Chunky Spring Coho
| Who says: “Fisheries and politics don’t mix?” Not me brother! Let me count the ways.
In the event you haven’t heard, word has it....... Granholm recently told Fisheries they must cut $400,000 from their budget. In response (and with malice of forethought) the ax is falling on our coho program. Remember, this fish was the first 6 million west coast (Oregon) species of salmon, raised in our infamous Platte River hatchery, then introduced into Lake Michigan.
Those first returns (1968) offered us, who fished the Big Manistee River, coho averaging 14
pounds. On week ends, Coats Rd. became a parking lot, when DNR had a plane with a “loud-
speaker” asking anglers to move their vehicles. Then later, while I stood beside the late Tom
Janson (Midland), he beached a 26 pounder on the Platte River. Yes, credit the forethought of
our revolutionary Great Lakes salmon fishery to Tanner and Tody....those were the good ol’ days!
Sure, this was a new venture among GL fish biologists, but it didn’t stop Michigan from
leading the pack in the numbers of salmon stocked each spring. Sure, it became on-the-job-
training, with eggs from our Thompson Creek’s first return (July 4111, ‘70) Alaska strain coho (6-8 pounds), being mixed with those behemoth Oregon eggs...... eventually killing the Thompson Creek surf fishery while reducing size of Oregon strain.... but the annual numbers of planted coho were there!
I updated you, a while ago, when in August of ‘03, then acting-chief Jim Dexter and Tom
Rozich (Central Lake Michigan Manager), on a whim, “pilfered” slightly over 500,000 coho from
newly renovated (hatchery, having them trucked down to Dexter’s former southern Lake
Michigan management unit, the Paw Paw River. Since Jim had already sent me his “water
quality” research on several of these rivers, I was shocked to see the Paw Paw boasts areas
featuring musky, northern pike and small mouth bass... all hardly conducive to the health and
welfare of 500,000 sub-juvenile coho. Once again, this move was so clandestine, I understand
Tom’s right-hand man, Mark Tonello, was out of the picture.
The following spring, we had our regular scheduled Lake Michigan Community Advisory
Committee meeting, when Gary Whalen, hatchery manger, told us of dumping a bunch of small
coho six weeks ahead of their time. No figure was offered and no questions were asked.. .why?
Of course, we did hear the full report regarding the electrical shut-down of the hatchery, but with no figure of how many coho were lost during this incident.
Along with this, as a result of being present at last fall’s hatchery “Open House,” which also
featured a 33’ trailer with several automatic fin clip! head tag stations, I asked about the water
quality, space and food at the time of this Dexter-Rozich kidnapping endeavor. All answers were positive! There was absolutely no reason for an “emergency” move of 500,000 juvenile coho to the Paw Paw River! With this, care to attempt a guess at the total returns of adult coho to our central-northern Lake Michigan units, this and next fall?
During this spring’s annual Great Lakes Commission meeting (Ypsilanti), I spoke with Mike
Ryan. longtime president of Portage Indiana’s Steelhead-Salmon Assoc., regarding this move of
500,000 coho to the Paw Paw River. He was told the move was made due to our Platte
hatchery’s “water conditions!” Surprise, surprise! Does it really make sense.... .after a very recent cost of 5.3 million in renovating this hatchery, we cut $300,000 from the coho program, with absolutely no regard to Michigan anglers... instead of cutting fisheries’ personnel?
I am also a long-time member of the former Lake Huron Task Force, now, more politically
correct......Lake Huron Fishery Advisory Committee. While attending our Wednesday meeting
(July 6) and after hours of dealing with forage base and cutting (downsized) chinook plants, Kelly wrapped up the meeting stating.. .despite of the $400,000 cut imposed upon Fisheries, NOT one employee will be cut!!
Once again, fellow Michigan anglers... isn’t it because of us.. .Michigan’ s Fishery Division
EXISTS???? Why is it we do WITHOUT coho?
This reminds me of a “million” years ago, while driving down I 75, near Flint, a huge billboard.
exhibited.. .“The Lord Giveth, The DNR Taketh Away!”
On July 20, there will be a Lake Michigan Fishery meeting in Grand Haven... public invited.
Check this web site for more info! Be there!
Article by contributing writer, Capt. Dick Swan originator of the world famous
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