By Howard Meyerson
GRAND HAVEN, MI — Salmon fishing is defined a lot of different ways in Michigan. Much depends on who you talk with and their perspective.
River guides are calling the 2013 fall run an “outstanding,” “banner,” or “great” season. They’ve been excited to see so many big salmon swimming up rivers this year. It’s good for business and clients like it.
Meanwhile Lake Michigan charter captains seem to be less enthused. They’ve called it all sorts of things, both good and bad. Most were happy to see big fish, but salmon numbers were down. And so, to a surprising extent, is the sentiment of many.
The difference is understandable. Charter captains have a longer season to finance, one that spans several months. They have their boats, their docks, their winter storage fees. Most will say their big market is Chinook salmon and many wish to sell limit catches (five salmon per person) all season long. They maintain it’s the numbers that count to keep a customer happy and returning.
River guides, on the other hand, have a shorter salmon season. Their business is more diversified. It begins when salmon converge on rivers in the fall. They sell a day on the water, the experience of finding, casting to and battling a big salmon if a client is so lucky as to hook-up and keep it on. Land two or three and their client is extremely happy. The rest of the year they sell trips for steelhead, trout, or maybe smallmouth bass.
State officials say the salmon season has been all of the above. Mark Tonello, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources fish biologist out of Cadillac, recently addressed the members of the Lake Michigan Citizens Fishery Advisory Council. He presented the salmon weir returns for 2013. The weirs are where the DNR collects salmon eggs for the hatchery program. There are five located on strategic rivers where salmon run. The number collected is compared to other years which indicate any up or down trends. Continue reading