Sunday Classic / PUTMBAK!

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This Guy Is My Friend Photo by Louis Cahill

I wonder what the Great Lakes Steelhead would think if he knew what a controversial fish he is. No, he’s not a native fish. Yes, it’s a completely man made fishery. No, it’s not a wild and scenic experience. Is he a real steelhead? Who cares. I love fishing the tributaries of the great lakes for the biggest toughest trout this side of the Mississippi and so does everyone else who’s tried it. I have to wander though, as I stand in the river with my fly rod watching the horde of bait fisherman stack their catch on the bank, if these fish got the respect enjoyed by their west coast cousins, couldn’t this be a whole lot better? I’m not dogging the fishery, it’s awesome, but it just seems like common sense. It’s true that great lakes steelhead do not successfully reproduce but left in the river they will continue to come back year after year, providing a better angling experience and saving state hatcheries money. I’m with this angler who’s license plate I found in New York in a parking lot on the Oak Orchard. PUTMBAK!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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12 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / PUTMBAK!

  1. I love that fishery! But like everywhere else, it has its problems. The smallmouth fishing is incredible as well. Lots of good times to be had in “The Alley”. Met some great people there too.

  2. Hey Louis & Kent

    I’ve worked with a few folks up at the Salmon River Hatchery and the Steelhead as well as Chinooks do have small wild populations.

  3. You may want to check with your favorite fishery manager but I don’t think many steelhead return to the river to spawn a second time. It is a beautiful sentiment I’m just not sure it works that way. Like Mr. Whorwood said steelhead and salmon do successfully spawn in some of our Great Lakes tributaries given the opportunity. One of the challenges are dams that block upstream passage to spawning sites, just like out west. We are taking them out with increasing frequency but there are a lot of them, they can be expensive to remove and the political process can take a while. Once dams are removed some of the angling experience does improve, because you don’t have the fish and the horde of fisherman concentrated below the dams. Still I wouldn’t expect to see a lot of hatcheries closed.

    • I assure you that steelhead can and do return to the hatchery to spawn as many as 4 to 5 times, as far as natural production, its absolutely occurring in the King population on the Salmon river but I don’t believe so with the “steelhead” at least not that I am aware.

  4. Natural reproduction does occur. I can confirm so for Lake Michigan and Lake Superior Tribs. I would assume so for lake huron as well.

  5. They’d probably have a better chance of reproduction if we actually let them spawn unmolested by hoardes of fishermen and jet boats, Alaska closes seasons to allow fish to spawn, would It kill for anyone else to at least do catch and release artificial only for a period? They only manage for put and take and meat on the table, they don’t care about “conservation”

    • There are always two sides to a coin, if we anglers only have catch and release it will play right into the hands of the animal protection groups (hook and torture) as they call it. A better solution would be to allow a limited amount of fish to be retained in a given river i.e. tags (like the Atlantic Salmon fisheries) know one needs to fill a freezer with fish, only to throw them out when they get freezer burnt.. Banning spawn, this would stop the unnecessary killing of females for eggs.
      There are loads of better ideas, the simple truth is, as I’ve always said as long as we anglers are divided the government agencies have it made. What a lobbying group we would be if we only put fish and our natural resources first.

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