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DNR floods Clinton River with trout
20-year effort to create fishery seems to be working

By Gene Schabath / The Detroit News


Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist Jim Francis releases young trout into the Clinton River. The department's effort to create an urban trout fishery in the upper branches of the river seems to be working.

SHELBY TOWNSHIP - Rainbow trout rained into the Clinton River this week.

About 15,000 of the 8- to 10-inch-long yearling silvery game fish were released into the river Tuesday from a special Michigan Department of Natural Resources truck, pouring into the stream from an 8-inch-wide pipe, much like rainwater gushing out of a gutter after a storm.

The state has been releasing the fish into the upper branches of the Clinton River for 20 years in an effort to create a trout fishery.

It seems to be working. There are some signs the trout are returning to the river to spawn. And on weekends, the river is jammed with anglers from Shelby Township north into Oakland County, said Dan Keifer, spokesman for the Clinton River Watershed Council.

The watershed council is one of several organizations volunteering to bring trout fishing to this stretch of the Clinton River.

"We are calling it an urban trout fishery," said Jim Francis, a fish biologist with the DNR who is in charge of the Clinton River trout program.

"A lot of guys like to go up north and fish for trout on the weekends, but the reality is it is tough to do. ... They can't take a weekend off and leave the family. So we are providing a trout fishery right here in southeast Michigan, where 40 percent of the (state's) population is.

"It's unusual because the Clinton River watershed is so heavily developed, and when you have that much development, it doesn't coexist that well with a trout fishery."

But with the twice-a-year plantings of the trout and help from 100 volunteers, the trout fishery is gaining in popularity.

"It seems to be getting better every year," said Mark Evans, 42, of Eastpointe, who has been trout fishing in the Clinton River for six years. "More fish are returning every year. It is not uncommon to catch a fish 13 or 14 pounds."

The trout actually are steelhead trout, Francis said, because they migrate down the Clinton River into Lake St. Clair and then into Lake Huron and maybe even Lake Erie. If the trout stayed in the Clinton River, they would be classified as rainbow trout, he said.

Two or three years from now, the yearling fish will return to the Clinton River as steelhead to spawn, Francis said.

"We are finding baby steelhead in the river, 3 inches long, so we have confirmed the fish are spawning," Francis said.

Francis said he expects fewer than 1,000 of the trout to survive and make it back to the Clinton River.

Harry Nabors, a member of the Metro-west Steelheaders based in Livonia, said the upper Clinton River is no comparison to the lower stretches of the river through Mount Clemens and Harrison Township, which have a serious problem with pollution.

"I kept my boat in Lake St. Clair last year and within days, moss grew on the bottom," Nabors said. "Up here, it is different. It's been compared to the rivers up north. It's clear enough for fly-fishing."

A study conducted last year by the volunteer work force called the Clinton River Cold Water Project showed surprising conditions in the river above the Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills, Francis said. The temperature in the 14-mile stretch from Yates to Auburn Hills was cold enough to sustain brown trout. The trout habitat and an insect food source also were good for the game fish.

The temperature has to be below 70 degrees for brown trout to survive. Thermometers set up at various locations showed the temperature to be less than 70 degrees in most parts, Francis said.


Steven Wizniuk, 9, of Shelby Township checks out the trout at a table near the Clinton River where the public could learn about the game fish and the fishery project.

Source: Detroit News On-Line Article 4/15/04
 

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Great Post, Clinton is a good option on those windy days.

h2o<--says what other fish has two names? In the river rainbow, in the lake steelhead.
 

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For as much as the DNR gets bashed it's good to post stories of the good things they do.

H2o, the only thing I can think of is King/chinook salmon.
 

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What i was meaning Alex is different names for fish that are called one thing in a river and another thing in a lake. Rainbow trout and steelhead, are about the only one's i can think of. They call bowfin lawyer , croppie crappie, and so on. I've heard coho's called jacks, muskie musky, lol.

h2o
 

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The brook trout is a brookie if it's resident in a river year-round and is known as a coaster if it spends part of the year in a lake. There are coaster strains of brook trout on the northern shore of Lake Superior, I've read.
 

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Very good Mike...I was thinking the same thing...
 

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Put a Star up for Mike. How you doing Mike? Bob
 

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Thanks Connor and Bob. I'm an old trout bum, so I ought to know that little fact. Bob, check your e-mail, pls.

---Mike
 
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