Northern Lake Michigan Report
By Captain Tony Radjenovich – MCBA Director
Captains I hope you and yours are doing well. The pandemic was tough on a lot of people during the winter months. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who may have lost a family member or friend.
As we look forward to the 2021 fishing season getting our boats and gear ready to go are always a top priority for most of us. At the same time the managers of the Great Lakes are planning for Spring stocking of fish. For us who fish in northern Lake Michigan we should be aware and have input in the decisions the MDNR makes regarding the stocking of fish. Before we discuss how the anglers in northern Lake Michigan can provide input, I want to give a brief account of how the lake is managed. The MDNR needs to work with the Lake Michigan Committee. The Lake Michigan Committee consist of senior staff members from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin department of natural resources and the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority. The Lake Michigan Committee considers issues and problems of common concern to its members. They develop and coordinate management programs and research projects. They also work together on other items interest.
One of the most common talked about management issues is the predator prey ratio. This means that when stocking predator fish, the MDNR needs to stay within the predator prey models that have been developed by the Lake Michigan Committee to not have more predators in the lake than the prey fish can support. Although many species of fish are stocked each year the most talked about are salmon and trout. This Spring the MDNR will not stock any Steelhead in the lake. The MDNR was unable to take eggs last Spring due to Covid-19. Because Steelhead are not being stocked there is excess capacity for predator equivalents to be stocked. The MDNR have about 235,000 Chinook to replace the Steelhead that would have been planted. The MDNR has decided to plant these fish outside of the 1836 Treaty Ceded Waters, which includes all of northern Lake Michigan.
It is painfully obvious that only a small portion of the Chinook are being planted in northern Lake Michigan. It does not make any sense in a year when there are additional Chinook to be planted. Not to mention that the Steelhead will not be planted either.
One way to participate in the discussion of stocking fish in Lake Michigan is to participate on the Lake Michigan Citizens Fishery Advisory Committee. The charge of the Lake Michigan Citizens Fishery Advisory Committee is to review and provide input and direction into the fishery goals, objectives, and management plans for Lake Michigan. Members help the DNR chart the future course of fisheries management by representing the diversity of citizen interests in the Lake Michigan basin. The President of MCBA sits on the committee and represents charter captains from the perspective of our statewide association. While there are many fishing clubs and organizations that sit on the committee, currently only one from northern Lake Michigan is on the committee and a second organization is being considered. As MCBA Director of Northern Lake Michigan, which includes all ports north of Arcadia, I feel the north end of Lake Michigan is not adequately represented. If you have a club or organization from your port, please reach out to LMCFAC Chair Denny Grinold or contact me I will provide you more information. Your participation in the process is the best way to ensure your comments and concerns are heard by the decision-makers.
Good luck as you prepare for your 2021 fishing season.