DNR staff again will use trawling and gillnetting on Saginaw Bay to survey the area's fish community, marking the 48th consecutive year the department has surveyed the bay to determine the abundance and health of fish populations including walleye and yellow perch and and those they forage.
“The timing of late summer or early fall allows us to assess how much reproduction has taken place for the year, as well as the overall abundance of older age groups of fish,” said Dave Fielder, DNR fisheries research biologist out of Alpena. “The use of the same methods each year allows us to detect population changes in each species.”
This survey annually produces data to gauge the effects of fisheries management actions and invasive species on fish populations found in the bay. While the DNR does other work in Saginaw Bay – such as walleye tagging projects, creel surveys and habitat work – this fish community study is the department’s primary look at the status of the fish populations.
Long-term surveys such as this one are critical to understanding fish communities and how they are changing. It takes about two to three weeks and two research vessels (the R/V Tanner out of Alpena and the R/V Channel Cat out of Harrison Township) to complete.
The collected data will be analyzed and shared with fisheries managers and others before the 2019 fishing season, in order to make any needed adjustments to existing regulations.
For more information on DNR fish management, visit michigan.gov/fishing or contact Dave Fielder, 989-356-3232, ext. 2572 or Todd Wills, 586-465-4771, ext. 22.