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North - North East Michigan Streams and Rivers The AuSable, The Rifle, The Sturgeon, The Pigeon, The Thunder Bay, and The Ocqueoc. Please do not reveal specific holes.

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  #1  
Old 01-28-2011, 07:17 AM
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I attended a meeting last night in Oscoda for a proposed fish ladder project. The meeting was for public comment on the project by the MDNR. Funding has been secured and preliminary enginneering has been completed. The ladder would allow unresticted movement of cold water species through Van Etten Lake into the Pine River at the north end. It would also allow warm water fish to enter and exit the lake at will. It sounded like there was support of the project by lake property owners and concerned citizens and could be constucted this year. Estimated cost $350,000.
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:07 AM
Fishndude Fishndude is offline
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There has been viable natural reproduction in the Pine for decades, without any fish ladder @ the Van Ettan dam. I cannot imagine what real benefit this will provide. Steelhead can already clear that dam without trouble, when they want to. Salmon are about done @ lake Huron, so it isn't for the Salmon. The single biggest issue with Salmon, Trout, and Steelhead in lake Huron is the presence of Zebra and Quagga Mussels, which have caused the lake to be too sterile to support the amount of gamefish we were used to a decade ago. You can put all the fish you want to into that lake, and a large amount of them will just starve to death. Want more fish @ Huron? Someone needs to fix the Mussel problem. End of story.
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Old 01-28-2011, 09:13 AM
SJC SJC is offline
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It's true that both steelhead and salmon make it to the Pine and reproduce. I'm sure a fish ladder would allow even more to do so. If that happens it would probably boost the steelhead run a little. I think natural smolts survive way better than hatchery fish. How much would it boost the run? Would more steelhead smolt upstream be bad for the brookies? Is the project worth the $. All things to think about.

As far as the Lake Huron fishery goes, I agree with you about the salmon, but not steelhead. I think the lake still has great potential for steelhead. I actually think the steelhead fishing is starting to turn around. Way more fish the the last couple years, both adults and natural smolts. At least where I fish. Guys in the lake caught a lot of fat sassy steelhead. Every steelhead my cousin caught on the boat was full of food. I think we need to forget about the salmon and focus on steelhead, browns, atlantics- anything that does not eat like a king. Anything that would put more of these fish in the system would be a good thing. We have several streams that have good natural reproduction. If we want more fish, we need to capatilize on that.
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Old 01-28-2011, 01:49 PM
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I understand very well that Steelhead, Browns, etc., are not as dependent on Alewives as King Salmon. However, I also understand that they ARE somewhat dependent on Alewives, because as soon as the Alewife populations declined, so did the numbers and sizes of Steelhead @ Huron. The same thing is happening on lake Michigan, right now. When was the last time anyone heard of an 18# Steelhead coming from lake Huron? Lake Michigan? They are pretty rare these days, and just 7 years ago there were quite a few caught in MI waters every year - in both lakes Huron and Michigan.
The fact remains that the Mussels don't just out-compete Alewives for food. They are sucking the nutrients out of the entire Great Lakes system, which reduces the amount of food for everything - including bugs, small minnows, and other invertabrates. And their numbers are constantly increasing - they haven't decline since they were introduced.

Steelhead and Browns are a more viable option than Salmon, for planting purposes. But we are talking about a small stream that does have decent natural reproduction of Steelhead. And the issue is that the stream is small, and its "carrying capacity" is likewise small - it simply does not support a whole lot of Steelhead, in addition to the Trout that live there year-round. It does support some Steelhead, though. Allowing more Steelhead into it, to spawn, won't really increase the numbers that smolt and return as adults - because the Pine simply won't support significantly higher numbers. That is the exact reason the DNR has planted the Ausable heavily for 40 years. The plants used to support an incredble fishery for Salmon and Steelhead - one of the best in the entire World. The Mussels changed all that.

I can appreciate the city of Oscoda needing improvements to attract visitors and commerce. I cannot fathom why they need to build a new pier, which will be about .5 miles from the current pier - but they are getting Federal money to put one in. Yippee. Likewise, I feel that adding a fish ladder to the Van Ettan dam is an exercise in futility for the purpose stated. I just don't think it will do anything to significantly increase the amount of Steelhead that return to either the Ausable or Van Ettan Creek/Pine Creek. But that just is my opinion.

It was my opinion for a number of years that the Mussels were killing the ecosystem of lake Huron, and lots of people disagreed with me - some to extreme levels. Sadly, my opinion turned out to be supported by facts, and some of those former disagree-ers now share my opinion. None of us are happy that I was right. I have never wanted to be wrong as badly as I wanted to be about the Mussels.
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:13 PM
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It was explained by Steve Sendek (MDNR) that the main reason for the construction of the ladder is for the warm water species more than trout and salmon. They are trying to enhance the population of predatory fish to curtail the over population of stunted panfish. Because of VHS the yearly plants of walleye have not taken place in the last three years on Van Etten. By allowing Lake Huron/ Saginaw Bay walleye/bass/pike to enter into the lake through the fish ladder,they could feed heavily on the panfish and return back to the AuSable River or Lake Huron at will. Since both steelhead and salmon are able to navigate the present dam and enter into the Pine River ,the DNR fells that those population numbers will not change noticably. The grant money for the project is coming from Consumer Energy.
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Old 01-28-2011, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
It was explained by Steve Sendek (MDNR) that the main reason for the construction of the ladder is for the warm water species more than trout and salmon. They are trying to enhance the population of predatory fish to curtail the over population of stunted panfish
That seems to make sense. Van Etten has plenty of pike and walleyes in it all year, with a big push of them in the spring. It gets just about no kings anymore. I'm just happy to see some attention towards the Oscoda area, hope more goes that way.

