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Guide Profile – Max Werkman

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Four years ago, I received an email message from Max Werkman.  I have saved this email as it is a constant reminder to me, and I refer back to it in times when I ponder what direction the sport and industry of fly fishing is heading in.  With a new generation that is typically pre-occupied with tweeting cat videos, posing half naked on Instagram, spending their time with their noses buried in their phones, or trying to level up in the most recent Xbox game – there are young men and women out there like Max.  As long as we have people like Max involved in this sport and industry, we will be in good shape.  I won’t share with you the entire email, but here’s how it begins;

My name is Max Werkman,  I’m 15 years old and I live in Holland Michigan. I love fly fishing and I always have.  I do most of my fly fishing in my local rivers here in Michigan. I also see that your company is based out of Portland Michigan, so your might know the rivers I am talking about.

I met with Max a short time after receiving this email and was came away from that time we spent together extremely impressed with his passion, thirst for knowledge, and commitment to the sport.  With all of the different opportunities available to find social connections and to be entertained, Max more than anything just wanted to fish.

Since that time I have been fortunate to spend time with Max on the river and feelings of admiration and if I’m being completely honest some amount of jealousy came over me.  I admire Max’s work ethic, energy, and passion that he exhibits while on the water – he works extremely hard and is able to find fish in even the toughest of conditions.  The jealousy stems from my own personal experience in that I don’t think I was nearly as focused, driven, and committed to anything at his age, as he is to fishing.

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Most people Max’s age are spending their summers figuring out which party they are going to go get wild at, living in the comforts of their parent’s homes, bumming money from dad to fill a tank with gas, and working on a tan at the beach.  Not Max.  Max left the comforts of post high school/pre-holy shit I have to be responsible for myself life to gain more guiding experience in Alaska.  Coming back to the Mitt, with a ton of experience Max is ready to spend the day on the water sharing his knowledge and passion for our resources –

Not only is Max and Werkman Outfitters committed to giving their clients a great experience, they are also extremely strong advocates of our environment.  Here is a statement from their website: Click here for more.

“Being from southwest Michigan, we saw the ecological and economic damage that occurred as result of Enbridge’s Line 6 B spill in the Kalamazoo River. Although the clean up has restored the habitat we feel a spill in the Straits would be far worse and more difficult to clean up.  For us, having a healthy wild fishery in the Great Lakes is critical to our livelihood. If a spill were to occur it will effect wild populations of salmon, steelhead and trout not only in the Straits, but as they are migratory, through out the Lake Michigan / Lake Huron basin. In addition, the native smallmouth bass and carp populations that live along the flats in the area will be negatively effected.”

Here’s the Q&A with Max:

What rivers do you guide on primarily?

White River

What’s your favorite method of fishing to deploy while guiding?

Honestly my favorite method of guiding would have to be float fishing. It is the most effective way for me and my clients to catch fish, but it is also a very easy method of fishing to teach as well.

Species of fish that you guide for?

 I guide for Salmon, Trout, and Steelhead as well as Smallmouth bass.

Are oranges named oranges because oranges are orange, or is orange called orange because oranges are orange?

I think that oranges are named oranges because oranges are orange. The color orange was probably established before the food in my opinion.

What’s your favorite thing about guiding?

My favorite thing about guiding is seeing the excitement that someone shows when they catch fish or see/do something that they have never done before. Seeing the excitement of catching a huge steelhead or just helping someone learn to cast a fly rod for the first time is what I love about guiding.

Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?

Probably my favorite lunch to prepare on the bank would have to be hamburgers. There easy to cook, don’t take up much space in the cooler, and almost everyone loves hamburgers.

If you could be in a band, which one would it be?

I am a huge metal fan so if I were to be in a band it would diffidently be Avenged Sevenfold.

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If I were to eat myself, would I become twice as large or completely disappear?

I think that I would probably disappear if I were to eat myself.

What do you believe makes a guided trip with you a unique experience?

I am only 19 years old so I am a younger guy, but I have tons of experience. Most clients have never spent a day on the river with someone who is the same age as me.

What makes a good client?

To me a good client is someone who likes to have fun, takes my advice into consideration while fishing, and someone who is willing to try something new.

Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?

I would rather fight 100 duck sized horse’s because I feel like being taller would be a good advantage in fighting duck sized horse’s.

If your life was turned into a movie, who would play the part of you?

I would want Charlie Day to play me. I think he has a goofy personality like me and he is a very funny actor in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

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What else would be helpful for people to know about you?

I am not a very up tight guide, I like to have a good laugh about stuff on the river. Another thing would be that I can’t control everything that goes on during the day. Weather that is catching fish or not, or if a client is cold I cannot control everything that goes on during a guide trip.

