Muskegon River Lodge Blog

Conservation, Recreation and Life on the Muskegon River

Save the date: 2020 Midwest Fly Fishing Expo

The 2020 Expo is scheduled for Saturday, March 14, and Sunday, March 15, at the Macomb Community College Sports and Expo Center in Warren, Michigan. The event offers dozens of presentations and demonstrations and more than 100 exhibitors — rod builders; fly tiers; guides and outfitters; artists; booksellers; float boats and conservation organizations.

Get updates on Facebook. And check out the Expo website.

Governors: Growing outdoor recreation helps our kids and our economies

From the Traverse-City Record Eagle: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah on a new push to get kids out of the house and outdoors:

Our two states, Utah and Michigan, were the first and most recent to create offices of outdoor recreation, in part because of a desire to advance efforts to provide kids and others with greater access to the great outdoors.

We also see a great opportunity to partner with a sector that contributes $887 billion and more than 7.6 million jobs to the national economy each year and is growing faster than the U.S. economy as a whole.

There are 13 other states across the country whose governors have created similar offices or task forces, and the number is expected to continue to increase.

They’re talking up the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network which was launched last year by the National Governors Association to encourage people to enjoy their natural resources.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the outdoors industry employed more than 4.5 million people nationally in 2016, and generated more than $730 billion in economic impact.

NGA Solutions: The Center for Best Practices will partner with state outdoor recreation directors through the network to convene governors’ office staffs and other state officials. Through peer-to-peer exchanges, the network will spotlight strategies states can use to advance outdoor recreation. It will focus on key issue areas, including conservation, stewardship, education, workforce training, economic development, infrastructure, public health, equity and wellness.

“Utah launched the first state outdoor recreation office in 2013 to focus on recreation management, support recreation businesses and ensure that our state’s cherished natural assets can sustain economic growth for years to come,” said Utah Governor Gary Herbert, who noted that outdoor recreation contributes $12.3 billion to the Utah economy and employs more than 110,000 people.

The founding sponsors of the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network include REI Co-op, the Outdoor Industry Association and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.

“We have seen states with offices of outdoor recreation take great steps forward promoting and bolstering outdoor recreation – bringing more jobs and revenue to rural and gateway communities and coordinating amongst government agencies while helping to get more children and families outside and into healthier lifestyles,” said David Weinstein, state and local policy director for Outdoor Industry Association. “The Outdoor Recreation Learning Network will be a great resource for existing outdoor recreation offices and for states looking to develop new offices to collaborate on and improve outdoor programs and initiatives – OIA looks forward to helping build it.”

Fish farm fail

Over the holidays, news broke of a fire at a commercial salmon farm in British Columbia. Story from Alaska Public Media:

Tens of thousands of Atlantic salmon escaped a Canadian fish farm that caught fire Dec. 20, north of Vancouver Island. Mowi Canada West released a statement confirming there were 21,000 non-native salmon in the pens at the time of the blaze. It downplayed threats to wild stocks.

“Judging by the number of sea lions congregating near the involved farm it is likely many have already been eaten by predators,” the statement reads. “That said, we take our responsibility to prevent any impacts seriously, and will take every reasonable action to do so.”

The Vancouver-based Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s science advisor Stan Proboszcz says this latest escape off Robertson Island — and a recent mass die-off nearby — highlights the risks of raising salmon in sea-based pens.

“Farmed fish can harbor parasites and viruses that can be spread to wild fish,” Proboszcz said. “So that’s one of the big risks that we see with an escape like this.”

We posted the trailer to Artifishal on this blog last month. Very much worth watching. We caught it on Amazon Prime. Patagonia (Yvon Chouinard is a producer of the film) describes it this way: “Artifishal is a film about the high cost—environmental, financial and cultural—of hatcheries and fish farms, and our mistaken reliance on human-engineered solutions. It explores our loss of faith in nature, and the impact on communities and ecosystems as wild salmon slide toward extinction.”

