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Just a short note to let you all know I'm back. My wife Karen and I, along with many others, had the pleasure of being at our partner Bob's wedding to Julie in New York this past Saturday. (I'll probably elaborate more on that and post a few photos after the weekend, suffice it to say, it was spectacular.) I haven't posted in a while because of the extra time we took getting to and from the event having a bit of a vacation ourselves...

I wish I could fully update you on the river and it's happenings, but obviously, I can't. I have spoken with several friends and fellow anglers since my return however and the jist of it appears to be the same. A fair to good number of fish around, but a little tough lately for the average Joe that doesn't know how to approach with stealth in the clear water we've had and then make that first couple of cast count in exactly the fishes lie. The great news is that we have been getting some rain and it looks like we'll be getting even more over the next week, so next week/weekend (What a coincidence! The very same weekend as the
Fall Steelhead/Cleanup Outing that a respectable 27 people have signed up for, but you all should have and still can...) should be very good!

Best patterns have been eggs in lighter natural colors and some smaller nymphs like stone flies and hares ears fished on light leaders. Presentation counts even more so that usual, this is not the time to approach a good spot then toss a sloppy one. By the way... It turns out that the trip I took right after my last report did want to chase Steel and we wound up finding three of them that wanted to play. Each gave us an ass whoppin' to remember and we had a great time. Near the end of the float we ran into some guys I know that fish that stretch regularly, with precision and with spawn. Turns out we did better than we thought not knowing who was ahead of us the whole time! They had gone five for seven and had kept one small stray fin clipped male...

Below is something I got from the guy that runs the weir operation here on the PM. I thought some of you might find the 2003 summary interesting so I'm posting it here. That's all I have for now, but I'll try and post another with more detail sometime early next week. Till then, tight lines, click the link above for the cleanup/outing, sign up and I'll see you next weekend!

Pere Marquette Weir Summary

During the 2003 season, the electric weir on the Pere Marquette (PM) River was operated March 20 through July 28. The fish ladder was operated March 20 through July 10, except during July 4-6. The weir was staffed by four Fish & Wildlife personnel; working two person crews, two eight hour shifts. With a few exceptions, all species passing the fish ladder were hand counted from 6:30 am until 10:00 pm when the fish ladder was operating. The video camera was operated 24/7 from March 24 through May 12. Set up time and computer problems resulted in no video count during the remainder of the season.

A total of 7,119 steelhead (5,965, hand counted during day; 970, night video count; 184, night estimated when video down), 130 brown trout, 62 longnose sucker, 264 redhorse, and 4,840 white sucker passed through the PM fish ladder during 2003. A total of 187 sea lampreys were captured at the weir.

The use of video capture software to count fish passing the ladder was moderately successful. When working properly, the fish ladder could be operated without staff to count fish. This year staffing was reduced from 6 to 4 personnel. A software glitch ceased video capture on May 12, and bubbles caused the software to capture many frames with no fish, resulting in considerably more time to review the files and count fish. Modifications to the ladder and a newer version of the software will reduce these problems.

The electrical barrier field had some weak (low voltage) areas this year. When the weir was shut down for the season, inspections revealed four badly deteriorated electrodes. These electrodes were replaced in August, greatly increasing the strength of the electrical field, bring it up to targeted voltages.

Electrofishing surveys found 4 larval sea lampreys upstream of the barrier. Two of the lampreys were definitely residuals, which survived the 2002 treatment. Judging from size, the other two may be young of year (2003) or late hatched residuals from 2002. Considering the condition of the electrical field, theses surveys were very good news.

Operation of the weir during the 2004 season will be similar to 2003. A new version of the video capture software and modifications to the ladder, will reduce labor cost and result in accurate and timely fish passage numbers.
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