Michigan Sea Grant is in search of a driven individual who wants to play a key role in Great Lakes education and outreach. The right candidate will have a passion for sharing science-based information and be highly collaborative in their work.
Michigan Sea Grant, in partnership with Friends of the Detroit River, is hiring a student intern to create a story map webpage, to be included on the Friends of the Detroit River website.
New Michigan Sea Grant book offers a self-guided tour of 22 Belle Isle locations, their stories and history.
By Mary Bohling
Book cover shows an aerial view of Belle Isle, a state park located in the Detroit River between the US and Canada. The guidebook reveals the unique aspects of how the island has evolved over time, from early English settlement to the connection to New York’s Central Park and today as Michigan’s 102nd State Park.
Belle Isle Park is a beautiful island park in the Detroit River – and one of my favorite places. The island is owned by the City of Detroit and managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a state park. The island also has a lot of history and interesting stories to tell:
Did you know that the island was once known as Pig or Hog Island, as early settlers used to bring their hogs out to the island for the summer?
Did you know that Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest public aquarium in North America?
Did you know that the Art Deco lighthouse on the island was designed by well-known Detroit architect Albert Kahn and has been lit since it began operating in 1930?
A book is born
For several years I gave tours around the island using information gleaned from a variety of sources. Those tours included colorful stories of rumored Speakeasies and prominent Detroiters, architectural roots of various buildings and habitat restoration projects I have assisted with. I soon realized that I either needed to make giving tours a full-time job or find a different way to share this information! I decided I couldn’t give up my day job as a Michigan State University Extension educator with Michigan Sea Grant — thus came this book, “Beautiful Belle Isle: Detroit’s Unique Urban Park.”
Guidebook features 22 sites
This self-guided tour book features 22 sites of historical, cultural and ecological significance on the island. Readers can learn history and stories about this beautiful 982-acre park located between the United States and Canada. The guidebook reveals the unique aspects of how the island has evolved over time, from early English settlement to the connection to New York’s Central Park and today as Michigan’s 102nd State Park.
Many people contributed photos, content, editing, design and much more to make this guidebook a reality. Printing of the book was funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The book will be available to use with bike and kayak rentals at the island and is printed on water resistant paper. It is also available for purchase on the Michigan Sea Grant website for $12. Hopefully by using this guidebook, visitors will come to love the history, stories and the island as much as I do.
Charter fishing on Lake Huron picked up steam in 2017 while other lakes held strong.
By Daniel O’Keefe
Charter fishing catch and effort statistics from 2017 are now available from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Charter Boat Reporting Program. Each year, the economic impact of charter fishing is calculated by Michigan Sea Grant based on the number of fishing trips that charter captains report to the DNR.
Despite the many problems that challenge the future of Great Lakes fisheries, charter fishing continues to provide an important component of coastal tourism. In fact, the economic impact of tourism generated by charter fishing in Michigan rose to $25.4 million in 2017. This represents a 4.5 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 after adjusting for inflation.
Lake Michigan holds steady
The Lake Michigan fishery has experienced a lot of uncertainty in recent years, but the lake’s charter fishing industry has been remarkably steady since the late 1990s. Fluctuations in charter fishing effort (and resulting economic impacts) have not been closely linked to catch rates, in part because fishing success has ranged from good to fantastic since Chinook salmon recovered from a bacterial kidney disease (BKD) epidemic in the mid-1990s.
In 2017, charter captains logged 12,122 fishing trips in Michigan waters of Lake Michigan, generating tourism that created over $7 million in personal income and over 322,000 employment hours. This was very similar to the economic impact of 11,791 trips reported in 2016, and reflects the continued high level of interest in charter fishing for salmon and trout.
Lake Michigan offers anglers a variety of trout and salmon species, but Chinook salmon are often considered the premier gamefish. Charter fishing produced an average of 2.1 Chinooks per trip in 2017, which is similar to catch rates in 2015 and 2016. Prior to 2013, Chinook salmon targeted catch rates were much higher (up to 7.4 per charter trip) but fishing effort and economic impacts were similar.
Catch rates are calculated by the Michigan DNR, and these rates represent the number of Chinooks caught per trip targeting salmon and trout of all species. These targeted catch rates are used to exclude incidental salmon catches taken by anglers fishing for walleye, bass, or other fish that are targeted using different gear or methods.
The resurgence of Lake Huron
Much of the angst surrounding declining Chinook salmon catch rates on Lake Michigan is related to the crash of Lake Huron’s salmon fishery in 2004. After Chinook salmon targeted catch rates fell from 2.4 fish per charter trip in 2004 to 1.2 fish per trip in 2005 the Lake Huron charter fishery was cut in half.
