Wetlands a vital resource for Michigan’s wildlife

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

When thinking about Michigan’s important, valuable landscapes, many of us first think of the Great Lakes, northern forests and sandy beaches. Wetlands might not immediately come to mind.

They certainly didn’t for early Michigan settlers, who were less than impressed with the state’s abundance of swamps and marshes – more than 10 million acres of wetlands before European settlement.

Michigan Waterfowl Youth Hunt, Point Mouille

Waterfowl Youth Hunt, Point Mouille

 

 

 

 

 

 

The banks of the Detroit River are handsome, but nine-tenths of the land in the Territory is unfit for cultivation,” said General Duncan McArthur, stationed at Fort Detroit, in 1814.

The 1816 Tiffin Report by Edward Tiffin, surveyor general of the United States, had equally disparaging things to say about Michigan’s land and agricultural potential, including: “Michigan apparently consisted of swamps, lakes, and poor, sandy soil not worth the cost of surveying. Not more than one acre in a hundred, or perhaps a thousand, could be cultivated.”

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Apply to be a Keeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse

Apply to be a lighthouse keeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse. Get together with one, two or three friends for a service and recreation vacation like no other. 

Tawas Point Lighthouse

Tawas Point Lighthouse

In operation since 1876, Tawas Point Lighthouse is a fascinating attraction for maritime buffs. Tawas Point is a destination for birdwatchers; it also offers spectacular views of sunrises over Lake Huron and sunsets over Tawas Bay.

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136-year-old shipwreck found in Georgian Bay

OWEN SOUND – The wreck of a steamship that went down in Georgian Bay during a storm 136 years ago has been found, with what could be human remains onboard.

American shipwreck hunters Jared Daniels, Jerry Eliason and Ken Merryman revealed their summer discovery to coincide with the anniversary of the Jane Miller’s sinking Nov. 25, 1881.

The 24-metre package and passenger steamer went down with 25 people aboard, including the crew.

The wreck was found in Colpoys Bay, an inlet of Georgian Bay leading to Wiarton on the east side of the Bruce Peninsula north of Owen Sound in Georgian Bay.

The ship mostly is structurally intact with its mast still standing, rising within 23 metres of the surface. The shipwreck hunters also reported spotting what could be remains of bodies.

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Seasonal lake sturgeon releases put nearly 6,000 fish into Michigan waters

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and several partners released nearly 6,000 juvenile lake sturgeon into various public waters across the state this summer and fall in an effort to rehabilitate this culturally significant fish species.

Juvenile lake sturgeon were collected from the wild during April and May and reared in streamside facilities until they were large enough to tag. Most fish were tagged prior to being released into their respective rivers to allow future evaluations of stocked fish.Lake Sturgeon

“Many of these stocking efforts were public events that shined a spotlight on how important lake sturgeon are to Michigan,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “Our state has a long history with the lake sturgeon, and working with our partners helps us protect them for future generations.” read more

Status of Sea Lamprey in the Great Lakes

Part of a successful sea lamprey control program is monitoring adult sea lamprey abundance in each lake and sea lamprey impacts on fish; the sea lamprey marking rate on lake trout, their preferred host, is used to assess impacts on fish. To better understand the relationship between sea lamprey abundance and marking rates on lake trout, the number of lake trout also needs to be assessed (i.e., the number of lake trout can influence the marking rate).

Sea lamprey populations are monitored by generating an adult sea lamprey abundance index for each lake. The index is calculated by assessment crews who capture migrating adult sea lamprey in index streams with traps during the spring and early summer. A mark-recapture study is conducted on each index stream to generate a population estimate. Individual index stream population estimates are then summed to create the lake-wide adult sea lamprey abundance index. Whole-lake adult sea lamprey abundance estimates can be calculated by multiplying the lake-wide index by a lake-specific conversion factor. Lake trout marking and abundance data are collected annually from management agencies around the Great Lakes to generate lake-wide marking rates and population estimates.

Success in meeting targets for both the adult sea lamprey abundance index and sea lamprey marking rates on lake trout is determined by assessing the 3-year average index or marking rate compared to the targets. There are no targets for lake trout abundance in the context of reporting sea lamprey status. The trend of the adult sea lamprey abundance index, sea lamprey marking rate on lake trout, and lake trout abundance is determined by the direction of the slope over the past five years. Single year point estimates fluctuate and can have wide error bars, thus the focus on 3-year averages and 5-year trends.

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Could the sounds of spawning lure lake trout?

Lake trout make noise in bed, according to new research by Great Lakes scientists.

The species commonly growl, snap, quiver and thump while spawning, according to a study in the “Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.”

The report may cause a smirk, but researchers say the findings are serious.

