Archives for February 2014

Sea Lampreys in Michigan’s Inland Waterway’s?

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) – Parasitic sea lampreys may have established a self-sustaining population in Michigan’s Inland Waterway, a nearly 40-mile-long chain of lakes and rivers popular with anglers and boaters, federal scientists said Thursday.

It would be the first confirmed case in the Great Lakes region of the invasive lampreys spending their entire life cycle in an inland waterway network instead of migrating to one of the lakes after reaching adulthood, said Nick Johnson, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hammond Bay Biological Station on Lake Huron. That could mean the job of containing them will get costlier and more complicated, he said.

The findings are preliminary but show the importance of determining whether the same thing is happening in other inland lakes, said Marc Gaden, spokesman for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which spends about $21 million a year keeping lamprey numbers down.

“These critters are quite destructive,” Gaden said. “If we find they’re having an impact on inland lakes, or that inland lakes are serving as a source of lamprey for the Great Lakes proper, we’ll need to address that.”

Tim Cwalinski, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist, said it’s likely that sea lamprey have been living undetected in waterways upstream from the Great Lakes for years. There’s no evidence they are doing heavy damage to Inland Waterway fish, he said.

Sea lampreys, native to the Atlantic, reached the Great Lakes through shipping canals in the past century and feasted on trout and other prized species. The eel-like predators fasten their round, disk-like mouths, rimmed with razor-sharp teeth, to the sides of fish and suck their blood.

Fully grown lampreys feed for 12 to 20 months before swimming up rivers to spawn, then dying. Their wormlike offspring spend up to six years as larvae, concealed in stream beds, before heading to the lakes as adults.

Federal agencies keep them in check with methods such as spreading poisons in rivers and trapping and sterilizing males. Dams and other barriers help by preventing them from reaching spawning areas.

Lampreys in their larval stage have been found for years in three streams that feed Burt and Mullet lakes, which are part of the Inland Waterway in Cheboygan and Emmet counties near the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Scientists have assumed they were reaching the waterway by swimming up the Cheboygan River from Lake Huron and bypassing a lock and dam, although it wasn’t clear how, Johnson said.

But recent evidence suggests some lampreys are surviving poison treatments in those streams, then slipping into Burt and Mullet lakes and remaining there instead of continuing to Lake Huron, he said. Anglers have provided photos of fish with lamprey wounds caught in those inland lakes, and an adult lamprey was nabbed in Burt Lake last August.

“So even if we identify their escape route around the Cheboygan lock and dam and close that door, we still may have a battle with sea lamprey to wage in the inland waterway itself,” Johnson said.

That would be bad news because the budget for lamprey control is already stretched, Gaden said.

But a silver lining would be that agencies could mount an all-out effort and determine whether it’s possible to completely eliminate lampreys from waterways, Johnson said. The existing program has knocked down the population by 90 percent, but experts have considered eradication a pipe dream because a single female can lay up to 100,000 eggs at once.

Snyder Porposes New Spending for better water quality, sewer upgrades

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — Gov. Rick Snyder is asking legislators to approve more than $100 million to protect and restore Michigan’s waters through measures ranging from beach monitoring to upgrading sewage infrastructure, aides said Friday.

The fiscal 2015 budget Snyder presented this month heralds a yearlong emphasis on water — recognizing its importance to economic development and the advantage that Michigan’s vast aquatic resources provide over competing states, said Dan Wyant, director of the Department of Environmental Quality.

“Water will be the key reason why people will come to Michigan to live, work and play,” he said. “It’s going to be a catalyst for new technology and job creation.”

The administration’s “water strategy” will be released this spring that will lay out broad goals and strategies for achieving them over the next 30 years, Office of the Great Lakes director Jon Allan said. It will deal with long-standing issues such as invasive species, toxic pollution, large-scale water withdrawals for uses such as irrigation and manufacturing, and conflicts between users.

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Eagles make Monroe MI power plant a winter home


MONROE, Mich. — A Michigan utility has welcomed a flock of visitors to the state’s biggest power plant this winter. But they aren’t all that personable.

The south-flying out-of-towners — nearly 200 bald eagles — have taken up residence at DTE Energy’s massive plant along Lake Erie, transforming 800 acres in Monroe into their cozy, cold-weather abode.

The birds have been a common sight these past few frigid months, patiently perching on tree branches and using their 6- to 7-foot wingspans to smoothly glide over the lake and swoop into the plant’s spillway to snatch gizzard shad, their food of choice.

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Videos show fish swimming through barrier meant to stop Asian carp

Chicago — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brig. Gen. Margaret Burcham is quite comfortable that the threat of a Great Lakes Asian carp invasion is under control.

“We’ve got our electric barrier,” she said before a Jan. 9 public hearing on the Army Corps’ new study that says it will take at least a quarter-century to erect barriers to block the rapacious fish from swimming into Lake Michigan. “And we’re confident that it is doing the job.”

No, it is not.