Although Lake Huron’s charter industry was never as large as Lake Michigan’s, the impact of lost tourism and fishing opportunities was devastating to many coastal communities. From 2006 to 2015, Lake Huron captains logged fewer than 2,000 charter trips per year, but in 2016 things started looking up. Fishing effort rose to 2,154 trips in 2016 – just below the long-term average of 2,176 (1990-2017). In 2017, Lake Huron rose above this long-term average for the first time since 2004 with 2,548 trips logged.
The economic impact of Lake Huron charter fishing has increased by roughly 45 percent since 2015. In 2017, charter fishing generated tourism that created over 90,000 employment hours and $1.2 million in personal income for coastal communities on Lake Huron. When adjusted for inflation, this looks more like the good old days than the “collapsed fishery” we have heard so much about.
There are some big differences between today’s Lake Huron charter fishery and the fishery of 2002, though. For one thing, Chinook salmon remain scarce in most of the lake for most of the year. In fact, anglers targeting salmon and trout caught fewer than one Chinook for every two trips taken in 2017. The resurgence in Lake Huron’s fishery is not due to any recovery of Chinook salmon, but solid lake trout fishing, phenomenal walleye catch rates (over 25 fish caught per charter trip targeting walleye), and changing regulations on Saginaw Bay may have had positive impacts. Saginaw Bay now accounts for 41 percent of charter fishing effort on Lake Huron, up from a low of around 8 percent in 2005.
Since 2015, anglers on Saginaw Bay have been able to keep up to eight walleye per day, and the minimum size limit was reduced from 15 to 13 inches. The long term biological goal is, in part, to reduce the number of walleye preying on yellow perch. Historically, yellow perch have been extremely important in drawing anglers to Great Lakes fisheries so this could be an additional boon in years to come.
While things do seem to be looking up on Lake Huron, it is also possible that 2017 was just an exceptionally good year relative to the “new normal.” It would be premature to assume that other species have effectively filled in the gap left by the loss of Chinook salmon, but results from last year’s charter season are definitely encouraging. Anecdotal reports from the 2018 season suggest that fishing effort and harvest may be a bit lower on Saginaw Bay because of high winds that result in cancelled trips and warm water that caused walleye to leave the bay earlier than usual.
Other waters continue to offer world class fishing
Although salmon get a lot of attention when it comes to charter fishing, many Michigan waters offer incredible fishing opportunities for other species. Lake Erie provides fast fishing for walleye, with 2017 being no exception. Lake Superior’s vast expanse of cold water attracts lake trout anglers. Some Superior charter captains offer trips that focus on casting or jigging, which offers a fun alternative to trolling methods used in most Great Lakes lake trout waters. The St. Mary’s River hosts a run of Atlantic salmon, which is renowned for its tendency to jump repeatedly when hooked. Atlantics are also starting to show up regularly in northern and southern Lake Huron due to expanded stocking.
Detroit may be the largest urban center in Michigan, but it also provides some of the fastest fishing around. The St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River offer catch-and-release charter fishing options on some of the best smallmouth bass and musky waters in the world. The musky is known as the “fish of 10,000 casts” but in 2017 charter fishing in Lake St. Clair produced an average of 2.7 fish per trip. Charter trips targeting bass on Lake St. Clair produced over 25 fish per trip in 2017. Yellow perch and walleye also provide great fishing for charter anglers who prefer to keep their catch. The Detroit River is a hotspot for walleye in the spring, and walleye charters harvested an average of 16 fish per trip in 2017.
No matter where you are in Michigan, quality charter fishing is never very far from your doorstep.
Michigan Sea Grant seeks an Extension educator for the western Upper Peninsula.
Specific responsibilities include (but are not limited to):
Developing, conducting, and evaluating innovative educational programs that meet current and projected needs.
Communicating and interacting with community groups to evaluate the needs of the clientele.
Master’s degree from an accredited institution in a field of study related to freshwater fisheries, water quality, seafood safety, natural resources, or related field.
Degree must be earned by date of hire.
3 years of experience in Extension program delivery or demonstrated ability and skill in educational program planning, implementation, and evaluation (preferred: relevant experience acquired within the last 5 years).
To view the full position description and qualifications, please visit the internal or external Michigan State University careers page and search for posting number 535110 in the Job Search field. Additional details can also be found in the PDF documents below.
The position will be open until filled, with applicant review set to begin during the week of 10/15/18.
