Go fish: 250,000 salmon fingerlings released in river
Written by The Mining Journal   
Wednesday, 27 April 2005 04:55
Chinook salmon fingerlings were one step closer to freedom Monday, when roughly 250,000 of the small fry were dumped into a holding pen in the Dead River.

The Department of Natural Resources brought the fingerlings from the Thompson Fish Hatchery in Manistique to a Wisconsin Electric bin wall at the Presque Isle power plant. They'll stay there for four to six weeks in steel net pens.

"If they are forced to stay in the river, they get acclimated to it, DNR fisheries manager George Madison said. They get a chance to react to predator fish that swim up to the net or birds that land on the top of the raft without being in danger themselves."

According to Madison, the main focus of the project is to get fish to return to the Dead River to spawn.

"If we just let them loose now they would just scatter, but if they get a chance to imprint on the river we get a much higher return rate," Madison said. "This is the first time we've tried this in the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior. It's important to note that this would not happen without We Energies."

Wisconsin Electric provides a prime location for the project, roughly 100 yards from the mouth of the Dead River near the LS&I ore dock in Marquette's Upper Harbor. A bin wall, which separates water used to cool the plant from the Dead River, is used to moor the small cages filled with fish.

"When this whole idea came up we thought about the bin wall. They needed a pretty specific environment without a really strong current. This is a perfect location," said Pat Parker, the utility's assistant asset manager.

Several other local companies lent a hand, including Superior Extrusion, which provided aluminum for the cages. LS&I workers welded the unique cages.

"The idea came from downstate, but these are the only nets of their kind," said Garry Tollefson, president of the South Shore Fishing Association,.

"(Salmon fishing) is poor right now, but it's getting better," Tollefson said.

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