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GLSI Membership Meeting and Ludington Seagrant Fisheries Workshop Report


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The Great Lakes Salmon Initiative Membership meeting was this past Friday night in Ludington. We appreciate Jay Wesley and Jory Jonas from the MDNR attending and sharing the 2018 DNR stocking proposals and future strategies. The GLSI has been advocating for a zonal management approach, decreasing lake trout plants, increasing king plants and reallocating some of the huge coho plant on the Platte River. We have been fostering a very positive and cooperative relationship with the MDNR.

These are the 2018 stocking plans the MDNR is proposing after the public input period for the last couple months. These plans are not finalized until reviewed by the tribes and Lk Michigan Committee in the coming months but changes are rarely made there. Lake Trout plants in Michigan are going to be cut from 2.1 million to 1.8 million. Chinook plants will be increased from 330,000 to 553,000. Most of the additional chinook plants will be off ports south of Muskegon to help stimulate some fall returns to those watersheds. Some coho plants are also going to be moved from the Platte River to southern ports to also help the fisheries there. They should contribute to the southern spring fishery but it is hoped they will provide an inshore and river fishery in the fall. The Platte will still get a very large plant for the coho egg harvest there for future plantings. Brown trout will get a 30% cut but all plants will be moved to the NW part of the start along with a plant at Escanaba. Brown plantings have traditionally been spread out across almost all ports but have been failing for the most part in recent years. Based on creel reporting and salmon ambassador reports, the DNR estimates it cost $258 for every brown that get harvested. That is because so few are harvested out of the 1000's planted. We are hoping that by concentrating plants in the NW that has historically had a solid spring brown fishery; the larger plants at each location will allow more planted browns to survive predation and restore that fishery. Part of the logic for trying this was that the southern ports have a strong spring coho fishery and the NW part of the state relies on browns for a spring fishery. This is also following a zonal management approach to target a zone for brown trout management. Spreading the cohos and kings south will contribute to the open water fishery across the lake but hopefully improve the late summer and fall fishing there too.

The GLSI likes these changes and are hopeful they will improve our fisheries. We would have liked to see a bigger lake trout cut but it is moving in the right direction. The DNR will be reviewing and revisiting them in the coming years. Planting locations and amounts will be adjusted based on returns.

The GLSI President also presented the research he had done on ciscos since they would be a topic on Saturday. It was very informative and something all anglers need to be concerned with. More to come on that.

Lot's of data was presented at Saturday's Seagrant Lake Michigan Fisheries workshop. Quagga mussel's continue to dominate the bottom of the lake. Phosphorous levels in the lake have been in a steady decline due to less phosphorous coming in from rivers and this is also contributing to a much cleaner and more sterile lake. The inshore waters of Lake Michigan are proving to be more fertile than offshore waters. Anglers are being asked to participate in diet studies saving fish stomach's for analysis. Mass marking of planted fish will continue to improve understanding of natural reproduction. The USFW had a presentation on restoring/planting ciscos in Lake Michigan. Some of the options presented were moving in ciscos from Lake Superior, Huron or Lk Nipigon in Canada. Not much is known on what could happen and there are risks bringing in fish from other bodies of water. The GLSI is concerned about these plans and recommend all anglers become informed and remain vigilant about planting ciscos.

In their early life ciscos are a forage fish when very small and this is a reason why they are being promoted. The concern is they grow to 2-3 lbs and even bigger. Adult fish feed on alewives, smelt and gobies and will be feeding/impacting the reduced forage out in the lake now. Jory Jones from the MDNR shared their diet studies have shown adult cisco feed on small fish. We currently have a naturally increasing population of ciscos in Traverse bays. Some fisherman at the workshop shared they catch ciscos on spoons with trolling gear from the surface to the bottom. It seems more prudent to study the Traverse Bay population and understand the impact of cisco before the feds start raising and planting them throughout the lake. Given the situation with reduced forage in Lk Michigan, we question why we should add more cisco mouths to feed until we understand their overall impact to the forage base. Further research needs to be done. I know I and most anglers would rather catch a king than a cisco. As plans for cisco evolve, salmon and trout anglers need to be informed and stay engaged to ensure they don't have a negative impact on our fisheries.



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Great report.  Hopefully the lake trout reduction won't be used to leverage by-catch concessions in the upcoming tribal negotiations.

One other stocking point that was brought up is that lake trout are going to be stocked more off shore in refuges and open water reefs rather than inshore.

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The Cisco in gt bay are a tribetribe planting and project. They have no interest in the recreational salmon fishery.  They want to net the lake trout and now the ciscos. What gets me is we do this for like 4-6 actually licensed fishermen. We need a very strong resolution to the next consent degree. Tribes you want casinos or fishing ? The tribes do nothing to help there cause.  You would think ok maybe they will plant some fish. Ok so they plant walleye in gtb -the most voracious eater of fingerling salmon and trout !! 

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