A Michigan fish that was – the Arctic Grayling

A Michigan fish that was – the Arctic Grayling

Jim Mogen / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Jim Mogen / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Have you ever heard of the Arctic Grayling?

Before the abundance of brown trout and steelhead in Michigan’s rivers, this fish with the large dorsal fin is the one that anglers dreamt about. And it’s possible that it might make a return.

 

A victim of the logging boom

In the 1860’s, the Arctic Grayling was identified in northern Michigan rivers including the Pere Marquette, Manistee, and Au Sable. The northern Michigan city of Grayling was even named after the fish.

However, in the last half of the 19th century, heavy timbering was occurring on the lands surrounding the rivers. They were clogged with logs to support the booming populations in the Midwest. Scouring of streambeds and heavy erosion from the clear cut forests doomed the grayling. Introduction of non-native species such as the brown trout could also have played a role, as well as overfishing (weekend catches in the thousands were not uncommon).

The Arctic Grayling was extinct in Michigan by the middle of the 20th century.

 

Re-introduction possible?

The Artic Grayling prefers cold, quick current streams and can still be found in Alaska, Canada, and Montana.

There have been previous attempts to re-introduce the fish in Michigan but they have failed.

However, Michigan Tech University, in partnership with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, are attempting to determine whether conditions now exist to successfully reintroduction the fish.

Read the article here.

No doubt that there are anglers already dreaming of this possibility!

Pete DeBoer
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