Michigan Trout - Spring 2021

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Au Sable and North Central Rivers

Muskegon, P.M. and Western MI Rivers


Boardman and Manistee Rivers



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Spring 2021 MICHIGAN TROUT MAGAZINE P.O. Box 442 Dewitt, Michigan 48820-8820 (517) 599-5238 bryanburroughs@michigantu.org

In the state where Trout Unlimited was founded, Michigan TU will work to ensure clean, healthy streams and rivers supporting thriving populations of wild trout and salmon for future generations to enjoy.


Chairman’s Report by Tom Mundt


A Collaborative Method is the Best Method: Let Me Tell You Why by Kristin Thomas, Michigan TU Aquatic Ecologist


Trout Unlimited National’s Work in the Great Lakes by Nichol DeMol, Great Lakes Habitat Program Manager

10 A Deeper Look into Beavers and Trout Streams in Michigan by Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Michigan TU Executive Director 12

Michigan TU Chapter Updates by Joe Barker

14 Large Quantity Water Withdrawal Assessment Program by Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Michigan TU Executive Director/ Water Use Advisory Council Co-Chair 16

Trout Lake Suitability by Tim Cwalinski, Michigan DNR

18 Be on the Lookout for Invasive European Frog-Bit by Paige Filice and Erick Elgin, Michigan State University Extension 19

A Caddis to Count On by Ann R. Miller

20 Michigan TU’s New Mining Policy by Al Woody and Robb Smith, Michigan TU Conservation Committee

EDITOR Joe Barker (586) 206-1414 jbarker@michigantu.org PUBLISHER/PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Ron Peckens Fisheye Internet Solutions & Hosting LLC (248) 909-2916 www.fisheyeinternet.com ADVERTISING Tom Quail (248) 495-2615 advertising@michigantu.org MICHIGAN TROUT UNLIMITED Chairman: Tom Mundt Vice Chairman: Gabe Schneider Treasurer: Robb Smith Sr. Secretary: Mike Lagowski Executive Director: Dr. Bryan Burroughs Aquatic Biologist: Kristin Thomas Past Chairman: Gregory Walz NLC Representative: Robb Smith Sr. Development: Jim Cantril Operations & Finance: Tom Mundt Education: Greg Potter Chapter Assistance: Open Communications: Ron Peckens Conservation: Al Woody MICHIGAN TROUT is the official publication of Michigan Trout Unlimited. Copyright 2021. Issues are mailed to all members of Trout Unlimited Chapters throughout Michigan. Send all editorial correspondence to the editor. Advertising rate card is available at the following address https://bit.ly/3kPLoCf


The One Inch Minnows of Spring by Kevin Feenstra, Feenstra Guide Service


A Pilgrimage of Trout by Rick Fowler

Michigan Trout and Michigan Trout Unlimited reserves the right to accept or reject proposed advertisements at their sole discretion.


Try the Bronze-Colored Trout by Roger Hinchcliff, Steelhead Manifesto

Cover art: “The Forest,’” original oil painting by Lori McElrath Eslick. www.EslickArt.com.


I am also happy to report that Michigan TU’s core officer team remains intact, with Robb Smith and Mike Lagowski being re-elected as treasurer and secretary, respectively. Robb will also continue to be our representative to TU’s National Leadership Council, heading up that organization’s Great Lakes Workgroup, which recently published “A Case for the Great Lakes.” This in-depth document provides an overview of the many threats facing the Great Lakes, as well as a summary of the challenges and choices that need to be addressed in the world’s largest freshwater resource. Please read this report, which can be found within the Protect tab under the Core Activities section of the Michigan TU website - www. michigantu.org. Greg Walz will now serve as past chair, focusing on making sure I stay on track and supporting conservation initiatives. I want to give Tom Quail, who has served as past chair for the last two years, a big thank you for

his leadership, which has contributed to Michigan TU’s success, including his role as lead Michigan Trout magazine advertising executive. Tom can use some help in this arena, so please contact him if you wish to support our magazine ad program. Turning to the committees, Ron Peckens (Paul Young Chapter) will continue to lead Web and Social Media Communications. Joe Barker (Vanguard Chapter) will edit Michigan Trout magazine and organize editorial board meetings. Greg Potter (Kalamazoo Valley Chapter) will continue to head the Education Committee, and Al Woody (Schrems Chapter) continues as Conservation Chair. I am also pleased to announce that Jim Cantril (Fred Waara Chapter) has accepted the role of Development Chair and is already working on several new fundraising ideas. Finally, I will continue as the Finance and Operations Chair until a qualified volunteer comes forward to take the helm (Help - I encourage anyone interested in this position to please contact Robb or me). I thank all of the officers and committee chairs and chapter officers and representatives for volunteering their time and talents to further Michigan TU’s mission to protect, restore, and reconnect our state’s unique coldwater stream and rivers. I want to report that your Michigan TU team weathered the COVID-19 crisis well. It has been working hard on a wide range of conservation, policy, and legislative issues facing our state’s coldwater rivers and streams, albeit with significantly less face time with their colleagues and partners. With the pandemic placing 2020 fieldwork on hold, the team took full advantage of office time to develop work plans and secure permits and grants. This will ensure we get a running start in 2021 to execute dam removals along a tributary of Big Creek in Luzerne and kick off a major in-stream restoration initiative within the Upper Manistee River watershed. Please read Kristin Thomas’s article in this issue of Michigan Trout, which details the Upper Manistee project. When complete, the initiative will significantly improve the quality of this Michigan gem. The team has a seat on the state’s Large Quantity Water Withdrawal Advisory Council and is assisting this body to create and adopt regulations that protect the resource from excessive new water withdrawals. Finally, our Executive Director Bryan Burroughs was selected as a key member of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Dam Safety Taskforce, which the governor charged with reviewing and analyzing all components of dam management from regulatory and ...continued on page 11

Spring 2021

I want to welcome and introduce our newest team member, Gabe Schneider, who has joined the State Council as vice-chair. Gabe has an extensive background in governmental affairs, strategic consulting, business development, public relations and marketing, as well as hands-on knowledge of the legislative process gained by serving as the regional representative and community affairs specialist for former U.S. Senator Carl Levin. The entire team is looking forward to working with Gabe. Please drop him a welcome email when you get a chance.

by Tom Mundt


It is a pleasure and an honor to have been elected as Michigan TU’s council chair. As chair, I will work with and support our staff as they engage in a wide range of initiatives to protect Michigan’s coldwater resources. I will also connect with the ever-growing number of TU National team members working on various projects across our state to ensure that the Michigan TU team and chapters have full awareness and input, when appropriate, into the initiatives this highly talented team is working on. In the spirit of full disclosure, we will be adding a section in future issues of Michigan Trout magazine dedicated to TU National initiatives.


Photo credit: Kevin Feenstra

Chairman’s Report

Michigan Trout Unlimited


A Collaborative Method is the Best Method: Let Me Tell You Why


by Kristin Thomas, Michigan TU Aquatic Ecologist

Spring 2021

I’ve written a couple of articles about the collaborative partnership which Michigan TU facilitates on the Upper Manistee River: an introduction to the method and an introduction to the first in-stream restoration project we have planned. Now I’d like to lay out my case for collaboration, convince you that this process leads to the selection of the best projects and that, in the end, it is the easiest method. That’s right, easiest overall; some hard work up-front helps lay the path for smooth sailing later. To layout my case, I need to start at the beginning and take you through the whole process. The Upper Manistee Collaborative Partnership was created to bring together Upper Manistee River stakeholders to improve fish habitat. A simple goal, not such a simple process – review data, identify opportunities to improve habitat, identify data gaps, identify priorities among partners, and develop plans to address high priority projects. The process began with a rough implementation plan, which laid out the steps we would take to identify the projects most needed to improve and preserve fish habitat in the Upper Manistee River. This plan was provided to all 19+ partners for review and comment. When all were relatively happy with a plan, we moved on to phase 1—identifying and summarizing existing Upper Manistee data. Data were identified and reviewed and then summarized into a report, “The Upper Manistee River Watershed: A summary of existing data.” In addition, all of the data points were put on an interactive map to allow stakeholders to visualize where and what type of data was available. The map can be viewed at https://arcg.is/18TO4L. We asked collaborative partners to review the data summary report to determine their organization’s priorities in the watershed. We then had a meeting of the minds to determine the direction of the collaborative group. How do you find some

consensus among over 19 partners, all with varying priorities and missions? I won’t claim to be a magician or an expert here, but I will tell you what has worked for us so far. Giving everyone a seat at the table. After a presentation and summary of the information, we gave each group a chance to voice their priorities. We wrote down those priorities and looked for commonality. In this case, one project stood out as a priority for most partners – the lack of habitat diversity between Yellow Trees Landing and CCC Bridge. As a group, we decided to focus in-stream work on the highest priority project to the highest number of partners while also collecting data to help solidify additional priorities. Our focus on the Yellow Trees to CCC Bridge area would first collect missing data to identify the problem better, and thus potential solutions, followed by project design and fundraising. Interns spent a summer collecting data in the target area. They surveyed the river’s shape, the amount and quality of woody habitat, the bottom substrate composition (sand, gravel, boulder), temperature, aquatic vegetation, and deep water. Data was collected from wide shallow areas with



minimal habitat and from “reference” areas with deep water and abundant habitat. We also floated the target area as a collaborative group and discussed ideas along the way. All of this information was synthesized and presented to the group, along with some ideas for improvement work. The primary focus was to increase habitat diversity through the addition of woody habitat. The final design plans look a lot different from those first presented, which is a testament to the power of collaboration. They absolutely improved through the addition of ideas and adjustments from a variety of partners.

The collaborative process was also critical for permits. By the time we submitted permit applications, we had modified our designs many times over. We had incorporated comments and ideas from partners, talked through plans, adjusted, and readjusted. We were fortunate to do this work with our agency partners as well as others. This helped in permitting. The regulators were familiar with the project. They had seen previous iterations, and we had incorporated criteria we knew they might require, such as a monitoring plan. All of this combined for a relatively easy permitting process. I won’t go so far as to say seamless or simple. I’m not sure that is possible, but it certainly could have been more difficult. As we work towards implementation on project number one, we have begun to identify and plan the next projects. We are planning to continue using this data-driven, collaborative process to get work done. At the end of the day, data-driven collaboration can be difficult, but it is so very worthwhile. Why is it worthwhile? The reasons are many but high on the list is justification. Scientific and social justification make fundraising and permitting easier. There are objective facts to point to supporting your project. The other key is the willingness to listen to other people’s ideas and critiques. Open minds open doors; often, genuine conversations about differing ideas lead to the best work. Diversity of thought is a plus; embrace it. Perhaps this collaborative paradigm sounds intriguing but overwhelming to you or your chapter. Good news, you have a Michigan TU staff person who genuinely enjoys this work. I am here to help your chapter navigate through this process should you so choose. Not only do I enjoy facilitating collaboration, but I also love piecing together data to determine limiting factors in a watershed. I enjoy solving puzzles – logic, jigsaw, aquatic ecology – all of them. So don’t hesitate to reach out if you are interested but unsure. I am here to help. Kristin Thomas (kthomas@michigantu.org 616-460-0477).

