Coho Fever: Boom and Bust

Aug 22, 2017

Anglers near the mouth of the Platte River.
Credit U.S. Coast Guard

Join Jerry Dennis and Peter Payette in Frankfort to remember one of the most dramatic conservation stories in the history of the Great Lakes. They'll be at the Garden Theater on Saturday, September 23rd. That was the day, 50 years ago, when seven men drowned in the frenzy to catch some of the first coho salmon put into the lakes.

Doors open at 6:00 for food (fish chowder!) and socializing and the program begins at 7:00. No admission charge. Let us know you are coming on our Facebook event page and share it with your friends.

Michigan transformed the Great Lakes into a sport fishing paradise in the 1960s by introducing Pacific salmon into Lake Michigan. The town of Frankfort was overrun by anglers in September of 1967 when the first fish returned to Platte River to spawn. Most had little or no maritime experience and a squall on September 23rd caught them off guard. The incident was just a footnote in the phenomenal success of the salmon program, an experiment in bio-engineering that might be coming to an end in the upper Great Lakes.

Writer Jerry Dennis watched some of these men drown in Platte Bay that day and wrote an eyewitness account in his book "The Living Great Lakes." He’ll join IPR’s Executive Director Peter Payette on the anniversary of the storm to explore the history of fishing on the Great Lakes and its future prospects.

Aerial photograph of the mouth of the Platte River.
Credit Michigan DNR