Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eckerman, MI Trout Pond

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Eckerman, MI Trout Pond
Eckerman, MI Trout Pond Site
Eckerman, Mi Trout Pond
Bill and I were looking at topographic maps of the area, and noticed the Eckerman Trout Pond east of M-123 just north of M-28.  This is less than a dozen miles north of Birch Lodge, so we took a little trip.  The access trail leads down away from the road just south of where the Tahquamenon River crosses M-123.

This was once the site of a trout rearing pond, and now is an access point to the river and a great place for a picnic.

  A scenic old structure lies in ruin at the edge of the forest, and the sluice ways controlling the water flow are still apparent along paths across the bridge from the parking area.

Although I was not able to find the history of this particular facility, I did find out about the general history of the fish hatcheries program from the history page of the DNR.

As a result of logging, river damming, and the lack of quotas, the state's fisheries were largely devastated by the end of the 19th century, and there was a need to restock streams, rivers and lakes.

Old Sluice Gates
The first restocking attempt to rebuild fisheries led to the introduction of several foreign species that were popular with the recent European immigrants.   Carp, brown trout, and rainbow trout were introduced, and species like whitefish, herring and large and small mouth bass were spread to waters they did not inhabit previously.  Fish were released as fry, which had limited survival.

The next phase of stocking focused on sport fishing, and trout were of prime interest.  Again, several species of trout were introduced that were not native to Michigan.  With increased technology, fish were now released as fingerlings, but again, very few survived to reproduce in the wild.

Later, it was decided to grow the trout in ponds until they were of legal size to catch, and then release them.  No improvements had yet been made to habitat.  Avid fishermen would actually follow the release trucks to catch the newly released and easily caught trout.  Even though these trout were mature, they were not raised in the wild, and had a very limited success in reproducing.

Trout Photo From DNR Fisheries Poster
Finally, the DNR recognized that by providing the fish with the proper habitat, fish could reproduce naturally.  It was at this point that many of the trout rearing ponds were discontinued.  Hatcheries returned to raising fingerlings, and releasing them in suitable habitats to grow and reproduce in the wild.

I believe it was probably at this point that Eckerman Trout Pond was sidelined.

 Today it is a very pretty picnic site, as well as a good spot to fish on a stocked and established trout stream...perhaps a victim of the program's own success.

1 comment:

  1. Nice story, I did not know about this location.

    Thanks for the posting, we hope to see you this summer.

    Les & Carol