It’s national fishing week and two guys from the Michigan United Conservation Club are marking the occasion by trying to catch 30 different species of fish in 30 hours. That’s 30 straight hours of non-stop fishing. They want to show what’s at stake if Asian Carp make their way into Lake Michigan. Tom Kramer rode along to see how the guys did.
(sound – motor starts on boat)
Tony Hansen and Gabe VanWormer started Tuesday morning at seven o’clock in two boats, on two bodies of water, with two long lists of fish. Their plan was to go through the night.
VanWormer launched his boat in Frankfort, and headed out onto Lake Michigan.
(sound of Duck Lake and fishing gear)
I met up with Hansen who was putting his boat in about 40 miles east of Frankfort, on Duck Lake, in Grand Traverse County.
To prepare for the fish-a-thon, Hansen loaded his boat with at least a dozen tackle boxes and almost as many fishing rods and reels carrying every type of spinner and jig imaginable, and a small container of worms, just in case.
Within a few minutes of seven o’clock, the guys already caught four species: Chinook Salmon; Lake Trout; Largemouth Bass; and Rock Bass.
Hansen would go on to catch a lot rock bass…
Hansen says the idea for the fish-a thon started as a way to work while fishing:
“We’ve kicked around this idea of having this, marathon type thing, where we see how many different species we can get in a certain number of days, and from there we were working on… got a fish… it’s a large mouth… nope, rock bass… already got him. And we just started talking and said, ‘this would be a really good opportunity to do something that people would pay attention to because it’s crazy to think you’re going to go and fish 30 hours straight and catch 30 different species.’”
The guys wanted to show how diverse the fishery is in Michigan – how many fish anyone can go out and catch on their own. And what’s at stake if the Asian Carp gets into the Great Lakes.
Asian Carp have already traveled up the Mississippi River system.
They’re now believed to be within a few miles of Lake Michigan.
Hansen thinks Asian Carp will make it into Lake Michigan, and when it does won’t be long till the fish is everywhere.
“I think they’re going to have a major impact on rivers and streams. Because of the way they spawn, and the way they use habitat. They’re a very dominant type of specie. They are going to kick-off native fish out of their habitat and they’ve already done it in all those rivers around Chicago. 80-90 percent of the biomass in the rivers is Asian Carp? I mean, come on.”
Along with all of the fish, Hansen is also hoping to collect 10-thousand signatures to put on a letter to President Obama.
He wants the President to close the shipping canal between the Mississippi and Lake Michigan. The State of Michigan wants the canal closed, but so far, the President has placed his support behind Illinois on this issue – keeping the canal open for shipping.
Hansen thinks that’s a bad idea, and he’s willing to do just about anything to make his point.
I rode along with him for a while on Tuesday. I didn’t stay on the water all night, which is just as well.
Tuesday night, the duo fished through some rough weather. It rained through the night and all that the guys caught were bullhead, suckers and dogfish using a bow and arrow and a spear.
Hansen posted this video at 8:30 Wednesday morning:
“It was just a miserable time. We, literally just got back in from bow-fishing all night and I’m stopping in to get some dry clothes… and we’re right back at it. We need 9 species and we have a little over four hours. It’s going to be tough, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”
A little after one o’clock Wednesday afternoon Tony Hansen and Gabe VanWormer reported that they were able to catch 30 species of fish in 30 hours. For now, aside from some sleep, Hansen has just one request. This one is for the President:
“You’ve got to do something and you’ve got to do it fast.”
For the Environment Report, I’m Tom Kramer.