Fellow river rats.......
by Dick Swan



Fasten your seat belts as I “borrow” John King’s web site to fire a salvo at Lansing-based, Todd Grishke, for not leveling with us, during a Fisheries meeting here in Clare.....a meeting which was full of Fishery “brass’ who also listened to Todd’s “theme”over and over....“There is NO room in a hatchery to raise ONE more steelhead!”

Prior to this meeting, I had forwarded a list of concerns (inserted) to Tom Rozich (Manistee area, Unit Manager), which I wanted to discuss before the meeting. He was too busy to meet. His lack of cooperation put me in a very defensive mood (as in a tenacious “man-to-man, full-court press”) during the Clare meeting... as I became “heated” with his ridiculous responses, plus Todd’s ridiculous stand.

As a result, I have already met with acting-Chief, Jim Dexter, then later followed-up with a
one hour conversation on the phone. Both, related to my quest... GET RID OF ROZICH!

Tom continues to “KILL” our steelhead fishery, in our “Central Lake Michigan Management
Unit” and he ain’t gonna’ budge! ! !!! He is the ONLY unit manager who completely ignores the needs/wishes of his constituents and area business managers!!!!!

Allow me to present the reality of this existing situation......., citing, listing, the existing,
contrasting practices of other Lake Michigan unit managers and ALL Lake Huron unit
managers.. .with NO river “water quality” studies available which limits, restricts steelhead plants one unit or another!

Tom Rozich manages Lake Michigan’s ONLY “Blue-Ribbon” steelhead rivers, which have
CONTINUALLY receive annual steelhead plants.. .the Pere Marquette River’s tributary, Ruby Creek, 10,000 yearlings.. .Muskegon 50-55,000 yearlings.. .Big Manistee 50-55,000 yearlings. Compare these annual plant numbers with the following listing:
Our Northern Lake Huron Unit Manager, Dave Borgeson, Jr. (AuSable River) inherited an
annual plant of 100,000 yearlings from retired bio, Dave Smith.. .then boosted the plant to
150,000...then two springs ago, he received an additional 30,000...which equals... 180,000 steelhead yearlings! Those EXTRA yearlings were in the hatchery, for anyone who wanted them, during Todd’s proclamation!

             Do you get the idea. .ROZICH???? There IS EXTRA room.. TODD!

The Rifle River (LARGELY PRIVATE) waters......when Dave Smith told me it was Jim
Bedford’s 2nd favorite steelhead river) received annual plants of 50,000 yearlings, until 12,000EXTRA yearlings showed up at the same time.....which totals 62,000 yearlings!

                                   Total 272,000 yearlings!

Do you get the idea.......ROZICH? There IS EXTRA room.....TODD!

Lake Erie’s Huron/Clinton River, Unit Mng., Gary Towns, deserves special mention so first,
“Time Out”... sit back, relax, while I add a related side-bar (I warned you of my “scatter gun approach): Some years ago, when Gary first received this Lake Erie assignment, I attended our spring-time Lake Michigan Task Force meeting (when noted bio, Merle Keller chaired those meetings, while Chief Robertson ran Fisheries) when clipping all Michigan steelhead was on our agenda......when near the end of our discussion, the question arose.. .how do we gather “sound science” without iN, IL, WI also clipping their fish?

After batting it around with the President of our Charter Boat Assoc., asked if it is
possible for us to clip their fish. I began thinking it was a ridiculous question.. .where do we find room to collect them to clip, etc?. . .when Robertson asked Merle, “How much would it cost?”.....and Merle answered, “about 2-3 cents each!” I could not believe “room-at-the-inn” was not a problem (no, we didn’t clip their fish)!

Now, enter the “Palace” outdoor show.....where the DNR also had a booth....when an area
steelheader, “Yuro,” came to my booth and while talking, he mentioned something about the Huron River and Clinton River not getting a plant of yearling steelhead.. .that Gary told him there were no surplus yearlings fish, because of no room, etc. I quickly told Yuro to bring him to my booth.. .when I related the above spring-meeting discussion to Gary, then repeated Roger’s grand finale.., plus the exchange between Merle and Robertson.. .implying there WAS hatchery room to take “extra” fish!

Gary immediately hung his head (in disbelief)! THEN......I kid you not.....Roger and his wife
came strolling up to the booth, when Gary heard it all over again!

While Gary had to settle for thousands of immature, fall-fingerlings, at that time, he received 60,000 yearlings for the Huron and 15,000 for the Clinton, the following spring.

                                Todd misrepresented the truth!

At the present time, the Huron gets 60,000 yearlings and every-other year he continues receiving those 200,000 to 400,000 thousand immature fall-fingerlings, etc.