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Spring 2021

The data drive justification for this project, along with the collaborative partnership from which it originated, made it highly desirable for funding, as did the cash donations we received from several partners to start the process and implement the project. Both grant applications were successful, and we were able to leverage our start-up donations four times over. Will it always be this easy to get money for projects derived from a scientifically-backed collaborative process? I would guess not. But it certainly doesn’t hurt the chances either.


This is the point where collaboration starts to pay off. We had what the group felt was a factor limiting the fishery, and we had a plan to address that factor. Now we needed funding and permits to get the work done. We sought funding from the DNR Fisheries Habitat Grant Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Sustain Our Great Lakes Program. We presented a project with extensive justification, refined plans, and a large number of engaged partners.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Trout Unlimited National’s Work in the Great Lakes


by Nichol DeMol, Great Lakes Habitat Program Manager

Spring 2021

Trout Unlimited continues to increase its efforts in the Great Lakes region. The past year saw a wide range of success for TU’s Great Lakes Program across the “Protect, Reconnect, Restore and Sustain” components of our mission. The region’s staff continues to grow to meet the growing demands, with a total of nine full-time staffers now. The Great Lakes staff includes biologists, engineers, and policy experts who provide project management, grant management, engineering design, training, youth education, and monitoring to carry out TU’s conservation mission. Below are highlights of our work across the Great Lakes, as well as a short introduction to the staffers working on these projects. If you have any questions about TU’s work in the Great Lakes region, please reach out to the field team members noted below or the Great Lakes Habitat Program Manager, Nichol DeMol, at nichol.demol@tu.org. You can keep up with the team’s many efforts by following TU’s Great Lakes Program on Facebook (@GreatLakesTU) and Instagram (@troutunlimitedgreatlakes). Rogue River Located near the second largest metropolitan area in Michigan, the Rogue River is an extremely important trout fishery in southwestern Michigan. However, the watershed is experiencing pressures from growth and development, resulting in rising summer water temperatures and excessive sediment input. Because of this threat, TU designated the Rogue River as a Home River in 2010. Jamie Vaughan has been working with TU as the Project Manager for the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative since 2014. One of the latest restoration projects she led was the planting of over 17,000 trees within the watershed. Along with restoration activities, Jamie has been creating opportunities to inspire the next generation of conservation-minded anglers through outreach and education efforts. In 2021, TU’s STREAM (Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Girls program, a watershed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program for girls, will be expanded into new watersheds throughout the state. To foster the next generation of women scientists, TU, through the STREAM Girls program, aims to bridge the gender gap in STEM fields by engaging girls in hands-on science and fly fishing. Jamie has also been assisting with West Michigan’s

first Mayfly Project, which uses fly fishing as a catalyst to mentor and support children in foster care. This summer, the team is rebuilding efforts to engage foster students this and looking for volunteers to bring this amazing program to fruition. This is a great opportunity to use your skills as an angler and support children in foster care through fly fishing to have fun, build confidence, and develop a meaningful connection with the outdoors. To learn more about TU’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative and youth education efforts, please reach out to Jamie Vaughan at jamie.vaughan@tu.org. Great Lakes Science TU’s citizen science opportunities in the Great Lakes have grown with the relocation of TU’s Eastern Angler Science Coordinator, Jake Lemon. Jake transferred from Pennsylvania to Michigan in 2018 and leads the citizen science programs, which include spawning redd counts, water temperature and flow monitoring, watershed assessments using TU’s RIVERS app, and eDNA sampling. This past year TU supported our chapters and partners in enhancing their water monitoring activities with the Mayfly Sensor Station, a real-time stream monitoring technology. Developed by Stroud Water Research Center, the Mayfly Sensor Station is a low-cost, an easy-to-use water monitoring station designed to collect continuous data. Data are then uploaded to an online database via cellular signal for real-time access to current stream conditions (https://monitormywatershed.org/). This year, TU will be launching a new project involving mapping stream temperature in fine-scale using thermal cameras mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones. This fine-scale mapping will enable us to find seeps, springs, and tributaries providing thermal refugia to coldwater species, enhancing our ability to prioritize site projects. If you would like to know more about TU’s community science efforts in the Great Lakes region, contact Jake Lemon at jacob.lemon@tu.org. Northern Wisconsin TU staff is working in Wisconsin to reconnect and protect native trout habitat in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior tributaries. Chris Collier, Project Manager in Wisconsin, has continued efforts that have resulted in a total of 115 miles reconnected since 2016. Highlighting


Northern Michigan Jeremy Geist is Project Manager for Northern Michigan, and Matthias Bonzo serves as Project Coordinator. Jeremy has been working for TU since 2015 and has recently hired Matthias to help coordinate efforts in Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. In 2020, we completed our fourth and fifth culvert replacement projects on Bigelow Creek, one of only two coldwater tributaries of the Muskegon River. We have now reconnected over twenty miles of Bigelow Creek to the mainstem Muskegon. We will have reconnected the entire Bigelow Creek watershed with three more culvert projects for resident and migratory fish.

Great Lakes Advocacy Taylor Ridderbusch holds the position of Great Lakes Organizer. He started in 2017 and is based in Lansing. Taylor works with the 42,000 TU members in Great Lakes states to advocate for habitat protection. This includes stopping Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes and maintaining critical conservation programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. In Michigan, TU has been working as part of the state’s Water Use Advisory Council (WUAC) to implement recommendations for updating the state’s water permitting program. After a year of work, the WUAC has submitted its report to the state legislature. The report identifies data gaps within the state’s groundwater assessment tool and seeks to protect lakes, streams, and rivers from over-withdrawal while allowing other stakeholder uses. For more information on TU’s advocacy efforts in the Great Lakes region, including how you can become involved, contact Taylor Ridderbusch at taylor. ridderbusch@tu.org.

TU staff continued monitoring efforts in Northern Michigan trout streams, conducting water quality and fish and invertebrate surveys. Additionally, TU and partners continue to collaborate and monitor for the invasive New Zealand Mud Snail (P. antipodarum) in trout streams throughout Michigan. In 2021, Manistee River watershed efforts are planned, with staff undertaking six culvert replacement projects. This work will add to the over thirty-five miles of already reconnected habitat in the watershed. Please reach out to Jeremy Geist (jeremy.geist@tu.org) or Matthias Bonzo (matthias.bonzo@tu.org) if you would like to learn more about their efforts in Northern Michigan. Heather Shaw holds the position of Project Manager for Upper Peninsula in Michigan. Based in Gwinn, Heather is

A salmon takes advantage of a new fish-friendly culvert on Bigelow Creek.

Spring 2021

Looking ahead to 2021, several road-stream crossing projects are planned in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, towns, and counties. We also have an in-stream restoration project designed for the Marengo River, in partnership with the Forest Service, to restore damage caused by historic floods in 2016 and 2018. If you would like to learn more about our northern Wisconsin projects, contact Chris Collier at chris.collier@tu.org. For more information on our design work, please reach out to Chad Kotke at chad.kotke@tu.org.


Chad is based in Lansing and fills the role of survey and design work. He works with project managers on dozens of projects each year to accelerate restoration in Michigan and Wisconsin. Complementing our fish passage work, TU also completed a habitat restoration and reconnection project in Wabeno, Wisconsin, by removing a remnant logging dam in the North Branch Oconto River. The dam structure created a drop in water surface and constricted the stream, preventing fish from freely moving upstream and degrading in-stream habitat.

the newest member of the Great Lakes team. She works closely with the Forest Service and is well underway in planning efforts to implement priority restoration and reconnection projects in the Ontonagon River watershed. Water quality is high, and streams provide cold water and good spawning riffles for sustained coaster brook trout, steelhead, brook trout, and brown trout reproduction. However, due to obsolete dams and impassible culverts, not all high-quality tributaries are accessible. TU and the Forest Service have partnered to establish a program to restore priority high-quality aquatic habitat and connectivity in the rivers and streams of the Ottawa National Forest. TU field staff are also working with the DNR to assess road-stream crossings across the western UP, surveying nearly 300 crossings during the 2020 field season. If you would like to know more about TU’s work in the UP, contact Heather Shaw at heather.shaw@tu.org.


this reconnected habitat is the first completed project under our community flood resiliency program. This project is located on the North Branch Beaver Creek, in the middle of a state fishery area, and was completed in partnership with the Wisconsin DNR and the town of Beaver. TU was able to assist with survey, design, and monitoring because of TU’s Stream Restoration Specialist, Chad Kotke.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


A Deeper Look into Beavers and Trout Streams in Michigan


by Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Michigan TU Executive Director

Spring 2021

A perennial topic of interest to trout anglers, trout managers, and wildlife managers is the role of beavers and their dams in trout streams. This topic has been around longer than any of us reading this article, yet there routinely remains many subtopics that seem to go unresolved. The purpose of this article is to review what we know and share insights. Regional Context Matters In Michigan, there is much-published research on the role of beavers on rivers. However, most of this was conducted in trout streams in the eastern or western United States. The Midwest and Michigan specifically are fundamentally different from those areas for numerous reasons that are critical in considering how beavers affect trout streams. In the more mountainous east and west, the geology is different, as is the topography and the resulting hydrology of trout streams. In those areas, bedrock and large elevation drops result in trout stream hydrology heavily influenced by runoff. Snowpack melt, much of which does not make it into deep groundwater aquifers, results in high spring flows followed by lower summer base flows. In contrast, Michigan has relatively low elevation drops and deep deposits of sand and glacial till where precipitation feeds into deep aquifers, delivering water to streams in a more stable flow regime. Because of lower stream slopes or gradients and the geology, our streams are dominated by sand and smaller gravels compared to high gradient cobble and boulder streams seen in the eastern and western United States. The effects of beaver dams in the east and west can generally be viewed as dams that create patches of slow water and low gradient habitats within large areas opposite those conditions. Hence, they can serve to create unique habitat diversity. From a hydrology perspective, these small impoundments and created wetlands can absorb and store some of the high peak runoff flows and deliver those floodwaters more slowly, acting as small aquifers of groundwater. This is a summary of many dynamics, but essentially, beaver dams in these contexts create unique and valuable habitats and conditions that are often rare without the beavers. Thus, much of the published research from those areas document positive aspects of beavers to trout streams. In Michigan, most of our trout streams are stable groundwater-fed streams, flowing across low slopes of terrain through relatively finer sediments. Here, beaver dams generally exacerbate already predominant conditions. They can further slow water where it was already flowing slowly. This can lead to additional sedimentation issues where sedimentation is a challenge already. Also, beaver dams can increase water temperature, and although they may help with

