Michigan Trout - Summer 2021

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michelle@homewaters.net (734) 474-9487

sean@homewaters.net (231) 510-2072

Au Sable and North Central Rivers

Muskegon, P.M. and Western MI Rivers


Boardman and Manistee Rivers



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Nestled in the heart of the Manistee National Forest, the historic log cabins of North Rivers overlook a peaceful spring creek setting on the upper Little Manistee River. Over a quarter-mile of private riverbank offers exceptional traditional dry fly fishing for native brook, wild brown and resident rainbow trout. Centrally located in true Michigan river country, the nearby Pere Marquette, Manistee, Pine and Big Sable rivers are all just minutes away. So much water to explore! Fly fishing instruction and casting lessons for individual or group classes available upon appointment. NORTHRIVERSLODGE.COM 1853 W. Old M63, LUTHER, MI NORTHRIVERSLODGE@GMAIL.COM (231) 266-6014

Summer 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


Introduction to New NRC Commissioners by Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Michigan TU Executive Director

8 Coaster Brook Trout Research & Rehabilitation Projects by Dr. Christopher Adams, Michigan Technological University 10

Proposed MDNR Trout Regulation Changes for 2022 by Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Michigan TU Executive Director

11 Managing Bigelow Creek Road Crossings by Jeremy Geist, TU Great Lakes Stream Restoration Manager

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 Gregory Walz (231) 409-3345 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 TU Chapter Updates by Joe Barker


Which Fly Is It? by Ann R. Miller


Congratulations Michigan TU Fly Fishing School for 50 Years of Excellence by Tom Mundt, Michigan TU Council Chair


STREAM Girls Camp Connects Fly Fishing and STEM Copyright 2021. by Jamie Vaughan, TU Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative Issues are mailed to all members of Trout Project Manager


TU Gets Things Going on the White by Jacob Lemon, TU Eastern Angler Science Coordinator


Women in Fly Fishing by Brian Kozminski, True North Trout


The Ubiquitous Scud by Jay Allen, Jay Allen’s Guided Fly Fishing


Au Sable River Trout Population Estimates by Joe Barker


Focus on Angling Observations by Glen R. Blackwood, Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company

MICHIGAN TROUT is the official publication of Michigan Trout Unlimited.

Unlimited Chapters throughout Michigan. Send all editorial correspondence to the editor. Advertising rate card is available at the following address https://bit.ly/3kPLoCf

Michigan Trout and Michigan Trout Unlimited reserves the right to accept or reject proposed advertisements at their sole discretion. Cover photo by Nichol De Mol, STREAM Girls program.


I also applaud those chapters that held successful fundraisers, including online auctions and swap meets. It was great to see that several chapters could execute riparian tree and shrub plantings, river/stream cleanups, temperature monitoring, and invertebrate studies, albeit in a socially distanced fashion. To chapter leadership, I thank you for your creativity and all you accomplished in challenging times and look forward to future successes your teams will achieve now that vaccinations are increasing and restrictions relaxing, allowing life slowly to get back to normal. As reported in the spring issue of Michigan Trout, your Michigan TU team took full advantage of an abundance of stay-at-home office time and developed work plans, and secured permits and grants, setting the stage for a productive 2021 fieldwork season. At the top of the list is

the restoration effort on the Upper Manistee River lead by Aquatic Ecologist Kristin Thomas. Fieldwork has begun with interns collecting baseline data to support the installation of large woody habitats as well as gathering post-cut data for hinge-cut structures within the river. This team will also start monitoring the impacts of actions taken to date. The Michigan TU team is finalizing plans to remove a dam along a tributary of Big Creek near Luzerne this summer. Stay tuned for reports on both projects in future issues of Michigan Trout magazine.

Summer 2021

While the past year had its challenges, I want to thank all of our Michigan TU chapters for adapting to the restrictions by engaging members through Zoom-based events ranging from fly-tying demonstrations/classes and presentations from popular fishing guides to discussions on conservation efforts by members of the Michigan and National TU teams and representatives of agencies such as the Michigan DNR.

by Tom Mundt


It may seem like an eternity, but it has only been about 18 months since a novel virus changed how we all live, work, and play. Now, through the power of science and vaccines, we are emerging from isolation much like the X Brood of 17year cicadas. This transition back to a post-COVID world was made clear when my friend Steve remarked on a recent local fishing trip, “Do you realize that we are traveling unmasked together on our way to fish the Muskegon River?” His comment hit home because COVID infected me in January, traveling unmasked to fish the Muskegon River in the same vehicle with another friend named Steve, who, as it turned out, was unknowingly COVID positive and passed it on to me. Maybe the moral of this story is to be wary of anyone named Steve?


Photo credit: Kevin Feenstra

Chairman’s Report

There are other signs that life is getting back to normal. The first is the Michigan TU Fly Fishing School, which was held in June at Ranch Rudolf in Traverse City, Michigan, after a one-year hiatus. The second sign is that our team is planning the Aquifer Club outing, an annual event held in August (except last year) to thank those who donated at least $1,000 to support Michigan TU’s efforts. I want to thank the nearly 40 Aquifer Club members who donated over $98,000 last year to support your team’s legislative/ policy work. If you are interested in learning more about or becoming an Aquifer Club member, please visit the Michigan TU website or contact our fundraising chair, Jim Cantrill. On the legislative front, Michigan TU played a key role in helping Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Dam Safety Taskforce craft dam safety and operating policies and guidelines. Your team has also worked with the appropriate state agencies to develop fishing regulations that will protect sportfish (lake trout, salmon, steelhead, walleye, perch, etc.) from commercial harvesting. This issue of Michigan Trout spans a wide range of topics, including a thought-provoking interview of the newest NRC Commissioners by Bryan Burroughs and a treatise on fishing “The Ubiquitous Scud” by fishing guide Jay Allen. Glen Blackwood reviews two books; Josh Greenberg’s new book, Trout Water: A Year on the Au Sable and Kevin Feensta’s first book, Matching Baitfish. There is also an article authored by TU National’s Eastern Angler Science Coordinator Jake Lemon on temperature mapping and environmental DNA tracing for brook trout within the White River watershed. There are many other interesting articles as well. In closing, welcome back to the path to a normal life, have a great trout season wherever your travels may take you, and enjoy the summer 2021 issue of award-winning Michigan Trout magazine.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Introduction to New NRC Commissioners


by Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Michigan TU Executive Director

Summer 2021

Over the last year or so, there have been five appointments to the Natural Resources Commission, resulting in the addition of four new NRC members. With the addition of the two new most recent commissioners, Michigan TU takes the opportunity to spotlight these new commissioners and have them introduce themselves to our members. The new commissioners include (shown in the photo above from left to right) NRC Chair Carol Rose, Mike Lashbrook, Dave Cozad, and Tom Baird. We are glad to have them aboard the NRC and thank them for their service. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and who you are? Rose: I, Carol Moncrieff Rose, am a lifelong Michigan resident (okay, with the exception of living in Ohio for three years as an adolescent) and intend to remain so for the rest of my days. I had a happy childhood in a rural corner of Ann Arbor and developed a love and wonder for the out-of-doors exploring the forests and fields around our “starter home” neighborhood. In time, I went to Michigan State University, graduating with a degree in sociology. My career path, oddly, led me to a management position with a large savings and loan in Ann Arbor. Since those early career years in Ann Arbor, my husband, Paul, and I relocated to northeast Michigan to take advantage of its abundant public lands, lakes, and streams and the endless outdoor recreational opportunities they offered. Professionally, we have a commercial real estate appraisal and consulting firm based in Montmorency County and have a large service area in Northern Michigan. Living in Northern Lower Michigan exposed both of us to numerous conservation-focused organizations with whom we remain quite active. These include Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Montmorency County Conservation Club, the Ruffed Grouse Society, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, among others. We are both Life Members of Trout Unlimited, and our home chapter is Headwaters TU. One of my favorite involvements has been with the awardwinning Upper Black River Council, for which I served as chair from 2008 until my appointment to the NRC in early 2020. I continue to be active in the UBRC, but in a more limited capacity now. My involvement with all of the above-mentioned organizations includes habitat work, which I enjoy immensely. Like many who will read this, I’ve planted many hundreds of trees, shrubs, and plants for wildlife habitat enhancement, as well as worked my way through coastal jungles of phragmites

and pulled invasive plant species from both land and water. I have helped “deconstruct” non-active beaver dams from various locations on the Upper Black River watershed, as well as organized and participated in numerous volunteer events to install in-stream habitat structures for the watershed’s naturally-reproducing brook trout and the macroinvertebrates upon which they feed. Lashbrook: I thank TU for the opportunity to introduce myself to your group of dedicated anglers and coldwater fisheries conservationists. My name is Mike Lashbrook, and I am currently semi-retired, still doing a little consulting in the area of alcohol regulation. My entire career has been in association management and issue advocacy; over 13 years with the National Rifle Association in Washington, D.C., and then 27 years leading the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers. I live in East Lansing with Debra, my bride of 48 years, and we are blessed to have two daughters, sons-in-law, and four granddaughters living nearby. While working at the NRA from 1976-1989, I was fortunate to work with some of the legends of Michigan Conservation such as Rep. John Dingell, Hal Glassen, Pete Petoskey, Tom Washington, and Rick Jamison. My passion for hunting and fishing was a significant factor in my decision to come to Michigan. Cozad: I’m a life-long Michiganian from Bay City, where I live with my wife of 39 years, Kathy. I founded Mainstream Resources in 1982 and have had the good fortune of practicing environmental and natural resources consulting for nearly 40 years. Mainstream Resources has served watershed restoration project committees on the Au Sable, Pine, Manistee, Jordan, and Clinton River watersheds, among others, over the years. I’ve been an active member of a variety of grassroots conservation organizations, including Trout Unlimited, where my involvement dates back to 1980. Longtime Mason-Griffith Founders Chapter member Bob Andrus was the person who drew me into Trout Unlimited. I’m a Life Member and have held a number of offices over the years at the state, regional, and national levels within TU, including a term on the national board of trustees in the early 1990s. My most recent service with Trout Unlimited was as Secretary of the MershonNeumann Heritage Chapter. In 1997, I was a co-founder of the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and served on its board for ten years. As well, I am a member of the Pere Marquette Watershed Council, where I was a board member in the mid-1980s. I maintain additional memberships with Ducks Unlimited, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Ruffed Grouse Society/American

www.michigantu.org Woodcock Society, and Anglers of the Au Sable.

