Upcoming programs offer fish-eye view of life in a large river

Two programs on Grand River fish habits and habitats are being offered in June. A free public presentation at Spring Lake Library and a weeklong camp for 6th to 9th graders includes fish sampling in Ottawa County waters.

Have you ever wondered what lurks beneath the muddy waters of large rivers? You might be surprised at the variety of strange and adaptable fish that inhabit the floodplains, tributaries and main channels of the Grand River. Over a hundred species can be found in the Grand, from the prehistoric chestnut lamprey to the mussel-crunching freshwater drum.

It isn’t often that we come face-to-face with big river fish in their natural environment. Turbidity, snags, and current are enough to ensure that most people keep their heads above the water. Last year’s drought provided a rare opportunity to see into the hidden world of the lower Grand, and Dan O’Keefe of Michigan State University Extension recorded video footage to give people a sense of what lies below the surface.

Video, photos, and preserved specimens will be shared at a fish habits and habitats presentation on Wednesday, June 19 at the Spring Lake Library, located at 123 Exchange Street in Spring Lake. The program is open to the public free of charge. Anglers and nature lovers will gain a new appreciation for interactions between fish species and the interconnected habitats they use throughout their life cycles. They will also pick up a few tips on the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of observing and catching fish through changing seasons and water conditions.

Children and families are encouraged to attend and learn more about the river and wetlands that offer much in the way of outdoor recreation from swimming and boating to riverside hikes and picnics. A Wetlands Detectives day camp for youth entering 6th to 9th grade is also being offered in conjunction with Ottawa County Parks and Recreation. Two week-long camps are available the weeks of June 17 and June 24 (contact Hemlock Crossing Nature Center for registration details). The camp experience includes a full day of exploring river habitats, fishing, and collecting fish with nets in local waters in addition to a bird watching excursion and other outdoor activities. There is a $30 fee for each camper and transportation is required.

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