While they're around, making "improvements", they should rip out the stairs at the HB's and put them somewhere else! Make it a bit more work to get down there, that will eliminate atleast 1/2 the people. Which would mean 50% fewer piles of wasted loose eggs left by the part time crowd down there.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:07 AM
Ron Matthews Ron Matthews is offline
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[QUOTE=HemlockNailer;3519450 The grant money for the project is coming from Consumer Energy.[/QUOTE]

Is this under the Fish Habitat Improvement Account - HIA ?

[Quote] -These HIA funds, which were agreed upon as a way of mitigating any fish damage caused by the hydro turbines, have been invested in a combination of fisheries research and on-the-ground projects that include habitat improvements, fishing access and erosion control. For 2009 Consumers Energy contributed $225,000 to the HIA [ from the Hydro reporter 2010 issue]

I'd rather seen it spent on erosion control- sedimentation traps, restricted river flow areas, woody cover placement and relocation, bank stabilization projects On the Mainstream Au sable below Foote dam...

The damage caused by hydro turbines doesn't really effect a coffer dam on Van Etten?
Not that I'm against any improvements at ALL.... I just hope it's money well spent?

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Old 01-29-2011, 11:45 AM
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I agree wholeheartedly. If the State wants to really make a difference for the Ausable, they simply need to throw in some more bank stabilization areas (quite a few), narrow the river up, so the concentrated current washes sand off of the natural gravel substrate bottom that exists, and install a couple sand traps to pull sand out before it obliterates nice stretches of river bottom. Add some bottom-draw equipment to keep the river below the dams cooler in Summer, and the native species should quickly proliferate.

The DNR is starting to plant Walleyes, again, starting this year. They expect to plant 50 million after not planting hardly any for a few years. I am not aware of Walleyes passing fish ladders well, either. I live downstate, and there is a fish ladder on the Huron river @ Flatrock, so Steelhead can pass. The river fills up with Walleyes right after the spring closure, but they don't really get above the ladder that I am aware of. There aren't tons of them at the Belleville dam, which is the next dam upstream; and there are Walleyes all along that river. Someone should lobby the DNR to plant a slug of Wallys in Van Ettan lake. Seems simple enough.
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:26 PM
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Ron, we were told by Sendek that the funding was through Consumers. I am not aware of what account it is coming out of. The Mdnr is also trying to secure a grant for relocating the lift pumps from Van Etten Creek to the AuSable River for the holding pens. We have been promised 130,000 steelhead to pen raise this spring. The Atlantic Salmon that we were hoping for were all lost to whirrling desease at the hatchery.
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Old 01-29-2011, 02:01 PM
ausable_steelhead ausable_steelhead is offline
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Quote:
The Mdnr is also trying to secure a grant for relocating the lift pumps from Van Etten Creek to the AuSable River for the holding pens. We have been promised 130,000 steelhead to pen raise this spring. The Atlantic Salmon that we were hoping for were all lost to whirrling desease at the hatchery.
Is that going to be the whole plant this year? Or are the other 20,000 gonna be planted like normal? The pump relocaton is a good idea, get the bulk of the returns up the Au Sable. Although it would be cool to get an established wild Pine run going.
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Old 01-29-2011, 02:10 PM
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Can't understand why they would still be raising and planting steelhead in Van Etten Creek. Pumping water from the Ausable to acclimate them seems like a waste of money. Imo all fish should be planted at Rea Rd. If it's because of cormorants that is really not an issue anymore Just my two cents, but am always willing to listen to reason.
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Old 01-29-2011, 04:18 PM
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A.S., don't know yet on the total numbers. Probably not till spring. Since we are not getting any Atlantics they may bring in Kings again this year. We really can't refuse any fish even though it costs money to watch them until they are released out of the pens. Hope the Cormorant numbers stay low again this year.
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Old 01-29-2011, 05:13 PM
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We need to push for mainstream improvements it looks like...

I'm Not against pen raised fish, You guys have done more than your share of babysitting and trying to make a difference. But I'm with Herb, Rea rd plantings is the best bang for the buck! Look at what happened with the first return of Rea rd. plants since relocating the drop zone?
we'll see if any adipose clips return? [net pen release]

I've always said Rea was a for sure imprint process in steelhead, we've all seen the results of what lower river plantings have done..... I'd like to see the clipped fish show us they do well being imprinted to Van Etten creek and if they do I'd support pumps and whatnot.... The data hasn't proved this is the best option? That's a bunch of fish that could be a mainstream success story when planted at Rea?
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HemlockNailer View Post
Ron, we were told by Sendek that the funding was through Consumers. I am not aware of what account it is coming out of. The Mdnr is also trying to secure a grant for relocating the lift pumps from Van Etten Creek to the AuSable River for the holding pens. We have been promised 130,000 steelhead to pen raise this spring. The Atlantic Salmon that we were hoping for were all lost to whirrling desease at the hatchery.
Hemlock are you saying that someone told you that 130,000 would be raised in pens this year out of 150,000 scheduled to be planted?
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:47 AM
ausable_steelhead ausable_steelhead is offline
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But I'm with Herb, Rea rd plantings is the best bang for the buck! Look at what happened with the first return of Rea rd. plants since relocating the drop zone?
The only thing I didn't like about the plant being upstream was fishing in May in the upper section. Those planters got to be a pain and a lot were killed by irritated fisherman squeezing them while unhooking. They hit everything, especially egg looking stuff. While I run a lot of choker bags and crawlers during May, the smolts were still a pest. If it means more adults though in the long run, I'm all for it.

I still think the high abundance of walleye and lake trout out in Lake Huron, especially in that area, takes a heavy toll on the plants. I wish the DNR could plant them bigger like the browns, that would help.
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