Troutnut.com Fly Fishing for Trout Home
User Password
or register.
Scientific name search:

> > Michigan DNR to start stocking Arctic Grayling

TimCatJune 13th, 2016, 8:34 pm
Alanson, MI

Posts: 121
I figured I'd share this article for my fellow Michiganders and also to ask if any of Canadians or Alaskans know of any stocking efforts for Grayling in their watersheds. Anybody have any insights? Whether firsthand or from any research they've read. I imagine if stocking Grayling is anything like trout, it will be tough to get a self-sustaining population going in the near future...

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10366_54559_10402-386539--,00.html
"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather not catch anything on flies" - Bob Lawless
TroutnutJune 14th, 2016, 5:14 am
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2553
I'm very glad to see that!

I do think grayling will be more difficult than trout to introduce as a self-sustaining population. In the Alaskan populations with which I'm familiar, grayling spawn in very specific locations within a watershed (a handful of slow, spring-fed sloughs), overwinter in other locations (large rivers), and feed in completely different locations yet (pretty much all over our rivers and small streams), with feeding habitats often separated by tens of miles from their spawning and rearing habitats.

I'm sure there are some other variations on this theme, but it might be a general principle that grayling need access to several very different habitat types over their lifetime, so the watershed has to support a healthy variety of habitats and they must be well connected to each other, not cut off by culverts or anything.

Another puzzle they'll have to solve is how to get the grayling to understand where they have these different options available, without the option of following other grayling who've been there before. The best bet might be stocking them as young juveniles in their ideal spawning & rearing habitat, letting them disperse to overwintering and other feeding habitats on their own, and then hoping they remember where to return to spawn.

I don't know of any attempts in Alaska to supplement or restore wild grayling populations by stocking. As far as I know, grayling are in pretty good shape throughout their native range within Alaska, and when they have been depressed, the response has been strict C&R regulations to let the population recover on its own.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
TimCatJune 14th, 2016, 6:45 pm
Alanson, MI

Posts: 121
The Manistee river is mentioned in that link as the first place they plan on stocking. The watershed has almost every type of habitat imaginable for a river in Michigan. There are a couple large dams however, but I think above and below them, there are plenty of good spaces for them to live and spawn.

I'm curious to see what types of regulation changes they may implement. Since the last time the arctic grayling lived in the manistee, there have been quite a few new species introduced (browns, rainbows/steelhead, and various salmon species). The manistee, although large, is probably the most heavily pressured river in the state as well.
"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather not catch anything on flies" - Bob Lawless
Jmd123June 14th, 2016, 10:53 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2398
Tim, I always like to say: Grayling is the town named after the fish it killed!!

I hope they are successful, I would LOVE to catch grayling on dry flies! But, they do have their work cut out for them, what with how all of our river systems have changed (seven dams on the Au Sable mainstem, close to a hundred on tributaries!!) and there are many species here now that didn't used to be...but we can always hope!!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
OldredbarnJune 15th, 2016, 7:53 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
IMHO...Don't think we can turn back the clock. Our DNR is spinning its wheels and tossing good dough out the window. If they were serious they would think about some stream in the UP, not the Manistee.

Jason. Maybe you can tell us the temp requirements for this species. The Manistee and the Au Sable in places can get close to 70 degrees on very hot summers...

Out west they have reintroduced Grayling in a couple areas with limited success. In Red Rock NWR they have placed them in Red Rock Creek and have been in the process of protecting these fish by eliminating the Cutthroat that were already there...Nice ones by-the-way.

Over in Yellowstone Park they are implementing regs to protect the very same fish they are killing in Red Rock, the Cutthroats?! This is less than 50 miles away.

Are we going in that direction here where we might contemplate removal of predator Browns and Rainbows? Both non-native species to protect the reintroduced Grayling?

Jason. The learning curve you discuss is more than likely what happens to stocked hatchery fish...They can't figure out what to do for awhile or where they are at, and are easy pickings for the resident big fish that love it when the hatchery truck pulls up...How many stockies do we lose right off the bat in a situation like that...At a cost of what per fish?

It is true that at one time Grayling were in the Au Sable. When there were no Browns, Rainbows, and Brooks...I think the author misspoke when they said that Brook trout were not native to Michigan...As I understood it, it was felt that they may have eventually made it to the Au Sable, but we beat them there.

Good old Rube Babbitt is credited with tossing Brookies in the Au Sable system...He was a game warden in Grayling at one time.