flood attenuation, flows may already be relatively stable. The types of habitat diversity we often seek to add or maintain are unique sections of the stream with higher slopes and abundant gravel and cobble. Hence, beaver dams often move us further away from the habitat portfolio we seek to create, even though in other regions of the country, beavers help create sought-after habitat diversity. One interesting benefit of beaver dams widely recognized is that they create a small area of deep water. The deep water behind a beaver dam often serves as a unique holding habitat that fosters larger than average trout, especially brook trout. Almost any ardent brook trout fisherman will take the time to fish a beaver dam pond. However, beaver dams, like all dams, eventually fill in with sediment. After years, deep water becomes shallow warm water with a dark bottom of organic sediments, and the benefit of deep water is lost. Additionally, the warming effect of the beaver dam is a detriment to trout downstream. Thus, a beaver dam has a life cycle that will provide diminishing returns within a few years of being built. Local Site Characteristics Determine Benefits/Detriments of Beaver Dams In general, Michigan beaver dams pose some concerns for trout streams. Even when a beaver pond can make fishing better, those benefits can be very temporary and quickly turn negative. But, for each trout stream with beaver dams that we evaluated, the specific site characteristics mattered in determining how concerned we should be about taking action. Thus, if a trout stream is very cold with an average July mean temperature of 60 degrees, one or more beaver dams that cumulatively warm water temperatures by two degrees would not cause significant impacts. The resulting temperatures would still be ideally cold, and the slight bump in temperatures might improve trout growth rates. In contrast, if a stream is already temperature marginal, with a July mean temperature of 68 degrees, the addition of beaver dams warming the water by two degrees might mean that downstream of the beaver dams may become

www.michigantu.org largely unsuitable and the entire population of trout could be significantly diminished.

Cumulative impacts of multiple beaver dams also matter. If a trout stream only has a couple of beaver dams spread over several miles, the impacts may not be severe. However, if multiple beaver colonies have created largescale dam complexes, the cumulative effects may indeed be significant.

These factors have created situations where extensive beaver colonies have developed, creating large complexes of dams on some small trout streams largely “out of sight, out of mind.” TU has increasingly adopted watershed perspectives to identify projects of value and looking to understand how to enhance or protect trout fisheries for the long haul. Even if we may not actively fish many small trout streams, we are analyzing their function as critical habitat, including as thermal refuges and as spawning, nursery, and over-wintering sites. When beaver complexes are identified, we need to assess their impacts. If dam complexes exist in important thermal refuge areas or impact essential spawning areas, we decide to take action. In contrast, if they occur on a warm or cool water tributary or don’t impact an otherwise valuable trout habitat, we may take no action. In cases where action is appropriate, quite a bit of work needs to be done. First, typically, a willing and effective trapper must be hired, and DNR Wildlife Division permits obtained to remove the beavers. Removing their dams without removing the beavers just doesn’t work. After a year or two of beaver population control, we must get permits and make plans to remove the beaver dams. There is a method to remove a series of beaver dams. Over time the ponding of water results in fine sediments accumulating upstream of the dam. If an individual dam is breached gradually or only breached at the normal stream’s width, it is possible to leave much of the accumulated sediment in place. The stream will cut or erode a new channel downward through the deposit, releasing some sediment downstream but leaving much of the sediment in place to form new streambanks. We’ve learned from human-made dams that gradual, deliberate removal can release less than 15% of an impoundment’s sediment. Why is this important? If we seek to remove a series of five beaver dams, for example, it will result in some sediment moving downstream. If all five were entirely removed simultaneously, and assuming that each held 50 cubic yards of sediment, a maximum of 250 cubic yards of sediment could move downstream all at once, severely impacting downstream areas. With each dam’s gradual breaching, this might be decreased to 37.5 cubic yards (15% at each). However, if done in sequence from upstream to

Humans and beavers both manipulate and reshape streams to a much greater level than other animals. Just as humans disagree about whether it’s best to remove or retain a humanmade dam, so too do humans disagree about the pros and cons of beaver dams. Hopefully, this article helps to explain how beaver dams can have negative impacts on Michigan trout streams. Deciding how great an impact and how to best prioritize and address beaver dams needs careful consideration. There is no one size fits all approach to beaver management. If you remove a series of beaver dams, consider our simple guidance and take a careful and strategic approach.

Chairman’s Report... continued from page 5 safety to environmental issues. The goal is to develop guidelines for the funding of future dam safety programs, operating policy, and dam disposition or removal. From a financial perspective, the fiscal year 2021 marked the third year where Michigan TU exceeded our membership donation goals. These donations, being unencumbered by grant restrictions, provide the core funding for our team to engage in the legislative process and support your chapter’s conservation initiatives. The team’s success in these areas has contributed to Michigan TU being recognized as a leading conservation organization in the state. I would like to thank our chapters and members who donated so generously during our chapter, spring, Aquifer Club, and yearend fundraising appeals, and those folks who donated in the memory of a Michigan TU supporter. In closing, I would also like to thank my predecessor, Greg Walz, and all the other past council chairs, officers, and committee chairs as I endeavor to fill the shoes of those who came before. I believe that their work and their team members contributed greatly to what Michigan TU is today and laid the foundation for what is yet to come. I think the Michigan TU team has never been stronger, and I assure all of you that Bryan and Kristin are committed to and ready to support your chapter’s conservation initiatives. I look forward to assisting our chapters when possible. Please feel free to contact me, and I will do my best to address your questions or direct you to someone who can. We are “One TU,” and we are here for you.

Spring 2021

In recent years, Michigan TU has encountered several situations that have compelled action regarding beavers, namely long-established beaver colonies and multiple dam complexes. Michigan has an estimated 70,000 miles of streams, of which over 30,000 miles are trout streams. Over recent decades, trout angling has shifted away from small tributary streams. Fewer anglers are fishing miles of these small streams with fewer “eyes” on these waters. During the same period, recreational beaver trapping has also declined.

There exists plenty of opportunity for conflict with issues of beaver management on trout streams. Wildlife managers can disagree with fisheries managers about the balance of objectives for a stream. River stakeholders can have very different perspectives of the detriment of beaver dams versus the benefits of removal. There can be disagreements about taking action on particular stream reaches. And there can be disagreements as to the restoration end goal and how to achieve it best.


Beaver Dam Complexes

Removal of a beaver dam may not lead to quick or complete restoration of the site. In some cases, restoration may largely occur passively over time. However, water and sediment dynamics at the site may not be able to passively restore all conditions. In some cases, it may be necessary to give the site a year or two of adjustment and then reassess to determine if additional active efforts are required to restore the stream as desired.


The location of the beaver dam also matters. Suppose a stream has a modest slope and good gravel areas throughout, and the beaver dam is built in a low land area, low river valley slope, or swampy area. In that case, the beaver dam may not significantly alter the physical habitats in the stream. In contrast, where a beaver colony floods an area of higher stream slopes, which served as a relatively rare higher gradient trout spawning or nursery habitat, the dam’s impacts can be very significant and negative.

downstream, with appropriate time in between, that 15% can be distributed across each downstream pond and won’t be sent downstream by the next removal. This optimal scenario might result in only 17.5 cubic yards of sediment moving downstream; that is, 10% is stored in the next pond, and only the remaining 5% subsequently moves downstream after removal of the next dam. Essentially, each subsequent downstream beaver dam serves as a sediment trap, minimizing impacts downstream.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Michigan TU Chapter Updates

12 Adams Chapter

Spring 2021

Like most chapters across the country, 2020 was a challenging year for the Adams Chapter. Before the first lockdown, the Chapter engaged members in a youth and community fly tying day in February 2020. In addition, the Chapter engaged in an outreach effort in the greater angling community of Traverse City by having a presence at the city’s 2020 Fly Fishing Film Festival.  As spring rolled in and restrictions came into effect, virtually all of the Chapter’s activities and projects were canceled. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, its conservation work continued through planning and partnership to remediate an old instream sand trap site on the North Branch of the Boardman River (shown above).  Restoration work on this site will commence in 2021. Summer 2020 on the Boardman River brought the discovery of a population of rainbow trout prevalent throughout the section upstream of the Union Street Dam. Plans to study and calculate the presence of this population are slated as a top priority for 2021. Fall brought the Chapter back together (at safe distances) to plant over sixty trees and over one hundred live willow stakes along a stretch under restoration after removing the Sabin Dam.  Pine River Chapter The Pine River Chapter has a tree-planting project in the works for the banks of Cole Creek, a tributary of the Manistee River, where a road has been closed because of removing a failed culvert. The planting is for bank stabilization. Seedlings will include dogwood and cedar, along with ninebark, an upright, spreading, dense shrub with arching branches reaching six to ten feet tall and wide. This spring’s seedling planting project will involve TU volunteers and thirty to forty high school students from the Agriscience and Natural Resources class of Wexford/Missaukee Career Technical Center. The class instructor, Mark Johnson, is the Chapter’s vice-president. The Chapter’s Silver Creek project, a tributary of the Pine River, has been delayed with design changes regarding multi-bank stabilization on state land. The design modifications still need approval from the state before work can begin. The groundwork for the project should start sometime in mid-February to March. This first stage of the three to four-year bank restoration project will be assisted by multiple partners, including the MDNR Recreation Improvement Fund, Pine River Watershed Enhancement Fund, Pine River Association, Lake County Community Foundation, Trout and Salmon Foundation, Michigan Fly Fishing Club, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, and Challenge Chapter of TU.

by Joe Barker

Grayling has been informally known as a “Kids Only” fishing area for decades. A project is coming together to restore instream fish habitat and promote access to this part of the river for family fishing in an easygoing, less technical environment. Part of the plan is to develop a nature trail system for hiking. The MasonGriffith Founders Chapter is working with riparian landowners, including Crawford County, the City of Grayling, Crawford Au Sable Schools, and Munson Healthcare, as part of a county recreational plan. The plan aims to improve stream conditions and ultimately showcase the trout angling opportunities in the East Branch from the Grayling Fish Hatchery to the confluence with the mainstream, ultimately making the river available to all anglers from novices to veterans of fishing. This effort is inspired by the city of Grayling’s Community Park, Recreation, Open Space, and Greenway Plan, which states: “The Au Sable River forms the backbone of the community’s greenway system. The river is a nationally recognized recreational asset. The creation of linear parkways and trails along the Au Sable presents opportunities to connect parks, schools, institutional facilities, residential areas and the downtown. Natural areas within the City offer a close-by escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life, where residents can enjoy the beauty of nature, mixed with the sounds of birds and running water.” Charles Fellows Chapter Over the past several years, the Charles Fellows Chapter’s focus has moved toward improving youth outreach. They continue to focus on their bi-annual F.A.M. Fishing Camp, a full scholarship two-and-a-half-day event for a youth and a parent/guardian to spend time together to learn about local watersheds, rivers, and conservation and to spend quality time together on the water.  The Chapter decided it was important to create time for family bonding, knowing most youths need an adult with them while fishing. The Chapter’s next camp is slated for June 2022.

