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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)

 

Amusement Park Announced for Prized Michigan Trout Stream

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Tourists looking to visit the old Grayling Fish Hatchery this summer to throw a few pellets and maybe wet a line will be thrilled to find that the hatchery is now a fully-fledged amusement park. Doing what they do best, Hunkeydory Hills has exploited yet another aspect of their arrangement with the county by opening Desolation Au Sable, a hatchery-themed amusement park. Providing that much needed bump to already skyrocketing revenues, the park pokes some good natured fun at county and state officials eager to give away the resource.  “It was kind of a joke when I said we should memorialize the desolation of the Au Sable with a theme park” commented Dale Vermin, owner and operator of Hunkeydory Hills, “and they freakin’ gave it to us!”.

Vacationers will really enjoy the attractions and rides awaiting them at Desolation Au Sable including the Au Sable Tilt-A-Whirling Disease, a classic ride with a local flare. Patrons will be thrilled by the crazy corkscrew ride, not unlike the journey that many juvenile trout stricken with whirling disease will be making in the river. This Tilt-A-Whirl is not for the faint of heart and boasts a 90% mortality rate, similar for both patrons and trout fingerlings. Survivors will be rewarded with a lifetime supply of skeletal deformation and neurological damage.

Those seeking interactive exhibits and youth oriented activities will be not be disappointed. “Overload the Ecosystem” lets guests enjoy dumping trash can sized hoppers of phosphorous and fish excrement directly into tanks of unsuspecting rainbow fingerlings. Children will experience a sense of unrestrained glee watching fish spend their remaining seconds in confusion and agony. Later, algal blooms develop and provide park attendees with a sense of natures chemically enhanced beauty.

Kids will also love the “Suffocator” where they will enjoy witnessing trout mortality first-hand as trout pens fed with clear, cold, oxygen enriched river water are switched with warm oxygen-deficient water simulating expected summer conditions on the Au Sable. Prizes will be awarded to kids able to estimate the number of floating fish, rounded to the nearest thousand.

Extending the olive branch, Hunkeydory Hills will generously hire locals unable to find gainful employment following the decline of the Au Sable fishery. In addition to earning minimum wage as attraction and ride operators, former guides and lodge owners will enjoy re-living the devastation and horror of their fishery’s decline each day in painful detail.

Expectations are high for Desolation Au Sable this summer as families begin planning dream vacations in the little town formerly known for trout fishing.

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***If you like Tuesday Bananas and want to show your support, or even if you don’t like Tuesday Bananas and you hate us and want to defile our swag that took painstaking seconds to create, CLICK HERE FOR INFO

* Tuesday Bananas is a once a week column intended for entertainment purposes only.

More on the Au Sable

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We ran a feature on the extreme dangers facing the Au Sable river with the proposed scaling of an existing tourist attraction (that isn’t much of an attraction) last Tuesday instead of our weekly Bananas article.  This is so important of an issue that it merits further attention.  Mich Outdoors recently put together an overview of information that I encourage you to read, you can find it here: Au Sable River is Under Attack

This is incredibly important for a multitude of reasons.  First and foremost, that Au Sable is an incredibly valuable resource to our state.  It is a nationally renowned fishery that attracts FAR MORE tourist near and far than the existing tourist attraction that is proposing to expand by more than 15x.  The undoubtedly negative environmental impact of this will be extremely damning to the entire ecosystem of the river, and the economy that the river creates.

The potential damage of aquaculture or aquafarming far outweighs any capital gains that the state or the economy may experience as a windfall from supporting these businesses.

The shortsightedness of this issue creates a scary precedent for all waters – not just in Michigan.  If this can happen on the Au Sable, I’m sorry to say – IT CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE.  CLICK HERE TO LEARN WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP.

Here are some important excerpts from other resoures:

From the Anglers of the Au Sable

The DEQ admitted that when the fish farm discharges effluent at the maximum levels allowed by the permit, the fish farm will emit 160,000 pounds of fish poop and uneaten fish food, and 1,600 pounds of phosphorus per year. ** Without getting into detail, suffice it to say the DEQ testimony was weak. It reminded me of what the Flint Water Advisory Task Force said about the DEQ’s performance there: “Minimalist,” willing to accept mere “technical compliance” to protect the public, dismissive of others who raise concerns, and wrong in its interpretation of the law.

