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St. Joseph River provides record fish harvest

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 1997 10:21:36 -0500
From: Steven Culp <steven_culp_at_dnrlan@IMA.ISD.STATE.IN.US>

Indiana Department of Natural Resources
402 W. Washington St. W255 B
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2748

Neil Ledet, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 219/829-6241
Mark Cottingham, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 317/ 232-4080

St. Joseph River provides record harvest
Anglers catch record numbers of steelhead, chinook

	Record numbers of steelhead trout and chinook salmon were harvested
from the St. Joseph River during the 1996 fishing season, according to
Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists.
	Biologists from the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife report that in
the 63-mile joint Michigan-Indiana project area, more than 19,000
steelhead and 5,700 chinook were caught by trout fishermen. Anglers
fishing Indiana’s portion of the river harvested 8,889 steelhead while
10,489 steelhead were taken in Michigan.
	The highest steelhead harvest from the St. Joseph River prior to last
year occurred in 1988 when 13,030 fish were taken. 
	The St. Joseph River, which flows from Michigan into St. Joseph County,
Ind., is considered the best steelhead river in the Great Lakes region
and one of the best in the country. The river attracts anglers from
throughout Indiana, Michigan and the Midwest because of the trout
fishing and brings in an estimated $2.75 million to the local economy.
	In addition to the record trout harvest, St. Joseph River anglers also
caught and released an additional 7,608 steelhead trout last year.
	“It’s exciting to see this fishery develop and that some anglers are
voluntarily practicing catch and release,” said Neil Ledet, DNR
fisheries biologist.
	According to Ledet, good survival from the St. Joseph River steelhead
and chinook stocking in 1993 and 1994 along with excellent river
conditions led to the record high harvest.
	River conditions can play a significant role in angler success,
especially in March, April and October. Steelhead move on the spawning
areas in March and April with peak chinook spawning in October. High
river flow during these periods limits angler access and increases the
difficulty for bait or lure fishing.
	Moderate spring runoff and low flows during the fall provided some of
the best river fishing conditions observed to date.
	Michigan Department of Natural Resources biologist Jim Dexter said
anglers are also locating new fish holding areas. “Anglers are breaking
away from some of the traditional spots and cashing in on new, less
crowded areas,” he said.
	During 1996, St. Joseph River anglers also made a record number of
fishing trips. More than 105,000 angler days were spent fishing in the
project area. Of these, about 47,500 days were spent fishing in
Indiana’s portion of the project and 57,500 in Michigan.
	Ongoing work by Indiana and Michigan fisheries programs to develop the
St. Joseph River trout and salmon fishery and fine tune management
strategies should provide many years of high quality fishing and
economic benefits, Ledet noted.

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