Sustaining North American Salmon: Perspectives Across Regions and Disciplines

Chapter 7: History of the Great Lakes Salmon Fishery: A Michigan Perspective

Howard A. Tanner and Wayne H. Tody


The greatly expanded Great Lakes sport fishery of today began in Michigan with the introduction of coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch and chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tschawytscha in the mid-1960s. Dr. Howard A. Tanner (who acquired the name of “father of the Michigan coho”) served as chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Fisheries Division (1964–1966) when the Great Lakes salmon fisheries began, resigning to accept a position as Director of Natural Resources at Michigan State University. Dr. Wayne Tody, Tanner’s assistant chief in the fisheries division during 1964–1966, served as division chief from 1966 to 1976. Together, they oversaw the early years of the salmon-stocking program that sustains today’s recreational salmon fishery in Lake Michigan. The following account provides their personal insights and perspectives into the background, rationale, expectations, and outcomes of establishing this significant fishery.