April 2, 1966, was an important day in history of salmon fishing in Michigan.
That’s the day the Michigan Department of Natural Resources began stocking Pacific salmon in Lake Michigan.
The DNR will be celebrating the milestone April 4 at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery.
“Our long history with Pacific salmon is part of the reason Michigan’s fisheries are known as world-class,” says DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “It’s exciting to look back on the past 50 years rearing and stocking these fish and imagining where the next 50 years will take us.”
The event is open to the public and will run from 11 a.m. to noon. Speakers will offer remarks on the anniversary, and thousands of coho from the Beulah hatchery will be stocked in the Platte River.
Some of these guests will include Dr. Howard Tanner, the former DNR director and Fisheries Division chief who played a critical role in the development of the state’s program; DNR Director Bill Moritz; and local legislators.
Tours of the hatchery will be available from 10 to 11 a.m. The anniversary comes at a time when chinook stocking efforts are being cut back due to the declining alewife population. Invasive species of zebra and quagga mussels out-compete the alewives for nutrients.
However, the DNR has been stocking more brown trout, coho, steelhead, and lake trout in the fishery.
Officials say they are keeping a close eye on the salmon and alewife populations and trying new methods to maintain a balance.