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Health, Science and Environment

Northern Michigan salmon run heating up

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The state’s fishing industry and 2020 have one thing in common; that commonality is unusualness.

DNR Fisheries Biologist Mark Tonello said the rivers are finally heating up after a slow run in the summer.

“We did not get the early run that we have gotten in the years past,” Tonello said. “However, I got a report from a conservation officer over the weekend that the Pere Marquette was as full of salmon as he’s ever seen it.”

With a slow summer run, Tonello said this run has been a “curveball.”

“They literally showed up like Thursday last week, over 1,000 of them, and they were already ripe. They showed up ripe. It was amazing, it was not at all like we have ever seen it in the past. I've been doing this for over 20 years and they still throw you curveballs.”

He said Northern Michigan is home to the state’s best rivers for salmon, including the Pere Marquette, Manistee and Betsy rivers.

“Those rivers are primarily supported by natural reproduction. It’s a neat thing to know you’re catching Mother Nature’s bounty.”

Tonello said this year has seen an increase in people fishing.

“Fishing license sales were up dramatically from the last couple years. Over the course of my career, our fishing license sales have dropped so it's nice to see them going the other way for once.”

He said fishing for these salmon is not easy, but for those that want to catch them, he suggests using lures and spawn sacs (salmon eggs).