Prolonged winter impacting fish migration to northern Michigan

The long winter is starting to have an impact on northern Michigan wildlife, and may change the fishing schedule of anglers this season.

The cold temperatures and ice covered water sources are impacting fish migration in the Great Lakes.

Experts at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery in Beulah say warmer water is the trigger for many fish migrations to begin - and the longer winter lasts, the longer the water will take to warm up. This is causing multiple species to wait weeks to migrate, and possibly impacting how big the fish can get.

"Potentially if we have a slower growing season this spring, there may not be as much forage out in the lake for them," said Aaron Switzer, a Platte River Hatchery Fisheries Biologist and the acting Northern Lower Hatchery Manager. "That's hard to determine at this point, but there's potential that things could be smaller out there this year."

Some of the fish expected to take at least an extra two weeks to reach northern Michigan this year include northern pike, lake sturgeon, and steelhead.