Hook & Hunting: Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative Hopes to Reintroduce Fish to Native Waters

The Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative is a collaboration of 40 organizations working to bring Arctic Grayling back to the state.

Img 6235The Arctic Grayling was once a salmonid species native to lower peninsula rivers, but because of human influence, the fish population died off about 100 years ago.

One of the organizations involved in the initiative is the Michigan DNR.

“We’ve just been raising them for a month, month and a half now trying to get them on starter feed and slowly grow them,” said Kevin Duby, Fisheries Technician at the Oden State Fish Hatchery.

The fish, currently housed at the Oden State Fish Hatchery, made their way from Alaska.

“The fish there have a lot of genetic diversity,” said Dan Sampson, Regional Manager of the DNR Fisheries. “It allows us to start off on good firm footing.

That journey was pretty unique.

“A researcher from MSU that we work with flew up to Fairbanks and brought them back as her carry-on luggage,” said Sampson.

Their home at the Hatchery not only protects the fish, but also the local water from any diseases brought from Alaska.

“What we did was install filtration for the water to pull out particulates,” said Duby. “Then we essentially kind of nuke the water with ultraviolet and that will sterilize the water.

This is the second class of Arctic Grayling. The first group was brought to Michigan in 2019, and they expect a third class to come  in June 2022.

They have a pretty special job.

“The current plans is to have the fish we’re raising for future brood lots, they’re the future adults to produce eggs at the hatchery,” said Duby.

The Arctic Grayling will be moved to the Marquette State Fish Hatchery when they grow to about 4-5 inches.

“That’s where they’ll be raised until they’re adults and they’ll produce eggs for future,” said Duby.

While it will be a few years before the fish are released, those involved are proud of what’s been done so far.

“I’m honored to be a part of this project,” said Duby. “It’s a very big responsibility, there’s a lot of eyes on it, and a lot of pressure, but we’re up for the task.”

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