How does someone contact you to book a trip?

Visit my website at www.werkmanoutfitters.com. Email me at max@werkmanoutfitters.com or call my cellphone at 616-403-8780.

 

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Guide Profile – Kory Boozer

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Doing something that is different and unique from what everyone else is doing is not always easy.  Carving out your own niche, especially in a copy cat industry like fly fishing, can be tough.   Breaking away from the norm and creating an entirely new set of fly fishing opportunities for his clients is exactly what Kory Boozer from Boozer’s Guide Service (<–clicky clicky) is doing.  When people think of fly fishing in Michigan, trout, salmon, and steelhead immediately come to mind.  Likewise, floating down winding cedar lined rivers the size of a 2 lane road is the typical setting.  Often overlooked are the unbelievable resources of Michigan’s larger waterways and the abundance of the Mitt’s warm water fish species.

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Larger watersheds like the Kalamazoo, Grand, or St. Joe rivers can be intimidating and a daunting task to learn well enough to have success with a fly to most anglers.  Spending countless days and hours on these rivers, Kory has earned a PhD in reading these larger waters, understanding where fish are, and how to best target them.  He is able to show how special and beautiful these waterways are.  Specializing in smallmouth, pike, and longnose gar excursions – Kory offers a unique opportunity for anyone looking for a new experience and to learn how to pursue these great but often overlooked native game fish.

A passionate teacher, Kory gets great joy out of sharing his vast experience and knowledge with fellow anglers.  In addition to his prowess as a fly fishing educator, Kory is an innovative fly tier always and supremely talented photographer.  Not only will you likely catch the biggest smallie or pike of your life, but you will end up with mantle place worthy photo as well.

What Rivers Do you Guide on Primarily? 

Saint Joseph, Kalamazoo and Grand Rivers

What’s your favorite method of fishing to deploy when guiding? 

Streamers and surface flies actively fished from a drifting boat. Fishing from an anchored boat is about as appealing to me as watching paint dry. I want to cover water and find active, hard-charging fish that want to kill a fly.

Species of fish that you guide for? 

Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Longnose Gar

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What’s your favorite thing about guiding? 

I love getting folks into the sport and igniting a passion to enjoy and protect our wild and native natural resources. We largely live in a disposable society these days under the premise, if something breaks, you just buy another one or in our case, stock more fish. We should be more focused on enhancing our self-sustaining natural resources and better protecting what we have that can thrive here naturally. There really isn’t anything all that special about a fish raised in a raceway and put here by man. I make an honest effort not to dumb down my program, I do not believe in short cuts, I want my clients to learn to be great casters and how to work a fly properly. I take a lot of pride in my teaching abilities and truly enjoy doing it.

Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients? 

Good sandwiches, I don’t have time for a grilled shore lunch that takes an hour to prepare and eat, if you fish with me, you are here to fish, not hang out and eat…

If you could be in a band, which one would it be? 

Primus… So we could play all the greatest fly fishing destinations around the globe!

Do you believe that Disney World is a people trap operated by a mouse? 

Clowns and people in big animal costumes kind of freak me out, regardless of what operates Disney World, I want no part of it…

What do you believe makes a guided trip with you a unique experience? 

Passion, hands down… I get more enjoyment out of teaching folks to fly fish and seeing them have a great time than I do fishing myself these days. In regards to the St. Joseph River, I was literally born & raised on the banks of this river, the sheer amount of time I have on this watershed is a huge advantage for me. Some folks go to sleep counting Sheep, I fall asleep rehearsing bottom structure and holding lies on the Joe…

What makes a good client? 

Attitude! I want someone who is positive about learning and is appreciative of how much effort I put into each trip.

Have you ever pondered the fact that fish see people as aliens?  We hover above their environment, in a ship and pull them from their dwellings into the sky? 

Yes! This was an actual conversation a client and I had not all that long ago!

If your life was turned into a movie, who would play the part of you? 

Liam Neeson! Great actor and he fly fishes!

What else would be helpful for people to know about you?

I am all about teaching folks new to the sport how to fly fish, it truly does not bother me if someone is a novice, in fact it can be a good thing as they typically do not have any bad habits to overcome. I encourage folks to bring their children as well, there are few things more rewarding to me than seeing kids enjoy the outdoors and watersheds I am so passionate about.

How does someone contact you to book a trip? 

