Thousands of salmon wait to be released – click here to read the full story.
Being a lake michigan tourney fisherman, i’ve visited many ports on lake michigan. I’ve noticed the pen net programs in a few different port towns. I thought that these were state sponsored, and said to myself “why doesn’t TC have these nets”? So I started to ask around, and found out that the sport fishing associations are the people responsible. I asked people in GTASFA “where is our program for rearing nets”? Nobody really had an answer. Wanting a stronger and more plentiful fishery I thought theres got to be a way.
Sitting aboard the “Hill Street” with Pat Cole enjoying some icy cold beverages after a hot august evening charter I piped up and said “hey Pat, why do you think we don’t have a rearing program? Pat piped right back “nobody’s tried” . I said “we need one in TC”. Pat told me to “get it done”. I said “yeah right, theres probably too much red tape and government to deal with”. So Pat told me to start making calls. Needless to say I started making calls. First call was to Manistee’s association, which led me to Steve Hamilton. Steve supervised the pen net program for them. He was very helpful, with DNR contacts, how to feed them, the netting company, etc.
Next call was to Tom Rozich (fisheries biologist supervisor Central Lake Michigan Management unit). I told Tom that the GTASFA was very interested in getting pen nets in the boardman river. He told me he had to go through Lansing, and that he would get back in two weeks if they decide to partner up with our association. This is where I thought the complications would start. Two weeks later Tom called with great news, they were going to allow half of the boardman river plants (50,000) to be reared in our pens! I was very excited.
Got the fish coming, now we have to find a way to pay for them. I spoke with Pat, and he told me he might know a way. He called me and said meet me at Bradys Bar tomorrow at 11am and we’ll talk about it. Met Pat there and we got in his car and 2 mins later we pulled into the chamber of commerce’s building. I said “what are we doing here?” He said “getting the money for your nets”. On the way up the elevator, he told me we were going to ask the Rotary Club for the money, and you’re going to tell them all about it. Instant panic, I wasn’t prepared for anything like this, Pat told me to tell the Rotary Club with the same passion that you told me. Met with the Rotary, and they were very supportive of the rearing pens. So supportive they gave GTASFA the money for the aluminum cages. Tri-Met industries donated the labor for the construction of the cages and feeder arms.
Every year the DNR is very happy with the health, size and fat content of our smolts. They informed me that the smolts sometimes go a month without eating after they are planted. The DNR praises our commitment every year, and is very helpful whenever we have questions.
Wanted to thank everyone involved, Pat Cole, Wendy Sak, Kirk Schuch,Tom Rozich, and the volunteers who helped me make this happen. It wouldn’t of happened without them. I think this will help our fishery and association for years to come.
Good luck on the water- Scott Dawson