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Thoughts on Lake Michigan Pollution

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     Hi,

       I'm a student who is doing research on the plastic pollution of Lake Michigan and how it affects the wildlife. I am looking for someone who can give their recent experience fishing in Lake Michigan. It would be extremely helpful if you could tell me about any increase or decrease of fish that you catch, as well as your thoughts on the plastic pollution in Lake Michigan and if you think it is affecting the local wildlife. Thanks for all your help!

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I don't think that plastic pollution is affecting fish populations on the lake - I think there's many other variables that have a greater impact on fish than plastics. 

However, having participated in beach and river clean ups, I can see shore birds and the like being affected.  We camped on the south shore of Lake Superior this summer and it was virtually free of man made pollution.  I can take my 14' boat on the Kalamazoo River and fill it with garbage in any one mile stretch.

Any more questions drop them here.  I hope my barely coherent thoughts are helpful! 

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First of all, thanks a lot for responding. I just have a few more questions I want to ask you. You said that other variables are affecting the fish and shore birds, could you tell me what you think some of those variables are? What sorts of garbage/pollution are you finding? Thanks again for you help.

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Two things come to mind:

the introduction of invasive species, namely the mussels that filter the water, and the cleaning of the lake.  We don't get as much run-off from farm fields, storm sewers, and fertilizer as we used to.  I know around me there's been a huge effort to put buffer strips around fields, to grass the water ways that drain the fields, to not till fields in the fall.

When I started salmon fishing you ran your plugs 4' behind the downrigger cannonball to use the noise of the cannonball to attract the fish.  Last time I was out we could easily count rocks on the bottom in 26' of water.

 

On beach days we find a little bit of every thing.  Lots of water bottles.  Plastic bags.

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Due to the declining fish population, have you had any trouble fishing?

When you said that you could count the rocks on the bottom, you meant that the water was clearer, right? If so, I read a little bit about it and found that the clearer water isn't very good for the ecosystem, because the mussels have been filtering the water and lowering the numbers of the organisms at the base of the food chain. Could you give me you thoughts on that? Were you talking about the river or the lake? 

Do you have any thoughts or knowledge of micro plastics in the lake?

Any information you could give me would be great!

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Yes, while the king salmon fishing was spectacular this spring as the limited fish were concentrated in SW Lake Michigan, after June 15 I never caught another king salmon.  Due to fewer fish being planted and no fish being planted around Holland, where we used to take time off to fish as the fish came back into the harbor, now I don't even bother.  Three trips this year around the harbor and not a king taken.  Contrast with Labor Day afternoon in 2012 when we caught 27 kings, three coho, and a walleye in about 7 hours.  July 28, 2012 we caught 17 fish in an hour in a half and had to throw the last two back and quit as we were in a catch 15 tournament, who knows how many fish we could have caught that day.

My buddy in four days of pre-fishing for and then fishing in a tournament out of Holland this year caught one (1) king.  Lake trout are present, but not very exciting.

The lake is cleaning up - we could see the bottom of Lake Michigan easily in 26', due to fewer nutrients getting into the lake, and the mussels continuously filtering the water. 

No knowledge of the micro plastics.

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Okay, thanks  a ton for your help. I appreciate all the information. It will be very helpful for my research project.

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Not sure if it's to late just seen this post. Biggest complaints of plastic would be balloons. I think in total we landed 6 balloons on are line this season with others that missed the line. As stated above we also fish out of Holland mi. And this was a very bad fall. We never got one salmon inside a 100 foot of water. 

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