Cell: 269.235.0664

eMail: info@boozersguideservice.com

Web: www.boozersguideservice.com

 


Guide Profile – Brian “Koz” Kozminski

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Networker.  Conservationist.  Educator.  Fly Fishing Evangelist.  Communicator.  If you are at all plugged into the Michigan (or beyond) fly fishing scene, chances are you are aware of the man everyone calls “Koz”.  Originally hailing from the Grand Rapids area and now residing in Northern Michigan, the only thing bigger than Brian Kozminski’s network is his generous and affable personality.  http://www.truenorthtrout.com

Koz serves many roles in the fly fishing community.  First and foremost, he is a defender of our resources – promoting educational opportunities for others to better take care of our waterways.  Koz also has done a great amount of work to promote fly fishing in a positive manner that encourages youths and others to explore the sport and take advantage of our great fishery.  Leveraging his vast network of people involved in the sport and industry, Koz serves as a one-stop hub for endless amounts of information.  It is obvious to anyone that visits his Facebook page, that Koz is a sharer of important information and events that impact and inform the entire fishing community.

While I have not yet had the privilege of spending a day on the water with him (something that will get remedied this year), my numerous conversations and encounters at shows, all of my exchanges with Koz have been nothing short of extremely pleasant and focused on driving the sport forward in a positive manner.  It is obvious that he not only cares deeply about the health of our sport and the resources, but he also has the same level of care for the people in it.

What Rivers Do you Guide on Primarily?

You can find me taking clients on a variety of water, whether wading the upper Jordan Valley, floating its cedar strewn lower or my favorite stretch of the Upper Manistee from M-72 to Three Mile.  Some wadable locales on Lake Michigan for Carp or smallmouth. We will always make a worthwhile trip to Mio on the Au Sable to throw articulated wet tube socks with the best of the Mitt Monkeys around. There are a handful of other northern Michigan streams not as often publicized, but equally rewarding because of their secrecy.

What’s your favorite method of fishing to deploy when guiding?

Anytime you have a client that can cast-> BONUS!

Watching an angler who can negotiate down trees and flip streamers within inches of structure, cast after cast, all day long, can make for a productive day. But I really, truly enjoy being on the river in near complete darkness, all other senses besides sight are heightened and on high alert when you are casting foam and deer hair tangerine sized rodents against the double shadow of a tall grassy bank that seems to move and come alive the longer you stare at it……waiting for the explosion at the surface and the entire universe erupts with chaos.

Species of fish that you guide for? 

Primarily a trout and steelhead guy by nature, but my youth was focused on bucket mouth bass, so it feels good to get back to basics and peruse local warm water species. Smallmouth and carp are so abundant in the Great Lakes and especially the Lake Charlevoix system. Toothy fresh water wolves have become more notably sought after species.

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What’s your favorite thing about guiding?

Best case scenario, at the end of the day, clients learn a thing about fly fishing, its rich and deep history in Michigan. They have a remarkable ‘all day’ experience, from casting & conservation, to bug lessons, and hopefully catching a fish or two. That is not always the case. we have to remember to make the experience fun, so they wish to return. I try to make these things memorable by providing a farm fresh lunch and out of this world scones from the Boyne Farmers Market, a taste of up north to take back home with them.

Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?

It used to be a wine marinated hanger steak with fresh grilled asparagus, these days, I have more requests to be ‘heart smart’ and not waste an hour grilling- even though I enjoy a good steak from time to time. Seems lately we are doing a sweet potato black bean quesadilla with pepperjack cheese and fresh ginger guacamole- and people are raving about it.

If you could be in a band, which one would it be? 

stuck on a retro 80’s mohawk, black leather kind of mood- Depeche Mode – seems Dave Gahan & I have hit bottom and are building ourselves back up from scratch. everyday, one day at a time.

Do you believe that Disney World is a people trap operated by a mouse?

Totally a mouse trap. I know people who have worked for the mouse, they rarely ever come out the other side the same. Its like they brain-wash you to the next level, CIA conspiracy kind of stuff. I would like to convince my family we could vacation in Yellowstone for 6 months on the same amount of coin we would spend in the Rat Trap…

 

What do you believe makes a guided trip with you a unique experience?

Specialize in beginners, fresh, local friendly, and genuine. Making a day trip on one of our rivers is an escape from the busy text message, fax, memo, meeting filled world. We just like to take a moment to appreciate the beauty in the nature that surrounds us.  We waste too much of our valuable time on the things that really mean so little.

What makes a good client? 

Practice casting prior to getting in a boat and not be happy with missing a few fish. You dont buy a new set of golf clubs and fly to Pebble Beach without a few practice swings. You need your A-game on any river in the Mitt, some days, it’s the wind, others it’s the fish, current, rain, bugs, the sun, etc. You need to do the best you can to be prepared for connecting with a trout. Listen to your guide, chances are, they have been down this river a dozen or more times than you have…image4

Have you ever pondered the fact that fish see people as aliens?  We hover above their environment, in a ship and pull them from their dwellings into the sky? 

