Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grayling in MIchigan

I just read an article  in the Great Lakes Life and Times abouty a plan to bring back Grayling to Michigan.  Overfishing and destruction of trout habitat from lumbering led to the demise of the Arctic Grayling in Michigan streams. 

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The Little River Band of Indians is trying to plan for the re-establishing of the Arctic Grayling in the Manistee River with help from Michigan Technological University.  The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians received a US Fish and Wildlife Service tribal wildlife grant to partially fund a native species restoration plan.

The Manistee River was selected to be studied for the stocking of Grayling.  The Manistee River flows southwest for over 230 miles.  A seven year sturgeon restoration on the Manistee River has continued with support from the Little River Band and Michigan Tech.  The Manistee River has more than 80 species of fish and the 11 mile section from Hodenpyle to Tippy Dam was selected because of it's remoteness and six cold water inputs.

The grayling is distinctive by an oversized dorsal fin.  Montana has the sole self-sustaining grayling population in the lower 48 states.  I did catch grayling in Yellowstone National Park a few years back.  We parked and hiked with float tubes several miles back  to Grebe Lake.  Grayling have a small mouth like a whitefish.  I used small nymphs and manged to catch 5-6 small grayling.

The initial study may lead to stocking.  The State of Michigan tried both river and lake stocking of grayling in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the fish didn't establish due to a number of factors, including hooking mortality, disease, predation, and competition.

Grayling are a somewhat fragile species and not very aggressive.  The stream survey will add more information on water discharge, substrate, water temperature, and "food drift".    The land around the river in this area is national forest and adjacent to tribal land.

It is exciting to hear that the Arctic Grayling might one again swim in a stream in Michigan.  It is even more exciting when it is happening in your own back yard!

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