Michigan remains at forefront of steelhead-growing movement

A Michigan DNR employee at the Little Manistee River weir focuses on moving fish into the facility so their eggs or milt can be collected. (Michigan DNR)

Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff soon will be collecting steelhead eggs at the Little Manistee River weir in Stronach (Manistee County).

Since 1968, the Little Manistee River weir has served as the sole source of winter-run steelhead eggs for fish hatcheries in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Yearling steelhead produced through hatchery operations are stocked in select tributaries of all the Great Lakes.

Steelhead provide one of Michigan’s premier sport fishing opportunities for both Great Lakes open water and tributary stream fishing.

Egg-take operations begin by lowering the weir grates by mid-March. This stops the upstream steelhead migration in the Little Manistee River and diverts the fish into holding ponds. Usually during the month of April the fish ripen and egg-take operations begin. Egg-take operations continue until the established egg quota has been reached.

During egg-take operations, unripe or “green” steelhead are counted and passed upstream to sustain the wild Little Manistee River steelhead run. Steelhead that are spawned during operations also are passed upstream and many eventually return to Lake Michigan, as this species is capable of spawning multiple times. Once the quota of eggs is reached, the weir grates are removed and all remaining fish are allowed to migrate upstream.

Egg-take scheduling information is available from the Little Manistee River weir hotline at 231-775-9727, ext. 6072. The facility is open to the public for up-close viewing during egg-take operations. Fish also can be observed in the river below the weir at any time.

As a reminder, the Little Manistee River is closed to fishing until April 1. This regulation is in place to ensure enough steelhead make it to the weir for egg-take purposes and enough steelhead make it upstream to spawn naturally.

Learn more about the Little Manistee River weir on the DNR website.

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