The Pine River Area Chapter has canceled its spring banquet for 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The May banquets usually host 125-175 people and serve as fundraisers for youth programs, conservation work, and adult programs. A 2022 banquet is being planned.

The Chapter has also made an effort to sponsor more Salmon in the Classroom programs. This program has created some great relationships between the Chapter and some local schools and teachers.  The Salmon in the Classroom program can be a time-consuming program for teachers to take on, but teachers that enjoy it have made a perennial commitment. This year a program began at Rolland-Warner Middle School in Lapeer, where the Chapter is sponsoring three tanks.  The Chapter also supports a tank at Grand Blanc East Middle School where, despite remote learning, the program is up and running, and the teacher is integrating the salmon into his remote learning lessons. The Chapter purchased all the expendable tank supplies for the programs and plans to attend a fish release in May.  In the warmer months of spring, the Chapter is developing plans to cooperate with other chapters to support conservation efforts.

Mason-Griffith Founders Chapter

Miller-Van Winkle Chapter

The East Branch Au Sable River below the fish hatchery in

Though the ongoing pandemic has made such events more

www.michigantu.org challenging, in early August 2020, members of the MillerVan Winkle Chapter in Emmet and Charlevoix counties, working with the staff at the Bay Harbor Yacht Club Youth Camp, provided young campers a day-long lesson in flyfishing basics.


Campers learned fundamentals such as introductory casting mechanics and simple fly selection. The event, possible through several chapter members’ participation, culminated with the young anglers practicing their new techniques in nearby Little Traverse Bay. MVWTU provided the instruction and the rods that campers used that day and through the rest of their camp season. The Chapter actively promotes youth participation in angling, and all proceeds from this annual event go to benefit those efforts.


MVWTU provides rod and reel combos through the Petoskey District Library as well, offering loaners to interested newcomers who participate in any of the Chapter’s sponsored clinics throughout the year. This past year proved particularly challenging for additional clinics, but the Chapter plans to restart these clinics in 2021, whenever possible.

Spring 2021

In addition to the Bay Harbor Youth Camp event, another major project for MVWTU involved continued work with Michigan Council TU Aquatic Ecologist Kristin Thomas and others to monitor water temperatures on the Maple River in northern Emmet County. Temperatures and sediment levels on the river are of greater interest since removing the Lake Kathleen Dam in 2018.  The Chapter is hopeful they can soon restart other popular efforts, such as the weekly Tie One On fly-tying nights.  Clinton Valley Chapter Members of the Clinton Valley Chapter were kept busy in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chapter hosted monthly socially distanced fishing outings and river clean-ups monthly throughout the spring, summer, and fall. In June 2020, the Chapter hosted their first “CVTU Veterans Outing” at the Pere Marquette Lodge in Baldwin. In late September, members teamed up with the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) and the Vanguard Chapter to remove large woody debris on Paint Creek near Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills. With the pandemic not entirely in the rearview mirror, CVTU has been busy at the start of 2021. Members elected a new slate of board members and have monthly online Zoom confluence (chapter) meetings. In January, they hosted two outdoor activities: a conservation project recon day and the CRWC Stonefly search. The Chapter is finalizing their spring/summer/fall conservation projects. Unfortunately, they had to cancel their annual spring banquet dinner and are holding an online month-long raffle to raise annual conservation/education funds. If current conditions improve, CVTU will host a small youth fly fishing school for Salmon in the Classroom students this spring. They also hope to host the annual Wa Wa Sum outing on the “Holy Waters” of the Au Sable River if Michigan State University opens the facility. Lastly, the Chapter plans to host their second annual Veterans Outing this spring/summer in the Grayling area. Challenge Chapter The Challenge Chapter has revised its Manistee River guide. The Chapter’s “Classic Trout Water of the Manistee River Guide” originated in the late 70s and contained an emergence schedule of forty-five mayflies, caddisflies, and terrestrial insects, two detailed 9” x 9” maps of Kalkaska and Crawford Counties, and other general fishing information. The first revision of the guide added color photographs and significantly more detailed access sites and directions. The most dramatic change in this third edition is the cover. While the new edition’s format isn’t remarkably different from previously, graphics and photos are sharper, type neater, and maps cleaner. The lack of a chapter logo became a recent discussion topic to have a graphic that visually identified the Challenge Chapter on its publications and elsewhere. Individual Chapter members shared

their thought and ideas, and in a short time, an extensive and diverse sampling was accumulated. Professional help in the form of a member’s son with a degree in Industrial Design/Graphics, and a TU Life Member, synthesized several initial concepts, which helped narrow things down to a couple of designs for further development. That led to the Chapter’s new logo, which will be embroidered onto fishing shirts for members and will be utilized for the Chapter letterhead, patches, decals, and hats. Kalamazoo Valley Chapter The Tie-A-Thon, started by Terry Wittorp and Tim Scott in 2006, had the goal of providing flies for the Michigan Youth Trout Camp. There were around 2,000 flies tied that year. It was then decided to see if other groups could use flies. The amount has grown from a couple thousand to 20,000 flies last year. Many groups, including several years of the Michigan Youth Trout Camp, have benefited from the flies over the years. The Kalamazoo Valley Chapter has provided donations to help with expenses, such as t-shirts for those that turn in flies. To date over 150,000 flies have been donated. KVCTU members have participated since the first year. Don Squires is one such member and will be providing flies for this fifteenth year. He has been tying size 16 Elk Hair Caddis. Leroy Heikes is another member who started participating in 2016. He was new to fly tying at the time, and attending the Tie-A-Thon, provided 100 woolly buggers by the end of the day. For Leroy, learning new flies and getting other people involved with fly fishing through various organizations keeps him interested. The St. Joe River Valley Fly Fishers Club, which hosts the event at the Elkhart Conservation Club in Indiana, is welcoming and genuinely appreciative of everyone’s tying efforts, as are the groups that receive the flies.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Large Quantity Water Withdrawal Assessment Program


by Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Michigan TU Executive Director/ Water Use Advisory Council Co-Chair Introduction

Spring 2021

The last issue of Michigan Trout reviewed the background of the Great Lakes Compact and Michigan’s Part 327(Great Lakes Preservation) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, the statute for implementing the Compact and managing large quantity water withdrawals. The topic is important because it underpins the groundwater in our trout streams and coldwater fisheries. Michigan Trout Unlimited was heavily involved with legislative reformation and appointment of the Water Use Advisory Council (WUAC), which is charged with overseeing the continual improvement and refinement of the large quantity water withdrawal assessment program. Michigan TU actively participates in the WUAC as a co-chair because of its importance to the TU mission. This article reviews the WUAC’s recently finalized report, the first of its biannually required reports, to the Michigan government’s executive and legislative branches. The WUAC report outlines recommendations that are a priority for fundamental improvements in the program. The program was created in 2009 but has received very little funding for twelve years. Despite prior recommendations from the WUAC, progress in refining the program has been slow. The new WUAC report reviews the status of all past recommendations, reprioritizes them, and examines fresh approaches. The report was formulated during the COVID-19 pandemic with predicted state budget shortfalls. Therefore, the WUAC’s recommendations reflect the most valuable work and the most cost-efficient means for implementation. The WUAC is statutorily charged to strive for consensus. All the recommendations included in the report were unanimously reached, reflecting bipartisan, collegial solutions to use science for improvements to the program. The report reflects a collection of efforts, often very technical-based, needed to advance the program to a functional level. If the water withdrawal assessment program created version 1.0 in 2009, it remains no further than version 1.1 today. The WUAC report has a clear vision of why fundamental improvements are needed and what version 2.0 should look like. As stated in the report: “The WUAC’s recommendations will advance and improve conservation, data collection, modeling, research, refinement, and administration of the water withdrawal assessment process. The following summarizes the activities the WUAC has agreed by consensus are the highest priority activities necessary to continue and improve the water withdrawal assessment program’s functions and operations. We urge the Legislature to approve allocation from the State’s budget to support these activities, which will help Michigan

fulfill its obligation to protect both the Great Lakes’ water resources for current and future generations and the ability of our states’ residents, businesses, farmers, and utilities to sustainably access it.” The report recommends a total investment of roughly $5 million in each of the first and second years. Of this amount, a little more than half reflects the cost of one recommendation—the cost of acquiring better geological data. While significant, this requested investment level is relatively small compared with other state budget items and represents a cost-effective means for the program to catch up for a decade of underinvestment. Additionally, most of the recommendations will yield significant strides for water management needs statewide, including drinking water management and better managing water contamination issues, such as PFAs. These investments are required for water quantity management but have benefits to water management holistically. The WUAC is beginning a process of seeking legislative support for these investments. Report Summary Below are summaries of the specific recommendations of the WUAC report. The entire report is at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy website on a page specifically developed for the WUAC. ADVANCE WATER CONSERVATION 1. Advance Michigan’s water conservation and efficiency efforts through state climate, energy, and water infrastructure initiatives. This requires assessing current climate, energy, sustainability, and water infrastructure policies and programs to identify gaps and opportunities to incorporate water conservation and efficiency, technological improvements, other state and national programs, and education. 2. Increase water efficiency and conservation practices in the agriculture industry by providing funds for two full-time positions through the Michigan State University Extension to develop and launch an educational program for agricultural water use efficiency for both plant and animal industries. CONTINUE AND IMPROVE CURRENT OPERATIONS AND DATA COLLECTION 1. Establish a Michigan integrated water management database for geologic and hydrologic data collection and make current data available in a common

www.michigantu.org 2. Provide training to well drillers in collecting information for the water withdrawal assessment program, which depends on accurate and consistent subsurface data inputted into the Wellogic database by well drillers. 3. Provide funding for the U.S. Geological Survey and EGLE streamflow gages program, which is losing funding from the Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) and the Renew Michigan Program after the fiscal year 2022. NEW OPERATIONS TO IMPROVE DATA COLLECTION AND MODELING

3. Establish a groundwater monitoring well network and join the National Groundwater Monitoring Network, partnering with the EGLE and U.S. Geological Survey. ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES TO IMPROVE DATA COLLECTION AND MODELING AS CONTINUED AND NEW OPERATIONS ARE UNDERWAY 1. Undertake long-term planning for analysis of streamflow, groundwater, and geologic data to identify critical gaps and needs and identify data collection priorities. 2. Update the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT) user interface to display registration information and the current status of water management areas. 3. Compile aquifer properties for use in the WWAT, update statewide estimates of transmissivity, and identify water management areas where storage coefficients may be changed to reflect geologic conditions more accurately. 4. Use 3D glacial aquifer mapping and transition probability geostatistical mapping in Cass and Calhoun counties to identify glacial aquifer properties and compare with U.S. Geological Survey 3D interpretations. NEW AND ONGOING ACTIVITIES THAT DO NOT NEED ADDITIONAL STATE FUNDING 1. Develop a Water User Committee (WUC) User’s

4. Continue review and work on the Cass County water use pilot study model. This process is ongoing with EGLE staff, partners, and steering and technical committee members for the pilot project. Summary Taken as a whole, these recommendations will allow for a better understanding of how groundwater and surface waters interact in Michigan, enhancing our management practices and ensuring better protection of these cherished resources. We cannot well manage what you do not well understand. We know what we do not know, and we have identified how we will use better information to do a better job with water management. The first step towards better management is reflected in these recommendations. Throughout the coming year, Michigan TU and its partners in the WUAC will be advocating for these critical next steps. We hope that, if needed, you will be ready to help advocate for these when the time comes.

