Angling to receive Atlantic salmon

A “no fishing from the docks” sign hangs at the entry of the harbor in Harrisville. City officials last month began discussing how the city could improve access to anglers at the city’s harbor.

ALPENA — At its next meeting, in August, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Lake Huron Citizen Fishery Advisory Committee will discuss which community along the lake could receive 80,000 Atlantic salmon next year.

The committee, comprised of representatives from Lake Huron’s ports, from sport fishing organizations around the state, and from the DNR, meets quarterly and provides recommendations to the DNR on management of Lake Huron’s fishery, according to Chairman Frank Krist.

Krist, who has been a member of the committee since its inception in 1989, said the DNR may or may not choose to follow their recommendations.

The DNR began stocking Atlantic salmon in Lake Huron about five or six years ago, Krist said. The fishery is doing well. He said the DNR originally wanted to stock 180,000 fish, but, because of space constraints in the hatchery, that number leveled off around 100,000.

The DNR found extra space at its Harrietta Hatchery, he said, and officials are currently raising 80,000 Atlantic salmon there. Krist said the salmon are hatched from eggs at the fisheries and are raised for about 18 months. He said the salmon should be available for stocking next spring.

“The DNR hasn’t decided where they’re going to stock them, and we’ll be talking about that at the Aug. 6 meeting,” he said of the committee. The meeting is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare.

Krist said the committee will look to stock salmon in a location where the salmon concentrate throughout the season and where anglers have access to them.

Rogers City officials have already made it known they are interested in having salmon stocked off of their harbor. The Rogers City City Council approved a resolution in May.

The city will formally submit its request to the DNR, along with a petition of support signed by members of its community, before the committe meets in August.

Mayor Scott McLennan said the community probably won’t see salmon fishing return to what it was 10 to 15 years ago but there has been a significant increase in the salmon population in the region, thanks to the DNR’s stocking efforts.

“That’s a big deal for us and a big deal, financially, for the harbor,” he said.

Krist said one thing that’s unusual about Rogers City is that, though Atlantic salmon are not currently stocked there, the city had the second-highest number of salmon caught and reported to the DNR in 2018. Anglers in Rogers city caught 363 salmon in 2018, according to data from the DNR’s Lake Huron Atlantic Salmon Creel Harvest. The most salmon were caught in Detour, where 523 were hooked.

“Over the years, between Rogers City, Presque Isle, down towards Rockport, they attract a large number of Atlantic salmon and they’ve been attracting them all the way from the St. Mary’s River,” he said.

Krist said the committee will also consider proposals from other ports around the lakes, as well as proposals from communities working to provide more access to anglers from the shore.

Harrisville officials expressed interest in making its harbor more accessible to the public after Treasurer Tom Keerl told members of the City Council that the city wasn’t considered for a previous stocking of coho salmon because they don’t allow fishing from the city’s docks.

Harrisville Mayor Jeffrey Gehring, who is a former charter boat captain, said the topic was near and dear to his heart.

“You have no idea how difficult it was when Tom came back from that meeting and he told me that we didn’t get any fish, especially given my affinity to go out and fish,” Gehring told the council last month.

Gehring said that, in the long run, he thinks there are enough people committed to the harbor’s fishery that there’s a way to give the public more access to fishing. He has tasked the city’s Harbor Commission with pursuing the matter futher.

Harrisville Harbormaster Jim Ferguson said one way to allow fishing could be to install a floating pier. The challenge, however, he said, is, who will fund it and who will maintain it?

Gehring said representatives from Harrisville will attend the Citizen Fishery Advisory Committe meeting in August.

Municipalities interested in having salmon stocked at their port should reach out to Randy Claramunt, Lake Huron Basin Coordinator for the DNR Fisheries Division, at 231-347-4689, or Dave Borgeson, the DNR Fishery Divison Northern Lake Huron Unit manager, at 989-732-3541.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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