Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Lake Michigan’s salmon catch rates ‘outrageous’

Huron creels more diverse than in

By Marty Kovarik Correspondent

Manistee, Mich. — Lake Michigan anglers targeting chinook salmon
may have just been treated to the best king season on record. Not
only were the numbers phenomenal, said Jim Dexter, DNR Lake
Michigan basin coordinator, but the size and health of the fish was

In some areas, anglers could go out, fill their coolers with a
limit of kings, and be back in time to go to work. Success was high
throughout the lake.

“Chinook salmon were as abundant or more abundant in 2006 as
they were in 2005,” Dexter said. “The 2005 catch rate was the
highest catch rate we have ever seen on Lake Michigan, and it looks
like 2006 may have surpassed that. It was unequaled, just

A citizen advisory group that helps to monitor Lake Michigan was
unanimous that they had just experienced the best chinook fishing
they had ever seen, according to Dexter. And although all the
information is not in yet, it appears that the average midsummer
weight of these fish was 10- to 20-percent higher than last year. A
booming alewife population was given credit for beefing up the size
of this year’s kings.

“We had a really good recruitment of alewives in 2005,” Dexter

The forage base in Lake Michigan is expected to remain high in
2007. But anglers should expect that this extremely high catch rate
will slow down at some point. Dexter suggests though that while the
fishing is hot, anglers should take advantage of it.

“We can’t retain these catch rates. They are just unreal,” he
said. “The rate of success was ridiculously good. If we had that
many fish out there all the time, they would eat themselves out of
house and home.”

Stocking numbers in Lake Michigan were reduced this year on
average by 25 percent because fisheries biologists believed there
were too many hungry chinooks in the lake.

The fall river run currently is slowing down, but most rivers
had good numbers of fish. According to Dexter, anglers have been
very happy with the numbers of chinooks coming into the rivers. He
suggests river anglers start targeting steelhead, as the chinook
run is usually done by Nov. 1.

Tammy Newcomb, the DNR’s Lake Huron basin coordinator, reports
that even though salmon seem to be in better shape and condition
than last year, it is still a hit-or-miss fishery for Huron

“The salmon numbers are still down; they are still suppressed,”
Newcomb said.

According to Newcomb, even thought the salmon fishing in Lake
Huron can be slow, the overall catch rate for the lake is very
high. Huron is now a very diverse lake and anglers that targeted
lake trout did very well, she said. Fisheries biologists also are
reporting very good natural reproduction of perch and walleyes.

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