Finally, Dr. Canale applied his new model to the Au Sable River, and then assessed the effects the fish farm would have under various scenarios. His testimony and exhibits were stunning. He found that, even without the Grayling fish farm, the river violates oxygen standards. He said that, even if the fish farm performs the best possible treatment of its fish poop and feeding, the river will continue to violate dissolved oxygen standards. Finally, he said that, during low flows (summer drought conditions), if the fish farm were at maximum production with no treatment, oxygen standards at Stephan Bridge would be violated 98% of the time!

His findings regarding dissolved oxygen levels at Stephan Bridge were particularly alarming. Gary Whelan was asked if the current DEQ permit is sufficient to protect the river. His answer was short, sweet and to the point: “No.”

From Mich Outdoors

The Michigan DEQ (yes, the same group made infamous by the Flint water crisis), has approved a permit to turn a small tourist attraction into a large scale fish farm on the Au Sable River. Currently the small flow through hatchery produces less than 20,000 fish per year, but the state and county have approved the expansion, up to 300,000 fish per year

  • Harrieta Hills (the people wanting to expand the farm) is being given the land for $1 on a 20 year lease

  • They are not required to expand or upgrade the current waste disposal system that has been in place since 1914 and designed to produce a fraction of the fish.

  • This farm is located just above the “Holy Waters” section of the Au Sable. Which means this trout fishing mecca, that people travel the world to experience, is directly in the cross-hairs, and will without a doubt suffer a tremendous hit to water quality.

  • There are other state ran hatcheries that have been required to invest tons of tax payer money (rightly so) to upgrade their systems to create little to no harmful discharge. For some reason however this private company is not being held to the same standard.

  • This is being looked at as a gateway case by the state, its agriculture agencies, and Harrieta Hills to open up our great waters to more large scale aquaculture business that could further hurt our delicate ecosystems.

After the farm was shut down, the state opened a large farm at the headwaters, quickly destroying the remaining trout population. An frighteningly similar situation. A once world renowned trout stream that brought tourists from around the globe was destroyed. The article below shows the research to the problem, and also explains that once the farm was shut down the river has experienced a rebound in local resident trout.

From Gink and Gasoline

They intend to operate the hatchery with little modification, which will flush all of their raw waste untreated into the river until they reach 100,000 pounds production, at which point they plan to establish “quiescent zones” in which solids will settle to the bottom and be scooped out and disposed of. And that’s it. No wastewater treatment. No filtration. No real cost to HHTF, and no real oversight by the county or state– they will be self-monitoring their discharge. If that weren’t enough, the DEQ acknowledges that water quality will suffer but “that lowering of water quality is necessary to support the identified important social and economic development in the area.” All of this just upstream from the famed Holy Waters stretch of the river. Angler’s and conservation groups asked that a performance bond be required of Harrietta Hills Trout Farm in case of damage to the river, but this request was denied by the county.

But here is what is really frightening. Harrietta Hills Trout Farm, the Michigan Aquaculture Association, the DEQ, MDARD, and the Department of Agriculture see this as a gateway operation to opening up Michigan waters to large-scale aquaculture including open net pens in the Great Lakes.

Feature – Dave Hise, Casters Fly Shop

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I met Dave Hise a number of years ago, I had wandered into the Grand Rapids Orvis shop completely new to fly tying and not knowing my head from my rear in regards to where to even start.  Dave, sitting behind the counter was quick to greet me and offer his help.  I don’t know why, but at the time it was some sort of embarrassment for me to admit I didn’t even know where to start when it came to spinning bugs – instead I started fumbling around the walls of slat board loaded with endless pegs of colorful materials that at the time I had no clue what their applications or purpose were.