Lashbrook: Flyfishing has become my favorite outdoor pastime, both fresh and saltwater. However, any type of fishing provides the much-needed water therapy to cope with these crazy times. I also enjoy upland game and waterfowl hunting. My brother runs a waterfowl guiding business in upstate New York around Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, and I have spent many days sharing a blind with him. And finally, I enjoy time afield with my 10-month old wirehaired pointing griffon. Watching a good hunting dog work gives me great pleasure. Cozad: I enjoy recreating year-round throughout Michigan, where our abundant and diverse natural resource base enables these experiences. We are fortunate to have sufficient cold water available to support salmonid fishing 365 days a year. I also enjoy being in the woods each fall in pursuit of grouse and woodcock. I’m very fond of floating Michigan’s rivers in a variety of watercraft and find good reasons to do so. In the winter, I enjoy both Nordic and downhill skiing, with an occasional snowshoeing event interspersed. Baird: I enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, kayaking, golf, snowshoeing, skiing, with fishing probably being my most frequent outdoor hobby. What is your favorite type of fishing to do in Michigan? Rose: Over the course of my life, I have had the pleasure of fishing all over Michigan on both peninsulas, in the American West and three Canadian provinces. Like many anglers, I think I enjoy the environment I’m in as much as the thrill of the catch. Fishing out on the big waters of the Great Lakes is always exciting, as is taking the family fishing boat out on one of Michigan’s great inland lakes. Coldwater fisheries are my particular favorite, however, as they are quieter, more challenging, and viscerally more satisfying, whether I’m successful or not. Fishing for Atlantic salmon on the Flowers River in Labrador a number of years ago was one of the most exciting outdoor adventures I’ve ever had. It was in one of the most remote and vast wildernesses in North America, with the only other humans being the few other anglers staying at the lodge there, our guides, and a few staff members. Oh, and

Baird: Flyfishing on rivers and streams for trout is my favorite type of fishing. What goals or objectives do you have for your participation on the NRC? Rose: As to my involvement with the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, I am here to say that I learn something new about natural resources and resource management every single day. Being a commissioner, and now serving as chair, is a challenging, fascinating, and timeconsuming commitment. As one can imagine, there’s a lot of homework involved for all of us. The DNR staff has been great to work with and are readily available to answer questions as they come up. While we don’t always agree with what’s being recommended for regulation or quota changes, the NRC works it through, making sure that we weigh both the science and stakeholder input in the decisions we make. I will share that I particularly look forward to hearing from stakeholders during the public comment portion of every meeting, as well as personal interaction with them via phone, emails, or hand-written letters. As I live in northeast Michigan, where the presence of bovine TB in both our wild deer population, as well as within the domestic beef and dairy herds, I have a particular interest in how wildlife disease is managed. In terms of my goals as a member of the NRC, I’d like to work on improving the lines of communication between the NRC, the DNR, the state legislature, and our collective stakeholders. I also look forward to returning to in-person meetings, re-establishing the committee structure on the NRC, and the opportunity to bring in other voices that will complement those of the DNR. Lashbrook: Pardon the cliché, but my primary interest in the NRC is to give back to the state of Michigan and its natural resources, which I have enjoyed all these years. I am not a biologist, nor do I have a background in natural resources. I am a generalist, if you will, who enjoys multiple outdoor recreation activities and have no preconceived notions or pre-set goals for the NRC. My background is public policy and advocacy, and believe I can be a consensus builder on the commission. I will approach each issue through the lens of science and what’s best for the resource. I hope to keep politics and partisanship out of the decision-making process but realize the difficulty of that goal in today’s environment. Climate change and its impact on our natural resources has to be a focal point moving forward. This is especially true as it relates to our coldwater fisheries. Invasive species and the changing Great Lakes ecosystems will require a lot of attention as well.

...continued on page 25

Summer 2021

Rose: As to other outdoor recreational pursuits, I have fished since my young childhood and continue to do this day with both fly rods and spinning rods. I came to hunting later in my life and have successfully harvested deer, small game, and, in 2019, a Michigan elk! I’ve hunted grouse and woodcock over the years, and more recently turkey, but have yet to put a gobbler in the bag. This really doesn’t bother me much because I just love being outdoors and absorbing the beauty of the environment I’m in, along with the challenges of my hunting and fishing pursuits. I enjoy paddle sports, recreational shooting, “wildflowering,” and, more than anything else, hiking. Having an active English cocker spaniel in our household makes daily hiking a very good fit for all of us!

Cozad: I particularly enjoy fishing for trout on streams throughout Michigan and like searching for and finding new, productive reaches of stream which are off the beaten path. In the past, I’ve spent a fair amount of time seeking out round whitefish in mid-size coldwater streams.


What kind of outdoor recreation activities do you like to do personally, and what kind do you do most often?

Lashbrook: Fly fishing is my passion at this point, and I pursue all manner of gamefish throughout the state, from bluegill in local ponds/lakes while fishing with my granddaughters to smallmouth on the Grand and Muskegon Rivers to steelhead and salmon on the Pere Marquette. I have a good friend who owns a piece of paradise along the PM, so I fish there most frequently and would have to say it is my “home waters.”


Baird: I, Tom Baird, live in Elk Rapids, presently, but had previously lived in the greater Lansing area for many years. I am an attorney by trade. Through the decades, I have been actively involved in conservation in Michigan in numerous ways and have been actively engaged with a number of conservation organizations over the years. Some of these include; Anglers of the Au Sable (having served as President and Board member), MITU (legal director), FLOW (Board, Policy Committee chair), MLCV (Advisory Board), and the Glassen Foundation (Trustee).

then there were the bears and wolves who also agreed with me that Atlantic salmon are REALLY fun to catch!

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Coaster Brook Trout Research & Rehabilitation Projects


by Dr. Christopher Adams, Michigan Technological University Introduction

Summer 2021

Coasters are brook trout that inhabit the upper Great Lakes, with some populations migrating into tributary habitats for part of their life cycle. They can reach larger sizes than stream resident brook trout, and many anglers dream of a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with one. Historically a popular sport fish in the Upper Peninsula, coaster numbers have dwindled due to overfishing, habitat degradation, and interactions with non-native species. There is a shared interest in rehabilitating these populations. Collaborative efforts by government agencies, university researchers, tribes, and non-profits utilize cutting-edge techniques to understand coaster biology better, a key step toward protecting and enhancing populations. The following overview highlights the diverse research and rehabilitation projects currently focused on coaster brook trout in the Michigan waters of Lake Superior.

other sampling methods are not possible. Approximately half of the brook trout tagged in the Pilgrim River migrated out into the KWW, connected to Lake Superior on both the east and west sides of the Keweenaw Peninsula. This confirmed that the Pilgrim River supports a migratory brook trout population, and some have migrated upstream well past the boundary of the special regulation. Based on these findings, MDNR expanded the protective regulation to include the entire watershed. This work was funded in part by student research grants from several Michigan Trout Unlimited chapters; Copper Country, Fred Waara, and Kalamazoo Valley, as well as the Greater Lake Superior Foundation (this project was part of the author’s doctorate dissertation from MTU). The Oak Brook Chapter (Illinois) recently donated to MITU to aid in continuing this work, and additional funding is being sought to expand this project.

Protective Regulations and Population Monitoring

Acoustic Tagging

Protective fishing regulations are being used experimentally to determine if they may help to rehabilitate coaster brook trout populations in reaches of eight rivers in the Upper Peninsula. Angler take of brook trout in these sections is limited to one fish and a minimum of 20 inches. This regulation intends to increase the size and survival of brook trout and increase the likelihood of a migratory life history (coaster). To evaluate changes in brook trout population structure, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources conducts electrofishing surveys on these eight reaches, and nearby control reaches so that comparisons may be made to waters without the protective regulation. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting shoreline electrofishing surveys in the Keweenaw Waterway (KWW), Big Bay, Isle Royale, and near Marquette to index coaster abundance and monitor trends over time. Other agencies are conducting this same work at critical locations around Lake Superior.

While RFID tags are a great tool for studying in-stream movements, it is not feasible to use them on open water systems. As an alternative, acoustic tags actively send out a signal that may be detected a quarter-mile from a receiver, therefore making them incredibly useful for tracking movement in larger-scale environments. USFWS installed a network of over 30 acoustic receivers throughout the Keweenaw waterway and nearby waters of Lake Superior as part of a multi-species fish movement and spawning migration study. USFWS, DNR, and MTU will acoustically tag large brook trout from the Pilgrim River and potentially other KWW tributaries this fall to study their movement and migratory behavior in lake habitats over two years. This work will help focus ecological research and management efforts on appropriate geographic scales.

Radio Frequency Identification Tagging To obtain more detailed data on brook trout movement in one of the eight special regulation rivers, a study was done by Michigan Technological University, MDNR, and USFWS. Brook trout in the Pilgrim River were implanted with radio frequency identification (RFID, similar to the chip put in dogs). In-stream RFID antenna stations were installed at four sites within the watershed to track the movement of tagged fish without having to recapture them physically. Antenna stations operated throughout the year and under ice cover, providing fish movement data during periods when

Microchemistry Tagging studies are useful for documenting movements of individual fish but are relatively labor-intensive and costly. Fish managers need inexpensive, non-lethal techniques to document coaster brook trout occurrence. Analysis of the chemical composition of bony structures and soft tissues may be the answer. These structures assimilate the different chemical constituents present in the lake or river in which the fish lives. They may indicate if an individual was living in Lake Superior or a tributary during earlier life segments. Traditionally, the otolith (ear bone) has been used for these studies on more abundant species. Obtaining otolith bones is a lethal procedure, and therefore is not suitable for populations of low abundance such as coasters. However,

www.michigantu.org methods are being developed by Dr. Kevin Pangle at Central Michigan University in collaboration with MDNR and MTU, using this same technique on maxillary (upper lip) bones, which may be collected non-lethally.

