Kearsley Creek: Taking stock in brown trout

By David Fleet
Ortonville — Give them some time to grow up and more than 1,000 brown trout should be keepers.
On Monday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources continued the stocking of Kearsley Creek at Oakwood Road with 1,350 of Sturgeon River brown trout. The number of yearlings is down from about 6,000 released in years past which had included planting at the east branch of the Kearsley Creek at Kent Road, and Countyline near Washburn roads.
Jason Gostiaux, Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist for the Southern Lake Huron Management Unit completed a series of studies of the Kearsley Creek near Oakwood Road.
“It’s not the best number, but the Kearsley Creek is one of the few trout options in this area of the state,” said Gostiaux. “We continue to stock trout at the Oakwood Road site, due to the ease of access. The other sites were more difficult to fish for the public.”
For good trout streams about 1,000 fish per mile are needed. The Kearsley Creek is about 190 trout per mile with a range of 50 to 400 trout per mile.
In 2022 a team from the DNR recently completed a fish count over about 1,000 feet of the Kearsley Creek south from the Oakwood Road bridge south. A total of 32 brown trout were netted ranging from 5-13 inches with an average just over 8 inches each.
“We learned what we needed to in the study,” he said.
The recent study indicated that no other species of trout are in the Kearsley Creek. However, a few native brook trout were found in the north branch of the Flint River, farther north of Ortonville.
“It’s another example, the degradation of the environment that hurt the species.”
The trout in the Kearsley Creek will survive and have few if any predators, until they get farther north to the Goodrich Mill Pond, he said.
“Bass and pike are in the pond, trout would be an easy supper if they move up there,” he said.
The brown trout, native to Europe and Western Asia, arrived in Michigan from Germany in 1883. Then in the spring of 1884 about 5,000 brown trout were released in the Baldwin River in north central Michigan.
Since that time millions of brown trout have found new homes in Michigan rivers and streams including the Kearsley Creek in Ortonville.
“It’s been many decades since the shoreline has been natural,” he said. “But there is no data to suggest pollution is a factor in the creek.”
Gostiaux said residents along Kearsley Creek and other bodies of water should focus on keeping the shoreline natural for the health of the body of water. Creating buffer strips with natural vegetation helps prevent sediment from moving toward the water and mitigate the erosion.
Other factors include a lack of groundwater feeding the creek impacting the temperature.
Trout have been stocked in Kearsley Creek since the 1980s. By June or July the fish will be legal size to be kept.

One Response to "Kearsley Creek: Taking stock in brown trout"

  1. Dylan   May 15, 2023 at 5:41 am

    If you release more by ray rd there are hundreds of natural springs near there more then a lot of places on the river up an down


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