Not if you believe a video obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that was taken by federal biologists last summer. Just one 3-minute clip reveals dozens of little fish swimming upstream through the swath of electrified water on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, only about 35 miles downstream from Chicago’s lakeshore.

The Army Corps has long argued that its fish-shocking contraption is an adequate bandage that buys the agency time to figure out how to surgically close the ecological wound opened by Chicago’s sewage canal system more than a century ago. Chicago dug the canals to reverse the flow of its namesake river — and the city’s sewage along with it — away from Lake Michigan, the city’s drinking water source.

The only thing holding back the Asian carp at the moment is the electric barrier, but few people beyond Illinois politicians, the canal-dependent barge industry and the Army Corps are buying the idea that the barrier is doing its job. Many worry the agency’s continued confidence in this leaky, last line of defense will take a tragic toll on the Great Lakes, the world’s largest freshwater system.

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Redfish Eating Rats

Redfish Eating Rats, Helping Gulf Coast Conservationists

The redfish, found in abundance along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts, is much like the catfish and will eat almost anything—dead or alive. Apparently this year, the redfish have discovered how delicious young nutria, furry creatures about one-foot long with 1-1/2-foot-long tails, are.

“As long as I have been fishing the Biloxi marsh and the waters in Louisiana and Mississippi, I’ve never seen nutria in fishes’ bellies until this fall and winter,” Darien Ladner, a guide who fishes out of Biloxi, Mississippi, and also fishes the Louisiana marshes, said.

To cross-reference this phenomenon, I contacted Captain Sonny Schindler of Shore Thing Charters in Biloxi, Mississippi. “Quite a few of our guides have noticed this same phenomenon,” Schindler explained. “Apparently, when the bull reds move inshore, they start feeding on the nutria, which burrow close to fresh and saltwater.

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Lake Erie Charter Captain’s Conference, March 1st

Captain John nice walleye 

Ohio Sea Grant’s Annual Charter Captains Conference

Huron Ohio — For the 33rd year, Ohio Sea Grant’s Charter Captains Conference will help prepare Lake Erie fishing charter boat captains for the upcoming season by providing updates about Lake Erie’s 2014 fishing outlook, environmental conditions, licensing, regulations, and business management.

The conference will be held on March 1, at the Cedar Point Conference Center on the Bowling Green State University Firelands Campus, and is co-sponsored by the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.

Jessica Barber, fish biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will update captains on the service’s efforts to control invasive sea lampreys in Lake Erie. Jonathan Coholich of Navionics will present the company’s newest navigation and sonar equipment, and OSU Extension Tax Field Specialist Larry Gearhardt will offer tax tips to charter business owners.

Other speakers will include representatives from the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, ODNR Division of Wildlife’s Sandusky Fisheries Research Unit and Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District and the U.S. Coast Guard.


Tall Ships will return to Bay City Michigan in 2016

For the third time since 2001, Bay City has been named Port of the Year by Tall Ships America, the Newport, R.I.-based organization that organizes the annual Tall Ships Challenge, a race of tall ships across major bodies of water that includes stops at several port cities.


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Lake Erie walleye fishing report Monroe Michigan 2-6-2014

Fishing has been very slow out in front of Bolles Harbor. The Metro Park Marina has been producing some perch but you have to sort through them. Two gold #4 hooks and a 1/2 bell sinker tipped with small shiners seemed to produce the best. Brest Bay is still on the slow side with a few walleye’s being taken. Brass swedish pimple with green tape tipped with 3 shiners caught a few.

If your feeling adventurous, we fished Port Clinton 3 miles off Cawataba last week and pulled some dandy walleye. Get there early to get a parking spot. The fish where moving from sun-up till about 11:00am. Swedish pimples tipped with shiners did the trick.  

America’s Tall Ship

Coast Guard Cutter Eagle

Coast Guard Cutter Eagle

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, America’s Tall Ship and seagoing classroom for future officers in training, is scheduled to arrive March 26 in Morehead City, N.C.

From its homeport in New London, Conn., the cutter will sail along the eastern seaboard and transit through Morehead as part of its spring training for Coast Guard and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officer candidates.

Eagle’s spring deployment is the first underway training for 2014 after the cutter completed a three and a half month dockside maintenance and a foremast overhaul at the Coast Guard Yard facility in Baltimore, Md.

At 295 feet in length, the Eagle is the largest tall ship flying the stars and stripes and the only active square-rigger in U.S. government service.

Constructed in 1936 by the Blohm and Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and originally commissioned as the Horst Wessel by the German Navy, the Eagle was taken by the United States as a war reparation following World War II.

With more than 23,500 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging, the Eagle has served as a classroom at sea to future Coast Guard officers since 1946, offering an at-sea leadership and professional development experience.

A permanent crew of seven officers and 50 enlisted personnel maintain the ship and guide the cadets and officer candidates through an underway and in-port training schedule, dedicated to learning the skills of navigation, damage control, watchstanding, engineering and deck seamanship.

The cutter Eagle is scheduled to be moored in Morehead City March 26-30.