Restoration Learning about the migration patterns and ecology of coasters is an important step, but what can be done to rehabilitate populations? Protective harvest regulations were discussed earlier, but habitat restoration may be a key strategy in some locations. Perhaps the largest and most studied coasters in Michigan occur in the Salmon Trout River north of Marquette. Dr. Casey Huckins and students at MTU, such as Darren Kramer (now with MDNR) along with Dr. Ed Baker (MDNR) and the Huron Mountain Club, operated a counting weir from 2000 to 2012 to better understand the timing and abundance of coasters in this mid-sized Lake Superior tributary. In addition, surveys have been conducted annually to identify locations

A great deal of effort is being put toward improving understanding of coaster biology. The findings of these projects will help managers to identify better, protect, and restore coaster populations. The coming decade may be a critical time to be vigilant of and actively support coaster populations in the Lake Superior watershed before we lose them. This task seems daunting at times, but it is easy to stay enthusiastic about these incredible fish, especially if you are fortunate enough to encounter one in the wild. *Also contributing to this article, Dr. Casey Huckins, MTU, Henry Quinlan, USFWS, and Dr. Troy Zorn, MDNR.

Summer 2021

A question that often comes up regarding coasters is whether there is a genetic basis for coaster life history. Researchers at Michigan State University led by Dr. Mariah Meek and Dr. Nadya Mamoozadeh are comparing genetic variation between resident and migratory brook trout from three geographic regions; the Pilgrim River near Houghton, the Nipigon region of the Lake Superior north shore, and a coastal area of Maine (where migratory brook trout are called “salters”). The tagging data collected on the Pilgrim River is a vital component of this project because the life history of sampled individuals is known. Answering this question is important for understanding whether specific genetic variants must be present for brook trout to exhibit a migratory life history. This work will complement recent research to survey genetic variation in brook trout from 36 rivers and shorelines around Lake Superior, a project made possible through a collaboration with MSU and USFWS, as well as efforts by MTU and natural resource agencies for the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and the Keweenaw Bay, Red Cliff, Bad River, and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa. Another important research question that genetic analysis addresses relates to the potential impacts of hatchery-reared fish on natural populations. Splake (brook trout crossed with lake trout) may pose a particular threat because of the overlap in habitat and potential to backcross with wild brook trout and lake trout.

At Isle Royale, coaster populations are present in several locations around the island. In 2005, catch-and-release-only regulations were placed on coasters and stream-dwelling brook trout. Since then, shoreline electrofishing, netting, and RFID tagging projects led by Henry Quinlan (USFWS) have shown a steady increase in coaster abundance and expanded range at the island. Coasters at Isle Royale continue to be the source population for broodstock and production fish reared at the USFWS Iron River and Genoa National Fish Hatcheries. Since the creation of Isle Royale hatchery strains in 1995, over 1.2 million fish have been stocked in Michigan waters of Lake Superior or streams with access to the lake.



Isle Royale Projects and Stocking in Michigan Waters


Dr. Brandon Gerig at Northern Michigan University and MDNR are examining the feasibility of using isotope signatures of brook trout fin clips (a soft tissue sample rather than a bony structure) to document Lake Superiorbased foraging by stream-caught brook trout. Simply put, if recently produced fin tissue of a stream-caught brook trout shows a stable isotope signature indicative of Lake Superior forage items, then managers can infer that the fish had migrated into the river from the big lake. These studies were initiated as Michigan-based projects, but an additional project funded by the EPA has expanded this work to include samples of brook trout collected agencies from around the entire Lake Superior Basin.

where spawning occurs. Overall, the coaster population has remained at a critically small size. Spawning sites are limited to a few reaches that have abundant gravel substrates and groundwater upwellings. Unfortunately, severe sedimentation from watershed degradation has inundated these sites with sand. Several years ago, Huckins’s lab used a hand-held hydraulicalic dredge (SandWandTM, Streamside Environmental) to actively remove sand from a key coaster spawning site resulting in improved spawning habitat and brook trout recruitment. In collaboration with Dr. Troy Zorn of MDNR, new funding has supported a project to continue and enhance this restoration to increase the reproductive success of coasters into the future. While this is not a longterm solution, it may be the only chance at keeping this population viable until the more significant problems can be addressed and the watershed stabilized.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Proposed MDNR Trout Regulation Changes for 2022


by Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Michigan TU Executive Director

Summer 2021

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is forwarding various possible regulation changes to take effect for the 2022 fishing season. Typically, the MDNR reviews proposed regulation changes coming from staff or the public and then presents them to the Natural Resources Commission for discussion and public comment with ultimate decisions made by the NRC. The NRC has monthly meetings posted with agendas on the MDNR – NRC website, and public comment is accepted in writing or person at the meetings. If you have opinions or information concerning any of these, Michigan TU encourages you to contact either the MDNR Fisheries Division or the NRC directly. This overview is not a comprehensive list of all proposed changes. Fisheries Order (FO) 200 This order is a single document that includes all regulations for trout, salmon, cisco, and whitefish in the state. Due to the size of the order and complexities, a split is proposed into four separate fisheries orders. FO 200 will become solely the “stream regulations” order. FO 252 will be the whitefish, cisco, smelt, and grayling regulations order. Trout and salmon in the Great Lakes will be regulated in FO 253, and FO 254 will cover inland lakes trout and salmon. This realignment should increase the clarity and transparency of future changes to regulations.

Definition of “Flies-only” The MDNR is not proposing changes to the definition of “artificial flies” this year. However, with the advent of new forms of “flies” or tackle that push the limits of convention, this issue is a priority. Currently, the definition relies upon terms like “commonly accepted flies.” Dual hooks, tinsel, rubber legs, heavily weighted streamers, trout beads, hot glue eggs, rubber eggs, or squirmy wormy type “flies” create a debate about the current definition and causes issues for law enforcement. Is it the material, weight, method of attachment to a hook, or type of hook that matters in defining what a fly is? While no proposed changes are occurring this year, the topic is under discussion for the future. Individual River or Lake Changes A variety of specific regulation modifications are proposed. The following is a summary. a. Bowens Creek, Manistee Co., change from Type 1 to Type 4 regulations. b. Bear River, Emmet Co., boundary change. c. Hurricane River, Alger Co., change from Type 4 with split to Type 3 and Type 1. d. Lake Charlevoix, change from Type E to F.

Jordan River

e. Camp Eight Lake, Luce Co., change Type B to C.

The MDNR is forwarding to the NRC a proposal for trout regulation changes to the Jordan River presented by the Friends of the Jordan organization. Currently, the river is split into two regulations, Type 1 from Graves Crossing upstream and Type 4 from Graves Crossing downstream. The proposed changes would move the boundary line upstream to the Lower Jordan River Road Crossing with Type 2 regulation replacing Type 1. Type 4 would be replaced with Type 3 from that crossing downstream to Lake Charlevoix.


Expanded Spearfishing Proposal There is a proposal to allow spearfishers to legally harvest a daily bag limit of northern pike, lake trout, and walleye on Great Lakes waters. Steelhead Harvest Limits There are currently no proposals being forwarded by the MDNR to alter the bag limit of steelhead. There is, however, growing concern over observed declines in some steelhead runs. The MDNR lacks sufficient data on adult steelhead run sizes and angling behavior (creel surveys), making it difficult to assess trends or evaluate appropriate management actions adequately. The MDNR is taking a closer look at this issue but has not proposed any regulation changes.

Bright Lake, Crawford Co., change Type A to B.

g. A couple of lakes in the Upper Peninsula are being removed from trout lake designation as stocking has ceased due to loss of public access since the property was privately acquired. h. There are a modest number of small lakes, many in the U.P., and a few in the Lower, that are being removed from trout lake designation due to a shift away from stocking and management as trout lakes. These are lakes that need occasional rotenone treatments to support trout. However, increased costs of the chemical have led the MDNR to discontinue maintaining them as trout lakes. Again, these are proposals, and the public is invited to provide input to the MDNR Fisheries Division staff and directly to the NRC during deliberations. Typically, the NRC posts proposed changes on their agendas the first month as “For Information Only” and the second month as “For Action.” Public comment is allowed during either meeting, but NRC decision-making typically occurs following the “For Action” meeting.


“Bigelow Creek is an amazing coldwater fisheries resource. In addition to hosting migratory populations of steelhead, Chinook salmon, and coho salmon, it hosts resident brown and brook trout. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division data shows that Bigelow Creek has one of Michigan’s best wild brown trout populations. All salmonids in Bigelow Creek are naturally reproduced,” said Mark Tonello, Fisheries Biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Bigelow Creek has remained a top stream in large part due to the surrounding intact forested landscape. Trout and other coldwater species depend on shade, filtration, instream wood, and nutrient inputs that healthy riparian forests provide. Despite the lack of intensive human development on the landscape, Bigelow has been impacted by problematic road stream crossings. Failing road crossings can impact water quality and aquatic communities and lead to excessive erosion, increased sedimentation, and increased water velocities. Perched culverts or culverts with diameters less than the stream’s width can be barriers to fish and other aquatic organisms’ movement. Road crossings can alter essential stream processes and ultimately impact river ecosystem health. Since 2016, Trout Unlimited, in partnership with the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, USDA Forest Service – Huron Manistee National Forest, MDNR, and Newaygo County Road Commission, has been working in the Bigelow Creek watershed to address stream crossings. A watershed-wide inventory of crossings was completed, followed by prioritization for replacement. TU has been working with partners over the last three years to improve fish passage and stream health through stream crossing replacements. To date, TU and partners have replaced five crossings reconnecting over 20 miles of coldwater habitat in Bigelow. The project team plans for an additional replacement in 2021 and one or two more in 2022-2023,

resulting in complete connectivity. Derek Wawscyk, the Newaygo County Road Commission manager, said, “Our goal is to minimize any negative effects on natural habitat while maintaining our network of county roads. Projects such as these have allowed us the opportunity to do just that. These collaborative efforts we enjoy with our partners are key to not only ensuring wildlife sees minimal negative impact from our daily activities, it allows for great efficiencies in project budgets which is something we all are proud to be a part of, and hope continues for the foreseeable future.” The Bigelow Creek Project Team includes TU, USDA Forest Service—Huron Manistee National Forest, Newaygo County Road Commission, MDNR, Michigan Department of Environment and Great Lakes, Muskegon Conservation District, Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, and local communities. Project funding is provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Great Lakes Fishery Trust, Newaygo County Road Commission, TU, and USDA Forest Service. To stay up to date on TU’s Great Lakes Program, follow us at facebook.com/GreatLakesTU and instagram. com/troutunlimitedgreatlakes.

Bigelow Creek and Walnut Avenue before picture.

