Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Voices from the Past: The Michigan Grayling, Part I

Over the next couple of weeks I want to concentrate on one of the sad stories in American fishing history: the death of the Michigan Grayling. A gorgeous fish who was once plentiful in Michigan, it went extinct by 1935. It is a sad tale with much to teach us about fish conservation. We will begin with an article from the 1904 Fort Wayne News describing its qualities as a gamefish.

Michigan Grayling: A Beautiful Fish

One of the handsomest game fishes in. American waters is the "grayling,” found more or less plentifully in Michigan. Formerly it was abundant in the Au Sable, Manntee, Marquette, Jordan, Pigeon and other rivers on the northern part of the southern peninsular. The grayling is purple gray with silvery reflections, darker on the back, the underside white; the sides of the head are of a bright bluish and bronze luster and the sides of the body are covered with, small, black, irregular dots.

At times the Detroit River, St. Clair flats and even Lake Michigan furnish good grayling fishing. Equipped with trout flies, a light rod and tackle, an enthusiastic angler is assured of sport when the grayling are rising. Unlike the trout, the grayling seldom misses the fly. At times it will rise many times to the lure but refuse to take it, and then suddenly dash for the fly like lightning and start off with it.

While the trout generally lies in pools, under banks or rocks, the grayling will be found in running water or at the bottom of deep pools, entirely in the open.

In casting for grayling, the fly should be dropped below the ripple, not above or in it as for trout Grayling will be found in schools generally, another untrout like habit.

The Montana grayling differs in appearance from the Michigan grayling, but is just as game a fish and will be found in the tributaries of the Missouri above Great Falls, in Sheep and Tenderfoot creeks, tributary of Smith river, in the Little Belt mountains, the Gallatin, Madison, Jefferson rivers and the tributaries of Red Rock Lake.

-- Dr. Todd

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