It is true~ like in “Horton Hears a Who” the fish world is a speck on a flower, and their world is equally dependent upon how well we take care of it…

If your life was turned into a movie, who would play the part of you? 

Of course the ego maniac would like Brad Pitt in the lead role, some would say more like Matt Damon- not that bad, but reality is- Anthony Michael Hall(16 Candles/Weird Science fame) is your huckleberry, a sure shoe in for my days on the river and chasing Molly.untitled

How does someone contact you to book a trip?

The usual suspects: calling works- 231 675-1237 or

Facebook

Flyfishbkoz@gmail.com

http://www.truenorthtrout.com

 


2016 Recap Part 2

Something tells me that when I’m an old, crotchety, drunk most of the time old man sitting in a nursing home spending my days planning an escape attempt, I will always remember the summer of 2016. I spent more time on the water this past summer than any other year – and the fishing was overwhelmingly good for the most part.

After more than a decade of suffering the fate of a fishing widow, my wife finally decided to put in more time on the water with me.  She did a really great job learning how to cast and manipulate streamers – and had a lot of success with smallmouth all summer.  It was a really great experience to spend time with her on the water, and the excitement that she showed for each and every little thing that happened made me realize how much I take for granted.

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The smallmouth scene was really good all summer on the local rivers, low and clear water presented ideal conditions to go out and find several each trip.   There were even a few pike mixed into most outings.


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The Bass 1 Fly happened again this year, in our 5th year of the event it has grown to 27 anglers.  It’s the dumbest event on the planet and I never have any fun during it, I don’t even know why I torture myself putting it together and showing up (if you couldn’t tell…..I didn’t win……again).  Heres a pic of some stupid idiot that did win – he’s banned from the event in 2017 (just kidding Sean…..kind of).

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Guide, teacher, presenter, explorer Nome Buckman (more on her in an upcoming Guide Feature) invited me to join her for a day of Musky fishing this summer.  Something I’ve never done before – so I spent countless hours researching and tying and piles of money buying new stuff that I don’t even need.  I even constructed a Musky Medical Kit – I heard shit gets wild and I wanted to be ready.

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Jeff came along for what turned out to be one of the more fun weekends I’ve ever had.  Beautiful scenery, the most intense sunsets I’ve ever seen, and a number of opportunities at fish.

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I got on the board on Day 2 – and I still have all of my fingers, so it was a success.

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Towards the tail end of the summer when the smallmouth become slightly more scarce and harder to find and salmon start making their annual pilgrimage to their spawning grounds – I finally got the Mitt Monkey Intern out into the boat.  Adam is an old pal from High School and an incredibly proficient newer fly guy.  He threw tight loops and hit the right spots with his streamers all day and was rewarded with a 20″ smallmouth – one of the biggest I saw all year.

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If the summer of 2017 is half as good as this past year, I’ll be happy.

 


Guide Profile – Matt Zudweg

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Without any shred of doubt, Matt Zudweg is one of the most (probably is #1 actually) supremely multi-talented individuals that I know.  Possessing more creativity in his left pinky finger than I have in my entire being, Matt is able to inspire through his art work, popular sticker creations, t-shirt designs, and innovative fly patterns (Click here to view his work).  That creativity, along with the enormous attention to detail that he exhibits, undoubtedly allows him to achieve great success in not only his creative business but also when he provides his expertise to clients on the river for a day of fishing.

When he’s not guiding clients to enjoyable days on the water, exercising his artistic abilities, or reconditioning classic ski boats, Matt is a leading advocate for Michigan’s precious resources,  working tirelessly to preserve and protect our fisheries.  matt-z

It’s obvious that Matt is extremely passionate about his crafts, but its his humility, humbleness, friendly demeanor, and  genuine enthusiasm for sharing great experiences that makes him a great guide, and even better person.

As a new feature on Michigan Fly, we will be highlighting a new guide each week – please see the end on how to contact to book a trip.

What Rivers Do you Guide on Primarily?

Since 2003 I’ve guided exclusively on West Michigan’s Muskegon River.

What’s your favorite method of fishing to deploy when guiding?

For steelhead my favorite and primary method of fishing is swinging flies with a Spey Rod. For trout, I’m also primarily using switch rods and swinging wet flies (unless of course there is a good surface bite)… although I am a slightly bigger fan of hucking a big streamer for the big guys, if conditions are right. For bass my favorite method is fishing large poppers into nooks and crannies or a streamer fished just under the surface. The take is what does it for me so I tend to be drawn to the method that creates the most exciting strike, although most of those methods are the more challenging ways to produce numbers of fish… I’m ok with that though.

Species of fish that you guide for?