Summer 2021

Bigelow Creek is a high-quality, coldwater tributary to the Muskegon River located in Newaygo County. Bigelow is classified as a top-quality trout stream and provides a thermal refuge for the marginal Muskegon River.


by Jeremy Geist,TU Great Lakes Stream Restoration Manager


Managing Bigelow Creek Road Crossings

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Michigan TU Chapter Updates

12 Fred Waara Chapter

Summer 2021

The Fred Waara Chapter continues to impact Upper Peninsula watersheds, trout, and people positively through numerous collaborations. In addition to the Iron County projects detailed in the summer 2020 issue of Michigan Trout, the Chapter is working on important projects throughout its large geographic footprint. With the Partners for Watershed Restoration (PWR), which includes the Copper Country Chapter and the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, several hundred trees were planted along the Pilgrim River and Lost Creek last October. The Pilgrim is one of the few coaster brook trout strongholds in the Upper Peninsula., and Lost Creek is a coldwater refuge tributary to Yellow Dog River. Through a $5000 grant from the Cleveland Cliffs Foundation, the group will continue tree planting initiatives (shown in the photo above) this fall. Several other PWR projects are also being planned. The Chapter also supports the Alger Conservation District in revamping the West Branch Whitefish River King Road crossing. Work includes pre and post-project macroinvertebrate sampling in addition to post-project plantings. FWCTU provided educational activities at the Richmond Township Fishing Derby in mid-June. This event serves more than a hundred kids each summer. The Chapter acquired ten new sets of fly tying equipment through a Marquette Rotary Club grant, which will be used in a youth fly tying workshop at Northern Michigan University in June. In August, the Chapter will participate in an university information fair to promote the TU mission, the Chapter, and some great opportunities for NMU students to get involved. Vanguard Chapter It has been a long, tedious road through the COVID pandemic, but it looks like the Vanguard Chapter can see the light at the end of the tunnel. After almost a year and a half of no in-person meetings and social distancing, in May the Chapter had a scaled-down but in-person gathering at their annual fishing weekend at Au Sable Riverview Resort in Grayling. Participation was reduced, and there was only one shared meal, a Friday fish-fry held outside. Unfortunately, water temperatures were still in the low 50s, and the fish were still waking up from their winter slumber. Early June brought another gathering for the Chapter at Rochester Municipal Park for a casting clinic with Dave Leonhard from Streamside Orvis in Traverse City. Dave never ceases to amaze with his casting and teaching ability.

by Joe Barker

Members were able to correct any problems with their casts that developed over the last 18 months. Dave also provided an excellent overview of past, present, and possible future technologies employed in the hardware and techniques of fly fishing. Never one to disappoint, Dave encouraged everyone to get out and practice their skills on the rivers and streams of Michigan with their newly found tips to improve their game. The Chapter is looking forward to returning to normal this summer with Paint Creek projects, including instream habitat improvement, constructing angler access points, and conducting fish surveys through electro-shocking with Michigan TU Aquatic Biologist Kristin Thomas. Mason-Griffith Founders Chapter Mason-Griffith Founders Chapter President Karen Harrison is known for being a can-do advocate who avoids the spotlight. But her accomplishments will get lots of attention on August 19. That’s when the Michigan Environmental Council is to present her with its Petoskey Prize for Environmental Leadership. Awarded annually, the Prize salutes a volunteer activist whose outstanding grassroots environmental leadership is marked by commitment, creativity, and courage. Those qualities certainly pertain to Harrison, according to a nomination submitted by MGFTU member Thomas Buhr. Over the last 18 years—the last eight of which include steering the Chapter— she has led numerous initiatives to preserve and promote the Au Sable River. They include shepherding a number of restoration projects, raising more than $1 million through grant writing and fundraising, energizing the Chapter, and organizing and participating in various related activities, ranging from fly-tying classes to cedar-tree plantings. “I have yet to see a volunteer, or anyone for that matter, devote so much heart and soul to the protection, restoration, and stewardship of one of Michigan’s prized aquatic resources,” wrote retired Michigan DNR biologist Steve Sendek in a letter supporting Harrison’s nomination. Harrison will receive the Petoskey Prize at MEC’s 23rd Annual Environmental Awards Celebration on the grounds of Gordon Hall in Dexter. It comes with a $5,000 gift to MGFTU. The event is open to all. Celebration sponsorships and admissions are now available. For information, visit MEC’s website (environmentalcouncil.org), email joe@ environmentalcouncil.org, or call 269-823-8722.

www.michigantu.org Ann Arbor Chapter

Leon P. Martuch Chapter In May, a crew of Martuch Chapter members consisting of Bill Holler, Josh Jenkins, Tom Monto, John VanDalen, and Steve Wilkowski installed new temperature loggers at six sites on the Cedar River. The data from the loggers will help the Chapter and MDNR better understand the temperature variances on the river. Temperatures will be automatically taken every hour. The information can be downloaded to a smartphone directly using an application from Onset. This is a significant improvement over the old system that required the logger to be fit into a reader hooked to a computer then downloaded. Now, a person only needs to be within 150 meters of the logger with a smartphone and will be able to read the results and download the information. Because of the ongoing COVID situation, in lieu of a banquet or auction, the LPMTU is requesting donations to specific projects to help it continue conservation and education work in 2021. For example, an $80 contribution will sponsor one foot of trout habitat on the North Branch of the Cedar River, where the Chapter maintains conservation rights on a three-quarter-mile length of the river in the 270-acre George Lane Preserve in Gladwin County. Lane was a founding member of LPMTU, who donated the land to the Chapter after his passing. A contribution of $50 will cover the annual running and maintenance costs of one of

removing woody debris on Mill Creek.

Chapter’s nine local Salmon in the Classroom programs. Copper Country Chapter Last fall, the Copper Country Chapter collaborated with the Partners for Watershed Restoration, Sustainable Resources Institute, Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area, and Michigan Technological University to organize a tree planting event on the Pilgrim River. This riparian area has been taken over by invasive reed canary grass, which out-competes native vegetation, reducing bank stability and stream habitat complexity. Eighteen volunteers planted over 150 trees, and CCCTU volunteers are now working to continuously remove reed canary grass from around the planted trees to give them the best chance at becoming established. Additional locations will be planted this coming fall. The Chapter awarded three research grants to students at Upper Peninsula universities whose research is in line with the TU mission. Simon Freeman (LSSU) is studying larval lake whitefish, Craig Tangren (MTU) is evaluating sediment removal on the Salmon Trout River, and Dan Monhollon (NMU) is investigating fine-scale brook trout movement in the Rock River. Applicants submitted materials that were reviewed by the board for selection. These were the first competitive student research grants awarded by CCCTU, and the Chapter plans to make this an annual event. The Chapter purchased ten temperature loggers and deployed them in trout streams throughout the northwestern Upper Peninsula. Loggers will be deployed at these sites annually to generate a long-term stream temperature data set. This information will be interesting and important for prioritizing habitat restoration and protection efforts in the years to come.

Summer 2021

AATU has scheduled its annual conservation banquet for October 14 at Barton Hills Country Club.


The Chapter supports three teachers and 75 fourth-grade students as they raise brown trout from eggs in their classrooms for Ann Arbor Chapter members release into Mill Creek and sponsors an additional high school in their Salmon in the Classroom program. AATU, Huron River Watershed Council volunteers, and MDNR Natural Rivers Staff, with help from Stihl Corporation and Boullion Sales, have developed and provided training in chainsaw operation, safety, and aquatic wood management for the Huron River watershed to provide access for anglers and kayakers on publicly accessible sections of the waterways and increase habitat for fish and aquatic insects.


Now that a six-year study by the MDNR and AATU has concluded that Mill Creek in Dexter can sustain brown trout, and the MDNR has committed to annually stocking the lower creek through 2030, the Chapter has renewed its study of the upper stream. A group of volunteers is creating a comprehensive map to locate thermal refuges and potential spawning grounds. Hobo and Mayfly temperature loggers and drones for infrared thermal imaging will be used in the study. AATU teams will continue working to increase woody habitat, plant bushes and trees along the banks to increase shade while improving bank stabilization, and maintain several wader wash stations.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Which Fly Is It?


by Ann R. Miller

Summer 2021

As fly fishing transitions from familiar spring hatches of mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies to summer terrestrials, it is still important to have an understanding of the insect fauna on streams and rivers. Summer fly boxes are filled with plenty of big floating patterns, many with legs and foam, but let’s consider an insect that is largely a mystery, at least to anglers—the water snipe fly, Atherix lantha. But first, a digression. Terrestrial insects become critical in the diet of trout, helping to sustain them mid-summer through fall. Fly fishers are generally aware of many of these food sources, including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, ants, inchworms, and more. There are a plethora of scientific studies that have documented which insect is eaten, when it is eaten, and what percentage of the diet consists of any given insect. However, one group of insects that is a little vague on details is Diptera, or true flies. Trout do eat them, both larval and adult forms, but other than being classified as Diptera in stomach contents, that seems to be about as much as is known. One Dipteran that some skilled fly anglers imitate is the deer fly, Chrysops sp. It would not be much of a stretch to say that anyone who spends any time out-of-doors in Michigan is familiar with one or more of the many species of this pesky fly. While the males are innocuous, the females require a blood meal before laying their eggs, and their bite can be rather painful. Deer flies have one pair of wings, marked with brown spots. Their large eyes are prominent and often have a horizontal stripe or fluorescent appearance. Two somewhat-long antennas extend from between the eyes. The thorax and abdomen can be striped, sometimes horizontally, sometimes vertically, and sometimes a combination of both, depending on the species. Deer flies are active throughout most of the Michigan summer, laying their eggs on vegetation or other solid substrate that extends over the water. Eggs, most often laid in a single layer but sometimes in tiers in a compact mass, are white to light tan when first laid, darkening to deep brown to jet black after a short time. The grub-like larvae drop into the water after hatching, where they will develop in about one year. Pupation takes place out of water and hatching adults will mate soon after. However… there is a deer fly ‘look-a-like’ on the river during June and July that might be the real prey item of trout, possibly overlooked and misidentified over the years. The water snipe fly, Atherix lantha, looks quite similar to the deer fly, with large, prominent eyes, mottled brown wings, and striped abdomens. They lack the long antennas that deer flies possess and fortunately do not bite. They typically swarm mid-day, attracted to anything dark. Individuals can also be found resting on stream-side vegetation. Their life cycle is rather interesting (from a biologist’s view, at least), although some readers may find the following to be a bit on the gross spectrum. After females have mated, likely on stream-side brush, they seek out suitable sites for egg-laying. The flies must oviposit on a substrate that is suspended over water, such as an overhanging tree. However, they quite often lay eggs on the undersides of low concrete bridges, specifically on the outer edges. An individual

