While you're out fishing in Lake Superior this summer there's a good chance you'll haul in a great meal or two, but there is also a chance to make a little money.
It will be easy to tell if you do, too, because you will have reeled in an unusual looking lake trout - one with a tracking device sticking out of its back.
A laker with one of these devices attached is worth $100 if it is turned into the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Lake trout with high-tech tracking devices attached to them are shown in a holding tank at the Marquette Fish Hatchery prior to their release into Lake Superior. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natual Resources)
DNR fisheries biologists at the Marquette Research Station released 14 lake trout with the tracking devices into Lake Superior in early June.
In a joint study with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, the high-tech tracking devices will hopefully shed more light on lake trout behavior.
Included in the study is a look at the relationship between the two main types of lakers and whether they are competing with each other. These are the lean and siscowet - or fats - lake trout.
As can be deduced from the siscowet's nickname, these fish are fattier and much less desirable for eating than the leans.
Historically, lean lake trout lived in the shallower areas of Lake Superior, less than 250 feet, while fats were found in much deeper waters. However, researchers - as well as anglers - have been finding more fats in shallower water in recent years.
Anglers obviously don't like this development, seeing the fats are not eaten by many.
In fact, the heavy fat content is probably behind the name siscowet being given to the fats, seeing that in Ojibwe it means "that which cooks itself," according to Shawn Sitar, a DNR fisheries biologist at the Marquette Research Station.
Apparently when the native Americans cooked fats over an open fire they had a tendency to catch on fire, thus the reference to siscowet.
Sitar said the study will hopefully provide researchers with more information on the lives of the two lake trout in regard to what depths they are inhabiting, how much their ranges overlap and if fats are actually out competing leans.
The devices attached to the lake trout are easy to spot as they are candle shaped with a bulb on the top. Set up with a small solar generating system, they record various information every 10 minutes - including where the fish is and at what depth - and will continue to so for many months, Sitar said.
The plan at the onset was to track six fish for one months, six for three months and two for a year.
To date, nine tags have been recovered after they popped off, including two as scheduled and seven due to the fish dying or because of technical errors, Sitar said.
All of the tags have been recovered by researchers and they are analyzing the data, and Sitar sounded like he is already excited about what is being learned.
He said they are also learning more about the technical aspects of the tags, satellite positioning and telemetry, which should help in the future.
This year's effort is a sort of trial run for the study, Sitar said, with plans to release 30 tagged lake trout and put tags on wild fish in 2015.
There are still five out there this year, so anglers should keep there eyes open for them.
If you happen to catch a laker with a tag attached, you can contact Sitar at 249-1611, extension 310.
While on the subject of fishing there's one other little tidbit I'll share, especially with military veterans.
There will be free fly casting lessons for vets on Tuesday at Lakenenland, which is located off M-28 about 8 miles or so east of the intersection of M-28 and US. 41 in Harvey.
The Fred Waara Chapter of Trout Unlimited is joining forces with the DNR to offer the lessons to veterans, with the event running from 6:30 to 730 p.m.
Equipment will be provided and refreshments will be served.
To register or for more information, contact Herb Grenke at 249-9180 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is email@example.com.