Steelhead, Bass and Trout

What’s your favorite thing about guiding?

The teaching aspect probably. I never really pictured myself as a teacher until maybe 7 or 8 years ago. One of my kids was taking one of those tests to see what kind of job they’d be good at, so I filled one out as well. I was surprised at the time when it said I should be a teacher, but that conclusion has made much more sense to me ever since. I also love the camaraderie.

Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?

A good steak and some grilled pineapple.

If you could be in a band, which one would it be?

Definitely something bluegrass and from days gone by like the Osborne Brothers or Flatt and Scruggs. I’ve wanted to learn the banjo for some time now, but I’m not sure I have the musical talent to ever make that happen.

Do you believe that Disney World is a people trap operated by a mouse?

Ahh, this is a question always in the back of my mind, I’ve just been waiting for someone to finally ask it. I’ve come to the conclusion that it absolutely is a people trap and most likely run by a large herd of mice with ambitions of world domination.

What do you believe makes a guided trip with you a unique experience?

I believe my good humor, positive attitude and undying passion for making my clients better anglers is something that I have to offer.

What makes a good client?

The “ideal” client to me is someone who is easy going and looking for a great overall experience on the river. They are motivated to become a better caster and angler, and they prefer angling methods that target the most aggressive fish, rather than using methods that may be more productive for numbers of fish. I have been so blessed to have mostly clients who fit that description.

The “perfect” client also shows up in a 69 Charger painted Hemi orange and let’s me do some donuts at the boat launch.

Have you ever pondered the fact that fish see people as aliens?  We hover above their environment, in a ship and pull them from their dwellings into the sky?

Of course I do. After a certain amount of time fishing alone I think that thought crosses every anglers mind and they come to the same conclusion.

If your life was turned into a movie, who would play the part of you?

Probably Jase Robertson. He seems to have a similar sense of humor, he’s a fair skinned fellow like me and he already has a gnarly beard.

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What else would be helpful for people to know about you?

I love people, but hate crowds. I’m very comfortable around 2-4 people. I love making balsa poppers, antiqued furniture and vintage style signs. I had a life changing moment when I was 18 and dedicated my life to following Jesus. I’ve been married 22 years to the most incredible woman and we have 3 kids that mean the world to us. I feel older than I look but am trying to reverse those. Some people call me Pastor but I’m not officially a Pastor and have no plans to be at this time. Many call me “Z” or “Zuddy”, nicknames I’ve had since childhood. I still jump up and down clapping my hands when a client hooks a swung fly steelhead… it just never gets old. I’ve got a thing for Toyota 4Runners and I’m super thankful for all the opportunities that I’ve been given in this life. How’s that?

How does someone contact you to book a trip?

Through Feenstra Guide Service www.feenstraoutdoors.com or my personal website www.zflyfishing.com or by email matt@mattzudweg.com or even by calling/texting at 231-206-7660 or just yelling my name very loudly.

 

 

 


We’re Back…….

 

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The very first post written on MichiganFly was published on Jan 9th, 2014 – 3 years ago today.  That Michigan winter was especially brutal, temps that reached a high in the single digits for several days in a row and snow that was measured in feet instead of inches.  Dan and I started this as a coping method as we searched for any crutch available to maintain the level mental sanity we both had.  Luckily for us, jumping on the internet and acting like clowns worked to the degree that we didn’t have to resort to our final plan that involved tons of drugs and booze.

We decided at the time that we would operate the blog through the winter months, then bail out of it when time no longer permitted, usually signaled by the polar bears and penguins migrating back to more permanent arctic lands.  So……..we’re back for the next couple of months.  Who’s ready for Tuesday bananas?

2016 was a good year – they are all pretty damned good if you have a group of friends that you spend time with on the water.  Here’s a the start of a brief recap:

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Instead of typing some BS that nobody wants to read here, a video recap is probably better.

A few trout a few steelhead, nothing wrong with that.  Then towards the latter half of spring, something happened that….that changed everything forever.  In our circle a 20″ trout is usually referenced as a “good fish”, anything over 24″ becomes a “giant” and if you topple the 27″ mark, something that has been done once by Jeff (see his work at  Fly Fish the Mitt) its legendary status.

Well, Dan (MichiganFly co-founder) didn’t just set a new bar this year, he took the old one, broke it and shoved it up everyone’s rears.  Never in my lifetime did I expect to witness a 30″ resident brown trout being put into the net – but it happened.

The fish ate a fly of Dan’s own design – the Mitt Fiddle.  Guess what bug got fished by everyone else a lot for the rest of the year?

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Personally, I was on the struggle bus a bit streamer fishing this past spring.  I had a number of opportunities at good fish maybe even a few giants in there – but usually I had my head up my ass and completely blew the chance.  Definitely, something that will be addressed this year.  I don’t know – is there some surgical procedure or something to remove craniums from rectums?

