History of PMTU

With twenty Trout Unlimited chapters already in Michigan, one might ask why another? Although over the years other Michigan TU chapters have provided exceptional support, the Pere Marquette River, or to many the beloved “PM,” requires a specific focus and dedicated efforts. In 2016, National TU agreed and the Pere Marquette Trout Unlimited (PMTU) chapter was founded.

PMTU’s mission is to restore, protect, and preserve the PM to ensure that wild and native fish thrive in her waters. PMTU dedicates efforts to identifying, prioritizing, and completing stream restoration projects as well as other opportunities to educate and promote conservation awareness and support other conservation-minded organizations.

For the PM, the lure of a world-class, year-round trout, steelhead, and salmon fishery, along with the public desire to access nature and the overwhelming impact of social media, has fueled constantly increasing demand, pressure, and associated effects that without oversight and support from organizations like TU and PMTU will be her demise.

The PM has given much to many and PMTU’s founders felt it was time to give back, preserve, and protect this specific watershed. PMTU is not alone in this belief, joining the Pere Marquette Watershed Council, Conservation Resource Alliance, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, US National Forest Service, and many other organizations and individuals in support of this resource.

Free Flowing History

The PM is unique. The only river in the Great Lakes Basin without a single dam, she free-flows through the Huron-Manistee National Forest from source headwaters tributaries to the mainstream, and through “The Forks” in Baldwin along the mainstream to her mouth at Pere Marquette Lake and into Lake Michigan at Ludington.

In April 1884, the US Fish Commission released 4,900 German brown trout fry into the Baldwin River, a tributary of the PM. This was the first release of brown trout into U.S. waters. Today you can visit the world’s largest brown trout statue in Baldwin, which commemorates this event. In July 1978, the PM and its major tributaries were designated a Michigan Natural River by the State of Michigan. That same year the river was added as a National Wild and Scenic River, the first in Michigan. The Natural River designation includes the mainstream and its major tributaries.

The PM is a Michigan treasure, a national treasure, and now very much recognized as a worldwide treasure, being well known to the angling and trout-loving world. The watershed encompasses an area of 755 square miles and contains 380 miles of stream, including 69.4 miles of the mainstream. The watershed is comprised of five major streams including the mainstream, Baldwin River, Middle Branch, Little South Branch, and Big South Branch, and over 75 small feeder creeks.

The PM is not only important to those who fish, but to the Baldwin, Lake County, Mason County, and area locals that depend on tourism. The PM is important to the legions who visit to ply her waters, to enjoy the natural beauty of the forests and the abundance of wildlife, and to those seeking peace, quiet, and solitude to heal their souls. She is ours to protect and preserve.