Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials collected a record number of salmon at state egg collection sites this year, but that’s not a good thing.
Salmon eggs were collected from record low numbers of fish at collection sites in Michigan for the 2014 season. At the Little Manistee River weir, only 2,700 chinook salmon returned to the DNR collection site.
The past record low was 5,800 in 2010. Officials recorded similar low numbers in Traverse City.
“That’s definitely alarming, and it’s a warning sign. We have very little control out there, and the only tool we have in the toolbox is stocking numbers,” said DNR fisheries biologist Mark Tonello.
Officials collect and breed the eggs collected at hatcheries across the state and then release the fish in rivers and streams in the spring. Low numbers could have an impact on salmon seasons in the future.
Salmon spawns run in approximately three-year cycles. The spawn is also affected by the alewife population. The 2012 alewife population was strong, so the 2015 salmon season could be a good one.
The alewife population depends on the weather and prey. Prey numbers are down, but cold weather and quick temperature changes affect the alewife population. The winter and spring weather will be key to what happens to the fish released in spring 2015.
How this year’s low results will affect the salmon population and fishing won’t be known until about 2017.
More from Wide Open Spaces: