on and 9 into the net ! We fished 140 fow and had bites from 50 to 120 ft down. They came on Downrigger at 120 ft with grey ghost plug, Downrigger at 55 with dreamweaver Super glow wonder bread SS spoon on free slider, low diver 140 with 10 inch dreamweaver chrome killer spindoctor / uv ice meat rig, 10 inch black slick spindoctor / pickled sunshine fly 240 ft out on high diver, low diver out 200 with 10 inch black slick spindoctor / chartreuse meat rig, high diver out 150 with dreamweaver 10 inch white slick spindoctor / pickled sunshine fly, 200 copper with 8 inch green echip paddle / green butt ugly fly : )
By Gary Smith 23 Aug, 2017
Fishing report for 8- 19 & 20 evenings.
Thank you to the crew of Henry, Jon, Doug, Dale, Trent & TJ for joining us Saturday night and crew of Harry, John, John, Matt, Cody, and Josh for joining us Sunday Night. The fish were not active and the bite was very tough both nights with a total of 11 bites and 3 fish to the net . Bites came on:
250 copper with glow blue lightning Capt choice plug, 5 inch green spindoctor with black fission fly on high diver out 150 and 180 , black slick spindoctor with pickled sunshine on high diver out 180, and mt dew dragon slayer spindoctor with U/V ice meatrig on low diver at 120.
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