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Spring 2021

2. Provide geologic data collection and mapping in up to 25 targeted areas in Michigan and expand geologic information with data from drilling, soil sampling, and seismic and gamma-ray logging to produce accurate geological maps, static groundwater levels, and bedrock topography. The Michigan Geologic Survey will conduct data collection, which can be used in multiple program areas, including the water withdrawal assessment program, PFAS tracking, waste leachate tracking, and sand and gravel assessments.

3. Provide well-owner outreach on registration completion requirements. This process is ongoing with EGLE staff and the WUAC.


1. Establish a Michigan hydrologic framework to create groundwater/surface water models to improve water management decision-making through centralized access to up-to-date hydrologic data, comprehensive hydrologic analysis, and other models. The framework will incorporate new data and analysis and link GIS databases and the Michigan Integrated Water Management Database to help create three regional models to assess water withdrawal impacts more accurately and assess the framework’s functionality. Assess metamodeling processes on a regional model to develop a rapid method to evaluate potential water use impacts.

2. Develop standards and protocols for the collection and use of new data within the program. This process is ongoing with EGLE staff and the Water Use Advisory Council (WUAC).


Manual. This manual will equip WUCs with information, tools, and resources to develop realistic shared solutions to manage water use sustainably. The EGLE Office of the Great Lakes through the Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund will develop this manual and convene one to two WUCs as case studies to inform the manual development.

geospatial format for modeling.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Trout Lake Suitability


by Tim Cwalinski, Michigan DNR

Spring 2021

Most anglers reading this magazine are likely Trout Unlimited members who have devoted hours feeding their trout passion fishing streams and rivers. If you are like me, that is where you cut your teeth. I recall crawling down the Allegheny Mountains slopes in Pennsylvania to flip a worm or salamander in a small creek that was not even called a creek but a run. When we think trout, our minds generally float to a lotic system, not one with standing water. Michigan is blessed with cold and cool water streams that hold variable numbers and sizes of trout. Yet, Michigan has a significant number of managed trout lakes as well, most of which are stocked, but a few hold wild trout. Likely, many stream anglers have never fished for trout in a Michigan inland lake. Like our streams, trout lakes are highly variable in morphology, depth, temperature, dissolved oxygen regimes, and management practices. Some lakes have excellent holdover of trout (stocked or wild) from year to year, and others that are marginal may display better holdover in certain years. Throughout my career, I have received many phone calls and emails from anglers searching for the right fish to stock in their waterbody. This has involved inquiries for both private and public lakes and certainly a fair number of private ponds. In most cases, stocking of any fish species was not warranted in the waterbody, which was undoubtedly the case for trout in most instances. There have been many requests to stock trout, despite these ponds or lakes not having the right “ingredients.” Maybe it is the romanticism that trout provide that fueled these inquiries. They certainly are more eye-catching than most of our standard warm and cool water species. Trout life is not easy. It certainly isn’t in a stream environment. Think about it—waiting for periodic episodes of food, dealing with larger trout that want you for dinner, and surviving and trying to put on muscle mass through periods of very cold water or periods of warm water. However, moving water may be the toughest or at least most constant hurdle from a bioenergetics viewpoint. Fish in stream environments are constantly on the treadmill, burning energy while still trying to grow at the same time. That is a tough balance. Lakes certainly offer an alternative lifestyle to this; almost easy living. Lakes that support trout typically support excellent growth. There is less energy demand for gonadal development, or what is developed is often shed

or reabsorbed. Thus, more conversion to body fat and size. Sounds great; it sounds like trout living in lakes have it made. However, lake life is not all glamorous for trout. Some of the reasons are obvious, while others are less obvious. As fisheries managers, we have many things to consider before stocking trout in lakes or evaluating a stocking effort. These include predators, lake depth, and summer dissolved oxygen and temperature profiles. One of the obvious questions is how many predators in the lake will eat “silver bullets” once they are stocked? Trout survive best in lakes where predators are low or absent. This is both from a competitive and predation standpoint. Bass, northern pike, and walleye will all feed on trout. Panfish will compete with trout for limited resources. Fisheries managers must narrow down our trout stocking efforts to lakes with limited or no warm or cool water species present. Stocking can occur in lakes with other species present, but they are typically confined to very large water bodies where fish can spread out thermally for parts of the year (i.e., Higgins Lake). Lake depth and the presence of a highly oxygenated summer thermocline are probably the most important factors determining trout survival in lakes. Trout need highly oxygenated cold water to make it through the warm summer months in lakes. Shallow lakes do not typically have a summer thermocline; thus, trout are limited by the absence of cold water from June through early September. That rules out many Michigan lakes and ponds for the presence of trout. Many lakes have a thermocline, yet the thermocline’s dissolved oxygen requirements (colder water) are the limiting factor. This is especially true for lakes with organic substrates and decaying aquatic vegetation, which often strips the dissolved oxygen from the thermocline. Fish breathe dissolved oxygen in the water through their gills. I use the 6 part per million rule for examining dissolved oxygen in the water column. Fish generally need this amount or more diffused in the water to survive and grow. Trout often need even higher amounts of dissolved oxygen, sometimes present in or near the thermocline. In many lakes, dissolved oxygen will plummet below the thermocline. Thus, cold or cooler water for summer refuge may be present, but oxygen is limiting or absent. Deep lakes with limited shoreline development or small watershed drainages can often possess both cold water and

www.michigantu.org high dissolved oxygen below the thermocline. That is the key to survival and growth through the summer months.

Spring 2021

Finally, you may read this and think, “Hey, I don’t fish trout in lakes, so who cares.” Healthy management and good fishing in both lakes and rivers spread out fishing efforts statewide. So, if anglers are spending time on our lake resources (including trout lakes), that is less pressure on our trout streams. Give lake fishing for trout a chance, especially in the winter; you might find you like it. To find out more about trout lakes in your area, contact your local fisheries biologist.

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The word fishery is the key. We have very limited resources available to us to conduct creel surveys on our trout lakes. Thus, angler reports from our trout lakes become an essential tool for proper management. Anglers who fish our trout lakes should contact their local biologists about their catches (or lack of). If stocking is not providing a consistent or reliable fishery, those resources should be allocated elsewhere. After all, this is your license dollar at work, so wouldn’t we all want quality decisions to be made with our dollars?

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As biologists, we must weigh all these lake characteristics before stocking or determining if a lake no longer possesses these vital characteristics. Another thing to consider is if anglers are using the resource. There could be lakes that have acceptable survival and growth for trout, but are anglers using the resource? We often evaluate our stocked trout lakes through gill netting or nighttime electrofishing. This may help us determine if trout are present in quality numbers or if there is enough of a population to support a fishery.

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Be on the Lookout for Invasive European Frog-Bit


by Paige Filice and Erick Elgin, Michigan State University Extension

Spring 2021

Urgent action is needed to stop the spread of invasive European frog-bit in Michigan. The most effective way to prevent its spread is to clean, drain, and dry all fishing gear, including waders and boating equipment. Frog-bit was recently discovered at multiple state lands, including Waterloo Recreation Area, Pentwater State Game Area, Dansville State Game Area, and the lower Grand River. The swift expansion of European frog-bit from coastal marshes to inland water bodies is alarming. It can quickly form dense floating mats that reduce native plant diversity, cause oxygen depletion in the fall, and is a nuisance for anglers, hunters, boaters, and swimmers. European frog-bit is a free-floating aquatic plant that thrives in slow-moving waters with little to no wave action and in wetland areas with vegetation like cattails and phragmites. It reproduces several ways, including via turions. Turions develop in the fall and sink to the bottom in the winter. In the spring, they rise to the surface to form a new plant. A single European frog-bit plant can produce 100–150 turions a year. First detected in Southeast Michigan in 1996, European frog-bit spread along the coastal areas of Lakes Erie and Huron up to the eastern Upper Peninsula by 2010. In 2016, it was first discovered inland at Reeds and Fisk Lakes in Grand Rapids. Since then it has been found in Oceana, Ottawa, Kent, Ingham, Jackson, Washtenaw, and Oakland counties.

White flowers with three petals and a yellow center

If European frog-bit is discovered in a waterbody, rapid response is key to its control and potential eradication. If you find European frog-bit, please contact the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Aquatic Invasive Species Program at EGLE-WRDANC@michigan.gov or 517-284-5593. Or report it online at misin.msu.edu. Sightings reported online to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network are shared with EGLE and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Both agencies, along with local conservation partners, will respond to sightings. Photo documentation is appreciated. The invasion of European frog-bit is in a critical stage since it is not widespread across Michigan. Currently, state agencies and conservation partners respond to sightings to contain, control, and eradicate it, if possible. However, if European frog-bit continues to spread into new water bodies, eradication efforts may become ineffective. Therefore, it is extremely important to clean, drain, and dry boats and gear thoroughly after each outing and report sightings.