Rest of the year recap to come soon.  Tune in tomorrow for the 1st Tuesday Bananas of the year!


2016 B1F – Chase for the Duke & Lily Cup

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UnHoly Waters (Part 3)

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“Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.” -Cree Indian Prophecy

Growing up in rural mid-Michigan, nearly 15 miles from the nearest town, in the rolling rich agricultural ground that is abundant in that region, farming is an essential part of who I am.  Spending the days of my youth picking rocks and weeds out of fields, operating tractors, enduring sweltering afternoons loading hundreds of bails of hay into the loft, and tending to herds of cattle has shaped and molded the person that I am today.  I find it darn near impossible to not root for the small family farms as the industry has evolved and giant corporate like farms have encroached and gobbled up gigantic swaths of land, making it hard for the “little guy” to compete.  I understand the importance of providing family owned businesses with the necessary means to compete in the ever growing global economy.

While supporting farmers and small businesses tugs at my heart strings, I also work very hard to keep in perspective the larger picture of the surrounding world and develop an understanding of other important issues.  The fishing industry in Michigan has been stated to be a $7 billion a year influx into our economy.  Say it with me here, SEVEN BILLION each and every year that is infused into our local economy.  How many local jobs at hotels, restaurants, bait shops, fly shops, gas stations, boat dealers/manufacturers is that?

The truth of the matter is that the great lakes and the waterways that feed into them are substantial to the existence of a healthy economy in our state.

It is troubling to think about all of the potential dangers that our natural resources face, and now they are threatened by additional dangers associated with fish farms under the guise of economical development.  There are many data points that suggest a high likelihood of profound negative impacts to our waters and the fish that inhabit them if fish farms are introduced.  While there are measures that can be imposed or put into place in an attempt to mitigate the potential risks, the possibility of a total demolition is still greater than 0% and I do not believe that is a risk that should be taken.  It’s similar to playing Russian Roulette for money, only someone else is the one pulling the trigger of the gun aimed directly at our resources AND getting the money from it.

I’ve thought long and hard about the proposed fish pens in the Great Lakes and the proposed aquaculture on the Au Sable watershed, and I fail to see the risks that the businesses running those operations would assume, but it is easy to recognize all of the risks posed to ecosystems in and of themselves and to the people that enjoy those resources.

If allowed a scary precedent will be established and it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that these aquacultures will begin to pop up throughout our state like claims during the times of the gold rush.

It brings about the question, is the risks associated really worth the reward?

To see more about this issue, please see Parts 1 and 2 (click links below)

UnHoly Waters (Part 1)

UnHoly Waters (Part 2)

Here’s what you can do to help, go to the Anglers of the Au Sable site and read their statements regarding the issue and make a donation (if you are able to) to the cause.  (Click here for more)

Order a shirt supporting the efforts (Click here for more)


UnHoly Waters (Part 2)

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“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” – Ansel Adams

In an effort to share and provide further education regarding the issues that surround the proposed aquaculture fish farm on the Au Sable, below you will find a compiled list of documented concerns with aquaculture.

From Natural Society (Click here for more):

Fish farms cause serious environmental damage – Raising fish on farms causes serious ecological harm—by polluting natural waterways and more. The U.S. farmed fish industry is said to have $700 million in hidden costs, which is incidentally half the annual production value of the farms.

Farm-raised fish can be rife with disease – Because they are crowded into areas that are far more compact than in a natural environment, disease and illness can spread rampantly. Oftentimes, these diseases can even spread to wild populations.

From Food and Water Watch (Click here for more)

Massive amounts of antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides are required to keep disease at bay just to keep fish and shrimp alive in overcrowded conditions (typically in nets, cages, or ponds). The risk of contamination is high, both to the surrounding water and within the enclosures themselves.

Uneaten fish feed, fish waste, and any antibiotics or chemicals used in fish farm operations flow through the cages directly into the ocean. This can significantly harm the ocean environment. Caged fish can escape and compete for resources or interbreed with wild fish and weaken important genetic traits. Farmed fish can spread disease to wild fish.

Factory fish farms may interfere with the livelihoods of commercial and recreational fishermen by displacing them from traditional fishing grounds or harming wild fish populations.

From Mercola.com (Click here for more)

The Jevons Paradox says that “as production methods grow more efficient, demand for resources actually increases – rather than decreasing, as you might expect,” MindBodyGreen reports.7 This is precisely what has happened with aquaculture.

Aquaculture has been deemed both ecologically and economically unstable, with “an unequal tradeoff between environmental costs and economic benefits.” In the US, hidden environmental costs are said to cost $700 million a year, which is half the annual production value of the farms.

