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5/4/19 Holland 5/6 8.5, 7, 3# browns list fish likely a brown, 3# coho and a shaker king.

5/26/19 Port Sheldon 2/3 3# brown, small king, lost fish was heavy (aren't they always)

11/26/19 Port Sheldon 5/7 four Lakers from 8-11# and an 8# brown that took out half the spread and was hand lined into the boat.
 

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3-10-18 Saugatuck 1/2 9.5# brown, lost fish likely a small brown.

3-30-18 Saugatuck 6/7 five coho and a 2# brown.

4-18-18 Holland 3/4 lost fish a brown, 5, 6, and 4# browns.

4-21-18 South Haven 5/5 4# and 1# browns two Lakers and a steel out deeper after it got too sunny.

4-24-18 Holland 3/3 4#, 1# browns and a shaker king.

5-5-18 Holland 2/2 4# brown and a steelhead right off the hatchery truck that was about as small as the rapala it hit.

5-14-18 Holland 2/2 4# brown, 7# king.

5-22-18 Holland 2/3, 6# brown and a small king.

6-23-18 Saugatuck 1 for ahem 5, 6# brown and a trail of tears lost tackle and big steelhead.

7-18-18 Saugatuck 7 for 13 7# and 3# browns, five steelhead, and more wreckage.

Two trips out of Port Sheldon late limits of coho so fast browns didn't get a chance to bite.
 

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In 2019, Lake Michigan brown trout stockings were reduced and some were moved up north to cooler waters. This change happened due to poor returns at southern ports.

We will be evaluating this change after this years creel is over to help us determine what to do next.

Please let me know where you have been catching browns and the general size of them. You can send via [email protected] or text me 616-490-5090.

Picture is an example of Ludington where stocking has gone up but the catches remain low - until this spring from what I hear. View attachment 830377
This is great news that the dnr wants anglers data to help out the brown trout fishery on Lake Michigan. We’re all for improvement in the fishery wherever it may be. Speaking on behalf of brown trout they really seem to like the tawas area as seen by @andyotto reports. Hands down the best brown trout reports from the whole state the last couple years. You’ve had to of seen and read all Andy’s awesome reports. These fish not only are surviving but they appear to be thriving. Right now probably best odds in the state for an average angler to catch one out on the big water. Tip of thumb and north on the sunrise side is where the dnr should be taking a serious look at right now for success with the brown trout. It’s time to stop throwing fish in a bowl for the people with the largest pocket books and quit greasing the squeaky wheels.It’s no doubt there’s a lot more money on the west side of the state. I don’t think the fish care who’s got the most money or the loudest voice. Common sense says put them where they want to be and right now they thrive on the east side. Please don’t turn a blind eye to Lake Huron if you truly are committed to brown trout success

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Funny some of the best years for browns were when they quit planting them saying there was bad returns. It was fairly simple any time in April to go get a limit from st. Joe to Muskegon. Lots of guys doing it. Lots of guys catching. Then it stopped and moved to am area where they aren't fished for near as much. SF browns did way better.
 

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I have caught between 20 and 30 lake run browns so far this year out of Huron. I know others who have done similar. These fish are coming from a couple small upriver plants that are intended to be stream fish. I think one of the keys here is that these fish are planted way upriver. Miles from the lake. These fish go to the lake when they want to. I believe a lot of these fish migrate to the lake later in summer when the temp in the lower river gets warm. They get out instead of going up. By doing this, they avoid the early spring predator gauntlet. Also, one of the streams they are planted in has degraded so badly in some of the upper and middle stretches, I doubt it could support the plant, so some may have to go regardless of temp.
Also, outer Saginaw bay is perfect for browns. A variety of food, great nearshore structure, cool water almost always fairly close. I never quit catching lake runs. Even after they stopped planting them. I think there's some lessons here.
 

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I have caught between 20 and 30 lake run browns so far this year out of Huron. I know others who have done similar. These fish are coming from a couple small upriver plants that are intended to be stream fish. I think one of the keys here is that these fish are planted way upriver. Miles from the lake. These fish go to the lake when they want to. I believe a lot of these fish migrate to the lake later in summer when the temp in the lower river gets warm. They get out instead of going up. By doing this, they avoid the early spring predator gauntlet. Also, one of the streams they are planted in has degraded so badly in some of the upper and middle stretches, I doubt it could support the plant, so some may have to go regardless of temp.
Also, outer Saginaw bay is perfect for browns. A variety of food, great nearshore structure, cool water almost always fairly close. I never quit catching lake runs. Even after they stopped planting them. I think there's some lessons here.
Careful on the west side that would mean they would start planting them out at the mouth. Try to ruin it. Used to get a pile of browns in the st Joe. Grand and Kalamazoo. Great fishing in the spring on big lake. They switched planting locations. Times and species and then it slowly went away in rivers then completely since they stopped stocking.
 

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It would certainly be nice to see some type of brown trout stocking program in the southern basin again. I have talked to guys from St. Joe, South Haven and Muskegon and that seems to be the general consensus. People would like to see more coho stockings to. Of course, I would like to see that as well. Sadly, I highly doubt we will ever see browns stocked down here ever again as pier and shore fishermen are to small of a group and voice. Today when you catch a brown it draws a crowd. Seems everyone has to see it. You would think someone said a guy just caught a Ceolacanth. Seriously.
 