Although occurrences of European frog-bit are increasing, there is still an opportunity to slow and prevent its spread. After fishing, always remove all plants and mud from your gear. Like many aquatic invasive plants, European frog-bit can spread from one location to another when the plants, plant fragments, winter buds, and seeds get inadvertently transported in watercraft and on gear such as waders. While much of the plant has died back by fall, seeds and winter buds accumulate in mud and can be easily transported to new waterbodies. To identify European frog-bit, look for: •

Round/heart-shaped leaves that resemble small water lilies (0.5 – 2.25 inches)

Free-floating heart-shaped leaves with roots hanging below that resemble small waterlilies

Leaves with a dark purple underside and a spongy accumulate in areas with other vegetation such as cattails and area around the center of the leaf

European frog-bit thrives in slow-moving waters and tends to phragmites.

Photo credit: Todd Marsee

Michigan Trout Unlimited


It is not uncommon to be sitting on a rock or log midstream and peer down into the stream and see hundreds of these little chimney cases lined up on gravel, rocks, plants, or submerged wood. The caddis cements its case with silk to its substrate, with the open end of the case pointing upstream. A closer view reveals that the larva’s bristly middle and hind legs are much longer than the forelegs. These long legs are splayed out at night to filter and capture bits of algae, detritus, and even animals from the current. If food resources become limited or a predator becomes threatening, a larva will detach its case and move up or downstream to a new feeding area. Anchoring itself with a silk strand, it can rappel downstream to a new substrate, sometimes just an inch or two, sometimes more. Fish can and do eat cased caddis, and anglers that carry a Peeking Caddis imitation often can do quite well in early spring. Caddis cases provide some protection from many predators, but they are also important in respiration functions, particularly during the pupal stage. Just prior to pupation, the caddis will seal most of the entrance of its case with silk, leaving a small hole for circulation. Inside, the caddis will transform from larva to pupa, taking two to three weeks for the complete metamorphosis. The emerging pupa or pharate adult, completely transformed, will use its mandibles to escape the case. The pharate adult

will swim to the surface, and the adult, freeing itself from its shuck, will emerge. The pharate and emerging adults have a bright green body with dark wings. The adult Grannom is rather nondescript in appearance, with tear-shaped wings and antennae about the same length as the body. An X-Caddis pattern with a green body is a simple yet effective imitation during the hatch as fish key in on the caddis as it struggles to emerge from the surface film. After emergence, the bright green abdomens of B. americanus darken, taking on a brownish-olive color; other species of Brachycentrus have dark brown bodies. In some of the Grannom species, there is a distinct lateral line observed with good eyes or magnification. Watch for American Grannom to begin emerging in the mid-afternoon. Unlike mayflies, adult caddis can live for several weeks, depending on weather conditions. Their mouthparts are used to take up moisture, preventing dehydration during their short adult lifespans. Mating ensues soon after emergence, and it is not unusual to see hundreds of caddis coupled end-to-end on streamside vegetation. Males, size #14, are smaller than the females, size #12. Males disperse after mating, while females return to the water after some time to lay their eggs, either by dipping their abdomens and dispensing their eggs or by diving underwater to oviposit. If trout are feeding on the surface, skitter or drag a caddis pattern across the water. Egg-laying females are best imitated with a bit of green dubbing tied at the tip of the abdomen. When the action slows or ceases, try pinching a small split-shot several inches above the fly and allowing it to sink. Lower and lift your rod to simulate a diving female. A hair-wing or Antron caddis pattern does a good job imitating the diving egg layer. Fish these in the surface film or allow them to sink. Be prepared for opening day this spring with flies to imitate the American Grannom. Park them in your fly box beneath the Blue Wing Olive (Baetis tricaudatus) and Hendrickson (Ephemerella subvaria) mayflies and enjoy your time on the river.

Ann Miller is the author of Hatch Guide for Midwest Streams (Frank Amato Publications, 2011; ISBN -13: 978-1-57188-481-7; $29.95). She is republishing the book in 2021.

Spring 2021

Caddis undergo a complete metamorphosis, so the immature stage is referred to as a larva. Eggs hatch soon after they are laid in late spring, with the new larvae growing rapidly over summer and early fall. Development slows in winter during the fourth or fifth instar stages. They are case builders, constructing a chimney-shaped case with perfectly aligned transverse stacks of plant material, like a tiny log cabin. The larva uses silk to cement the case fragments together, resulting in a very sturdy home indeed.

by Ann R. Miller


Here in the Midwest, we have few caddis hatches that are more reliable than Brachycentrus americanus, or the American Grannom. A steady producer in streams and rivers with good oxygen and current, this caddis starts hatching in mid-May, soon after or concurrently with the Hendrickson mayfly. The American Grannom goes by many common names, including the Mother’s Day Caddis, Black Caddis, Popcorn Caddis, and possibly even more. There are other species that hatch after B. americanus, including B. numerosus and B. lateralis, so that it can seem like this caddis hatch goes well into the end of May.


A Caddis to Count On

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Michigan TU’s New Mining Policy


by Al Woody and Robb Smith, MITU Conservation Committee

Spring 2021

Almost two years ago, the Back Forty Mine Project (BFMP) became a concern to Michigan Trout Unlimited. Since it would be affecting a warm water stream, Michigan TU did not give the matter a high priority. However, Michigan TU recognized that a policy/procedure regarding mining activities should be adopted for moving forward on these types of threats to our coldwater resources. As a result, Michigan TU started the development of a policy regarding mining. This article will introduce this new mining policy and update the status of the BFMP. The BFMP would be located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula adjacent to a warm water segment of the Menominee River near the city of Stephenson. The open pit mine would extract sulfide rock containing significant amounts of zinc, copper, and other valuable metals. The major process steps are: •

The metal ore laden sulfide rock is extracted from the mining site, loaded into trucks, and transported to the mill for processing.

The rock is crushed in the mill and then moved to ball-milling machines where water is added to create slurry. This operation creates very small rock particles with some chemicals.

The slurry is then sent to a flotation process where the chemical rock particle mixture is agitated with air to create bubbles. The bubbles that rise to the top of this bath contain the ore minerals of interest, which are skimmed off and collected to be sent to another facility for further purifying processing. The waste material from the flotation process is sent to a tailing pond.

To evaluate a mine’s threat to coldwater resources, location is the critical issue – the opportunity to harm nearby bodies of water by one or more of the following: •

Acid mine drainage – sulfide rock, when exposed to water and air, creates sulfuric acid.

Spill potential – slurry waste deposited in a tailing pond using an earthen dam is often over 100 feet high.

Groundwater depletion – the floatation process needs large quantities of water.

Likelihood of erosion – large, heavy trucks and other earth-moving equipment transport ore to the mill.

Keeping these threats in mind, the Michigan TU Council’s Conservation Committee began preparing a mining policy statement. The Pennsylvania Council of TU has a similar document that identified concerns and offered guidance for action. TU is not opposed to mining, but sometimes the wrong mine is proposed in the wrong location. Michigan TU must fully consider the impacts of mining and mine-related activities on our coldwater habitats before the development of mining projects. Our mineral resources’ economically-desirable development should not come at the cost of coldwater fisheries and their habitats. The purpose of the mining policy statement is to guide Michigan TU in conserving our salmonid populations and their habitat in areas where they may be affected by mining activities, including storage, transportation, processing, and tailings. The policy covers four mining activities; underground mines, open pit mines, rock quarries, and sandpits. It deals with the three phases of a mine’s life; the permit process, mine operation, and land reclamation after the mine has ceased operations. The policy provides a rationale for evaluating the potential effects of any proposed mining activity on coldwater habitats and identifies the most valuable time and means to get involved with the proposed mining activity. The threats to coldwater habitats from mining come from the mining operations and the failure to provide adequate environmental site conditions after mining has stopped. The establishment of what will be done during these periods is defined and agreed upon during the permitting process. Thus, reviewing the documents generated during the permitting process and voicing our concerns at that time is very important to achieving TU goals. Typically, a permit request to mine includes assessments of the mining operations on the environment, how they will be minimized, any needed monitoring, and plans of corrective actions if the need arises. The permit application is submitted to the state or other governmental organizations for review and approval. It is reviewed, commented on, public hearings take place, and a conclusion is made to approve or deny the permit. For Michigan TU to have its concerns heard, we must be involved in this process. Gaining insight into a potential new mining operation is essential so that our involvement in the permit review is effective. This requires watchfulness by our

www.michigantu.org members and chapters to communicate to Michigan TU any potential new mining activity.

The mine’s target is an ore deposit known as a “volcanogenic massive sulfide” deposit, formed at deep seafloor locations when seawater interacts with the metal and sulfide-rich magma produced by undersea volcanoes. The magma, potentially containing copper, zinc, lead, silver, gold, tin, antimony, and bismuth, heats water that has entered fractures and faults in the rock. The heated water then dissolves some of the sulfide minerals. When the mineral-rich heated water mixes with cold seawater at a seafloor vent or fissure, the various minerals precipitate out of the solution and form the mineral sulfide ore body. According to information provided on the BFMP website, the proposed open pit mine will produce an estimated 512 million pounds of zinc, 468 thousand ounces of gold, 51 million pounds of copper, 4.5 million ounces of silver, and 24 million pounds of lead over an estimated seven years of mining with the potential of future expansion. The ore is proposed to be processed on the mine site, where both mechanical and chemical extraction methods are to be employed. The chemical extraction processes require sodium cyanide as a leaching agent to separate the target minerals from the ore. The floatation portion of processing uses mercury compounds. According to the Michigan TU Mining Policy, “sulfide rock mining can have a very harmful effect on the surrounding

Back Forty Mine.

Other major risk areas are the tailings dam, contact water basins, and the two waste rock storage areas. Considering the “stone’s throw” proximity of the mine pit and the various mine holding ponds, common sense raises the ominous threat to the Menominee River that any spill, overflow, open pit collapse, or dam failure could have. It is also probable that, due to the mine’s proximity to the Menominee River, acid mine drainage will eventually occur and pollute the river and the Great Lakes. Consideration should be given to the surface geology around the BFMP. It is comprised primarily of sandy glacial moraine and outwash plain deposits along with alluvial deposits. The underlying rock mechanics, which must support the open pit mine walls near the river’s edge, must also be considered. The permitting process for the BFMP is well underway and addresses most of the concerns listed above. However, the permitting process is not intended to prohibit a mining project. It is designed only to create an agreed promise to do something within identified limits in straightforward terms. The permitting process is a tool for organizations and individuals to learn the details of a project publicly and make appropriate comments about construction, operation, ...continued on page 25

Spring 2021

Aquila Resources Inc, a Canadian company, is the owner of the BFMP with local offices located in Menominee, Michigan. In the jargon of the Canadian mining business, Aquila is a “junior” miner; a small venture capital company focused on exploration, not mine ownership. Aquila has very limited capital resources and is probably developing this mine with the intent of reselling it to a more financially capable mining company.

