For Ed Eisch, the ongoing effort to reintroduce the grayling to northern Michigan streams is nothing less than an opportunity to right what he considers a historical wrong.

After all, the fish’s demise in Michigan more than a century ago was caused by both unchecked logging that destroyed spawning grounds and unregulated fishing that further decimated grayling populations.

“I think for us to be able to bring them back would be sort of a testament to all of the good work that’s been done to restore aquatic habitats in Michigan and a testament to the high-quality streams in our state,” said Eisch, who is the fish production program manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and is based out of the DNR’s Traverse City Customer Service Center.

Armed with modern-day scientific techniques and knowledge, Eisch and other biologists are heading what figures to be a years-long effort to return the native species to Michigan waters.

Not since the late 1800s has the iridescent fish with the distinctive sail-shaped dorsal fin roamed the Lower Peninsula’s coldwater streams, where it was the dominant salmonid and also served as the namesake for the Crawford County seat in northern Michigan.

“We’re trying to restore something in the state that’s been lost for nearly 150 years,” said Troy Zorn, a Marquette-based fisheries research biologist specialist for the DNR. “I think as much as anything, it’s a piece of our state’s history and natural heritage. I think the idea of bringing some of that back here is kind of a homecoming, an opportunity to restore something that’s been lost.” Continue Reading >