Come explore the amazing cultural and natural history of the Straits of Mackinac with Michigan Sea Grant and Mackinac County 4-H! Held on September 15 at 10-4, this daylong event will include exciting activities on Mackinac Island surrounding the geology and cultural history of the island. Children will have the opportunity to hunt for fossils, explore a historic fort, and enjoy a nutritious lunch. Best of all, this event is free to 4-H members and their families! Ferry tickets and lunch along with all activities are provided free of charge.
This event is intended for families with children ages 9-14. Parents/guardians are encouraged to attend, but not required. If children under the age of 9 are attending, a parent or legal guardian must accompany the child at all times.
Children between the ages of 5-18 must be a registered 4-H member to attend the event. 4-H registration information will be provided upon completing the Life of the Straits registration. There is a 4-H membership fee of $20 per child; however, scholarships are available to cover the 4-H membership fee. It is not necessary for a child participating in this event to attend any additional 4-H events.
Please note you will have the option to join us in St Ignace and receive a free ferry ride to the island at 9:30 am. Meet at Star Line Ferry Main Dock #3 in St. Ignace. Alternatively, you can join the group on Mackinac Island at 10:30 am at the Star Line Dock. For maps of dock locations and additional ferry information, see https://www.mackinacferry.com/.
9:30-10 am: Meet at Star Line Ferry dock in St. Ignace to get ferry ticket and board ferry
10-10:30 am: Ferry ride to Mackinac Island
10:30-11 am: Split into groups and walk to destinations from Mackinac Island Star Line Ferry Dock
11 am-12:30 pm: Cultural History activity at Fort Holms / Geology Activity at Arch Rock
12:30-1 pm: Walk to lunch Location
1-1:45 pm: Lunch
1:45-2 pm: Walk to activity destinations
2-3:30 pm: Cultural History activity at Fort Holms / Geology Activity at Arch Rock
3:30-4 pm: Return to Star Line ferry dock
Members of the public are invited to a workshop aimed at uncovering strategies that will enable Elk Rapids to begin the widespread implementation of green infrastructure.
Green infrastructure relies on plants and ecosystem processes to capture, slow, and purify rainwater and snowmelt. Green infrastructure projects can offer an attractive and eco-friendly alternative to traditional grey infrastructure components, such as storm sewers and concrete culverts.
Lawrence Technological University, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc., and the University of Michigan are collaborating on a project to investigate barriers to green infrastructure implementation in Michigan. The project includes multiple approaches to stakeholder engagement, including an online survey, focus groups, and community green infrastructure visioning meetings.
Elk Rapids was selected by the project team to host a community visioning meeting based on its location, demographics, and potential for success. The vision meeting provides an opportunity for an open community discussion and participation in exercises that focus on the core project question.
Community participation exercises include identifying opportunities for green infrastructure implementation and sharing opinions on value of natural systems in the downtown and waterfront area.
Members of the public are invited to participate on Monday, September 17, from 4-6 pm in the Old Council Chambers at the Government Center (315 Bridge Street). No RSVP is necessary.
The event will begin with a community definition and mapping exercise, followed by an opportunity for participants to express their preferences for a variety of green infrastructure techniques.
Any questions related to the project or process may be directed to Donald Carpenter, (248) 763-4099 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed and efforts to preserve and protect this natural resource, please contact Sarah U’Ren, program director at the Watershed Center – Grand Traverse Bay, (231) 935-1514 or email@example.com
A Seafood Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Training Course that is being coordinated by Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission will be held December 4-6, 2018 at Bay Mills Resort and Casino in Brimley, Michigan. All fish processors are required to take this training if they are not currently certified.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) consists of identifying safety hazards, determining where they occur, monitoring these points and recording the results. HACCP involves day-to-day monitoring of critical control points by production employees. The Seafood HACCP regulation that is enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is based on the belief that commercial fish processors can understand the food safety hazards of their products and take reasonable steps to control them. Commercial fish processors are required either to obtain formal training for one or more of their own employees or to hire trained independent contractors to perform the HACCP functions.
The HACCP regulation requires processors to keep extensive records of processing and sanitation at their facilities. At times, questions arise as to whether someone needs training in Seafood HACCP. The Seafood HACCP regulation defines processing as handling, storing, preparing, heading, eviscerating, shucking, freezing, changing into different market forms, manufacturing, preserving, packing, labeling, dockside unloading, or holding fish or fishery products.
The regulation does not apply to the harvest or transport of fishery products. It also does not apply to practices such as heading, eviscerating or freezing intended solely to prepare fish for holding on a harvest vessel. Retail establishments are also exempt from the Seafood HACCP regulation.
