November 11 , 2002

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The Great Lakes Regional weather

October bows out on a wintry note

   Frequent snows have been building an early season snow cover across Canada and the upper Midwest, providing a breeding ground for cold air. As a result, the weather service is predicting a large chunk of cold air will move into the Midwest.


►Great Lakes waters – Fuel for future storms

   Still-warm lake water will provide the fuel for explosive storm development as low pressure systems move over the Great Lakes. ²


►Typical Storm Paths

   Storms from either Canada or the Plains rapidly intensify over the warm lakes. Some of the worst storms result when the two storms combine. ²


►Autumn storms on the Great Lakes: A mariner’s nightmare

   In late autumn as the tropical hurricane season winds down, the Great Lakes storm season gains momentum. Covering nearly 100,000 square miles, the still-warm waters of the Great Lakes act like a powerful storm magnet, attracting cyclones to them. This allows the storms to explosively deepen and intensify as they feed on the stored heat energy from the warm waters, as a fire feeds on gasoline.  The Edmund Fitzgerald, which went down in early Nov. 1995 is a most notable example.


►Hurricane-strength winds

   The most severe fall storms produce strong shifting winds that exceed hurricane force (74 m.p.h.) and can  approach 100 m.p.h., generating monster waves that can

exceed 40 ft while pelting the area with blinding rain and snow. Since the 1600s, Great Lakes storms have claimed more than 2,300 ships and thousands of lives. More than half of all shipwrecks on the Great Lakes are storm-related.



5 Deadliest Storm-Related Shipwrecks

Date of Storm          Lake*     Ships Lost    Deaths

1. Nov.7-12, 1913      Huron        19                253

2. Oct.15-18, 1880    Michigan      7                125

3. Sept. 14, 1882      Huron          1                123

4. Nov.11-13, 1940    Michigan      6                 69

5. Oct.19-22, 1916    Erie             7                 60

*Lake most affected; most storms affected several or all lakes


►Most Famous Disaster / Nov. 9-11, 1975

   Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in Lake Superior, 29 die. It’s the largest ship ever to sink in the Great Lakes.

Constructing a second lock at Sault Ste. Marie

This year will likely prove pivotal in the ongoing effort to twin the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, MI. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will complete an evaluation that will determine if the project still has a positive cost/benefit ratio. If a terrorist act closed the Poe Lock for more than just a few days, domestic Great Lakes shipping would slow to a crawl and customers from Duluth/ Superior to Buffalo would face raw materials shortfalls of epic proportions: steel-related, low-sulfur coal, grain.


A second Poe-sized lock will ensure the continued viability and reliability of a vital transportation system.

Funds flushed downstream

   Federal agencies have spent more than $3.3 billion in the past 20 years to help Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead runs recover - with little conclusive success, the General Accounting Office says. The report released August 19 by the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, raised concerns about the effectiveness of federal spending on recovery efforts and suggested better coordination among agencies was needed.  "Although these actions are viewed as resulting in higher numbers of returning salmon and steelhead, there is little evidence to quantify the extent of their effects on returning fish populations," the report said.

PFBC approve new perch regulations

Regs effective for December 2002 and 2003

   The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission voted to change the regulation pertaining to yellow perch in Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay. Effective December 2002 they are establishing a 7"minimum size limit of yellow perch on Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay during the period December 1 - March 31. An 8” minimum size limit will remain in place the rest of the year. The current daily creel limit of 20 and the no closed season rules will also remain in effect.


   Also, only 5 trout (last year 8) will be allowed, only 2 of which may be lake trout, would apply to the lake, the bay, and the tributaries during the period from the opening day of the statewide trout season until Labor Day.

Stuffing Fish with Lead

Gets Derby Angler in Trouble

   A Toronto fisherman is in trouble for stuffing a salmon with lead and rocks to add weight to his derby entry.  Officials of the Great Ontario Salmon Derby discovered a contestant had filled a Chinook with lead to make it heavy enough to qualify for a chance at a $40,000 prize.  Charged with two counts of "cheating at play" and two counts of attempted fraud, Gary Bruce Morrison, 51, is facing eight years in prison if convicted.


   The "extras" weighed more than 7 lbs in addition to the weight of the fish.  The current derby leader has submitted a 40.2 lb Chinook of real fish flesh.

DNR, USFWS hosts Detroit River Wildlife Refuge meeting

   State and federal conservation officials held a joint open house Sept. 24 in Wayne County to continue planning for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.


   The USFWS, in partnership with the Michigan DNR, is preparing a Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the refuge, located in Wayne and Monroe counties. The plan will determine fish and wildlife habitat protection priorities and guide management decisions for the next 15 years. Two previous open houses, held in Wyandotte and Monroe in June, were well attended by the public. The Sept. 24 meeting was an additional opportunity for the public to participate in the planning process.


   The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge was established by Public Law 107‑91 on Dec. 21, 2001. The Refuge is the first international refuge in North America, established to conserve, protect and restore habitat for 29 species of waterfowl, 65 kinds of fish and 300 species of migratory birds along the lower Detroit River in Michigan and Canada.


   The Detroit River has also been recognized as both an

American and Canadian Heritage River, the first such international designation in North America. The authorized refuge boundary includes islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals and riverfront lands along 18 miles of the Lower Detroit River.


   The conservation plan will address all aspects of the refuge and its programs, including important fish and wildlife habitats, public use and facilities, potential and existing habitat management. By law, six wildlife‑dependent recreational uses receive priority in National Wildlife Refuges: fishing, hunting, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.


