As reported by the National Biological Service in March 1996, alewives then accounted for 43% of Lake Michigan's forage base bio-mass
Limit catches in record times are being reported by recreational anglers and charter boat captains in Lake Michigan. Not only are there more of them, but coho and chinook salmon are bigger, fatter and more robust than previously seen in many years.
As reported by the National Biological Service in March, alewives now account for 43% of Lake Michigan's forage base bio-mass, "the most since we started reporting these statistics" stated Guy Fleisher. Many graphs are showing large clouds of baitfish in the top half of the water column, presumably alewives since chubs usually frequent the bottom half of the water column. There are also growing reports of dead alewive washing up on beaches or floating into Lake Michigan harbors and bays.
Bloater chubs account for 51% of the forage base with smelt at 5%. A growing threat is the three- spine stickleback making its presence known with an exploding population this year. Lake Ontario anglers also report an increase of the three-spine stickleback.
It is a well known fact the introduction of Pacific salmon into Lake Michigan was originally a management tool used to control the mountains of foul smelling alewives that were cluttering our beaches back in the 60s. With an increasing number of complaints coming in from shoreline property owners,resorts, marinas and coastal communities, common sense would tell us that our resource managers will need to re-visit their lakewide stocking plans.
It is anticipated the increase in alewives and their subsequent nuisance status to many around the lake will generate awake up call for an increase in the four state stocking plans. This will no doubt frustrate the staff of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and will surely evoke lively discussions in and between state fishery resource offices, for the fore -seeable future. Don't be surprised if DNR directors, or even the state health departments get involved.
Those robust alewives are going to be around for a long time.