Salmon, steelhead catch reports are up on Lake Michigan

Looking for a good deal on a Great Lakes fishing boat or other Midwest trout and salmon gear? Now is the time!

To say 2015 was a bust for most fishermen is an understatement. Coupled with doom-and-gloom reports from DNR sources, university researchers, and on-line self-proclaimed experts there was very little optimism for the future of fishing in Lake Michigan.

This was doubly or triply true if the success of your fishing is measured by the number of kings you catch or the size of steelhead you hook. Steelhead were about 50-percent smaller than the chromers caught just a few years ago. King salmon returns from the hatchery fish stocked ran about a half-percent up and down the lake front.

That’s 0.5 percent or .005. If a stream got a stocking of 45,000 smolts, on average 225 adult fish survived and returned to their stocking stream last fall.

Wild, naturally-spawned king salmon swim Lake Michigan as well but every year isn’t a great year for wild spawning. Mother Nature regularly produces booms and busts as well as spawns of average natures.

However, unlike most all freshwater fish populations, the salmon, steelhead and most brown trout in the lake are short-lived species. King salmon only live four years.

Cohos three. Steelhead three to five, on average. Then they are gone.

What that means is every year is different. You could have a lake full of four-year-old kings one year, but if there are scant few three-year-olds, what’s the outlook for the following season?

Anglers frequenting the most southern ports along Michigan’s lakefront have been fishing for over two months. The “season” along our mid-coast is underway and action at the northern ports are heating up.

Stocking cuts and other factors are expected to depress the king salmon catches from historic norms in 2016. However, the king catches are up so far from last year’s dismal results. That’s making many anglers cautiously optimistic 2016 will not be the bust of last year or a continuation of the lake’s decline.

Maybe you ought to take your boat off the market or not eBay all your gear. At least for another year or so.

Categories: Blog Content, Michigan – Mike Schoonveld

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