The circle of life of a chinook salmon near Michigan is truly amazing! They complete an extraordinary migration, often over hundreds of miles, to return to the exact tributary where they were hatched, to spawn and complete their life cycle.
Chinook salmon, are the largest of Michigan salmon species. The state record is a whopping 46 pounds 1 ounce but they average around 12-14 pounds. This is the same average weight of most Chinook found in Alaskan waters.
My son and I personally got the opportunity to witness salmon spawning while fly fishing the Pere Marquette River, in Baldwin Michigan, with Mike Marsh of Marsh Ridge River Guide Service.
During the spawning process, the female salmon lays on her side and use her tail to dig a hole and lay her eggs. She then chooses a male salmon to fertilize them. And then they both guard their nests for approximately four days to insure predators don't eat the eggs.
This is why it is "very important" that fisherman try not to capture the females nesting on the gravel beds or their eggs will die and less salmon will return in the following years. Try to catch the males only if near a gravel bed - they can usually be found in nearby shaded areas, and not too far away from the females currently nesting.
Our guide, Mike Marsh, was very knowledgeable about a salmon and kindly explained, in detail, their circle of life. My son and I learned that a chinook salmon's life, marked by both tenacity and transformation, represents one of nature's most unique journeys. They are also very challenging and fun to catch.
I highly recommend that you learn more about Mike Marsh by visiting his website at http://marshguide.com/michigan_fly_fishing_guides.html and reserve a fishing trip. He is U.S. Forest Service Permitted for The Pere Marquette River (The PM River), The Big Manistee River, The White River, The Little Manistee River and The Pine River.
Circle of Life of a Chinook Salmon:
Chinook salmon lay eggs in nests, called redds, excavated by the female. After a female salmon lays eggs in the redd, one or more male salmon may fertilize the eggs. After fertilization, the female buries the eggs by lifting gravel upstream of the redd onto the eggs. Salmon die after spawning, completing the circle of life. The bodies of the salmon provide nutrients to the river ecosystem to help young salmon grow. When the eggs emerge, they are referred to as "alevins" or yolk-sac fry.
Alevins remain in the gravel where they survive by absorbing the nutrients in their yolk. As baby salmon grow, they become fry. Fry wiggle out of the gravel and move to areas with little current near shore.
Fry feed on small insects and crustaceans. Young salmon migrate downstream to the estuary anytime from immediately after they emerge from the gravel to after rearing over 1 year in the river. The majority of young salmon migrate out of the rivers in the spring months. As young salmon prepare to enter the great lakes, they go through a physiological process called smolting.
During smolting, many physiologic processes prepare them for life in the marine environment. After salmon enter the great lakes, they grow rapidly on a diet of other fish. Eventually, as fully-grown adults, they find their way back to the rivers. Salmon generally spend 1 to 4 years growing in the great lakes before they return to the rivers to spawn. Some may stay in the great lakes 5 or more years.
Once back in the rivers, salmon will migrate upstream to an area very near where they were born. When home, salmon will find a suitable location to spawn and complete their life cycle.
By Sherri Russell, operations manager of http://www.HessLakeRentals.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2995866
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