water snipe fly will land on a sheltered spot under the bridge, often in a crack or drip hole. Then, additional females are attracted, possibly by pheromones, and will cluster around her, interlocking to one another and the substrate with tiny Velcro-like hairs found on the cushiony pads of their feet. The size of the cluster is variable, often containing a few hundred females to upwards of tens of thousands of flies. The cluster may initially resemble a swallow’s nest or a bee swarm to the casual observer, but a closer look reveals a crusty, caked mass of flies (shown in the photo above, with an insert of a single snipe fly). Some observers report a characteristic odor as well. Each female will lay an average of 450 white, sticky eggs that turn gray after a few days. As the eggs develop, the adult females remain stuck to one another, dying in the cluster. Eggs will hatch within a week and the larvae will crawl around the dead mass of flies. Within hours, the larvae drop into the water where they will grow and develop over the course of one to two years (development is shorter in warmer streams and rivers, longer in colder waters). Water snipe larvae are predatory, piercing and sucking out the insides of their prey. Larvae resemble grubs with a forked ‘tail’ (actually tiny pseudopods) and are tannish with darker brown stripes. They grow to about 10 mm (0.4 inches), feeding on other aquatic insects, including mayflies, caddisflies, and scuds. There is an account of a water snipe fly (Atherix pachypus) that was eaten by indigenous people in California. In certain locales, especially in canyons, the flies were very prolific. An account relayed from the late 1800s described the Klamath Indians being completely covered with the flies in early summer. Harvesting was systematic. Logs were placed in the river so that floating flies would lodge against them. The Klamath would then go upstream and shake the boughs of willow trees which were covered by flies, sometimes 5-6 inches deep. The flies would fall into the river in masses, collecting along the logs placed downstream. Collection took place in the morning when cool temperatures hindered flight. Special baskets were used to gather the flies, upwards of 100 bushels a day, after which they were transported to stone-lined oven pits. There the flies were baked and steamed. After the fire burned out, the product (“Koo-chah-bie”) was cooled and sliced for consumption. So the mystery remains, which fly is the trout eating? Do the adults of either insect fall into the water somehow? Will the real Dipteran please step forward? Some stomach pumping in June and July might provide some answers for this Michigan angler. Meanwhile, try fishing Jerry Regan’s Deer Fly or Rusty Gate’s Secret Rubber Bug. Both are great imitations of the deer fly. And the water snipe fly.

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.



Congratulations Michigan TU Fly Fishing School for 50 Years of Excellence

The fly fishing school’s success is the direct result of the dedication of the volunteer leaders and instructors who take time from their daily lives to plan and execute this three-day event. I want to point out that all the school’s instructors are TU members, experienced anglers, expert fly casters, and well versed in the art of fly tying and insect identification. The instructors also go through rigorous training and testing before joining the school’s staff. Some are professional fishing guides as well as Federation of Fly Fishers certified casting instructors. I had the honor to attend this year’s graduation ceremony on June 13 at Ranch Rudolf and was impressed with the level of planning, professionalism, attention to detail, and logistics the team employed. Mixed in were a great sense of humor, a level of humility, and student engagement that all contributed to the school’s success. It was clear to me, and the graduates that the Michigan TU Fly Fishing School team is dedicated and absolutely loves what they do. I encourage anyone reading this article who is interested in learning more about the school or wishes to gain or improve their angling skills to consider attending a future Michigan TU Fly Fishing School. Information can be found at www.tuffs.org. It takes a lot of folks to execute this event each year successfully, and I was amazed to learn that several of the instructional staff have been with the school for over 40 years! The multi-year, tenured staff can teach the beginner as well as hone the skills of a seasoned fly angler. Michigan TU sends a big “Thank You and Congratulations” to the past and current all-volunteer staff of the Michigan TU Fly Fishing School for 50 years of excellence, as well as a shoutout to the staff of Ranch Rudolf for their tireless support and hospitality. The current roster of volunteer leaders/instructors follows. Please congratulate them for their outstanding accomplishment and for helping to teach the virtues of the art of fly fishing.

Bob Baughman

Steve DeQuoy

Patrick J. Gossman

Vance McCabe

Jane and Perry Piccard

Mike Slater

John Cleveland

Madeline Drake

George Killat

Dave McCullough

Cole Publiski

Robb Smith

Jim Craig

Glen Eberly

Ed Kulnis

Denny McLean

Doug Ruesink

Scott R. Smith

John Dallas

Jim and Julie Gibbs

Dave Leonhard

Mike Mouradian

Tony Schneider

Mike Traugott

Summer 2021

The Michigan Trout Unlimited Fly Fishing School is celebrating its 50th year of introducing aspiring trout anglers to the art of fly fishing. It is not only one of the finest but most likely one of the longest-running schools of its kind in the United States. Since 1971, a dedicated team of volunteers has convened for a weekend in early June to teach fly casting and tying skills, knots, stream etiquette, aquatic insect identification, and how to read the water. It is estimated that several thousand students have attended the school since its inception, some returning multiple times to improve their skills and renew relationships with other student anglers and the school’s volunteer staff.


by Tom Mundt, Michigan TU Council Chair

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Michigan Trout Unlimited


STREAM Girls Camp Connects Fly Fishing and STEM


by Jamie Vaughan,TU Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative Project Manager

Summer 2021

Trout Unlimited continues to get Michigan girls connected with their local streams through the lens of an angler, artist, and scientist through STREAM Girls. TU’s STREAM Girls program is about breaking down barriers and providing support in two male-dominated arenas: STEMrelated careers and the sport of fly fishing. This national program impacts significant numbers of young women across the country and empowers the next generation of coldwater conservation stewards. This is particularly true in Michigan, where TU staff has connected with local partners to bring STREAM Girls to as many girls as possible. STREAM Girls combines Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Art, and Math. During STREAM Girls, girls explore their local stream by getting in waders and making observations and recordings in field notebooks. Girls feel the cold water, look for riffles and pools, learn about woody debris and fish habitat, and make connections between what is happening on the land and how that impacts the creek they’re exploring. The girls then employ some STEM lessons to measure water flow using ping pong balls. They use d-nets to collect aquatic macroinvertebrates and understand how they can be used to learn about water quality. They then tie colorful woolly buggers while learning how they mimic the stream insects and when they hatch. Lastly, the girls learn to cast a fly rod and catch “lawn trout” until they are ready to put their cast to the test and go fishing. TU launched the STREAM Girls program in Michigan in 2017 and, to date, has held 15 camps for nearly 400 middle school girls. TU began the program by partnering with the Girl Scouts and has since expanded its reach with the help of partners across the state. While TU works to engage youth through many different programs, STREAM Girls stands out for those who experience and teach it. A professional evaluation of the program that was completed through pre-and posttests administered to the participants in 2019 found that “Girls participating in STREAM Girls programs generally showed increases in self-efficacy for science, science literacy, and interest and commitment for environmental actions. As well, their knowledge of ecology after the program was shown to increase related to stream, watershed, and macroinvertebrate content.” STREAM Girls aims to close the gender gap in science education and improve women’s underrepresentation in the STEM workforce by providing access to meaningful out-of-school science education and opportunities to

learn science in a single-sex, informal education setting. In doing so, the program instills in participants an interest in science and confidence in STEM while also connecting them to their community’s watershed. But STEM isn’t the only place where women are underrepresented. By introducing girls to the art of fly tying and getting them comfortable with a fly rod in their hand, TU hopes to garner a love for fly fishing. As women tend to care for what they love, TU believes that by getting more women interested in fly fishing at a young age, we will have many more stewards protecting our precious water resources. During STREAM Girls, girls have the opportunity to work with and learn from women in the environmental field as well as women anglers. The Flygirls of Michigan, a group dedicated to providing women fly fishing and educational opportunities, have provided the bulk of the fly casting and tying education at the camps and have become the hallmark of the success of the Michigan camps. To date, 14 Flygirls have donated over 200 hours to the STREAM Girls program. “It was great fun teaching fly casting to these bright

www.michigantu.org young ladies at the TU Stream Girls event yesterday. I love encouraging young girls to get out on the water and have some fun!” said Flygirl Lindy Ihrman after teaching fly casting to Girl Scouts on the Flat River.


This year, TU will be expanding the program to the east side of the state thanks to a recently awarded grant through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Education Program. TU will continue to run STREAM Girls programs in West Michigan and launch new programs in the Rouge River and Detroit River watersheds with the help of the Friends of the Rouge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office Detroit River Sub-station), Michigan State University Department of Forestry, and other key community groups and volunteers in these watersheds.


By reaching audiences from three of Michigan’s top five most diverse counties, TU will provide outdoor and informal education opportunities to girls who have not typically participated in these types of activities, giving them equitable access to these programs and a new perspective on the role of women and women of color in science and fly fishing.

Summer 2021

TU is excited to have the opportunity to get girls out to investigate their local streams and get a fly rod in their hand, inspiring a new class of STREAM Girls to care for Michigan’s greatest resource. Thanks to the amazing support of partners, TU chapters, and volunteers, STREAM Girls will help even more young women learn new skills in a comfortable environment and gain more confidence in STEM fields and fly fishing.

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Michigan Trout Unlimited


TU Gets Things Going on the White


by Jacob Lemon,TU Eastern Angler Science Coordinator

Summer 2021

Where is the White River? You might have driven over it on M-37 on your way to the Pere Marquette River or perhaps on U.S. 31, heading to Ludington or Manistee to fish Lake Michigan. Maybe you’ve fished the salmon/ steelhead runs on the lower South Branch or for wild browns/brookies on the North Branch or Upper South Branch. Either way, you should be glad to hear that Trout Unlimited is taking a closer look at this often-forgotten West Michigan river tucked between the better-known Pere Marquette and Muskegon Rivers. Over the past couple of years, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Fremont Area Community Foundation, Schrems West Michigan Chapter of TU (SWMTU), White River Watershed Partnership (WRWP), and Michigan Trout Unlimited (MITU), TU staff has been investigating the watershed and getting to know its stakeholders. The goal is to learn as much about the watershed and its habitat limiting factors, foster collaboration among the various groups doing good conservation work in the region, and bring more resources to the table to identify and implement data-driven projects. In fall 2019, TU organized anglers and paddlers to inventory habitat issues, such as lacking riparian vegetation, erosion issues, and fish passage barriers, using TU’s RIVERS app. A couple of dozen volunteers walked and paddled the North and South Branch White Rivers and many tributaries, taking georeferenced photos and helping identify and document potential future projects. In the summer

of 2020 and 2021, TU staff and volunteers deployed a network of nearly 50 temperature loggers throughout the watershed. The USFS funded this effort to understand the distribution of thermally suitable habitats for coldwater fish. The results of our 2020 deployments painted a clear picture of super cold headwaters and tributaries on both the South Branch and North Branch. The White Cloud Dam is an impoundment in the headwaters of the South Branch, and data showed an eight-degree Fahrenheit increase in stream temperature below the dam when compared to upstream. This effectively transitions a high-quality wild trout fishery into a marginal cool water stream supplemented by stocking. In Fall 2020, TU took 28 environmental DNA samples to evaluate the distribution of coldwater fish in the watershed, shown in the photo above. Environmental DNA is a relatively new method for quickly and cheaply assessing the presence or absence of species within a waterbody. Fish and other aquatic species shed their DNA into the environment, such as skin sloughing off of fish into a stream. Samples are taken by pumping stream water through filters that capture the suspended material in the

Graph showing White River maximum weekly average temperature.


