The Great Lakes have been the largely unplanned test tube for an amazing collection of exotic plants and animals often the result of careless discharges of ballast from cargo ships. The Welland Canal bypassed Niagara Falls about 60 years ago resulting in several species gaining a foothold in the Lakes.
One of these was alewife,a small herring family of plankton feeder.Another was the lamprey.The top
Salmonid predator native to the Lakes was the lake trout,but they were overfished and very vulnerable to lamprey predation resulting in a huge reduction in their numbers.Without a top predator around, the alewife population exploded. I remember in the 1960's the beaches in Chicago reeked with piles of dead alewives everywhere. West Coast salmonids were lamprey tolerant and were brought in to control the alewives.This result in spectacular runs of 20-30 pound Chinook in the rivers for sportsman and a thriving sports fishery. That's how steelhead came to the Great Lakes. BTW, the Chinook did not stay that big because the alewife numbers have fallen due to the widespread invasion by Zebra Mussels which are plankton filter feeders.
Next I moved on to the Muskegon River in Michigan. This River runs into Lake Michigan below a dam which keeps in icefree. It was running 1500 cfs that day. The river reminded me of the North Santiam below Fisherman's Bend. The water is a tea-colored and tannic.
Please note the snow falling.The Bird is a Mute Swan, a non-native invasive species that has significantly impacted native waterfowl. I fished hard and long, swinging flies. I got one good tap that straightened my line for a for a second but no hookup.I did see another boat using a bobber and bead land a nice 25 inch chromer. I kept my honor clean by swinging. The locals like bright flashy sculpin patterns.
Thanks Mark for a great post on Midwest Steelhead!