Back in the mid 1970s, the MDNR stocked the Crystal River with salmon to curb the overpopulation of alewife that were dying and piling up on the shores of Sleeping Bear Bay each year. After stocking the river mouth, the salmon left their home stream and went out to feast on the alewife and after about two years, they migrated back to the Crystal River to spawn and die. They were huge and they filled the Crystal River by the thousands. Fast forward to today and the salmon continue to return to the Crystal River, mostly because of natural reproduction (as opposed to stocking). They are not quite as big and the number of salmon are only in the low hundreds versus in the thousands.
The mystery of how they go and live in Lake Michigan and then find their home stream is truly wondrous. Perhaps they “smell” the water at the mouth and somehow sense the signature Glen Lake water that empties into the bay. Once they swim up the Crystal River another amazing thing happens. The majority of the salmon jump over the dam and enter into the Fisher Lakes. They rest there for a week or so and swim up the Fisher Canal and into Big Glen. From there, they swim along the east shore of Big Glen until they reach the mouth of Hatlem Creek. Amazingly, they swim up the creek until they reach Hatlem Pond Dam. Some of the strongest will actually get past the dam (I have no idea how this happens) and swim up into the headwaters of Hatlem Creek only to be found in water about six inches deep. All the salmon die after spawning. They gradually get decomposed by fungi – even while alive, and are ironically transformed into unwanted pollution in our lakes and streams.
As amazing as it is to witness this natural wonder, the dark side of this event is that hundreds of salmon will die, decompose, and add nutrients to the water that are undesirable. In their natural habitat, bears will eat many of them as they are removed from the stream. I am not sure our black bears do this but it would help the biological pollution by removing the fish before they die.
So if you can, get out in a canoe or kayak and start at the headwaters of the Crystal River and enjoy watching these amazing fish. I have been watching them for over 40 years and always marvel at this natural phenomenon.
This interview with new GLA President David Hayes addresses top priorities, challenges and his goals in leading the Glen Lake Association. Take a few minutes to watch it here or by clicking on the photo.
After a spectacular summer and warm days filled with family, friends and fun, share one of your favorite Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed photos and we’ll feature them here throughout the winter months.
Include a photo caption, identifying anyone in the photo you’d like mentioned. Include the date and location, and please make sure your photos are 300 dpi, no larger than 100 kb, and in jpeg format. Content should be appropriate for a general audience.
GLA reserves the right to screen and choose photos.
We’re looking forward to seeing your images of summer fun…and just might need a reminder that warmth will indeed return when the white stuff is falling!
Hatlem Pond was dredged in 2014 and has been filling in with accumulated sediment, as expected. The questions that are before us today are: how much has it filled in since the dredge and what is the fill rate? The Glen Lake Association Board of Directors has created a four member task force to look into the future of Hatlem Creek and pond and are monitoring the situation.
In the coming weeks, Spicer Engineering, Inc. will once again –this will be the third time –visit the pond and take depth measurements at specific points throughout the bottom. These data points will help us determine how much and how fast the pond is filling up with sediment. It will take $5,700 to cover the costs of the field work, along with the data calculations and extrapolations as to when the Hatlem Pond may need dredging again in the future.
Also, Hatlem Pond dam will undergo repairs and improvements under the direction and supervision of Spicer Engineering, Inc. and updates of the completed work in this important area will be shared in the near future.
Finally, some shorelanders are reporting sediment build-up on the bottom of the shoals inside the “blue line.” This sediment build-up may be due to a few factors that are at this point, only speculation. It is unclear if the new, larger culvert on County Road 675 is playing a role in unimpeded sediment transport. Additionally, the winds, or lack thereof, are not “flushing” the sediment off the shoals in the early to late spring season and weak lake-wide currents are slowing down the process of sediment dispersal.
Thank you to everyone who’s reported Swimmer’s Itch cases online as well as Common Merganser brood sightings–we’ve been monitoring reports and taking action on getting the broods off the lake.
The summer of 2018 is proving to be a challenging year for Swimmer’s Itch control for these reasons:
Winter conditions into April delayed merganser broods coming on the lake by three weeks, therefore live trapping was delayed also. Normally, all live trapping is completed by the first week in July.
As trapping requires quiet conditions– no boat traffic, dogs in the water, people on docks/human activity around the trapping area–the weather related delay to trapping now makes for difficult conditions with more activity on the water.
This summer’s significant heat wave has resulted in an increase to the number of swimming hours on the lake.
Despite having relocated all 99 mergansers off the lake last year, we cannot eradicate Swimmer’s Itch, though it is at a reduced level. We continue to research what other life cycle(s) may be at work that have nothing to do with mergansers, though we still believe that the itch-causing parasite is largely cycling through Common Mergansers. This summer’s research will hopefully confirm this fact.
Lastly, a newly hatched merganser chick must be at least four weeks old before they can infect our snails with Swimmer’s Itch. Considering that, please know that seeing a brood on the lake for several days after reporting is not contributing to the itch problem.
Seven broods of mergansers were live trapped and moved off the lake; this represents 54 individual mergansers.
At least four more broods on Glen Lake need to be trapped and all effort will be made to relocate all the broods in the coming weeks.
Our goal is, and always has been, to live trap and relocate 100% of the merganser broods.
Finally, we resourced our trapping crew and equipment based on last year’s merganser brood count for three lakes – Glen, Lake Leelanau, and Lime. At the end of this year’s trapping season, we will evaluate the results. If the brood numbers are roughly the same as last year for all three lakes, we will continue our plan to share our resources as we are today.
How to Avoid the Itch
If possible, swim only in deep water and avoid swimming in the shallows.
Swim in the later hours of the day as opposed to swimming in the morning or early afternoon. Last year’s research on “time of day” revealed the itch can be at a high level in the morning.
Last year’s research revealed that Swimmer’s Itch is less intense in the later weeks of summer as opposed to the early weeks.
If you do get a case of Swimmer’s Itch, remember–it is not a dangerous disease and using a topical cream with cortisone will bring relief from itching.