The site plan of the proposed BFMP speaks for itself as to the risk to the Menominee River and the downstream environs. The BFMP would border approximately 2800 feet of the Menominee River and be as close as 150 feet from the river. The open pit will measure 2000 feet by 2500 feet and be 750 feet deep.


The Menominee River was recently placed on the 2020 “America’s Most Endangered Rivers” list because of the potential threat posed by sulfide mining activities at the BFMP. Ironically, after many years of extensive restoration efforts to clean up the lower Menominee River, it had previously been delisted as a Great Lakes Area of Concern.

The policy states, “The location of the mine and its supporting facilities is a key issue in the degree of environmental concerns because of the opportunity to harm nearby bodies of water.”


The BFMP is a good example of this watchfulness. The concerns regarding the BFMP are being brought to Michigan TU by several groups, including the Mining and Great Lakes Work Groups of the TU National Leadership Council, Wisconsin Trout Unlimited and some of their chapters, and the Coalition to Save the Menominee River. They and others are concerned and oppose this project because any detrimental incidents caused by the mining process will potentially affect the Menominee River and the upper Green Bay of Lake Michigan, which provide seasonal coldwater trout and “trophy water” bass fishing downstream from the proposed mine site. Any significant leakage or spill from the process tailings, pond slurry, contact water ponds, refining chemicals, or acid mine drainage could be catastrophic.

environment.” The chemical composition of the ore itself and the methods utilized to separate the minerals from the waste rock are potential sources of pollution to the environment. The open pit mining process and the risks it produces are described in the new policy.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


The One Inch Minnows of Spring


by Kevin Feenstra, Feenstra Guide Service

Spring 2021

Recently I went fishing, and it was extremely cold. In these bitter conditions, I spend a lot of time fishing pretty large flies. Some of these flies imitate natural minnows, such as shiners or sculpins. Others are attractors that imitate nothing in particular and have so much flash that they look like they fell off a Christmas tree. (In fairness, I have tied flies out of things that fall off Christmas trees and Easter baskets). However, as we head toward spring, Michigan rivers will awaken with renewed life. Among this rebirth is a new generation of minnows. Imitating smaller minnows has a lot of advantages from an angler’s perspective. Although there are many ways to approach fishing in the spring, fishing small baitfish matches our hatches. This is one of the most versatile methods of fly fishing from late February until late May. Through much of the winter, our rivers lie dormant. Once the water temperatures drop into the mid to lower 30s, there is not a whole lot that changes from day to day. This is a real advantage for winter fishing; if you find a fly that is effective for steelhead or trout in late December, chances are, it will work until late February or early March. As soon as water temperatures begin to rise in the spring, you have to take a more fluid approach to the fishing as the preferences of both resident trout and migratory steelhead change. At some point each winter, we have some warmer days that translate into snowmelt. During the initial period of melt, there is runoff from the melting snow. This influx of water is very cold. In large rivers, it can cause water temperatures to drop a little. In smaller systems, snowmelt can make the water significantly colder. It might seem warm to you as an angler as you fish in the sunshine. However, for fishing purposes, you must still consider this to be winter fishing below the surface. Present your flies slow and deliberately during this time. This initial wave of cold water subsides, and eventually, water temperatures rise. During this warming period, fishing perks up and can reach great potential as water temps hit the upper 30s. As the river reaches the upper 30s, three things start happening that trigger activity in the fish and change their feeding preferences in rivers attached to the Great Lakes. Some steelhead, which have been in the river all fall and winter, spawn quickly when water temps rise a little. The smell of steelhead eggs immediately brings some resident trout onto the feed. At the same time, our first significant hatches occur—early brown and black stoneflies begin to migrate to the river’s edges and eventually crawl out of the river to hatch. These two events trigger some great fish

activity, and the third event is a real boom to the fishing from the perspective of one who loves to imitate baitfish. As we hit the upper 30s, salmon eggs laid in September and October hatch into fry. King salmon fry are most common, and they grow quickly to one or one-and-a-half inches. Salmon reproduce a tremendous amount of fry around the state of Michigan. Of all the minnows that I see, the fry of salmonids are among the most vulnerable. Often, they sit at the edge of the river, fairly high in the water column. This general lack of wariness makes them pretty easy targets for the trout and migratory fish. At the same time that these salmon fry are present, we have a resident family of minnows in our streams that activate as water temperatures rise. These small fish are called darters, and they are members of the perch family. Although they are starkly different in behavior from salmon fry, they are similar in size and appearance to a salmon fry. The net result is that many of our rivers are suddenly full of a couple of families of small minnows. Though only distantly related, these minnows can be imitated simultaneously with generic flies. Though water temperatures have risen, it is still pretty cold water late in the winter and early spring. As the water hovers in the upper 30s, the fly needs to be presented close to the bottom to draw the attention of any large predatory fish. Cold water by itself will make game fish inconsistent in their feeding patterns. Furthermore, as salmon fry pop from the gravel and join the native minnows, they are a small target at one inch long. A large fish simply won’t burn very much energy to catch a small minnow. Presenting to late winter fish offers some versatility, and you can use a couple of methods. One great way to catch fish with small minnow patterns is to fish them as though they are nymphs. You can float them under an indicator or bounce them along the bottom. Unlike nymphing with traditional nymphs and eggs, it is less essential that the fly be presented in a straight line. Game fish are expecting minnows to swim irregularly. Therefore, always allow your minnow pattern, which you are fishing as a nymph, to swing at the end of the drift. As the fly breaks free from the bottom, it may draw the ire of a steelhead or trout looking for a vulnerable meal. While indicator nymphing with minnows, you can fish them with traditional split shot methods. However, one great alternative is to weight the minnow with a tungsten bead or barbell eyes. This will cause it to be the weight of the system

www.michigantu.org and puts the minnow imitation very close to the bottom. A good variation of this is to use a standard nymph above the weighted minnow on a dropper—this is a great cold water tactic for sullen fish.

By the time the steelhead are hatching, water temperatures are in the high 40s, which is the main difference that segregates them from salmon fry. In the cold water of late winter, a passive and deep approach is best with the salmon fry. However, as steelhead fry become available, the water is at a prime temperature for any trout in Michigan’s rivers. This makes active presentations the best. These erratic presentations can be as straightforward as a wet fly swing where you simply cast a fly out with a down and across presentation. Unlike late winter swung fly fishing, you will want to activate, a.k.a. twitch, the fly as it swings across the current. Spastic twitching of your patterns is a great way to take trout, especially in our tailwater rivers. Another great active presentation is stripping a streamer. As the water temps start to warm during May, I will frequently use two streamers with the front pattern imitating a steelhead fry

Last May, I was fishing on my own on a day that clients had canceled due to pandemic concerns. I was fishing for trout and catching some small fish while fishing one-inch minnow patterns. The thing is, everything eats fry, big and small. As my small fry swung through some fast water, the line went tight, and a large drop back steelhead rose out of the water and ate my lunch before stealing my dignity and breaking my line. After that encounter, I caught trout, smallmouth bass, and a walleye, all with a one-inch gray, olive streamer. Small streamers are a versatile, pleasant way to catch various fish in our great Michigan trout streams.

Spring 2021

As we head toward the end of April, those one-inch streamers are still the main focus of fly fishing opportunities. The king salmon fry begin working their way downriver pretty quickly, and they grow very quickly. However, by this time, another food source is starting to replace them. This secondary food source is remarkably similar. After spawning in the spring, steelhead eggs hatch in a matter of days or weeks, and their fry quickly reaches an inch in length. Steelhead fry are very similar to salmon fry. The main difference that I see is that salmon fry tend to be more elongate, whereas steelhead fry tend to be more compressed (fat) when they are small. You can imitate steelhead fry very easily with similar flies that you used for imitating the salmon fry for all practical purposes. However, steelhead do have more orange on their fins, and I tend to incorporate a hint of copper or orange flash into the pattern to imitate these minnows.

In summary, one to two inches is a very effective size range for streamers in the spring. The temptation for many streamer anglers is to overlook the smaller food sources and throw larger flies. If your large flies aren’t working, these small baitfish imitations will save the day. On a side note, fry patterns can be very simple. Many of the patterns incorporate a little gray, gray olive, or camel colored craft hair, a touch of flash, and a little dubbing. In a pinch, you could easily fish a wooly bugger with these color combinations and be successful.


Later in the spring, water temps rise into the 40s, and the salmon fry continue to grow. With the warmer temperatures, trout and post-spawn steelhead are likely to move after a streamer, and you can now effectively fish them with a streamer stripping method. Salmon fry congregate in increasing numbers in the inside bends of a river system. And so, it is good to avoid the temptation of always fishing the good-looking, woody, or rocky side of a river and instead focus on areas that are off the current when you strip a fly. Many brown trout are caught in the early spring in areas that are nothing but sand on the bottom. The reason for this is the presence of juvenile salmon.

Spring continues to yield opportunities with these small streamer patterns. One of the most overlooked food species that trout gorge on is sucker fry. There are several native species of suckers, and each species spawns during a specific time frame. For this reason, there is always a range of sizes of their progeny available, which range from less than an inch to upwards of two inches by late May. They are quite different from the salmon and steelhead fry, often appearing lavender or light purple when small while becoming a tan or mottled brown as they grow larger. They can be incredibly numerous, forming clouds around the edges of rivers. By fishing purple wet flies along the gravel with a twitching wet fly imitation or stripping larger tan streamers through traditional trout areas, you can match this hatch well.


Another method employed for late winter fishing is a deep and slow swing of small flies. Using a fly with some barring, tied with grizzly marabou or hen hackle, you can effectively imitate salmon fry and darters. Using a sink tip line, cast the fly perpendicular to the current, and mend it to allow it to sink. The fly should be weighted. As the fly touches the bottom, it slows down, and then it accelerates as it breaks off the riverbed. This sequence makes a small fly a worthy target, even for a big fish.

