DNR ups steelhead allotment
Written by The Daily Oakland Press   
Sunday, 30 January 2005 10:43
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources plans to stock 10,000 more steelhead this spring in the Clinton River than usual.

The Clinton's allotment of the prized game fish will be 25,000, up from 15,000.

"It's just so exciting," said Dan Keifer, development director for the Clinton River Watershed Council. "It's such good news for the interest of both the river and river users like the fishermen.

"Obviously, it's an indication that the river can support more fish and more fishing."

In an e-mail posted to the watershed council's listserve, the DNR cites fishing pressure on the Clinton as the reason for the increase. Anglers regularly line the banks at Yates Dam in Rochester Hills during March, April and May to catch the silvery trout as they head upstream from Lake St. Clair.

"The Clinton River just gets a lot of fishing on it," said Keifer. "This is the DNR responding to the interest of fishermen using the Clinton to put more fish where the fishermen are."

The DNR was able to find the extra fish for the Clinton by reducing allotments for the Belle River and Mill Creek in St. Clair County to 7,000 and 10,000 fish, respectively. Those two streams don't get the fishing pressure, according to the DNR, that the Clinton does.

A DNR survey several years ago found that anglers spent about 21,000 hours fishing during the six-week spring steelhead run, primarily in the stretch of the river from Yates Dam to Ryan Road.

Steelhead are lake-run rainbow trout. They're either born in a river or released there, spend about two to three years in the open water, then return to spawn.

Like Pacific salmon, steelhead are natives of the Northwest that were transplanted into the Great Lakes. Unlike salmon, however, they can spawn more than once.

While they may reach 20 pounds in weight, the average adult size is 9 to 10 pounds.

In 2003, the DNR released 30,000 steelhead smolts - yearling fish - into the Clinton. Those fish should start returning to spawn this spring.

"We're very pleased, certainly for the fishing and the fishermen and the recreation," said Keifer, "but we're also pleased because this is sort of a good canary in the coal mine evidence to the general public that this river is not polluted. Heck, it supports fish; heck, it supports trout; heck, it supports even more.

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