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It would certainly be nice to see some type of brown trout stocking program in the southern basin again. I have talked to guys from St. Joe, South Haven and Muskegon and that seems to be the general consensus. People would like to see more coho stockings to. Of course, I would like to see that as well. Sadly, I highly doubt we will ever see browns stocked down here ever again as pier and shore fishermen are to small of a group and voice. Today when you catch a brown it draws a crowd. Seems everyone has to see it. You would think someone said a guy just caught a Ceolacanth. Seriously.
The problem is. Then why are they planted north where there are even less people fishing them. The planting move north made zero sense whatsoever.
 

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I appreciate the discussion Jay. I’ve always believed that the poor returns comments have been due to creel census data simply not being recorded in the periods when browns are targeted by anglers. Perhaps you could share the creel census data? As I recall the cenus doesn’t even start until what? Memorial day?
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
I appreciate the discussion Jay. I’ve always believed that the poor returns comments have been due to creel census data simply not being recorded in the periods when browns are targeted by anglers. Perhaps you could share the creel census data? As I recall the cenus doesn’t even start until what? Memorial day?
Creel starts April 1st and has since 1989. Most ports caught 2,000 to 4,000 browns a year while the clerk was working through the 1990s. It started to fall to just a few hundred around 2010 and some ports went below 100.

The thought that conditions were too poor in south and that we should move them north and increase the stocking of those northern ports. This is our last for the experiment before we re-evaluate.

We could consider having a port in south one near Manistee and one in UP and cut the rest.

I will follow up with creel and stocking numbers.


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Lack of reporting has killed the brown fishery in more than one port! It’s hard to hold that against the DNR! Nobody reports so they think no one is fishing for them! We did the same thing on grand traverse bays. Everybody kept it a big secret, to the point it looked like no one really cared! Couple that with some bad input from local charters who would rather have lakers & we lost our fish!

Check out what’s been going on with the brown program iin Higgens lake. The community has been involved WITH the DNR all along & they are really building a great fishery over there. wild rose, I think?
 

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I would also add Jay, it is tough for the weekend fishermen or the guys that are working their fannys off, to report their catch, unless they happen to run into a creel counter. During the early spring, lots of guys are just throwing in a 14 footer at a road end somewhere & troll the shallows, they don’t run into the creel counters often. Honestly, I fish a bunch, & I don’t know how to report that I’ve caught a brown?

Is it foolish of me to suggest maybe a “Report your catch” website? Just a few easy questions? Almost everyone fishing now has access to the internet? I’m just thinking out loud.
 

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Creel starts April 1st and has since 1989. Most ports caught 2,000 to 4,000 browns a year while the clerk was working through the 1990s. It started to fall to just a few hundred around 2010 and some ports went below 100.

The thought that conditions were too poor in south and that we should move them north and increase the stocking of those northern ports. This is our last for the experiment before we re-evaluate.

We could consider having a port in south one near Manistee and one in UP and cut the rest.

I will follow up with creel and stocking numbers.


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Funny I cought over 130 myself in 2010. And was never checked one time by. A creel worker. That was fishing nearly every day I could get out through March amd April. From st Joe to Muskegon and everywhere in-between. Every boat id talk to had fish also amd there was boats at every port and more pier guys than there is now. Great numbers! 👍
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
I would also add Jay, it is tough for the weekend fishermen or the guys that are working their fannys off, to report their catch, unless they happen to run into a creel counter. During the early spring, lots of guys are just throwing in a 14 footer at a road end somewhere & troll the shallows, they don’t run into the creel counters often. Honestly, I fish a bunch, & I don’t know how to report that I’ve caught a brown?

Is it foolish of me to suggest maybe a “Report your catch” website? Just a few easy questions? Almost everyone fishing now has access to the internet? I’m just thinking out loud.

This app is great for recoding catch.


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While the app is a great way to record your catch, far to many people are reluctant or just plain not interested in reporting their catch. The month of March is completely left out by the state. To be honest our man Brian (great guy) can only do so much and can't possibly cover it all. Perhaps a team of trained volunteers would be able to give the state a better idea of what is happening. Definitely would be on board with that.
 

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While the app is a great way to record your catch, far to many people are reluctant or just plain not interested in reporting their catch. The month of March is completely left out by the state. To be honest our man Brian (great guy) can only do so much and can't possibly cover it all. Perhaps a team of trained volunteers would be able to give the state a better idea of what is happening. Definitely would be on board with that.
The census people really only take a sampling of what is going on. Many people come and go and don't get the chance to report their success. This sampling is always better than providing a guess. Census statistics is a representation of what was caught.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
The census people really only take a sampling of what is going on. Many people come and go and don't get the chance to report their success. This sampling is always better than providing a guess. Census statistics is a representation of what was caught.
Also, the census has been run the same months since 1989. The catch in April and May have declined significantly since 1989. I get that the census does not get everybody and misses March. But it does pick up trends and “estimates” catch for the months that are sampled.

If people don’t want to report, you are hurting your own fishery. We want to manage fishing license fees appropriately, so when we are putting $50,000 worth of brown trout at a port that have taken up space in a hatchery for 18 months, we want to make sure it is supporting a fishery.


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Also, the census has been run the same months since 1989. The catch in April and May have declined significantly since 1989. I get that the census does not get everybody and misses March. But it does pick up trends and “estimates” catch for the months that are sampled.

If people don’t want to report, you are hurting your own fishery. We want to manage fishing license fees appropriately, so when we are putting $50,000 worth of brown trout at a port that have taken up space in a hatchery for 18 months, we want to make sure it is supporting a fishery.

Let’s have those 50 grand worth of brown trout planted in the tawas area

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