DNR Takes Salmon Eggs For Stocking In Manistee County

A crucial part of Michigan’s multi-billion dollar salmon fishing industry happened today in Manistee County.

This week, DNR biologists will collect millions of chinook eggs, fertilize them and then take them directly to hatcheries.

The egg take happened today at the Little Manistee Weir in Stronach Township.

This take is one of the first steps in the DNR’s stocking process.

Many from the public and a local school came to watch and learn about Michigan’s salmon today at the weir.

 “We do get some natural production of salmon in some rivers,” said DNR fisheries biologist Mark Tonello. “If we weren’t stocking fish, we definitely would not have as good of a fishery as we have out in Lake Michigan.”

Anglers, bait shop owners, charter fisherman and fishing towns rely on the salmon and this egg take.

 “We clearly understand the connection between what we’re doing today and the economy that’s based on the salmon fishery,” Tonello said. “We’ll stock some fish but mother nature is what really is in charge of the fishery out there.”

The stocking process starts with salmon spawning in the rivers in the fall and ends with releasing the newly raised salmon in the lakes the next spring.

After the salmon are knocked out and then sanitized, the biologists will then put compressed air into the abdomen and push out the eggs.

Education and engagement are other parts of the entire salmon stocking method — one that a Manistee school took advantage of today.

“It’s an opportunity for the children to see this ecosystem that is in our backyard, literally. So it’s an opportunity for them to see the process of the salmon having eggs, in addition to that, having them fertilized and then they go back out in our lakes and streams for us all to enjoy,” said Jefferson Elementary teacher Kim Elzinga.

The salmon run is significantly lower in many Michigan rivers this year because of the colder weather and the lack of bait fish for them to eat.

But the DNR predicts next year’s run will be stronger.

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