Archive for the ‘conservation’ Category

The Dark Side of the Inbox

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Last Thursday, November 4th, Kevin, Steve, Walt Grau, and myself traveled to Lansing to give comments to the Natural Resources Commission at the second to last public meeting regarding new gear restrictions on the Pere Marquette River.

The single point we tried to get across in our comments was that a 100% wild fishery like the Pere Marquette cannot sustain liberal 5 salmon/3 steelhead per day creel limits. We support gear restrictions on the Pere Marquette because under Michigan’s sparse four category regulations structure gear restrictions are the only avenue for special reduced creel limits.

We do not want to exclude bait anglers. This is not about flies vs. bait. This is about protecting a delicate, 100% wild fishery that simply will not last under current regulations. We do not know how to say it more clearly than that.

On Friday November 5th we were extremely disappointed to receive the following threat from John Stevens via Indigo Guide Service’s web inquiry form:

“I hope you realize what a big mistake you just made by backing the new gear restrictions on Michigans waters. What makes you so special that you think you can have these waters all to yourself. Heres what I propose for you, how about we make your guide service license so high you can’t afford to do it any longer? Think that might get your attention. Way to go, you take my resource that I help pay for, and make it your own private play ground? Just who do you think you are??? trust me, I will spend every last dollar I have to put you, and others like you out of business. you want us NON- elitist to be put out of business by taking our waters? Just not the right thing to do.”

John, how about you spend “every last dollar” you have on habitat improvements, law enforcement, and much needed scientific research on the Pere Marquette’s salmon and steelhead fishery? That’s the right thing to do.

Gear Restrictions in The Grand Rapids Press

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Howard Meyerson writes about the proposed gear restrictions on Michigan trout waters. Most of the article is about the Pere Marquette and the 2.9 miles of supposed “best wading water in the state” between Gleason’s and Bowman that is proposed to be an extension of the flies only no-kill water.

No comment.

Regulations on the PM: a mid-salmon season story

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Hold on tight. Kevin sends along this story:

My daughter and I just got back from a quick two mile trip down the road that we live on. We try to get out a couple times a week and always take the same route. I run, or more accurately jog slowly, while she keeps pace riding her little pink bike. The road is located in the country near the Pere Marquette River and is busily traveled during the fishing seasons.

This time of year and again in the spring we have a habit, actually the same habit I have when I float the river: we pick-up beer cans, lots and lots of beer cans. Over the short two miles that we travel, there are, on average, about a dozen new beer cans every couple days.

These cans are not part of someone’s regular roadside household trash dumping chores. They are almost certainly beers consumed along the river and in the car that get chucked out the window while driving, one or two at a time. Again, the cans come and go with the big fish. Or, to put a bit finer point on it, the cans come and go with the big fish harvesters.

I see them every day on the river, a white or yellow rod about half the size of a telephone pole spooled with weed-whacker string in one hand, a can of Busch Light (always Busch Light) in the other. They keep their five salmon limit every day that they can, for weeks on end. It is harder to see them as they roar down our street at a hundred miles an hour in a beat-up truck that sounds like a jet. These vehicles do not sound like a jet because they are high performance machines. Rather, they simply have no working exhaust. I envision these rust-rocket pilots driving much like they fish, one hand on the wheel, the other wrapped around a not quite warm can of Busch Light.

And if you and your child are lucky enough to beat them to a great spot, they are often more than happy to plop their stringer of fish down on the bank, have a seat, pop the top on a Busch Light, and talk loudly to their friends about things that would make most folks uncomfortable.

Please don’t let our rant discourage you, oh dear and good and honest sportspersons, from visiting this incredible river. As professional guides we are expert in mostly avoiding the Busch Light crowd, a crowd that tends to congregate in select areas. However, we firmly believe that to make positive change happen, we have to be honest. We have to let people know that it’s not all “Pure Michigan” all the time around here.

All anglers are of course interested in great fishing, but also in having a quality outdoor experience with family and friends. No one likes more laws and rules, but without them almost anything becomes degraded to the lowest possible level. It is clear that areas like the flies-only no-kill water on the PM are safe and clean and offer excellent fishing. Most other easily accessible public areas with standard regulations are dominated by people that have as their main focus stuffing coolers with daily limits of wild fish.

This is wrong and it needs to change. The five salmon per person, per day limit has only made things worse at a time when Michigan needs things to get better. When any public fishing area is not safe and inviting for children, things must change.

This time of year, being on the water day in and day out for six weeks, we get particularly frustrated with the behavior on certain areas of the Pere Marquette. But the most frustrating thing is that PM salmon are 100% wild. Every cooler of fish that gets raked off spawning gravels and ripped out of holes are fish that will not reproduce, that will not contribute to future runs. The salmon run is good, but it could be a lot better. The Pere Marquette produces world class salmon fishing at no cost through wild reproduction. Why stifle it with liberal creel limits that are also at the root of so much unpleasant angler behavior?

The Pere Marquette River is a very special river. It is best managed with special regulations.

This winter we will be back in the meeting rooms begging the Michigan DNRE to give us a few more miles of special regulations. Our opponents and the DNRE themselves will say, “you’re exaggerating the situation.” But when was the last time they visited one of these areas in the peak season? Where are the studies that show a 5 fish limit is appropriate for a 100% wild salmon fishery? I’ve been dancing this same dance for a decade and others have been at it for more than 30 years. The MDNRE and Natural Resource Commission are ultimately responsible for the state of Michigan’s natural resources, not us. We currently have a little over one hundred miles of special-regulations on our cold water rivers with another 75 possible miles pending in the newly proposed regulations. This is out of some eighteen thousand total miles in the state, about one percent.

Sticking your head in the sand is no excuse for failure and we have been failing long enough. This winter, instead of again insisting that we are exaggerating, why don’t you show us some pictures of your family vacation at Maple Leaf, Indian Bridge, Tippy Dam or one of Michigan’s other public salmon fishing extravaganzas?

There are only 4 or 5 truly bad areas on 80 miles of the Pere Marquette, but high rates of salmon harvesting in these areas impacts the entire fishery. The PM is a very special fishery, one that needs special protection. Let’s take a “zero-tolerance” stance and reclaim these areas.

The fishing is great now. Imagine what it could be with appropriate regulations.

Pere Marquette fishing report -Sept 21st

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

We’ve been getting a nice push of salmon over the last two days. They seem to be squirting up the lower river pretty fast, which means we should have good numbers of fish in the middle and upper river later this week and early next. We’re still managing to stick a few fish every day in the lower river on Thundersticks.

We cannot remind people too often that the Pere Marquette River is an entirely wild salmon fishery. This means that there are no hatchery salmon planted in the river. Our future generations of salmon depend 100% on the fish that are spawning right now. In order to protect this amazing fishery, please remember that females in particular must be released. It is depressing to see the short-term skein fishing trend increasing on the PM. With smaller runs of salmon each year, more people are switching to skein to put fish in the boat, selecting females over males to harvest in order to replenish their bait supply.

This is a certain recipe for the end of our fishery. The increased killing of more wild female salmon in an already declining fishery will be a quick nail in the coffin. Please, if you must harvest fish, harvest males only.