There are multiple problems that result when farmed fish escape into the wild (which they do, in the numbers of millions each year). For starters, the ‘wild’ North Atlantic salmon that you purchase may actually be a farmed escapee, making it difficult to know what you’re really eating. The escaped fish also breed with wild fish, and research shows that these hybrid-born fish are less viable and die earlier than wild salmon. This could contaminate the entire gene pool and harm the future of the wild population.

From the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (Click here for more)

The main environmental effects of marine aquaculture can be divided into the following five categories:

  1. Biological Pollution: Fish that escape from aquaculture facilities may harm wild fish populations through competition and inter-breeding, or by spreading diseases and parasites. Escaped farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) are a particular problem, and may threaten endangered wild Atlantic salmon in Maine. In the future, farming transgenic, or genetically modified, fish may exacerbate concerns about biological pollution.

  2. Fish for Fish Feeds: Some types of aquaculture use large quantities of wild-caught fish as feed ingredients, and thus indirectly affect marine ecosystems thousands of miles from fish farms.

  3. Organic Pollution and Eutrophication: Some aquaculture systems contribute to nutrient loading through discharges of fish wastes and uneaten feed. Compared to the largest U.S. sources of nutrient pollution, aquaculture’s contribution is small, but it can be locally significant.

  4. Chemical Pollution: A variety of approved chemicals are used in aquaculture, including antibiotics and pesticides. Chemical use in U.S. aquaculture is low compared to use in terrestrial agriculture, but antibiotic resistance and harm to nontarget species are concerns.

Some environmental impacts of U.S. marine aquaculture have considerable immediacy. Since organisms cannot be recalled once they are released, biological pollution is often permanent.

Other biological impacts from aquaculture may not pose immediate threats to endangered species. Nevertheless, potential introductions of marine diseases, parasites, and transgenic fish could permanently harm fish populations and even marine ecosystems.

From Modern Farmer (Click here for more)

The vast majority of farmed fish are raised with methods that are detrimental to the environment (and sometimes the consumer) in one or more of the following ways:

  • Removes unsustainable quantities of water from rivers or ground sources

  • Returns contaminated water to local water bodies

  • Employs hormones, antibiotics and aquatic biocides that damage local ecosystems and have negative effects on public health

  • Raises fish on pelleted feed made with unsustainable ingredients, such as GMO soybeans and the waste products of factory-farmed livestock

  • Fails to prevent the escape of farmed fish into nearby waterways, where they may behave as invasive species and spread disease

From a study titled “A Global Assessment of Salmon Aquaculture Impacts on Wild Salmonids” authored by Jennifer S Ford and (Click here for more):

We have estimated a significant increase in mortality of wild salmonids exposed to salmon farming across many regions. However, estimates for individual regions are dependent on assumptions detailed in the Materials and Methods section, and the estimates often have large confidence intervals. Given that the data analysed are affected by considerable noise—including changes in fishing and environmental factors—the important result of this study is that we are nonetheless able to detect a large, statistically significant effect correlated with trends in farmed salmon production. The significant increase in mortality related to salmon farming that we have estimated in almost all cases is in addition to mortality that is also acting on the control populations.

Here’s what you can do to help, go to the Anglers of the Au Sable site and read their statements regarding the issue and make a donation (if you are able to) to the cause.  (Click here for more)

Order a shirt supporting the efforts (Click here for more)


UnHoly Waters (Part 1)

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“Economic advance is not the same thing as human progress.” -John Clapham

Michigan waters have a history steeped in controversy, tragedy, and invasion.  Ships traveling into our waters from far away oceans have introduced a multitude of invasive species that have resulted in decimating the ecosystems and ravaging the native fish populations.  There have been public political battles waged over the use of the watersheds.  Public outcry arose when a plan to install offshore energy producing wind turbines was unveiled.

Through over fishing, deforestation, and other damning practices that had profound negative impacts to our watersheds, native populations of grayling and brook trout have severely diminished or become extinct. Populations of other indigenous species have declined so much that they are more of a surprise when encountered, instead of a norm.  A love affair developed for dams has lead to substantial blockage of primal spawning grounds for native species, rendering natural reproduction more limited than it should be.  We are faced with the perpetual (seemingly inevitable) threat of asian carp invading our waters, if they haven’t already.  The extent of their impact upon arrival is somewhat unknown, but we can all agree it won’t be good.

Historic low water levels, warming water temperatures, increased imbalances in critical chemical compositions of our lakes and rivers, degradation of habitat, expanded erosion,  additional invasive species, draining of headwater aquifers, and other natural and human induced threats encroach upon our natural resources.  The easy excuse is – these are out of our control.  The reality is, they are a direct result of us as a human race.

