DAYS GONE BY: Wanting a hatchery here

By the Lake County Historical Society

Special to the Star

The following is a reprint of an article written by Lake County Star editor Herbert W. Davis for the March 5, 1926 edition of the newspaper, 90 years ago.   

Max Sandy, the Herald’s Outdoor editor, hits the nail on the head, as usual, in Sunday’s paper when he proposes Baldwin as the location for a trout hatchery.  He cites the fact that West Michigan already has two fine hatcheries, at Paris and Comstock Park, but that really has nothing to do this the case, as proper location for a hatchery is where conditions are most favorable to the propagation and distribution of fish.  And in this connection he says:

“First of all, there’s the town of Baldwin.  It is the fishing rendezvous of all Western Michigan.  Within 20 miles of it are some of the finest trout streams in the state: the famous Pere Marquette with its South, Little South and Middle Branches, Baldwin, Little Manistee, the Pine and many others.

At present trout fry are brought to these streams from the Paris hatchery.  That means a rather difficult trip by truck or slow run by rail.  A hatchery on any of the wonderful spring creeks of Baldwin would be in the center of the trout fishing streams with dozens of likely nursery streams with a half-hour’s driving distance.”

Baldwin has many claims to the establishment of a trout hatchery.  The streams are natural trout waters, the temperatures are ideal and constant due to their being spring-fed throughout.  The water never freezes.  The fall of the streams is steep so that ponding is easy and the water level is constant, insuring a dependable supply.  Breeders may be netted from wild stock on the spawning beds or in the spring run and transplanted to the ponds in minimum time.  Baldwin will supply the state a site free at any time whenever designated if the land is procurable, and most of it is.  Two trunkline highways and two lines of railroad provide exceptional transportation facilities for distribution of fry.

If a hatchery were located here to supply only the streams in Lake County it would be doing a capable service to a large sports area, but it would also release a vast number of fry to other parts of the state from other hatcheries.  Few people have any conception of the extent of the state’s annual planting of Lake County waters but the figures run around the million mark.  It might be good economy to produce fry for these waters here at home with the assurance of sturdy fry to replenish other waters as well.

Several years ago this matter was take up by the Baldwin Commercial Club and the writer obtained the consent of the Pere Marquette railroad to use the space below the dam for a hatchery and to run a feed pipe into the pond for water supply. The fall of some eight feet would permit a safe, constant supply and the flats below were apparently designed for a series of ponds as the river describes a letter “S”.  Temperatures of the pond water were taken all one winter and summer and the conditions were approved by Supt. Jesse Marks of the Paris hatchery.

Baldwin would be glad to cooperate with the department to any extent to obtain the location of a hatchery here and thanks Max Sandy for his excellent suggestion.