Anglers outraged by cuts to Lake Michigan Chinook salmon

Chinook salmon
Left: Roger Barc, of Ossineke, Mich., displays a chinook salmon during weigh-in at the annual Brown Trout Festival in Alpena, Mich., on July 23, 2006. Right: Chinook salmon fingerlings released in Grand Rapids.

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of anglers says it’s outraged by the state’s decision to nearly halve Lake Michigan’s Chinook salmon stock in 2017.

The Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday it planned to stock 300,000 Chinook salmon in the big lake, down 46 percent from this year. The state said it’s making the “significant stocking adjustment” because of a shortage in alewives, which are used as bait for Chinook salmon.

The stocking change was approved by a five-member panel of state and tribal officials that uses fishing data to determine how to stock Lake Michigan. The state said its committee listened to anglers and members of the sport fishing industry who called for reducing a variety of fish species instead of solely Chinook salmon.

fishermen, dnr meeting, michigan dnr, chinook salmon
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources talks to fishermen about a plan to cut the amount of Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan in 2017. (Sept. 13, 2016)

However, the Great Lakes Salmon Initiative said the stocking change will hurt Michigan’s multibillion-dollar fishing industry, saying anglers across the country come to Lake Michigan to fish Chinook salmon.

“The one common goal we all shared through the review process was to maintain our diverse fishery in Lake Michigan, with Chinook salmon as an important component of our multibillion-dollar sport fishery,” stated Jay Wesley, DNR Lake Michigan Basin coordinator in a Tuesday news release.

As part of the stocking changes, the state will stop federal stocking of lake trout in Grand Haven, Holland and New Buffalo beginning in 2018. Michigan officials said it would also stop its own stocking of lake trout in Lake Michigan, replacing the 50,000 fish with steelhead in the near future.fishermen-091316

The Great Lakes Salmon Initiative said the state created a ‘predator pit’ by stocking too many lake trout, which can live for decades and eat everything they can find, including stocked salmon.

The state plans to continue to stock 1.57 million coho salmon; 580,000 steelhead; and 550,000 brown trout to maintain Michigan’s diverse fishery.

The DNR said this is the fourth significant stocking adjustment it’s made since 1999.