Sure, you could argue that as a result of many of these negative events positives have come about.  Positives like the multi-million dollar a year salmon and steelhead fishing industry.  Or the increased ability for anglers to catch limits of walleyes in the reservoirs of dams.  But at the end of the day, salmon populations are collapsing and dams are failing, and there is probably no way to fix either.

Haven’t we learned from the mistakes of our forefathers?  Are we so shortsighted as to think that we can continue to place “band aid” style of fixes to man caused ecological issues and they’ll eventually just go away?  Because we have “solved” issues in the past by introducing new species, doesn’t mean that is a sustainable solution.

Here’s a sustainable solution – realize that our waterways are precious and water is life.  Click for the trailer on a great feature I watched at F3T over the weekend: Water is Life Trailer.  Fish and other aquatic life is are the litmus testers, the canary in the coal mine, that provide insight into how healthy our resources are.

The proposed aquafarm on the Au Sable doesn’t just impact the fishermen that enjoy the resource named “the Holy Waters”.  It affects the small towns that call the river home, it affects the entire economies in those areas that jobs are created as a result of the thousands of folks recreationally enjoying the resource every year.

Harrietta Hills Trout Farm has championed aquaculture tirelessly in the state of Michigan for a number of years.  Recently, they have proposed significant expansion of an existing farm currently operated as a tourist attraction on the Au Sable into a full blown aquafarm.
In an interview with Michigan Radio authored by Lindsey Smith(Click here for more) Dan Vogler, co-owner and general manager of Harrietta Hills Trout Farm LLC states:

“It gets the community what they want, which is the opportunity to maintain this as a tourist attraction. And it gets us what we need, which is additional production space,” Dan Vogler said. Vogler is co-owner and general manager of Harrietta Hills Trout Farm LLC, the small business that’s leasing the hatchery.

How can he be so sure that is what the community really wants is my question.  Does the community really want to be known for the good old days of cold, clean, fish filled waters that once were?  Do they want to be known for the local businesses that used to line the streets but can no longer exist without the seasonal population booms that come to enjoy the resource?

The article at michiganradio.org goes on to state:

With all the fresh water Michigan has, Vogler believes Michigan could produce much more fresh, locally produced fish, adding value to the state’s economy and residents’ diets.

Here is information regarding consumption of farmed fish found at clevelandclinic.org (Click here for more), citing Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and wellness manager for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs for short) sound dangerous. They are. POPs have been linked to several diseases, including type 2 diabetes and obesity. Evidence suggests obesity might be even more of a risk factor for diabetes when POPs are present in your body. And specific types of POPs increase the risk of stroke in women. Why does this matter? Because PCB (one type of POP) levels are five to 10 times higher in farmed fish than in wild fish.

“The benefit-risk ratio for carcinogens and noncarcinogens is significantly greater for wild salmon than for farmed salmon.”

Farmed salmon comes with uncertainty about antibiotic use. Wild salmon does not.

There is an obvious threat to the high water quality the river currently experiences.  Increased discharge of foreign chemicals and fish feces poses a substantial risk to the health of the ecosystem.  In the previously cited interview with Michigan Radio, Vogler had this to say about monitoring:

“Monitoring is very expensive. It’s a lot of lab work and I pay the bill. So as you add more monitoring to my operation, you’re impeding my ability to make a living here,” Vogler said, “The reality is that I’m not a non-profit organization. So if I’m going to be here and run this thing and give the community the benefit of the summer tourist aspect, I have to be profitable. So adding more monitoring burdens without being able to demonstrate how that helps – I’ve got a little problem with that.”

This does not strike me as someone that is overly concerned with the health of the river, to me it seems he is more concerned with operating a profitable business at the potential expense of the resource.   To further complicate matters Dan Sanderson writes for the Crawford County Avalanche (Click here for more):

Instead of grab samples, the fish hatchery operator will be required to take three-portion composite samples collected at equal intervals over the 12-hour period of maximum fish activity.  A weekly monitoring frequency will be required for all levels of production. 

If I am understanding this correctly, the hatchery is being asked to self monitor in this situation.  That would be like asking me or you to turn ourselves in every time we exceed the posted speed limit.  This does not seem like a viable plan to ensure the water quality does not diminish so much that it is destroyed.

At what point do we recognize that we are destroying the very things that give us life?  Apparently, it requires an enormously catastrophic reoccurring event to open our eyes.

Here’s what you can do to help, go to the Anglers of the Au Sable site and read their statements regarding the issue and make a donation (if you are able to) to the cause.  (Click here for more)

Order a shirt supporting the efforts (Click here for more)