When last winter finally relented, and anglers were able to get out and enjoy fishing their favorite spots, the DNR Fisheries Division’s Northern Lake Huron Management Unit started getting phone calls from concerned anglers about their lack of success on the North Branch of the Au Sable River.
The unit receives “there are no fish in my lake” calls on a regular basis, and usually they are based on an angler’s couple of days of poor fishing. This year on the North Branch, however, staff received calls from professional trout fishing guides who had never complained about the fishing before. They told local staff they were experiencing extremely low catch rates and weren’t seeing the feeding activity they normally would during insect hatches.
The North Branch was scheduled for Fisheries Division to conduct population estimates in the late summer at three different sites. However, with the number of anglers reporting startlingly low catch rates of trout, the division decided to conduct electrofishing spot checks on May 30.
Two new counties likely will be added to the list of Michigan counties where chronic wasting disease has been found. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.
A 4-year-old hunter-harvested buck in Pine River Township (Gratiot County) and a 2-year-old hunter-harvested buck in Carmel Township (Eaton County) are suspected positive for the disease. The samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation.
Chronic wasting disease currently has been confirmed in Clinton, Dickinson, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm counties.
A 4-year-old doe killed on a deer damage shooting permit in Dickinson County's Waucedah Township has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, marking the first confirmation of the incurable deer disease within Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The finding was verified by Michigan State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in East Lansing and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
The deer was shot on an agricultural farm about 4 miles from the Michigan-Wisconsin border.
"We remain committed to maintaining healthy Michigan wildlife for the residents of, and visitors to, this great state, now and into the future," said Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh. "Fortunately, over the past few years, with the help of hunters, the U.P. CWD Task Force, DNR staffers and others, we are far better prepared to respond to threats posed by chronic wasting disease in the U.P."