Michigan has had its own battles over fish farming, notably on the Au Sable River. Bridge gives the rundown of how that shook out in 2018. Snip:

A northern Michigan fly fishing group announced a settlement Thursday of a four-year legal battle that will remove a commercial fish farm from the trout-flush waters of the Au Sable River. 

The $160,000 settlement, announced by the 1,200-member Anglers of the Au Sable, pitted fly fishing and environmental groups against a commercial fish farm that critics said posed a danger to the legendary trout stream. 

press release from the Anglers group said that as part of the agreement, a controversial permit for the farm issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality would be withdrawn and commercial fish farming by the Harrietta Hills Trout Farm would end on the river by the end of this year. 

More here from the Traverse City Record-Eagle:

The business first arrived in 2012 with plans to produce upward of 300,000 pounds of rainbow trout per year, up from the approximate 70,000 pounds at present. The operation obtained a state permit but was tied up in court by the Anglers group, which argued the aquaculture project would pollute the river and harm native trout.

“We had no fear that scientifically, we are right,” said Dan Vogler, owner of Harrietta Hills. “We were simply trying to use a facility already on the landscape.”

Vogler said he is disappointed but decided continuing the hatchery’s operation wasn’t worth the cost of fighting two opposition lawsuits. The settlement will be “almost enough” to cover his legal fees, he said.

The company had been releasing fingerling rainbow trout into the hatchery’s raceways and harvests them when they grow to 1.25 pounds, selling them to restaurants and a grocery distributor.

2020 Fly Fishing Film Tour in Grand Rapids

Saw the (leap year) date: The Fly Fishing Film Tour is set for the Weathy Theater in Grand Rapids on Feb. 29. Tickets are $19 and may be purchased online here. The tour says “discount tickets” will be available soon at these shops: Nomad Anglers, Great Lakes Fly Fishing, and Orvis Grand Rapids. Support your local fly shop!

The tour has a Vimeo page with trailers. Like this one …

Get them outdoors

“Who doesn’t want to get out, have fun enjoy life?” That’s from Juwan, one of the young people in this video from Loop Nola, a nonprofit that provide outdoors experiences to kids in the Greater New Orleans area. (ht: Take Me Fishing).

According to the New Orleans based organization, “On average, American children spend 90% of their time indoors looking at some type of electronic screen. They rarely interact with the Outdoorsman’s Paradise right outside their windows here in Louisiana and the adventures it offers. Outdoor activities decrease stress, relieve attention fatigue and increase creativity, but there are few outdoor opportunities offered to children and youth in the Greater New Orleans area.”

Programs run year round — partnering with summer camps when the school year is over. According to Loop Nola, it served more than 2,500 hundred participants in the 2017-18 school year, more than half from low-income families, and collaborated with 34 school and nonprofit partners.

Get them off the screens and put a fishing pole in their hands. And watch the smiles.

Hard water fishing tips

Wikimedia: Winter fishing on Lake Michigan. Whymper, F. (1893)  Fisheries of the World : an Illustrated and Descriptive Record of the International Fisheries Exhibition, 1883

Download your free 24-page guide to ice fishing from the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. It’s especially helpful for beginners. The guide has advice on how to find fish, gear and gadgets, what to wear, and how to stay on top of the ice.

What to Do in a Breakthrough

If you break through while on foot, don’t panic. Your heavy winter clothing, especially a snowmobile suit, will not drag you down. Instead, if you remain calm, it provides excellent flotation.

To climb out, turn toward the direction you came from and put your hands and arms on the unbroken surface. Work forward on the ice by kicking your legs and using those nails, if you have them, to claw your way onto the ice. If the ice breaks, maintain your posi- tion and slide forward again. Once you are lying on the ice, don’t stand up. Roll away from the break until you’re on solid ice. Once you’re on safe ice, get to shelter and warm yourself immediately.

More there on what to do if you go through while driving a vehicle. That aside, there’s good stuff on ice fishing.

In selecting a site at an unfamiliar lake, move in among any group of ice anglers present. They usually have found a good location, and a certain amount of friendly crowding—short of “horning in”—is tolerated, even encouraged. Good manners in summer dictate plenty of elbow and casting room, but that doesn’t necessarily apply in winter.