It is true that Grayling was named after the Grayling...It was called something else prior to the name change.

Jonathon...I don't think its a proper characterization to blame Grayling for the demise of this fish...It was a combination of commercial over fishing, they came too willingly to a hook, sometimes three at a time, and they were shipped to Detroit and Chicago. When they weren't stacked up on the bank.

The lumber barons, not from Grayling, more likely Bay City, Detroit, and Chicago, would dam the river and create a lake behind this and let it freeze. They would then stack the lumber up on the ice all winter and with the spring thaw dynamite the dams and the logs would scourer their way downstream...Dam Four for example on the North Branch was Mr Fords...Imagine being able to do this today?!

Jason...Are Grayling spring or Fall spawners?

Then came the vacationers who wanted to live along the river, and in the words of George Griffith, "loved the river to death", by mowing the cover down to stream side so they could view their river frontage...Opening the canopy to the sun without a cooling filter from the trees.

The poor folk of Grayling are just the remnant flotsam that have been tossed around by these other forces that have put a great deal of pressure on that stream.

Anyway...My club has been told that we can expect a visit sometime next school year from our DNR and they will explain to us what they are up to...I'll try and keep you posted.

Spence



"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
PartsmanJune 15th, 2016, 10:09 pm
bancroft michigan

Posts: 265
I think there are better things to be spending our money on here in Michigan. I have not heard much about the atlantic salmon effort in the lower ausable river. I liked to see more money spent on stream improvements and access.
TNEALJune 15th, 2016, 10:20 pm
GRAYLING. MICHIGAN

Posts: 276
This will not ne the first attempt to do this. Grayling were put in the Manistee in, I believe,1987. That turned out to be an exceptionally hot summer, no fish survived. That same year they were also put in Neff lake; they did survive several years there. This summer is supposed to be a hot one as well.

By the way, Spence's estimate of water temps on hot summers is a bit understated. Both the Manistee and particularly the AuSable regularly get above 70 during hot spells. I've already taken water temps of 68 on the AuSable mainstem.
Jmd123June 16th, 2016, 1:27 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2398
Spence, pretty much every town in this part of the world arose because of the logging industry. Damage to the rivers from this, including erosion, siltation, and water warming from lack of shade, was the beginning of the end for the Michigan grayling, which also fed logging crews by the millions as they were easy to catch. I'm sure as heck not saying that Oscoda or Alpena or Gaylord DIDN'T kill any fish through the activities of our predecessors, but Grayling is named for this fish, sort of like naming a street Elm Street or Maple Street or Walnut after you've cut down all the elms or maples or walnuts.

The addition of brook (below Gaylord, from what I have read and heard), brown, and rainbow trout, as well as chinook and coho salmon and steelhead, won't be easy for them to handle, as will all the freakin' dams we have built. Apparently, they were once upon a time planted in Reid Lake, which has no potential for spawning. Put-n-take?

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TimCatJune 16th, 2016, 9:18 pm
Alanson, MI

Posts: 121
We can only guess what the details of the plan are at this point. They were successful in re-establishing a population in Montana sure, but this is a different situation. Another thing to consider is that there was a Grayling sub-species specific to Michigan, which can no longer be collected for stocking efforts. Montana still had some of the sub-species specific to the region to collect and rear in a hatchery for the stocking. Technically, Michigan will never get back what it once had, even if the program is successful.

I personally don't care about salmon or steelhead in Michigan. I'm not knocking it if you fish for them, I just don't care if they're here and I also don't believe the efforts from the DNR are worth it... but it does generate revenue I guess. It just seems kind of dumb to focus all that time and money on a fish that has a very difficult time reproducing in the waters in Michigan. At one point, the salmon helped control the alewive population, but that's all I really know about why they're here, other than for anglers to fish for them.

Here is the MDNR evaluation of the stocking efforts, written in '92. I'm reading through it now.

http://www.midnr.com/Publications/pdfs/IFR/ifrlibra/Research/reports/1985rr.pdf
"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather not catch anything on flies" - Bob Lawless
TNEALJune 17th, 2016, 8:10 am
GRAYLING. MICHIGAN

