by Capt. Terry R. Walsh
The Michigan Charter Boat Association held its annual conference at the Crown Plaza Hotel on the east side of Grand Rapids and within casting distance from I-96. Accommodations were excellent, the food equally so, and attendance, though not stellar, was much improved over last year’s meeting in Grand Rapids. The hospitality and meeting rooms were spacious and well provisioned with snacks and beverages.
After a brief introduction from President Richard Haslett, Robert Dukesherer , senior weather forecaster from the National weather Service in Grand Rapids, presented an interesting look at forecasting Great Lakes weather. New weather buoys that provide valuable wind speed and wave height information have been placed at strategic locations in all the Great Lakes and more are planned for even more accurate weather updates. Using a computer, captains can access this information to gain an accurate picture of what lake conditions are before ever leaving port.
Dan O’Keefe, Southwest District Extension Educator and program moderator, provided an up-date on a soon-to-be-released study of the economic impact of the charter industry on the state’s economy. “Fishing is the number three industry in Michigan,” O’keefe said, “and the period between 1996-2006 has seen Great Lakes fishing decline 30 percent.” The last time such a study was done was back in 1985 so it will be interesting to see what the new data finally yields. This information will appear in a future issue of THE CANNONBALL.
Kelly Smith, DNR Fisheries Chief, spoke briefly on the impact of the state’s economic crises and declining license sales on the fisheries division. “This is really a challenging time for us,” Kelly said, “but we are doing everything possible to insure the quality of Great Lakes sport fishing.”
Great Lakes Basin Coordinators Jim Dexter (Lakes Michigan and superior) and newly appointed Steve Hewett Lakes Huron, St Clair, and Erie) brought everyone up to speed on these huge bodies of water. ” Lake trout,” Dexter said, “are Superior’s main sportfish and are providing a very stable fishery. Angler effort is down, so some management zones may soon see a five-fish bag limit.”