If you must do your prospecting, cut your first hole close to shore and drop in a little bait to prime it. (Crumbled egg shells, which twist and catch the dim light as they settle, easily attract minnows—and they bring the larger fish in their wake.) Then start another hole a little farther out. In this way you keep active and warm, and you should locate your quarry more quickly.

Not all fish bite in winter. A smallmouth bass caught through the ice would make headlines—at least in some counties of Wisconsin. But lakes with such fish as bluegill, perch, northern pike and walleye often provide larger catches in the winter than in the summer.

In the mail: The Muskegon — The Majesty and Tragedy of Michigan’s Rarest River

The Muskegon River Watershed Assembly is selling what it says are the last hard cover copies of Jeff Alexander’s book. $25. Order here. Blurb:

“Journey with award-winning environmental writer, Jeff Alexander, down the Muskegon River, one of Michigan’s most surprising and interesting streams, and take a trip back into Michigan’s environmental history and forward into an uncertain future…” -Dave Dempsey, author of On the Brink and Ruin and Recovery.



Video: Joe Humphreys in ‘Live the Stream’

This is just too cool for words. Nomadic Studio, a film production company, has released a trailer to promote “Live the Stream,” the story of Joe Humphreys. Yes, he’s 90 years old and still at it (watch him pumping iron in the video … )

Who is Joe Humphreys? He’s “a man with a wonderful family, a wealth of friends, and a resume of remarkable talents. He’s a multi-lettered collegiate athlete who easily could have chosen another career path but, instead, decided to devote his life to fly fishing. Joe’s traveled the world representing the U.S. in fly fishing competitions, has guided presidents & celebrities, held a Pennsylvania record, hosted an ESPN show, and was inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, yet Joe’s focus has always been on teaching, coaching, and passing on the joys of fly fishing to anyone who wants to learn.

“His books have helped many students better their skills and his classroom work as a 19-year instructor of the renowned Penn State Angling program is just as esteemed. If you’re familiar with fly fishing you’ll recognize “Hump” on the street or on the stream but if you know nothing about angling, you’d think he was an average Joe. He’s an icon happily living his life in a local community but his impact on fly fisherman all over the world is profound. There’s no way to know how many people Joe has inspired. This man never slows down… even at 86 years old and that’s impressive.”

You’ll note how Humphreys doesn’t go crashing into the river soon as he gets there but stops for a moment to watch. “He spots a giant.” And that slick bow and arrow cast? (Practice yours here with Orvis’ Pete Kutzer).

Streaky lake effect

NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

Give you chills? Note the heavy band of lake effect snow all up and down the eastern Lake Michigan shoreline and a deep margin inland. Here’s the description from NOAA:

The Suomi NPP satellite’s VIIRS instrument captured these parallel rows of clouds, known as “cloud streets” streaming over the Great Lakes on Christmas Day 2017. These cloud formations helped deliver record-setting snowfall in Erie, Pa., where more than 60 inches of snow fell over a two-day period.

Long, parallel rows of clouds over the Great Lakes are common in early winter, when frigid arctic air from Canada crosses the relatively warm lake water. As winds from the west or northwest blow over the lakes, the cold air picks up warmth and water vapor from the lake surface, giving rise to columns of heated air called thermals. When the rising, warmer air hits the colder air above, it condenses into cumulus clouds, then cools and sinks on either side, creating parallel cylinders of rotating air that line up in the direction of the prevailing winds over the lakes. At times when there is a large temperature contrast between the surface air and lake water, these cloud formations can deliver heavy lake effect snows on the downwind shores of the lakes.

Although true-color images like this may appear to be photographs of Earth, they aren’t. They are created by combining data from the three color channels on the VIIRS instrument sensitive to the red, green and blue (or RGB) wavelengths of light into one composite image. In addition, data from several other channels are often also included to cancel out or correct atmospheric interference that may blur parts of the image.

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