I suppose that my lack of comfortability in accepting Dave’s offer to help was probably a result of my previous interactions with other fly shops.  The monumental level of smugness and unhelpful attitude that I had experienced previously left me apprehensive to  seek advice or help.  Instead I opted to pretend to know what I didn’t know, quickly slide into the shop disguising myself as someone “in the know” grab a bunch of materials that I had no knowledge of the purpose, return home and try to figure stuff out.

Dave though, he was different.  It was obvious to him that I had no idea what I was doing – so he pursued further conversation with me.  As a result, I learned more in 5 minutes talking to Dave than I had in the previous 5 months.   This positive encounter substantially changed the path I was on.

Dave has since moved to North Carolina, opening Casters Fly Shop (<- click here).  He has won or been nominated for a number of tying and fishing awards, including a number of nominations for Orvis Guide of the Year.  He has an enormous number of fly patterns (<- click here) that are carried and distributed by Orvis.  Always trying new materials, Dave’s tying style is unlike most, pushing the envelope in developing ways to create fishable realistic patterns.  His flies combine realism that exceeds others and yet are functional to fish.

hise hex

Dave’s use of materials and innovation has always inspired me, since the time that I walked into the shop a fly tying rookie all the way up until this point.  While not tied to the exact lofty standards of his flies, many of the patterns that I carry in my box are direct descendants of Dave’s flies.

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Reviews of Dave’s customer service are nothing short of glowing.  His ability to consistently get his guided clients into exceptionally large North Carolina trout is impressive.  The innovation and knowledge that he shares with the fly fishing community has a positive impact on the direction of the industry.

Recently I was in desperate search of a few particular materials that the local shops do not carry, I needed these materials pronto for a demonstration tying event coming up.  Because of extremely poor planning on my part I was in a bind, I had to get the materials quickly.  I contacted Dave and explained the situation – of course he had the materials I needed, his shop has quite literally every tying material imaginable.  But that is not the impressive part, Dave continued to go far above and beyond and took it upon himself to rush ship my order to ensure they arrived in Michigan ahead of the time that I needed them.

In an age where there are endless options of where to buy from, its this extremely high level of customer service that continues to set Dave apart in the fly fishing industry.

Weekly Review

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True North Trout heads out with some buds and gets his Soul Replenished, as we all need more often than we experience.

Super interesting take at Fontinalis Rising regarding The Search for Balance

I may have just become a fan of Lanyards – check out the info I found at The Fiberglass Manifesto

Gunnar Brammer tying featured at Frankenfly

Mary and Dan O are super cool to follow along with on their adventures, check out their latest

Gink and Gasoline provided me with a mental escape from a shit week.  Read this.

Nomad Anglers Brews and Bugs

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Nomad Anglers Brews and Bugs Lineup <- Clicky Clicky!

Local shop (to 3 metro areas now!) and all around great group of dudes, Nomad Anglers puts on a winter series called Brews and Bugs where they invite fly spinners in to share with participants a few different patterns.  Unlike a lot of tying events, this series encourages active participation – so instead of just sitting around and watching a fat kid (like me) flap his trap about how awesome a fly pattern he came up with, you actually get to practice tying yourself.  All the materials are provided, all you have to do is find an excuse to leave the home for a few hours without explaining where you are going, bring your vice and other tools, and a healthy thirst that can only be quenched by consuming copious amounts of alcohol (be sure to Uber your ass home if you over do it).

Erich at Nomad in GR asked if I would share a few different steelhead nymphs on March 1st at Schmoz in GR.  So if you happen to be in the area, and want to listen to some really poor off colored humor, marvel at the fact that I wind my tying thread backwards, or simply throw fruit and vegetables (no blunt or sharp objects please) at me while I act like I know I’m doing – PLEASE RSVP TO : INFO@NOMADANGLERS.COM with your Name, Phone Number and Email Address.

On the tying menu for the evening will be – Latexed Stone Fly, Latexed Hex Nymph, BBC (Bitches Be Crazy) Fry pattern, and a “secret” egg.

latex stone BBC

 

Fish Farmageddon

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***Folks, we interrupt your regularly schedule programming to bring you a special feature on the issues going on regarding the proposed fish farm on the historic Au Sable river.  While the information here may read as outlandish as other Tuesday Bananas articles, it is not embellished, nor is it satire.