Posts: 276
Jonathan makes good points; different ecosystem; other fish to compete with; Grayling will not survive. I agree with TimCat re salmon/steelhead as well. Rivers have been neglected in favor of big fish fishery. Now we are told when all we catch is small trout that "you must have gotten into a young of the year bunch." As if larger trout selectively ignore heavy early season hatches so the little guys can fatten up. The truth is when things were right May was the best fishing month of the year. It was the norm to expect an afternoon o 25-40 fish in the 9-16" range with a few smaller and a few larger in the upper AuSable. No more. They simply are not there; the 10,000 trout per mile days are gone for good and it seems as though no one wants to address it. Most fisherman are now content to enjoy the experience that comes with a few small fish.
TroutnutJune 20th, 2016, 2:15 am
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2553
Grayling do so well in such a wide variety of ecosystems in Alaska that I would have some hope for their ability to adapt to the new conditions in Michigan despite the obstacles including competing with different species. I know of streams where they live with almost every possible combination of different neighbors up here. High temperature is probably the most likely show-stopper. I don't know what their exact limits are, but their current range sort of speaks for itself. I'm sure the coldest spring-fed parts of Michigan would offer suitable temperatures to grayling, but I don't know to what extent that cold water overlaps with their other habitat needs.

I wouldn't be too deterred by the failures of past stocking efforts. There might be only one or a few ways to do it right, but there are surely countless ways to do it wrong. Without knowing any details of the past and current efforts, I could not guess whether this one will succeed where the others failed. But the fact that they failed does not automatically mean any effort must fail.

Grayling will still have some massive hurdles to overcome, as we've all discussed above. But I don't think it would be a complete lost cause to root for them.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123June 20th, 2016, 3:12 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2398
If cold water is what they need, we have a LOT of spring-fed waters in this part of the state. If they could survive and thrive in a spring-fed pond-type system, ala my favorite brookie fishing hole, that might be the way to go, perhaps with some form of access to bigger waters if they need that too. Of course, [REDACTED] Pond is dammed, but in the feeder creek above the Forest Service created a half-dozen spawning areas by laying parallel logs with gravel between them, creating chutes with just enough velocity to keep the gravel clean, and with undercut banks for the brookies to take cover in. They also put in a silt trap above it to keep the gravel cleaner. I can attest that fish use these spawning areas as I saw lots of big bright brookies in these areas in November during the closed season:

http://www.troutnut.com/topic/3541/Spawning-brookies#24112

Don't know if something like this would work for grayling. Jason, how well do grayling do in small streams with beaver ponds in them?

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TroutnutJune 20th, 2016, 4:12 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2553
In this part of Alaska, small (and I assume young, though I haven't aged them) grayling are practically everywhere, in every small stream. But I think they're probably using these habitats seasonally after overwintering in bigger rivers. That overwintering need may just be due to the extreme cold and ice conditions here, and they might not need to move out of small streams to overwinter in Michigan.

Beaver dams can definitely obstruct their seasonal migrations. In one of my current study streams, we've got a massive (taller than me) beaver dam that probably blocks any upstream fish migration at all times. We've got dwarf dolly varden (basically dollies that live like brookies) both above and below the beaver dam, and I think they overwinter in the creek. But grayling are only ever found below the dam, and then only from July onward. I was just there for four days, and this was the second year in a row that we've seen only dollies in mid-June, even below the dam. The most likely explanation for this is that the grayling overwinter down in the large glacier river our stream runs into, then migrate up our small study stream to feed (until blocked by the beaver dam) and don't arrive until mid-summer.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123June 20th, 2016, 7:03 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2398
Then it would have to be a nice spring-fed tributary to the Au Sable, the biggest system we have in this part of the state. There are plenty of dams on the Au Sable, however, so which part of the river the trib is located on would make a big difference. Others on here could probably vouch better than me for such streams up in the trout waters, but the Au Sable system is loaded with spring-fed streams and some of them are connected to lakes. I think possibilities exist but we would have to choose the waters wisely. Just too many damned dams around here...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TimCatJune 20th, 2016, 7:47 pm
Alanson, MI

Posts: 121
Michigan definitely has plenty of spring fed streams! Usually pretty cold until you get downstream of a dam too (in the northern parts of the state at least). Jonathon is right about those damn dams.

If you guys were able to take a look at that link in my last post with the DNR report on the last time they tried to stock Grayling, it seems like they had the best results in smaller spring-fed lakes/large ponds. As Jonathon also mentioned, that could be a good possibility. In certain lakes, they actually lived for 3-5 years. However, no spawning was ever observed, nor did they find any evidence of it. What kinds of habitat do they need to spawn? I read a few places that they need the same rocky/gravelly stream beds that most trout prefer. Maybe that is why no reproduction was found in these lakes and ponds, even though they were able to live longer. Brookies can make do with many of them though.

