A mass eviction looms at Harrietta state fish hatchery

HARRIETTA – There’s a mass eviction scheduled for residents of one Harrietta address. Those being kicked out couldn’t be happier.

“These are trout, browns and rainbows, which will leave their happy home where they’ve had tender, loving care for two years as they grew from fertilized trout eggs into fingerling trout soon to be stocked out into inland and Lake Michigan waters around the first of April.”

Harrietta state hatchery biologist and manager Jon Jackoviac said that anglers will be pleased when one of his former residents takes their lure or bait.

“These are healthy fish that have spunk to spare on your line. And there will be lots of them being planted out this year – with about 70 percent going to inland waters of the lower half of Lower Michigan and the rest into Lake Michigan sites from Frankfort on down the lake,” Jackoviac said.

This year the hatchery will put out 550,000 Gilchrist Creek brown trout, 100,000 Sturgeon River brown trout and 240,000 Wild Rose brown trout.

Also stocked out will be 305,000 rainbow trout.

“We will be planting trout at about the same number of sites, 307, as in 2010. Right now we have had temporary workers here to fin clip a portion of the trout,” he noted. Sturgeon River strain brown have a left ventral fin clipped, the Wild Rose strain will have a right ventral fin clipped. This clipping will let creel census takers track where the trout are showing up and in what size and condition.

Jackoviac notes that the health of the trout being planted is carefully monitored. Michigan State does the health screening, and Harrietta’s trout health check assures that only healthy, disease-free trout will be put out into the water of the state. This MSU inspection is done in February and the results show that the Harrietta stocks are as healthy as a fish can be when the hatchery tank trucks load up to put them out where angler’s will try their luck.

The Gilchrist Creek strain is from an isolated strain of brown trout from the Thunder Bay watershed in N.E. Lower Michigan. They display an especially spooky and wary nature and are slower growing in the hatchery; but once in the wild they grow rapidly and  may be the most wary trout any angler will encounter

The Sturgeon River strain brown trout is also a most wary and challenging brown which also shows an anadromous nature, often moving from stream to a larger inland lake just as steelhead trout leave natal streams for the Great Lakes waters before coming back to spawn. A fish with a chip on its shoulder, this is an old strain making new waves for anglers in Michigan.

Well, once the hatchery tank trucks move on and the mass eviction is over there will not be any vacant rooms at Harrietta. Already the new stocks have arrived and are moving in for room and board at the hatchery. In two years they will be the stocks to be planted out in 2012.

As for Jackoviac and his staff, the work goes on. There’s no rest for the landlords of Harrietta state hatchery, the oldest continuously operating fish hatchery in Michigan. They wouldn’t have it any other way.