Pendills Creek NFH and the Lake Superior Shore
BY CURT FRIEZ, PENDILLS CREEK NFH
Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery (NFH) located in a sparsely populated area about thirty five miles east of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan is nestled into the Hiawatha National Forest on the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns eighty three acres of property on Lake Superior that is also surround by Hiawatha National Forest. In the midst of this property runs the terminal portion of Pendills Creek which originates out of Pendills Lake a shallow eutrophic lake with cool water fish. Although Pendills Creek temperatures will run too high in the summer to support a good cold water fishery, brook trout will remain in it. At other times of the year the terminal portion of the creek running through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service property supports several species of Pacific Salmon runs and Steelhead or rainbow trout. This terminal portion of Pendills Creek remains open to fishing year around (per Michigan State Department of Natural Resources Regulations) and does support a popular recreational fishery.
At Whitefish Bay (Pendills Bay and the Shallows) freeze over, usually in late January to early February and an instant ice fishing fishery is created at the mouth of Pendills Creek on Lake Superior. This fishery is quite popular with locals taking advantage of fish being attracted into the warmer productive waters where Pendills Creek water enters into Lake Superior. With Pendills Creek waters warming into the mid-forties and run-off from melting snow constantly bringing several sources of food down the creek into Lake Superior, the fish take full advantage of this. Hence, the ice anglers take advantage of the fish frequenting these shallow waters.
shoreline. Credit: USFWS
This fishery can be fairly large at times, with vehicles having to actually park out on Lake Shore Drive because the parking lot maintained by Pendills Creek NFH fills up quickly. The fishing itself can be quite rewarding with limits of cold water fish being caught. Coho salmon and rainbow trout being two of the primary species most sought after. Lake Whitefish and Cisco are also targeted and very desirable.
This fishery can and will last right up to extremely rotten ice, in fact ice anglers have been known to drag canoes out onto the ice and sit in them at the edge of the ice or float them just off of the ice in the open creek water (next to the ice) to fish this area. The waters here are shallow and fisherpersons have been known to fall in or even break through the ice into the “extremely” cold Lake Superior waters. These unfortunate folks then get a very cold walk back to their vehicles. It is estimated through vehicle traffic and observations that this terminal fishery provides up to one hundred and sixty thousand hours of recreational enjoyment for those brave souls who take advantage of it each and every year.