Preliminary 2013 MS Creel Results

    Ok, I'm cheating a little bit here with just a teaser, but it's been an extraordinary year for many of the MS staff with ups, downs and everything in-between. Bottom line is we're all volunteers with responsibilities outside of MS and it has been BUSY!

    I still have some more heavy lifting to do, but what you are looking at are the preliminary results of both the cumulative creel as well as the means or average returns to creel. All of the granular detail for 2013 is still being prepared, but there is still enough interesting stuff here to talk about.

    Some of the questions we're trying to answer with the creel project are pretty basic at first glance. They are also the first questions we get asked by folks new to the North Shore steelhead fishery: When do they run, how long do they run etc.? Those are also consequently the same questions vets ask when they venture to new water in WI, MI, OH, PA, NY and the West Coast, so it's not a bad review because oftentimes, you find some surprizing tidbits that challenge what you thought you knew...

    At any rate, numbers of fish on the left, week start date on the bottom. Each date division covers a 7-day period, so the start begins with March 12th and ends on March 18th irrespective of the year the data falls into.

    The overall picture beginning to form is that our steelhead "season" runs nearly 4 months! You have to remember that a very early or very late thaw in an exceptional year will skew the numbers towards the beginning of March or into July respectively, so you have to view either end of the chart with that in mind. We also don't have a lot of good data on the very early and very late stage of the run, but the MS creel is certainly going a long way to flesh that picture out, and we thank YOU for that!

    What you can see is that by the end of March, catch rates are typically picking up, mainly comprised of Kamloops with some steelhead mixed in. Most of the first peak is dominated by Kamloops in fact, which fits the trap data with regards to the lower run-initiation temps and slightly lower spawning temperature threshold illustrated in the DNR data.

    Mid-April is go-time as the vets are aware. This peak is driven primarily by Lower Shore returns comprised of both kamloops and steelhead although there is a Mid Shore component hidden in there.

    What's really starting to catch my eye, particularly due to the great participation in the creel by MS followers, is that last peak. Comprised of predominantly Mid and Upper Shore fish, I was astounded at the fact that this peak is 75% of the "Go-Time" peak. It's dominated by steelhead, and while there are kamloops mixed in there to be sure, compare these returns to the mid-April peak where angler numbers are at their highest. Now think about mid-May when most people are out chasing walleye or gobblers and stream trout, and things begin to get very interesting.... THAT, as they say is some really good bang for the buck.

    There's more to come, we've only begun to scratch the surface; and we don't always spell out everything that we are seeing or perhaps know after looking at the data. But the journey to discovery is half the fun, so stay tuned, look carefully and consider. Hopefully you'll mine a gem from the data that will ultimately conclude with you battling a silver freight-train, amidst cedar and balsam-scented rapids, far from here.


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