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Great Lakes Article:

State finds good perch stock in Lake St. Clair
Associated Press
09/04/03


HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - The outlook is bright for perch fishing on Lake St. Clair, a state Department of Natural Resources trawling expedition has found.

Each September, a DNR crew throws nets into the lake to measure the fish stock and forecast fishing prospects. The studies began in 1993.

Tuesday's effort off Macomb County's Harrison Township, near Mount Clemens, produced healthy numbers of perch minnows. That is a good sign for anglers in the future, said DNR biologist Mike Thomas.

"It means we had a good reproduction of perch in Lake St. Clair this year," Thomas told The Detroit News for a Thursday story.

Thomas and his colleagues caught hundreds of young perch in the 1- to 1 1/2-inch range in the 150-wide net that was dragged behind the 46-foot long trawler called the Channel Cat.

On a day when trawling was difficult because weeds got tangled in the net, the catch of perch fry was a smashing success, Thomas said.

The first two trawls netted 20 to 30 young perch each. But it was obvious by Thomas' excited reaction that with the third trawl something special had happened.

"That last haul we had 150 young of the year perch," Thomas said.

When field assistants got done separating the perch from shiners and other small fish, the actual perch count was 90. But that was still a sizable load for one haul, Thomas said.

"There have been some years when we would only get one young of the year perch per trawl. Today we were getting 20 and 30 (per trawl) and then 90."

Perch fishing is important to Lake St. Clair as a source of revenue to businesses and recreation for families, Thomas said.

"Perch fishing is not glamorous but it has the highest fishing pressure," he said. "You don't have to have special equipment or a boat, and kids can catch them, too. And you catch them in the summer and winter."

Thomas said studies show about 1 million perch are caught in Lake St. Clair each year, making it one of the Great Lakes region's best for perch fishing.

Perch fishing is important to the Lakeside Fishing Shop in St. Clair Shores, one of the area's busiest bait and tackle stores, said salesman Ken Manchini.

"When everything else goes down in September, perch fishing takes off," Manchini said. "And of course during the winter, when the ices comes in, it's big. Ice fishermen pretty much target perch along with walleye and bluegill."

The reason for the perch's popularity is taste, Manchini said.

"They are one of the best table fares along with walleye," Manchini said. "They are top drawer in the lake."

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