(approximately one inch) and the rear pattern imitating a salmon fry (two inches plus). Because steelhead fry have orange in them, you can make the front fly very attractive with orange or copper flash. While stripping this tandem through slow or gravelly areas, a big trout will often follow the flashy small front fly, only to turn and smack the larger rear fly. This style of fishing is a marriage of an impressionistic attractor fly with a larger natural.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


A Pilgrimage of Trout


by Rick Fowler

Spring 2021

“The trout appeared shortly before dark. They streamed in and through the channel, glowing white beneath the lamp. At first I could only watch in amazement. Hundreds of lake trout weighing six, eight or ten pounds paraded slowly through the channel, all within fifteen or twenty feet of where we stood above them on the wharf.” Jerry Dennis-LAKE TROUT NIGHTS I have often wondered what it would be like to view such a congregation of fish in a river as Dennis describes in his story. To actually experience the schooling of fish that were oblivious to the bystander with rod and reel in hand near the bank as they rooted for food, jockeyed for position, and nestled into a section of water they wanted to own. Then it happened. On a rather nondescript early fall morning as I approached a particular channel of the northwest Michigan river I fish so often, I would bear witness to this rare occurrence. Not lake trout. But browns! Not hundreds weighing upwards of ten pounds but a couple dozen beautifully colored brown trout, many in the one to two-pound range in my estimation. My headlamp illuminated a group near the trampled footpath I had neared the river on. They weren’t spooked and seemed oblivious to the light that would highlight them as I moved my head from side-to-side seeking out more of their brethren. I had never seen so many fish in this pool since my days of smelt dipping here more than a decade ago. I was giddy, euphoric with the anticipation of casting and catching such magnificent creatures, Why is it, when moments like this are experienced, there is no one there to share it with? How many times does the fish “of a lifetime” fall prey to an angler’s offering and yet once landed and released not a soul is there to bear witness to such an event? How many poles have been snapped, lines broken, and lures destroyed by a behemoth denizen of the water but all that remains is the solitary angler’s angst of what might have been and the realization that if they try to explain the moment, few, if any, would believe the experience because they weren’t there. It seemed as if these fish were on a pilgrimage of a sort akin to, as Jon Gluck once wrote, “Catholics having the Vatican and Muslims having the Mecca” to journey to. They weren’t in a rush but seemed to be skittering forward, ever forward as their dorsal fins popped to the top every

so often. I knew I should get a line in the water, but I continued to view their movements. Many were solitary travelers, often busting a run for a few feet when another fish got too close. Others were huggers, seemingly finding comfort and safety in numbers as they moved slowly from side to side, swimming in unison like ballroom dancers. Usually I don’t pack in two rods while fishing a river. One or the other is left in the truck. If I decide to switch up my presentation I will head back to my vehicle and swap out my gear. However, this morning I luckily chose to take both fly and spin casting gear with me to the water. I had a small Woolly Bugger already tied on to the fly rod and had shoved a few garden worms into my vest for the spinning rod. Now all I needed was to stop gaping at the spectacle below me and get fishing. After all, this was a once-in-alifetime opportunity that would most likely never happen in my presence again. A few yards ahead there was a mix of boulder-dotted rapids, shallow rocky-bottomed flats, and swirling pools which I believed might be holding bigger fish, but for now I wanted to test this water with these fish. I was going to school them with my angling ability or be schooled by them with their survival prowess. I made the spin casting rod my first choice. A nice, fresh red garden worm was soon twisting on the end of my hook as I set sail with the recipe a few feet above the squadron of browns still unfazed by my presence. Nothing the first cast. A second cast and a drift by their noses yielded nothing more than a glance from one of the smaller browns. A third and a fourth cast resulted in the same outcome. Nothing! What the heck? What self-respecting trout would not want a fresh, lively garden worm for breakfast? Not this group! I cautiously set the spinning rod down and readied the fly rod. There wasn’t a lot of room to cast where I was, but rather than risking splashing around to get closer, I flipped the Woolly as far as I dare upstream of them. I felt, rather than saw the attack. It was beautiful this hookup. The fish didn’t run far and within a minute or two I had my first fish with classic black and red markings—a brown trout. I flipped on my headlamp again and marveled at this creature, one of the many that were still swimming idly in the water. The fish was then gently released back to the

www.michigantu.org Michigan TU’s New Mining Policy... continued from page 21 water to join his schoolmates as I readied for another cast.

Under the “Process” section of the Michigan TU Mining Policy, we have several options available to pursue in the event it is determined that a mine poses a potential threat. They include working with mining parties to affect TU interests; partnering with regulatory agencies; joining and working with partners with common interests; intervene via legal processes; advocate for attractive legislation governing mining operations. The potential effects caused by the described risks include massive fish, invertebrate and aquatic vegetation kills, and the possibility of permanently subjecting the Menominee River and ultimately the Great Lakes to longlived heavy metal pollution and Acid Mine Drainage.

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In January 2021, Michigan TU expressed its opposition to the BFMP in accordance with its Mining Policy. As permitting and legal challenges to the BFMP move forward, Michigan TU will work in conjunction with other TU partners and like-minded organizations to investigate the construction of the tailings dam and contact water structures as proposed in the permit applications. Michigan TU will advocate for and support the legal interventions of other organizations in opposition to this project.

Spring 2021

The Air Quality Permit was issued with conditions but has not yet been approved or effective. The Wetlands Permit was issued and denied in a contested court case in January 2021. The Mine Permit is also entering into a contested court case in February 2021. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit and Dam Safety Permit applications were withdrawn but resubmitted in late 2020 and are presently under review by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The application for the Dam Safety Permit is for the Contact Water Basins and the Tailings Storage Facility. Scrutiny of the Dam Safety Permit may be the best approach for TU to analyze the risks associated with the process’s construction methods, storage, and tailing dams.


A prism of color began to show through the skies as the sunrise began to wake up the rest of the river. I knew my time was limited. This group of travelers would soon disperse and begin following their call of the wild if you will. Though my light had not initially affected them, I knew the sunrise would be their alarm clock and they would need to move. Usually, there is one last cast for me before I leave a river or lake. Not this morning. I had witnessed a rare occurrence, found success with one fish, and I set down my fly rod and watched these amazing fish. As the sun rose further, the heat of the morning followed and soon this school was out for the day. Bam! Just like that they moved upstream as one unit and were gone. Even though there was no one to share the moment with, I was okay with that.

Several individual permits for the BFMP have already been issued, and others issued only on a conditional basis, meaning that stipulated conditions to the permit must be addressed before these permits become effective. The permitting process for the BFMP project is proceeding slowly and still has some significant hurdles to cross before it is, in fact, a reality.


There was plenty of cover for these usually shy fish; an ample amount of overhanging vegetation, stream debris, banks, and deep pools, but they remained. Remarkably, the quick battle had not fazed the others. They were still there undaunted by me or the capture and release that had just taken place. This cast resulted in no takers. The next cast had the same result. They were still there, seemingly without a care in the world, but now not interested in me or my Bugger menu.

and reclamation. Approved permits can be contested via the litigation process.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Try the Bronze-Colored Trout


by Roger Hinchcliff, Steelhead Manifesto

Spring 2021

Ask any trout angler if they love catching a hard-pulling fish on a fly. The answer will be a resounding yes! Warm water species fishing has grown in popularity among fly anglers through the years because everyone is near or has access to these species. Not everyone lives near trout waters or can go after work regularly. But carp, panfish, and bass open up easier angling opportunities. Nothing will replace my beloved trout, but smallmouth bass are a hard fighting, great biting fish that love to get airborne during the fight. The Great Lakes region is home to some of the best smallmouth fishing on planet Earth. People from all over the world come to Michigan to catch them every year. Spring is a busy time of year with fishing, morel mushroom picking, and spring gobbler hunting. Many anglers will say pre-spawn smallmouth bass fishing can be phenomenal. The weather, temps, and winds play a huge role in success. Knowing what to look for is key. When water temps climb from the 30s and start reaching the 40s, usually in late March or early April, bass will start to move into shallower water and be ready to bite. Peak spawning occurs from late May to early June. When water temps reach the mid-40s and 50s, the fish will feed big-time before spawning, which gives the wading angler a chance at some quality fishing. No boat is necessary, and some say the wading angler has it better than a person with a boat due to access to water that a boat cannot get to. Kayakers love this type of fishing. Places to fish are harbors, marina docks, piers, islands, boulders, and beaches. My favorite places are windprotected bays with sand or rock piles. These will attract smallies like a magnet. Did I mention this structure usually goes nowhere? Once these critical features are located, you can come back every year and catch fish. Baitfish are also attracted to warmer water, and if you find the warmer water, you will strike the bronze gold. Typically, if temps are dropping and the wind is blowing hard enough to create sizeable waves either toward shore or out into the lake, fish will move to deeper water into depths between ten to twenty feet and school up. When bays start to warm and winds calm down, smallies will

move back in the shallows and spread out. Flies to Use When the temps reach the 50s, pretty much any fly will catch bass. But paying attention to your surroundings and matching the principal food source is vital. If you see gobies, or schools of alewives, smelt, or shiners, chances are the bass are feeding on them. Leech and crawfish patterns usually produce, and it’s tough to bet a streamer or Clouser Minnow pattern this time of year. Try to match the presentation to the bait you’re seeing, and you will not believe the number of smallies you can put on the board in a day. Once it happens for you, it’s over. Vacation time will be planned every year for early spring. My favorite fly sizes are in the 2 1/2 – 4 1/2-inch range for smallies. However, bigger flies do take bigger fish sometimes, so leave nothing on the table. Let’s not forgot surface flies. The action can be exciting any time a fish comes up and crushes the fly on topwater. Gear and Tips I use a 7-weight rod mostly with an RIO OutBound Short or floating fly line. Long leaders are not needed. A long leader hinders casting distance when wading chestdeep. A three to five-foot leader is the ticket. It’s simple mathematics. If you can get more distance with your cast, more water is covered, which equals more fish. One more tip is to pay attention to stripping cadence. This will pay huge dividends. Sometimes it’s just a strip and pause; other times, it’s a strip, strip, and pause. It’s very important to take note of how the fish want it. If the fly is inhaled, you know you’re dialed in. Spring produces some big smallies, and three to five pounders are very common. Don’t miss out on this fishing. It is my favorite time of year. Nature begins a new life. Following a winter in the Great Lakes comes a new season that is woken; a bronze-back beauty from the shallows gives an angler a renewed spirit that was broken.

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Michigan Trout Unlimited P.O. Box 442 Dewitt, Michigan 48820-8820 TIME DATED MATERIAL

Art Neumann Portrait Fundraiser PRICE REDUCTION (Limited Time)

In honor of Art Neumann, Michigan Trout Unlimited icon & 1st Executive Director of Trout Unlimited, Michigan TU has commissioned a beautifully created portrait of him by local artist, Danielle V Shanks. For future work, contact Danielle at: daniellevshanks@gmail.com. This portrait is being offered in two editions: The Limited Edition 13”x17” giclée, “100 year” archival matte paper, signed & numbered, 100 copies only, $75 donation. The Trade Edition 10”x14” giclée, in a slightly less heavy archival matte paper, $15 donation. All donations will be used to fund the Art Neumann Memorial Fund, funding Youth Education & Diversity Initiatives, currently the Women’s Initiative. Order your edition by visiting the Michigan Trout Unlimited website @ www.michigantu.org/ artneumannportrait.

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