A dangerous cocktail of entrepreneurial myopia, county officials willing to pimp out a priceless and fragile resource, and an agency asleep at the wheel has been poured in northern Michigan as the largest fish farming business in the state gears up for production just upstream of the famed Holy Waters of the Au Sable River.

Harietta Hills Trout Farm is on the verge of turning a simple caretaker arrangement with Crawford County to operate the historic Grayling Fish Hatchery into wads of cash as they plan to ramp production up from 20,000 pounds of trout annually to 300,000 pounds.

The East Branch of the Au Sable literally runs through the hatchery where river water is directed into rearing areas called raceways then right back into the river at a rate of 8.64 million gallons per day. Hatcheries with far less production are required to operate wastewater treatment systems with settling ponds and chemical treatments to bind and drop out phosphorous and other pollutants. But let’s not talk about that in the face of economic prosperity for Harietta Hills. Also, let’s not even mention the risk of introducing invasive species and disease to the Au Sable as hundreds of thousands of pounds of trout are moved in and out of the place each year. While we’re at it,

Let’s not ask why a study wasn’t required to understand impacts to pollution intolerant aquatic invertebrates such as mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis when a giant trout toilet is constantly flushed into their faces.

Let’s not discuss prudent lease requirements to rear only native species such as brook, brown, and rainbow trout OR discuss the effect on wild fish when farm fish, hopefully not exotics, escape into the Au Sable.

Let’s not get upset about the site’s MDEQ pollution permit that actually states “lowering of water quality is necessary to support the identified important social and economic development in the area”.

Let’s not ask about the moral hazard of Harietta Hills self-monitoring water quality by collecting their own weekly pollution discharge sampling and why it’s not done on a automated and continuous basis.

Let’s not discuss what happens when mass quantities of hatchery fish are treated with formalin, better known as formaldehyde, to remove parasites allowing residual chemical to flow into the river OR what happens when some knucklehead employee dumps 20 gallons instead of 20 ounces into the river.

Let’s not ask Harietta Hills why they need to go from 20,000 pounds to 300,000 pounds of trout in order to make the tourist attraction profitable.

Let’s not ask why Harietta Hills isn’t having to put up financial assurance such as a performance bond or environmental pollution coverage to restore damage that may be caused.

Let’s not ask MDNR or MDEQ why they are willing to allow phosphorous levels to increase with seasonal, summer fluctuations, instead of requiring more restrictive limits during the time of year fish are most stressed.

Let’s not discuss permit bypass provisions which allow, during unavoidable events including property damage, for effluent limitations to be exceeded.

Let’s not discuss the risk of whirling disease, known to increase when raceways are filled to capacity.

Harietta Hills says they are simply responding to a seafood crisis and that we should get behind them.  It would seem that their motives are a bit less altruistic and a bit more capitalistic.  Regarding economic benefit, just how many jobs will this will actually create, maybe a couple?  How many jobs do we stand to lose if guides, restaurants, hotels, and retailers, are unable to make money off the amazing fishery that exists today?

Allowing a giant trout farm in the headwaters of the AuSable is simply bananas.

Go to Anglers of the Au Sable webpage to learn more and make a donation.

Weekly Review

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Matt Zudweg is one of the most talented people I have ever known, check out this feature at FrankenFly.

Some day I’ll have a Swift, and it will look as classy as this glass looks.

Gink and Gasoline has great casting tips here.

Rivers of Reckoning is one of my favorite reads this week he lays out the insanity that is associated with articulation

I’d really like to know how flexible Windknots & Tangled Lines is with #2 on their Prostaff Checklist.

Pile Cast hits close to home with this one.

Everything you need to know about sinking lines at Itinerant Angler.

 

Scientists Discover New Tribe of Mousers in Pigeon River Country

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Mitt Monkey Special Correspondent Jason Tucker of Fontinalis Rising brings us a breaking story from Northern Michigan. 

Gaylord- Anthropologists with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources are abuzz today with the discovery of a previously uncontacted tribe of Mousers in a remote section of the Pigeon River Country.