Generally, brook and brown trout were found throughout the sampled watershed areas, including the North Branch, South Branch above Hesperia, and most of the major tributaries. In fact, samples were positive for these species at every sampled site except a tiny tributary that temperature data showed to be very warm. Rainbow trout DNA was detected at all samples in the North Branch and the South Branch watershed below Hesperia Dam. The Hesperia Dam blocks runs of steelhead and salmon and invasive species such as sea lamprey. A pocket of rainbow trout was also detected on the South Branch about halfway between Hesperia and White Cloud.

The White River is a resource worth protecting and offers opportunities to make dramatic improvements to the coldwater fishery and function of the watershed. TU will continue to be a catalyst in the watershed, working to elevate the White to the excellent coldwater fishery that it can be. To learn more, contact Jake Lemon at jlemon@ tu.org.


the available data within the watershed (https://arcg. is/1eC8HL). We plan to continue working with partners to address data gaps through habitat mapping, identification of thermal refuge and coldwater inputs, continued eDNA sampling, water quality monitoring, and more.

A kickoff meeting was held in early 2021, which included a highly engaging facilitated consensus workshop and 46 watershed stakeholders. The workshop was designed to engage all participants in identifying shared priorities for the watershed. The priorities ranged from research and monitoring to inform strategies to promoting outdoor recreation and improving access. Other priorities included restoration, land protection, community building, education, dam removal, economic analysis, and sustainable funding. TU will continue to facilitate and lead this group to enable communication and collaboration among the varied interests in the watershed. So what’s next? TU is currently seeking funding to support the continued facilitation and development of the White River Watershed Collaborative. In the meantime, we continue to learn more about the watershed to develop a solid foundation for making data-driven decisions on where to focus our efforts. To facilitate this, we developed an online mapping application that assembles and summarizes

Summer 2021

TU has supported the deployment of low-cost, realtime water quality monitoring stations that measure temperature, depth, and conductivity and upload data to a publicly accessible database. We deployed our first station on the North Branch of the White in 2020. TU is working with WRWP on a planned network of these long-term stations throughout the watershed, with a South Branch station scheduled for 2021. You can access the data by visiting www.monitormywatershed.org/browse. Alongside efforts to understand this watershed and collect data that will aid future project identification and prioritization, TU has been getting to know the various stakeholders. Working with the Fremont Area Community Foundation, WRWP, MITU, SWMTU, DNR, and other groups, TU is establishing the White River Watershed Collaborative. The goal of the Collaborative is to facilitate a unified process for a cooperative and data-driven approach to the identification, prioritization, and evaluation of watershed restoration projects. TU seeks to include various stakeholders, including local municipalities, agencies, local conservation groups, economic development interests, and others.


stream. Advanced genetic tools can search for specific genetic markers of species and detect DNA from just a couple of cells in a sample. A USFS lab analyzed TU’s samples for evidence of brook, brown, and rainbow trout DNA.

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Michigan Trout Unlimited


Women in Fly Fishing


by Brian Kozminski,True North Trout

Summer 2021

Curious trends are happening across the U.S. and elsewhere in the world— the recent COVID pandemic has sent people outdoors, finding trails, parks, campsites, and nature preserves many didn’t know existed. We have more hikers, bikers, campers, canoers, and fishers than ever. The fastest and most surprising sub-section of this group is the female fly angler. I recently had the opportunity to float with a few lady anglers, and we began talking about how they got started in fly fishing. I began to wonder how we could engage more women in the sport. So we had a casual conversation over shore lunch and started the dialogue, “How to get more women into fly fishing?” Dani Knoph, Local Artist, KNOPH Studios DK Wildlife When were you introduced to fly fishing? By whom? My parents bought me a TFO fly rod as a birthday gift when I was living on my own Out West, at the age of about 24. I’d taken an interest in salmon. But I didn’t start using the rod until I moved back to Michigan. Once I began learning about trout in Northern Michigan rivers, a long-term relationship with fish began to unfold. I signed up for casting lessons, attended the TU fly school at Ranch Rudolph, and made it a personal goal to schedule a float trip every year. What do you like most about being on the water? I love the solitude, peace and quiet, beauty, and wonder of being on a well-preserved river. It’s always a pleasure to see wildlife along the way. This is what keeps me coming back to fly fishing.  How would you suggest getting more women involved in fly fishing? Hosting annual or bi-annual overnight/weekend events for women so that they can build on skills over long periods of time is an idea. Breakout sessions could divvy up the greater group by skill level. I’d suggest hosting it at one of the lodges on the rivers or at a place nearby water, where participants can get their hands wet. Just make sure to leave time at the end of the day for a glass of wine!  Heather Hettinger, DNR Fisheries Biologist, Lake Michigan Basin When were you introduced to fishing? In-utero? Seriously, I was born in the middle of steelhead season, and infant car seats fit on the floor of Ranger bass boats under the consoles. I don’t ever remember a time not being on the water. By whom? Pretty much everyone on the maternal side

of my family but especially my parents. My dad grew up trout/steelhead fishing, and by the time I came along, he was tournament bass fishing across the Midwest. The first thing my grandfather did when he came home from WWII was buy a cabin on the Little Manistee River. That cabin later progressed to a cottage on an inland lake, but my mom and her sister were subsequently always raised on the water. Lots of weekend afternoons in the summer spent on a pontoon boat—grandpa driving, while grandma was pulling bluegills off my hook. How did you progress into fly fishing?  Between my career as a fisheries biologist, my guide/former charter boat captain husband, and my lifestyle, fishing, and fish have always been an intricate part of my life. Admittedly, fly fishing is not my primary means of angling. I am definitely a spinning gear girl. But for smallmouth and panfish in some of the small kettle lakes around me, a popper bite on a light rod is one of my favorite things. How would you suggest non-profit groups get more women involved to become members? I struggle with this one sometimes. I grew up in a family and in a group of hunters and anglers who didn’t treat me any different being a girl than they would have if I was a boy. Now in adulthood, I don’t want to be catered to by a group simply because I am female. I just want to be treated the same. I understand that some women who are new to hunting and angling don’t necessarily feel that way because the whole thing intimidates them, so I personally feel as though you have to be cognizant of both camps of women. Definitely hold events and workshops catered to women who are new at the sport and provide them a quality space to develop their interests, but don’t forget about the women who have been there all along and just want to be seen as equals. Louise Mooradian, Office Administrator, Walloon Lake Association and Conservancy When were you introduced to fishing? What did you like the most about being on the water? I was introduced to fly fishing about a year ago by Sam De Jonge (True North Trout). What I like most about being on the water is that I think it is very relaxing. It is one of the few ways I have found to give me the opportunity to be outside literally all day long and appreciate nature in the peace and quiet. I progressed in fly fishing by going out with Sam and really listening to him because he is a great teacher. It took me a few times for it to click.  How would you suggest non-profit groups get more


Also, holding community outreach programs/events where you advertise on social media and at local businesses. Where I work at WLAC, if it weren’t for COVID, we would be holding events where we invite people in the community that aren’t even within our organization. For example, we have a women’s breakfast once a year where we invite women from the community to eat breakfast and listen to speakers (local business owners, skilled women, etc.). The event isn’t land trust-related necessarily, so it gets outsiders interested in what we do. I definitely wouldn’t be interested in fishing if it weren’t for Sam. It just took one person who was passionate about it for me to appreciate it.

When were you introduced to fishing?  By whom? I’m sure I was on a boat before I could walk and casting a Snoopy pole before I could ride a bike. My mom, dad, two older brothers, and I took a lot of weekend or day trips up north somewhere, and fishing was always involved, whether it was from the bank or a small aluminum boat we could barely fit in (my parents still use that boat). Fishing mainly consisted of small lakes searching for bluegill, perch, or any other panfish—nobody really did the river fishing.

Amber Casey, Elk Hunter/Outdoor Adventure Seeker

When were you introduced to fishing? I was exposed to fishing at a super young age, but I think I held my very own rod at age 4. In 1999, I caught my first bluegill on a worm. Safe to say, I was the one who got hooked. By whom? I grew up in Southern California, and every man in my family from both sides was an angler of some sort. My family on the coast was super into deep-sea fishing at the time, while my dad’s side was closer to the mountains and freshwater. I can still vividly remember the first carp I ever caught and the biggest, for that matter. My cousin Ashley and I named it, just in time for my Papa to turn it into carp stew…lol…come to think about it, maybe that’s why I prefer catch-and-release now. RIP “Carly Carp;” I am told she was delicious. How did you progress into fly fishing? I didn’t pick up a fly rod until I was 21. An old friend of mine gifted me a TFO BVK 8wt and a few lines and taught me how to cast. Eventually, I learned to tie a Clouser minnow and caught my first bass on the fly shortly after. Later that same year, I was introduced to a group of guides on the Pere Marquette River, where I heard the term “trout bum” for the first time. I’ll never forget how hard I laughed that weekend, especially at the fact that I’d never wanted to be a “bum” of any kind so bad in my life. Had it not been for them, I may still be blind to the community of conservationists and enthusiasts that make up the fly industry, and for that, I am forever grateful. An underrated bunch, I’d say. Now, I’ve caught almost 20 species on the fly across the country, with many more on the agenda.