“Peeping on spawning lake trout with a camera and microphone could be the premise of an interesting comedy skit, but also makes for interesting science that could help improve how fish populations are monitored,” said Nick Johnson, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists could potentially use the audio sounds to lure fish to spawning areas, Johnson said.

Lake Trout

Lake Trout

“If you walk down the street and hear a party going you might want to check it out,” he said. “There are historical reefs in the Great Lakes that are no longer being used for spawning . . . we may be able to play back the sounds of reproduction to lure in the trout and try to get them interested in spawning there.”

Johnson led a team that included researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Windsor and the University of Vermont, and that recorded spawning lake trout with cameras and hydrophones. Hydrophones are underwater microphones that detect the sounds of boats, waves and the quietest fish.

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Charter fishing operations offer great options for novice and experienced anglers

For those who don’t have a fishing boat, may not have the correct fishing gear, don’t know how to fish, are new to an area, or are just looking for a day of fun, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggests considering a charter fishing trip. Charter fishing businesses are located throughout the state and offer a great way to experience Michigan’s world-class fisheries.

Lake Erie walleye charter aboard the Stray Cat Monroe, MI 48145

Sam walleye fishing Lake Erie

Licensed fishing charters make a full or half-day of fishing easy and enjoyable, as they provide the boat and all the equipment, plus the knowledge needed for a day on the water. Fishing charters are for anyone, children or adult, from the first-time angler to those who are experienced. Charter businesses in Michigan help anglers of all experience levels enjoy memorable experiences – whether it’s reeling in a fish for the first time or trying one’s hand at catching a new species.

In Michigan in 2016, more than 70,000 anglers participated in more than 17,000 charter fishing trips on Great Lakes and specific navigable waters. These anglers caught more than 244,000 fish of various species, with about half of the fish caught being trout and salmon.

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Perch Fishing Report Lake Erie Michigan 07-21-2017

Perch fishing is starting to pick up in Michigan waters. W buoy out in front of Toledo Beach Marina has produced limit catches but it’s on again off again. E buoy area is producing some sizable perch to, but it’s hit or miss. Out towards the end of the Raisin River buoys in 20 feet of water  holds perch but you have to move around til you find a sizable school to fish. The bite seems to start off slow then pick up, give it a half hour in one spot. If the bite doesn’t improve move, sometimes it only takes moving 200 yards or so. Some walleye are being caught but be sure they are over 15″ if you keep them. There have been a lot of tickets passed out for “15” walleye this season on both the Michigan and Ohio side of the lake!! So far Ohio waters have produced the most consistent catches of yellow perch. Either side of the shipping channel north of the Toledo Lighthouse all the way to Sputnik. 

Perch Fishing Lake Erie

Lake Erie Perch Fishing Charter

 

Tagged fish provide DNR with critical information

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources again this year is encouraging Great Lakes anglers who catch marked and tagged fish to report them. The DNR has used the coded-wire tag program to mass mark various fish species in Michigan since the 1980s. Mass marking provides critical data as fisheries biologists look to determine the value of naturally reproduced fish versus stocked fish, and lakewide movement of fish.

The coded-wire tag program involves implanting a small, coded-wire tag, which is invisible to the naked eye, into the snout of a fish. A fish containing a coded-wire tag can be identified because its adipose fin (the small, fleshy fin between the dorsal and tail fins) has been removed. An angler who catch a tagged fish then can record needed information about the fish, remove and freeze the fish’s snout, and drop it off at a designated location. A statewide list of dropoff locations can be found on the DNR website.

For years the DNR primarily tagged Chinook salmon and lake trout as part of its mass marking effort in Lake Huron. Tagging these fish has helped biologists understand more about lakewide natural reproduction and how many wild fish are available in the Great Lakes. It also has helped determine if the percentage of wild fish varies from year to year and how fish stocking locations contribute to lake and river fisheries. Additionally, it provides insight into fish movement and where fish are stocked compared to where they are caught.

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DNR creel clerks to collect angler information this summer

As this year’s open-water fishing season gets under way, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers that Fisheries Division personnel are at lakes, rivers and Great Lakes ports collecting fishing data from anglers.

Giant Lake Erie Pike

Monster Lake Erie Northern Pike aboard the Stray Cat

DNR creel clerks will be stationed at boat launches and piers around the state asking anglers questions as they return from fishing trips. Information will be requested on trip length, target species and number and type of fish caught. In some cases, creel clerks may ask to measure or weigh fish and to take scale or other body parts for aging. These data are key information in the DNR’s management of the state’s fisheries resource.

The DNR appreciates anglers’ cooperation with these interviews, and it will only take a couple of minutes to answer the questions.

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