   To submit written comments send to Doug Spencer at the Refuge's temporary headquarters at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, 6975 Mower Road, Saginaw, MI 48606‑9783. Comments may also be sent through the FWS website at 


For more information, or to be placed on a mailing list, write to the address above or call 989-777‑5930, ext. 2 or e‑mail [email protected] .

Indiana oks.410s for deer

   Starting this season, Indiana hunters may opt to use a .410 shotgun to hunt deer.   To make the most effective use of a .410 when deer hunting, Capt. Michael Crider, DNR conservation officer, suggests only using shotguns

that have proper sights. A .410 (or any shotgun) should

have both a bead and rear vee sight for accurate slug placement. A front-bead-only sight is not effective for deer hunting.   For maximum accuracy, have your .410 tapped for a telescopic sight.

LMBV found in Upper Mississippi River

    The USFWS's LaCrosse Fish Health Center identified largemouth bass virus during annual sampling in Pools 3 and 7 of the Upper Mississippi River. The Service is working together to determine how widespread the virus is. But biologists note that, based on existing information, fish are safe for consumption.


   This is the first confirmation of the virus in Minnesota and Wisconsin waters. Pool 3 is located in a stretch of the river between Hastings and Red Wing, in Minnesota, and Pool 7 stretches from Trempealeau to just north of LaCrosse, in Wisconsin.


   The virus was found in smallmouth bass taken from Pool 3, as well as white bass, rock bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass in Pool 7. Fish samples tested from Pools 4 and 9 show no sign of the virus to date, and none of the fish show signs of disease. The Service will continue routine monitoring of fish health in future surveys.


   "We're still in the early stages of determining what this virus means to the bass populations in the Mississippi River," Rick Nelson, Fish Health Center project leader, said. "But we are continuing our work with the states to monitor for its impact."


   The Fish Health Center staff identified presence of the virus while performing annual fish health sampling. The survey began in 1997 and identifies disease in wild fish and monitors its distribution throughout the country.  It's currently unknown how prevalent this virus is in wild populations, or the effect the virus has on bass populations. Extensive testing has only begun within the last few years and more study is required to determine range and effects in wild populations.


   Nelson said, "Largemouth bass virus is one of more than 100 naturally occurring viruses that affect fish, but not warm-blooded animals. The virus was first identified in 1995 from a South Carolina reservoir with a large number of fish that had died. Biologists linked the fish kill to the largemouth bass virus and have since located this virus in 17 states, including Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan in the Midwest, he said. "This is the first confirmed case of this virus in Minnesota and Wisconsin."


   After the River fish tested positive, Service biologists tested bass from Genoa National Fish Hatchery, Wis. The hatchery holds adult fish that originated from the river, in its ponds for use with native freshwater mussel restoration. The virus was found in smallmouth bass adults and fingerlings, and largemouth bass adults at the hatchery. Plans are being made to replace these fish with fish from disease-free sources.


   The Minnesota DNR  noted that they have not detected largemouth bass virus in more than two years of monitoring brood stock at the state hatchery in New London, and that they continue to monitor up to 12 private hatcheries in the state for the virus and more serious disease.

According to the Minnesota DNR there have been no reports of fish kills in Minnesota that could be linked to largemouth bass virus and that fish susceptible to disease are tested as a matter of procedure.


   DNR Pathologist Joe Marcino, said, "We've had the ability

to test for the virus for some time, but haven't had occasion to use it in relation to a fish kill. We do monitor reports of fish kills and are prepared to test if we find evidence of largemouth bass virus."


   According to Nelson, this particular virus is often found in bass that show no signs of the disease. "This suggests that some fish might be infected but never become ill. And it is important to note that presence of the virus does not necessarily mean that a fish disease is occurring. Disease is more likely triggered by stress."  Nelson indicated that some of the stressors could include extremely warm water, poor water quality, or repeated handling of the fish, and that none of the fish tested were showing any sign of the disease.


   "Fish that develop largemouth bass virus appear near the surface and have trouble swimming and remaining upright," Nelson said. "This virus seems to attack the swim bladder in the affected fish."


   Susan Marcquenski, fish health specialist for the Wisconsin DNR, plans to collaborate with the LaCrosse Fish Health Center to sample smallmouth and largemouth bass populations in tributaries to the Mississippi River. "WI DNR fisheries biologists will collect fish from these tributaries and the fish will be examined for largemouth bass virus as well as other pathogens by the LaCrosse Fish Health Center staff," she said. "The Wisconsin DNR fish health program does not have the resources to do intensive health monitoring of wild fish populations on an extensive geographic basis. However, in partnership with the USFWS, we can pool our resources and obtain meaningful information about the health of wild fish in the state."


   The Fish Health Center in LaCrosse works to keep fish disease-free at six National Fish Hatcheries and three tribal facilities. They provide lab services and technical assistance on fish health and propagation to the USFWS's field offices in the Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region (Il, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, OH And WI), tribes, states, commercial fisheries managers, universities and other research agencies. Efforts by the Service and its fisheries partners help insure strong, healthy and abundant fish throughout Midwest fisheries.


   Nelson said, "Our staff at the Fish Health Center screens about 4,400 fish as part of the National Wild Fish Heath Survey. Each year we also inspect the health of more than 2.5 million captive lake trout produced in the region for eventual stocking in the Great Lakes."


   BASS will host a largemouth bass virus workshop in Wilmington, N.C., Feb. 15-16, the 4th held since the virus was discovered. Visit: Bassmaster 


   More information on the MN DNR's largemouth bass efforts, and steps anglers can take to prevent the spread, is available on their website at under hot topics.

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