The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is preparing to invest $11 to improve facilities at the Thompson State Fish Hatchery in Manistique and $1million to upgrade the weir on the Little Manistee River.
Scott Heintzelman, Central Lake Michigan Management Unit manager for the DNR, explained that the two upgrades done together will boost the agency’s ability to rear more steelhead to a larger size.
Space in the hatchery will be increased, as well as the unit’s warm-water raceways which will be brought up to capacity for more, and bigger fish.
Heintzelman said it’s been demonstrated over the years that if the steelhead can be stocked out at a yearling size of 20 cm (8 to 9 in.), the survival rate is much higher than that with fall fingerlings of 8 cm (3 or 4 in).
Heintzelman indicated he expects the upgrades for the Thompson hatchery system to yield up to 300,000 yearling steelhead a year. He also confirmed that the improvements will mean higher capacity at the hatchery for muskellunge, walleye, and sturgeon, that will go to rivers, lakes and other systems all over Michigan.
The Little Manistee Weir (built in 1967) is an egg-take facility, for steelhead in the spring and chinook salmon each fall. Some of the steelhead eggs are sent to the Thompson hatchery. The funds earmarked for the weir will go to exterior lighting, new and improved machinery, rebuilding the holding ponds, and replacing the electric infrastructure.
Construction is slated to begin at the end of next spring’s steelhead egg take and be completed by the time the chinook egg-take starts in the fall.