“We were up at night in our helicopter” says lead scientist Dr. Jared Ostro, “looking for anything really- elk poachers or a pot grow, anything, when suddenly in a clearing by a river we saw a fire and some headlamps. We set down as close as we safely could and tried to make contact.” The exact location is not being disclosed to protect their discovery.

There have been rumors about “Mousers” in Michigan for years, but up until now, the DNR has denied their existence. They are called Mousers because they fashion lures that look like mice in order to trick their preferred prey Salmo trutta giganticus. Many believed mousers were the imaginary bogey men dreamed up by intoxicated tubers.

“Mousers are extremely secretive, nocturnal, and usually solitary.” Says veteran Bigfoot tracker Bill Henderson. “It was years before I ever saw one, and most folks still don’t believe me.”

Well now they do. Dr. Ostro describes the meeting. “We set (the chopper) down close by and tried to make contact. When we entered the clearing where they were we tried to communicate with them via the pidgin English they are thought to speak. There were at least six of them, maybe more, dressed in their traditional garb” he says. “At first everything seemed to be ok, but quickly it became clear that we were not welcome in their territory. They became agitated, and so we backed off without provoking an incident. We are just so excited to discover a new tribe, right here in Northern Michigan.”

But the discoveries don’t end there. Dr. Dano Petrolakalis, a Doctor of Field Anthropology, who is in charge of logistics for the team added some thrilling details. “It was once thought that mousers were just rogue solitary males. We didn’t even think they reproduced, or if they did, that they played no part in rearing their offspring. But this tribe was different- there were two females with them. We thought there were three, but one of them turned out to be a male. It means that they’re a tribe. It changes everything.”

We reached out to famed fly fishing documentarist and auteur Randy Tillotsen. He seemed a bit shaken when speaking about his experience trying to document Mousers.

“The lighting man, the lighting man, it was terrible, just terrible. And I had to bleep most of the audio.” He took a drag on a cigarette held by trembling fingers. “They wouldn’t let me name the river, wouldn’t let me show their flies, wouldn’t let me take shots of the RIVERBANK man!!” he said with eyes bugging out, his voice rising as he spoke, and then trailing off.

Gerald Finkbiener, a biologist with the DNR, spoke with us on the condition of anonymity, as he is unauthorized to speak with us on the matter. “We have a zero contact policy. As long as no laws are being broke and they’re no threat to others, we have a hands-off policy toward mousers. Also, there’s no cougars in Michigan.”

Dr. Ostro says he and his team plans to return next summer to study the Mousers if they safely can. “We don’t want to change their way of life” he says. “We just want to learn their secrets- for science of course. Learn how they exist, how they’ve adapted to a nocturnal lifestyle, learn how they make their mouse lures. We will of course respect their autonomy. We will have to gain their trust first. We don’t want to destroy their world.”

Dr. Petrolakalis outlined some questions the team hopes to answer. “We want to know what role herbalism plays in their art and worship. They have a cult of donkey and unicorn worship. I mean, what’s that all about?”

Not everyone shares the team’s enthusiasm. “Yes I’m aware of rumors about lost tribes of Mousers here and there” says head of the Yale Anthropology Department Dr. Moe Schlosser. “I’ve tried to watch the documentaries but they’re all terrible if you ask me. Just awful footage and worse audio. We know that there are a few such individuals out there, but a tribe? I don’t think so.”

When pressed, Dr. Schlosser elaborated. “Just because a couple of women joined up with them and got Stockholm Syndrome doesn’t make them a tribe. Show me some dwellings, show me some six year old children tying gurglers and then you’ll have a tribe. Without further proof I’d say the jury is still out, at best.”

The skeptics haven’t dampened the team’s enthusiasm one bit. “We intend to go back and find them again after the Hex hatch. That’s when they seem to be most active” says Dr. Ostro. “This is exciting, because a new indigenous tribe hasn’t been discovered in the Pigeon River Country since the 1970’s, and they were Elk Poachers. They all died out in the 1990’s and early 2000’s once the State started maintaining the roads out there. To find a new tribe now is the discovery of a lifetime.”

 

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