How would you suggest non-profit groups like TU get more women involved to become members? As for getting more involved in fly fishing...just do it. Don’t be intimated. Research it, or ask around. I can assure you somebody is willing to take a newbie out fishing. The Schrems Chapter TU holds an annual Women on the Water sponsored by dry fly sales at Gates Lodge or on the Pere Marquette, while the Michigan Department of Natural Resources hosts BOW (Becoming an Outdoors Woman) with a large variety of outdoor activities with knowledgeable guides and hands-on learning for all experience levels. There will be an increased benefit down the road for all of us if we share our passion for the outdoors.

How would you suggest non-profit groups get more women involved to become members? To get more women involved in groups like TU, we need to get more women involved in the sport. In my experience, the biggest barrier for women getting involved in the industry is proper resources. A lot of us were introduced to fishing by dad, or grandpa, or boyfriend, who had all the right tools in the garage waiting for us. So in a predominantly male sport, it can be intimidating to know where to start, let alone having the means to do so. Creating specific opportunities for women to get on the water and trying it out without breaking the bank gives a larger group of ladies from all backgrounds the chance to see if it’s something they’re interested in. In reality, I still fish with my gifted rod, and had it not been a gift, I wouldn’t be where I am as a fly angler. I believe giving women equal

Dani Knoph with a decent streamer eating brown.

Summer 2021

Chelsea Olivarez, Hair Dresser/Salon Owner/ Adventurer

How did you progress into fly fishing? So my husband is the one who first got me out on a riverbank when we were dating, but with spin gear.  I’ve always had an infatuation with fly fishing, so when I finally had the time and money to do it, I picked up a cheap fly rod from Cabela’s and just did it. Up until this year, I really only went out barely once a year.  Boy, did that change this year—thanks to some people I’ve met over the years. I’ve learned so much, and I love it! My bank account has taken a hit, though.  Fly fishing is now my go-to.


opportunity, and representation is how to get more ladies involved in the community and, in turn, wanting to give back and protect the water and fisheries that hold the soul of the communities.


women involved to become members? I think a good way to get TU connected to more women is to get TU involved in area community events, not just in a specific fishing way. Find other organizations whose missions are centered on an appreciation for the outdoors, and find ways to partner with them. It is a great way to network and find people that like to fish or people who never have before that may be interested.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


The Ubiquitous Scud


by Jay Allen, Jay Allen’s Guided Fly Fishing

Summer 2021

I suppose the thing that drew me in to fly-fishing was simply the unexpected. At first, it was the overwhelming realization that another entire cosmos existed right under my nose. A world filled with organisms that could come and go out of their watery world and visit mine from time-totime. The thought drew me in. Drawing me first into where the prominent literature would naturally flow, the insect world. Information on lifecycles and hatches abound, their complexities, while in keeping with algebra-like predictability, was fascinating. Spiritual imagery of birth and rebirth further added to the addicting pastime. Although not in keeping with traditional dry fly-fishing purism, a pathway soon formed. One such path is to some taboo, but is as much a part of the challenge in figuring out how to fool trout with any macroinvertebrate imitation, insect or not. The path of course led to learning about the dark side…scuds. “The dark side of the force is a pathway to many abilities, some considered to be unnatural“ – Emperor Palpatine. Scuds are very common in the coldwater resources found throughout Michigan and are the bread and butter for trout in many rivers. They can be found in most of our watersheds and are considered to be indicators of good water quality, playing a vital role in the ecosystems they inhabit. Gammarus scuds are among the most common in North America with Gammarus fasciatus being the predominant species on the Muskegon River. They are good, nimble swimmers using their pleopods (specialized legs) to swim within the river environment. They have well developed eyes that are keen to sense any movement of a would-be predator. Needless to say, understanding more about scuds is a sure way to improve your game on the water. The importance of scuds and their availability for becoming trout snacks can be better understood by learning about their habits and needs. Scuds are primarily foragers and eat a wide variety of food: detritus, phytoplankton (including algae), zooplankton, the fecal material of zebra mussels, and even carrion. Their mobile

lifestyle gives them a high exposure to hungry trout. Scuds are also very fluid in their benthic community, eating a diversity of food forms found all over the river bottom, and because of their ability to capitalize on so many food forms, they only increase their availability to trout. A stark contrast to this would be a Hexegenia nymph, which can really only make a living in a very specific area of a river or lake; one with a mucky soft bottom. u·biq·ui·tous| yoo’bikwədəs| adjective present, appearing, or found everywhere: his ubiquitous influence was felt by all the family | cowboy hats are ubiquitous among the male singers.  Another aspect that leads to the ubiquity of scuds, and therefore a dietary staple, is their reproduction. Unlike many aquatic insects, scuds don’t have an exact timeline for next generations. The typical scud is ready for reproduction only two months after birth so many generations can be produced in a single year. Much of what predicts their reproduction is water temperature fluctuations, which tend to be between April and November. Years ago on my home water, the Muskegon River, zebra mussels made their debut and the fishing community was concerned with what their impact might be. One of the first things that happened was a distinct uptick in the numbers of scuds found in the river. River samples were showing an impressive “crop” of scuds. Of course this all makes sense when logically laid out… The introduction of zebra mussels (filter feeders) lead to greater water clarity. Greater water clarity in turn lead to greater photosynthesis and growth potential of aquatic grasses (a favorite place for scuds to forage and hide from predators), thereby increasing their habitat. The fecal material of the zebra mussels in turn gave young scuds nutrition to grow rapidly. What initially seemed like a negative impact on the fishery ended up benefitting the scud population, which in turn has produced trout that are robust and quick growers. Because scuds are so adaptable to various dietary changes that occur naturally, or unnaturally in the case of the introduction of zebra mussels, they could capitalize in the shift in the food base of the river. As a fly fisherman,


As the sun began to rise that morning and mist burned off and the fishing petered out, the trout were still feeding, but less in earnest as the sun got higher. The drift appeared to be ending. I learned a lot that morning. Scuds are an amazingly adaptable and important part of the ecosystems that they inhabit. Their versatility and key role is something not to be underestimated. Learning more about the ubiquitous scud will certainly open new fishing options for you too.

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Summer 2021

As I started casting hopes were high. In short order a plump rainbow was hooked and landed. Releasing the fish, excitement surged, maybe there was something to this “drift” action, “but don’t get cocky.” What followed for the next hour and a half was shocking to me. Trout after trout, sassy rainbows and bullish browns came to the net. What was most remarkable was that trout were not only found in the obvious water but also in extremely shallow flats, some appearing to be little more than ankle deep. There was no doubt these trout were familiar with the scud drift and where to be lined up waiting for the intercept. It was like taco Tuesday at the local bar; buy 12 tacos and get a second dozen of spicy scud poppers free! It was so similar to fishing an emergence of Sulphurs—these fish were keyed in! Some of the trout were even puking up natural scuds because they had the feed bag on so long. It was definitely a dream-like morning on the water.

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While learning about this I decided to do some river investigation…with my fly rod in hand. I can still remember that early July morning, still before sunrise, the mist still thick upon the water’s surface. Water levels were low and the shoals had large bunches of aquatic grass growing in bright chlorophyll green mats; they were striking in color. Knowing that the scuds love to forage in the grass because of the abundance of grub and the safety in their shelter, I started prying the drop off and gaps between the foliage. The hope was that if scuds were in abundance there, then when they would drift in low light conditions, they would surely be found drifting out of those areas in high concentrations and would ring the dinner bell for hungry trout in the area.

Trout Angler Guides


Learning more about the scuds on your own local water will really open another level for fishing opportunities, I know it has for me. One vivid example I encountered years ago took place on the Muskegon River below Croton Dam. I had been reading quite a bit about scuds and ran into an interesting behavior that scuds utilize—drift. Drift is a mechanism that scuds will use in order to leave an area of the benthos in search for “greener pastures.” Drift typically occurs during low light periods of the day, usually morning or evening when scuds feel safe letting go of the micro environment they have called home and drifting downriver until a suitable new area is reached, becoming their new neighborhood.


I used this change as an opportunity to learn more about these amazing amphipod. Raising them in an aquarium that could have water temps adjusted to initiate temperature changes and induce reproduction was neat to see. Observation in the tank was very helpful in learning about their color variations and movements.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Au Sable River Trout Population Estimates


by Joe Barker

Summer 2021

The Michigan DNR has periodically electrofished 5.3 miles of river with two electrofishing boats on the Au Sable River from the Mio MDOT public launch/powerline downstream to Meadow Springs. An update report issued in March of this year by Tim Cwalinski, Senior Fisheries Biologist for MDNR (Gaylord), summarized the results.  “The data was a bit different in 2020 since we didn’t complete a population estimate (marking and recapture 2-day run) due to stocked brown trout not being clipped in 2020. However, we were able to complete a one-day, one-pass electrofishing run of this reach from Mio to Meadow Springs, allowing us to simply compare the ratio of age 2-4 clipped versus non-clipped brown trout,” said Cwalinski. The MDNR has reviewed stocking practices for this reach of river over time. Fishing regulations have remained conservative, emphasizing the reduced harvest of brown trout as assisted by higher size limits. The report believes the public’s objectives have been the catch of large brown trout in the “big water” of the Au Sable River below Mio. According to the report, densities of sizeable brown trout may not be exceedingly high in this reach but are acceptable, and certainly, growth rates are not an issue. The objectives of trout estimates are to determine if the stocking of hatchery yearlings contributes significantly to producing a high-quality fishery for large brown trout. A more recent objective was to determine if stocking contributes enough to the large fish fishery compared to wild brown trout. Trout estimates from Mio to McKinley section from a 2010-2013 statewide study to examine brown trout strain survival showed that stocked fish survival was overall low. The Sturgeon River strain outperformed the Wild Rose strain in the Au Sable River, despite smaller size at stocking. The study also revealed that wild brown trout comprised a significant part of the overall brown trout density and biomass. Wild brown trout were not considered important to the overall trout population below Mio Dam before this study. More recent population estimates covering the years 2017 to 2019 had a two-fold purpose: 1) to examine the size structure of brown and rainbow trout, and 2) to determine the percentage of wild versus stocked brown trout, particularly as they recruited to larger sizes and older ages. The current study was designed in conjunction with a special Mio workgroup consisting of anglers and business owners. Data collected was shared with the workgroup, which