Fish processors who complete the course put themselves at a competitive advantage as they can then produce value added products such as smoked fish and caviar. Those completing the course will receive a Seafood Alliance HACCP Certificate issued through the Association of Food and Drug Officials that is recognized by agencies regulating fish processors.
Birds and mammals are usually the focus for wildlife watchers, but the fall salmon run provides spectacular fish-watching opportunities, too. Visit weirs and dams in west Michigan this fall or watch a new video to enjoy the spectacle.
By Daniel O’Keefe
Hunting and fishing get much of the attention when it comes to outdoor recreation, but a recent survey by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service found that more Americans engage in wildlife watching than fishing and hunting combined. The survey found that 17 million people traveled for bird watching in 2016, while 4.3 million traveled to watch fish.
Of course, birds are usually much easier to observe in their natural environment than fish – but fall in west Michigan offers a chance to watch salmon as they jump barriers and congregate in clear, shallow water to spawn. The large fish are often easy to see in clear water, but polarized sunglasses can be helpful to cut through glare on the surface.
Rivers of the northwestern Lower Peninsula provide excellent opportunities to view salmon due to high quality habitat and a combination of natural reproduction and stocking. Smaller natural runs can be found in creeks scattered around the state, and stocking supports large runs of salmon in some rivers where spawning habitat is lacking. Some of the best locations for watching salmon are closed to fishing during the salmon run because fish are so abundant and vulnerable to fishing or illegal snagging (be sure to check the latest version of Michigan Fishing Guide for current regulations if you plan to fish at any of the following locations).
During their upstream migration, salmon encounter obstacles both natural and man-made. Weirs are removable man-made barriers that serve to block the passage of fish upstream at certain times of the year. Michigan Department of Natural Resourcesoperates several weirs, and some of the best fish watching opportunities in the state can be found below weirs on the Little Manistee River east of Stronach, Platte River near Honor, and Boardman River in Traverse City. Check links for driving directions and details for each location or click here to learn more about how and why weirs are operated.
Dams and fish ladders
Dams provide great opportunities for fish watching because they are often located in urban environments and are easily accessible to large numbers of people. Fish Ladder Park in Grand Rapids is one of the best places to view salmon beginning around Labor Day. Visitors can see salmon jumping at Sixth Street Dam on the Grand River and ascending a fish ladder that allows salmon to work their way upstream one small step at a time. Brenke Fish Ladder in Lansing is another option for viewing coho salmon in the Grand River later in the season (October and November). Other dams like Tippy Dam near Wellston, Homestead Dam near Benzonia, and Hamlin Dam at Ludington State Park are farther off the beaten path but provide great places to watch the salmon run in a more natural setting.
Clear creeks and gravelly rivers
Many river systems host large salmon runs. The Pere Marquette River, Manistee River, Betsie River, and Platte River all offer a good combination of clear, shallow water and public land with forested trails ideal for exploring. Paddling a canoe or kayak on these scenic rivers is always a treat, but late summer and early fall offer the added bonus of salmon viewing.
These rivers are also popular with salmon fishermen during much of the season, so crowding can be an issue and fish may avoid shallow water when fishing pressure is heavy. However, many smaller streams are closed to fishing during the peak of salmon spawning activity. Over 1,400 Michigan streams are classified as Type 1 streams by the Michigan DNR. These small creeks are closed to fishing after September 30 each year, and this makes them ideal for watching salmon spawn. Salmon are less wary when they are not concerned about hooks, and Type 1 streams offer the chance to get up close to salmon as they spawn over gravel beds in clear, shallow water.
To find a likely spot near you, start with streams outlined in green on the map of trout streams in your area. Not all Type 1 streams support salmon runs, but most gravel-bottomed Type 1 streams will host at least small numbers of fish if no downstream dams block their progress upstream. Some of the best places to look are small creeks that flow into larger rivers that are popular with salmon anglers.
Videos and webcams
If you can’t get out on the water, you can still watch Michigan salmon on webcams or YouTube. The Center for Freshwater Research and Education at Lake Superior State Universityhas a webcam in the St. Mary’s River, where viewers can watch Atlantic salmon returning to their stocking site. Another webcam is located in the fish ladder at Berrien Springs. Funding for the purchase and installation of this camera was provided by Evoke kayaks, and a crowdfunding campaign will begin in mid-August 2018, to support operation of the Berrien Springs fishcam.
Michigan Sea Grant also recently released a YouTube video with scenes from the salmon run. The video features underwater footage of salmon in many of the locations mentioned in this article and provides science-based interpretation of salmon behavior during the spawning run.