Jason's points can all give us some optimism perhaps. It's definitely possible and often life surprises us.
"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather not catch anything on flies" - Bob Lawless
TimCatJune 20th, 2016, 8:10 pm
Alanson, MI

Posts: 121
OH, and apparently there is already a place to fish for Grayling in Michigan... no mention of reproduction on this link though. According to this site, they bought some land around a really cold spring fed lake and stocked it with grayling and brook trout. A pay to fish private lake. Not really my kind of thing, but I wonder how things are working out here. http://www.brookhaven-lake.com/
"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather not catch anything on flies" - Bob Lawless
Jmd123June 20th, 2016, 10:49 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2398
Tim, was Reid Lake one of those mentioned? I heard that they had stocked grayling in there some time ago. They currently stock it with rainbows, which I have caught on flies and through the ice up to 16". (They plant the 'bows at 6-7" and they're not legal until the reach 12", at which point their flesh is salmon-pink.) I would LOVE to catch grayling here even if they couldn't reproduce. Someone once told me that they used to use this lake for raising rainbows, which apparently they would pull out with nets?? In any case, it's 38 feet deep, a nice kettle hole lake with plenty of weed growth and a LARGE forage base of minnows. Oh, and no motors, you need a canoe or kayak AND wheels because it's a mile from the car to the shore and shore fishing won't get you much...Might work, it would be cool...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TimCatJune 24th, 2016, 2:00 am
Alanson, MI

Posts: 121
You heard right Jonathon. There may be some other spots mentioned that are worth checking out. Not for grayling obviously, but I've made some mental notes... :)
"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather not catch anything on flies" - Bob Lawless
OldredbarnJune 24th, 2016, 9:39 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
Another thing to consider is that there was a Grayling sub-species specific to Michigan, which can no longer be collected for stocking efforts. Montana still had some of the sub-species specific to the region to collect and rear in a hatchery for the stocking. Technically, Michigan will never get back what it once had, even if the program is successful.


If this is true and we had a unique sub-species here in Michigan that no longer exists, wouldn't the introduction of another sub-species be equivalent to another non-native introduction to the Great Lakes water shed?

What was that story about a Humpty-Dumpty?

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood

Quick Reply

You have to be logged in to post on the forum. It's this easy:
Username:          Email:

Password:    Confirm Password:

I am at least 13 years old and agree to the rules.

Related Discussions

TitleRepliesLast Reply
Re: Spawning trout stream
In General Discussion by Matija
1Jun 13, 2018
by Wbranch
Five days of warmwater flyfishing in southeastern Michigan - from Jonathon
In Fishing Reports by Jmd123
0
Re: Isle Royale fly fishing
In General Discussion by Valleyridge
1Jan 12, 2011
by Jmd123
A Request for Michigan Anglers
In General Discussion by Oldredbarn
0
Brookville Lake, Indiana trout release
In General Discussion by Konchu
0
Re: "Our Own"
In the Photography Board by CaseyP
12Feb 4, 2010
by Oldredbarn
This is for Tim Neal (TNEAL) from Trico Thread.
In General Discussion by Oldredbarn
0
Re: beginner wading the ausable near Cadillac
In Beginner Help by Leakinwader
3Oct 14, 2015
by Dkinva
Re: The Xerces Society???
In General Discussion by Oldredbarn
3Oct 3, 2009
by Oldredbarn
Help me get something for my money
In Fishing Reports by Baron
0
Most Recent Posts
Re: Shiawassee River (Michigan)
In General Discussion by Brian314 (Strmanglr replied)
Re: Pretty float down the Yakima Canyon
In Site Updates by Troutnut (Martinlf replied)
Re: Skwala question
In Skwala Stonefly Nymph by Gillybilly (Leskorcala replied)
Re: Salmon smolt
In the Photography Board by Wbranch (Troutnut replied)
Re: Little Manistee
In Fishing Reports by Summer_doug (Troutnut replied)
Re: Nymph ID please help
In the Identify This! Board by Cherylkorca (Leskorcala replied)
Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited -TroutFest 2020
In General Discussion by Mikemac1
Re: Trout Unlimited, who are they?
In General Discussion by Red_green_h (Wbranch replied)
Re: Need help ID Nemoura nymph
In the Identify This! Board by Cherylkorca (Millcreek replied)
Re: Caught a nymph on a Nymph?!
In the Identify This! Board by Btbo32 (Wbranch replied)