included Michigan Trout Unlimited and Anglers of the Au Sable members, to collaborate in future decision-making. The study is scheduled to continue at least through part or most of the 2020 decade with population estimates and clipped stocked yearling brown trout. Currently, the MDNR stocks 48,000 brown trout yearlings and 24,000 yearling rainbow trout in this entire reach (Mio Dam to 4001 Landing). A study update found that brown trout density and biomass estimates have changed dramatically during the survey period from 1999-2019. The average brown trout density among the 12 sampling periods was 32 fish/acre. This average was not attained in either 2018 or 2019 and has rarely been surpassed during the survey period. This average is likely skewed by the high-density estimate of 2010. Juvenile brown trout numbers were low both in 2018 and 2019, thus reducing overall density estimates. Brown trout biomass estimates have averaged just shy of 15 pounds/acre during the surveys. This was at or near the average for the Mio to Meadow Springs reach both in 2018 and 2019 and well above the average in 2017. It was evident from the 2019 sampling that the density and biomass of large brown trout were high below Mio. However, these variables were low for young brown trout. There appears to be a good number and biomass of larger brown trout in the Mio reaches based on the 2019 survey. This is true for fish 15-inches and larger, but particularly true for fish 20-inches and larger, which is more of what the Mio reach of the Au Sable River is known for. The density of 20-inch and larger brown trout below Mio is about average compared with this variable across Michigan fixed sampling stations. However, many of the stations that scored higher were riverine reaches with access to migrating fish from the Great Lakes. This is not the case for the Mio reach. There has been some speculation that periodic high densities of large brown trout may reduce the numbers of juvenile brown trout through factors such as predation. Based on 1999-2019 survey data, there is a relationship between these two variables, but it is relatively weak. For instance, 26% of the variability in yearling density can be explained by the density of brown trout 15-inches and larger. The update found that brown trout growth in the Au Sable River below Mio is very good compared to the statewide average for this species. This has held across the sampling years. Food resources do not appear limiting. However, survival may be limited by holding cover and space available for all sizes of fish.


Rainbow trout stocking numbers from Mio to Alcona Pond have been highly variable over the decades but steady recently. Rainbow trout were stocked initially to provide a daytime surface fishery for anglers in the lower Au Sable River. In 2016, MDNR and the public collaboratively reduced stocking from 48,000 to 24,000 for the entire reach. More specifically, this included the three stocking sites from Mio to Meadow Springs, which now receive 7,500 annually. Size at stocking has also been variable over the stocking period. Both density and biomass for rainbow trout have declined over the survey period below Mio. Some of this decline can undoubtedly be linked to reduced stocking numbers, and rainbow trout survival may also be reduced by higher brown trout density and biomass, according to the report. Most rainbow trout found in the survey reach during the fall are yearlings and in the 9-11 inch size range. Survival to age2 and older for rainbow trout was very low and based on inherently low densities. Despite this, growth rates were extremely good for rainbow trout below Mio. Growth rates for this species examined over the survey years were much higher below Mio when compared to the statewide average. It doesn’t appear that food is as much a limiting factor for rainbow trout as is other mortality sources (predation, water temperature, winter severity). The limited numbers of rainbow trout found in this reach are believed to be primarily dependent on stocking. However, more age-0 (wild) rainbow trout were recorded in 2019 than in any other survey year. Summer water temperatures and winter severity are believed to be causes of mortality in the Au Sable River below Mio. Temperatures frequently are above 70F in the summer below Mio Dam, and cold water refugia are limited (though present) in the reach of the river between Mio Dam and Alcona Pond. Average July water temperatures have been at

“The pandemic threw our study a hurdle in 2020—fish were stocked, but not clipped—but we believe we are back on track to continue the long term study in 2021,” said Cwalinski.

Introduction to New NRC...

continued from page 7

I’ve learned since coming aboard that the role and responsibilities of the NRC has changed over time and is more limited than I believed at the outset. I would like to see the NRC, working in partnership with the DNR staff, be more involved in an advisory capacity with the overall stewardship of our natural resources and outdoor recreation activities. I would also like to re-establish a committee structure within the NRC that allows commissioners the opportunity to take deeper dives into some of the more pressing issues impacting our natural resources. Cozad: In serving the people of the state of Michigan, I will strive to ensure that natural resource management decisions which come before the Natural Resources Commission are made based on sound scientific principles. Michigan has a deep, rich history with respect to the origins of professional natural resource management. Today’s Natural Resources Commission continues to build upon that conservation legacy so that future generations will be able to both appreciate and enjoy Michigan’s natural resources. Baird: My goal is to help the DNR manage Michigan’s natural resources for the future, including new and thoughtful hunting and fishing regulations relevant to our future needs. Our natural resources are confronted by a number of new pressures which we have not seen before (or in a long time): climate change and severe weather patterns, invasive species, emerging diseases, user conflicts, etc. In my view, it is imperative that we get ahead of the curve to avoid being caught flat-footed when it is too late to take effective corrective action. The time to begin planning and placing relevant programs into action is now. Michigan TU thanks Commissioners Carol Rose, Mike Lashbrook, Dave Cozad, and Tom Baird for taking the time to introduce themselves to our members and for agreeing to serve the public’s interest in natural resources management in Michigan. It should be clear that each of these new commissioners shares an active love and appreciation for the types of fishing we all hold dear. As a side note, we can report that all the new commissioners are members of TU!

Summer 2021

Catches of age 1-3 brown trout were relatively low, while catches were relatively higher for fish aged 4-6. According to the report, no brown trout age-7 or older were found, but this should be interpreted with caution since older brown trout are hard to age, and older fish were likely present. Ratios of stocked to wild brown trout were significantly weighted to wild fish for age 2-6 and highly weighted to wild fish for age 3-6. Growth was considered excellent for all brown trout, particularly for older wild brown trout. As in most years, fair numbers of wild age-0 brown trout were captured, despite not being highly vulnerable to sampling efforts.

The population estimate of trout below Mio is planned for 2021. DNR was able to hand clip all 48,000 brown trout internally this spring over a period of three cold days in April. These fish were stocked in early May. All 24,000 rainbow trout were also stocked this spring and were much larger than in past years due to photoperiod and growth manipulation at Oden Hatchery. MDNR hopes to continue clipping and surveying similar to pre-2020 to allow MDNR managers and the public to make a better-informed decision on the future of stocking efforts below Mio. Currently, 48,000 brown trout and 24,000 rainbow trout are stocked in this reach annually. This is an approximate annual cost of $61,000 and $41,000, respectively. Past data shows significant variability in the survival of trout, regardless of species, and more information is needed according to the report.


Brown and rainbow trout were again stocked at eight Mio sites in 2020, but stocked yearling brown trout were not clipped in 2020 due to hatchery constraints (COVID-19). Two electrofishing boats were used to sample the Mio to Meadow Springs reach on one day, September 22, 2020. This allowed for examination of stocked (clipped) brown trout versus wild brown trout at ages 2-4 based on straight catches from this one shocking event.

or above 70F frequently since 1997. This was particularly true for the survey period of 2010-2013, while a general warming trend has also been observed in recent years. Cooler July temperatures (2014) may help explain the increased survival of some cohorts.


The MDNR determined the ratio of stocked to wild brown trout in all years for various ages based on fish marking. The ratio of stocked to wild yearling (age-1) brown trout was roughly 50:50 during the survey years when clipping was done, except for 2013 (more wild) and 2019 (more stocked). For age-2 brown trout, there was generally more wild fish except in 2019. For age-3 and age-4 fish, sample sizes were generally small. Regardless, there were more age-3 and age-4 wild brown trout in the population from Mio to Meadow Springs in most years.

Michigan Trout Unlimited


Focus on Angling Observations


by Glen R. Blackwood, Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company

Summer 2021

The giant jigsaw puzzle we call fly fishing is best solved

important as the text and are not just eye candy, although

through observation. When we reach the river and mayflies

my favorites images were more natural history-oriented

are flitting upward, and fish are rising with reckless

than bait. It reminds me there is always more to a river day

abandon, the puzzle pieces seem simple and almost fall

than fishing. Whether or not you chase steelhead and lake-

into place. Only the majority of the time, the water seems

run browns, this is a book that will elevate your fly fishing

more like a thousand random pieces in a multitude of

game and time spent on the water.

shapes and sizes. The landscape is right before our eyes, but the pieces rarely align easily. These times, observation will provide hints, if not the key, to piecing together the watery mystery. Michigan’s history is full of observant angling authors,

While the aforementioned book falls into the technical category, Trout Water ($24.95 published by Melville House 2021), the second book written by Josh Greenberg, lies on the lyrical side of the angling aisle. Subtitled A Year on the Au Sable, this read is more than a book regarding

such as Doug Swisher, Carl Richards, Bob Linseman, and

the Au Sable River, but an angling book rooted in personal

Kelly Galloup. Now we can add two more names to this list:

memories and observations. I deeply enjoyed the passages

Kevin Feenstra and Josh Greenberg. These young anglers

regarding fishing Ohio farm ponds and the streams of

have recently published books based on watching, learning,

the Great Smokey Mountains. Adding to the depth of this

and developing their river eyes.

work are the chapter-opening quotes from Nicolson Baker,

“Angling observations can be categorized into technical and philosophical. Experiencing either will enhance your time upon the water.” Matching Baitfish ($44.95 published by Stackpole Books in 2020) is Kevin Feenstra’s first book. This hardcover 204page volume discusses baitfish in an informative fashion and a breath of fresh air. While the book primarily focuses on patterns and techniques for Great Lakes steelhead and

Richard Brautigan, Robert Burns, and others. These quotes demonstrate the author’s observations are indeed not only limited to being a “bank beaver.” Through this book, you will learn the author is more than an angler and fly shop owner, but a husband, father, and friend, developing his life’s experiences into poignant and thoughtful essays in which the Au Sable is intertwined—essays that display more than big trout and mayflies, but the soulfulness of fly fishing. Angling observations can be categorized into technical

lake-run brown trout, the lessons presented will enhance

and philosophical. Experiencing either will enhance your

the trout streamer angler’s game as well. The meatiest

time upon the water. By reading Matching Baitfish and

chapter in the book is titled “Reading the Water,” and the

Trout Water, you will experience both perspectives from

author takes this subject to another level. It contains

two of Michigan’s best observers of fly fishing. Their

information regarding trout behavior with respect to water

observations are rooted in cold water and life and the lives

levels, temperatures, and other insightful and beneficial

that it creates.

variables. While the text is strong throughout the book, the images of baitfish found in the first chapter set the book’s tone and convey the importance of color and fly design in regard to baitfish patterns. These images are as equally

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