So, how do these “immature” fall-fingerlings, etc. impact the fishery when they mature and return to spawn? When Trimberger put some 800,000 of these little gems in the Rogue River (early ‘80s), daily limit catches of 5 steelhead was the norm.....for two consecutive years! ! ! ! I Director, Howard Tanner joined me during this time and complained of fatigued arms!

Along with Gary’s Huron River annual plant of 6000, and 15,000 for the Clinton, he also
receives 15,000 yearlings for the Belle River and 15,000 in IvIill Creek, a total of 105,000 yearlings, plus the every-other-year small ones, for his Lake Erie area steelheaders.
Who gets those thousands of immature steelhead during Gary’s off-years?

                              Do you get the idea.....ROZICH?????

When you know Ohio contributes 800,000 steelhead and PA. 1 3 MILLION to Lake Erie,
what’s a mere 75,000 coming from Michigan, for the lake trollers. . .where these high-flying scrappers are becoming more popular with charter clients than walleyes? Wow!

Check the enclosed piece....."Steelhead Heaven and Hell.”

Jay Westley heads-up our Southern Lake Michigan Management Unit, which covers the Grand River tributaries to St. Joe. Jay inherited this area from Jim Dexter, who is now the coordinator of three Lake Michigan units and recently served 6 months as Acting Chief.

The Grand River offered only one tributary.. .the aforementioned “heavily-hit” Rogue River,
but that was before a flood washed-out Childsdale Dam, which was non-navigable, where
steelhead stock-piled! The Rogue receives 40,000 steelhead yearlings while the Lansing’s area of the Grand gets 30,000. There are also four insignificant Grand River tributaries which get 5,000 each...for a “Grand” total of 90,000 yearlings.

With the demise of the Rouge’s dam, our 6th Street dam remains the ONLY area featuring
crowds.

St. Joe River steelheaders must also make the most of their “temporary” spring runs, before steelhead run the ladder.....where they annually receive 70,000 yearlings, plus Indiana’s 40,000 winter steelhead, plus 130,000 Skamania (summer) steelhead plants.

                                           ROZICHl has to GO!!!!!

During this spring Lake Michigan Advisory meeting (Grand Haven,’04), Rozich gave us an
update on the Betsie River Orsini Hatchery (where area volunteers perform those duties necessary to raise approximately 35,000 steelhead annually). The Betsie receives no plants. What comes out of the hatchery and how many survive the cold water to smolt, is the number of adults they get three-four years down the line.

The hatchery has been plagued with a very cold water source since it came into existence, where they lose several of these before they “smolt” then released, which obviously keeps the number of returning of adults way-down, which kills area businesses, where local river guides opt for the Big Manistee.. which puts added pressure of those “few” returning from the annual, status-quo, 50-55,000 Rozich has forever ordered!

After Tom finished his presentation, two longtime Benzonia residence, Pete Micol (owner of
Homestead Resort and Dick Sanderson, longtime Orcini Hatchery participant), took turns nailing Rozich regarding the poor hatchery conditions, losing too many young fish... etc. They want those that die to be replaced with Wolfe Lake hatchery fish.

However, Rozich continually argued he could not get “more” because of our Lake Michigan
“plant quota” agreement with other three states. Tom could not get it through his head Pete and Dick wanted these dead fish “replaced” (fish from our Wolfe Lake hatchery).. .NOT “additional” fish! Andy Pelt (President of Michigan’s MSSFA) was no help, as he also showed his ignorance, siding with Tom!

I kid you not.. .this exchange went on-and-on, with both Pete and Dick standing, pointing
fingers.. .trying to get their message through to Tom! It reached a point where chairman, Denny Grenold, stood up... hung his head, while waving his arms back and forth, at the same time, yelling “wait a minute......wait a minute.....wait a minute.....let’ s take a break for lunch”....at which time, I left the meeting.

Prior to a previous Clare, Lake Michigan meeting, I submitted questions to Tom stating my
concerns (enclosed) about our Lake Michigan unit’s welfare.. .questions I would pursue during the meeting.. .when during the meeting my temperament hit a high, when I pounded my finger on the table, while informing Tom how great other unit managers are taking such great care of their constituencies, while he is only one who remains with the samo, samo!

You get an idea what steelheaders, who fish the “Big Three,” (Muskegon, Big Manistee and
Betsie), have to live with.......with no help in sight!!

                                          GET RID OF ROZICH!!!!!

All mentioned parties are invited to respond and will get equal space.

I plainly want EVERYONE to know the above article does not represent opinions, ideas or course
of any action by the staff of www.michigansportsman.com or Capt. John King