Fish Cribs

Fish Cribs… Tree Drops… Fish Sticks…

The use of “Fish Sticks”, several trees tied together, weighted and partially or fully submerged at the shore, is the preferred method today of reintroducing necessary woody habitat along shorelines. 

Before that “Tree Drops” were used.  This was the practice of cutting trees at the shoreline and felling them into the water.

And before that “Fish Cribs”, large log structures, were used to replace fish habitat that was disappearing as more shorelines were cleared for boats, shore stations, beaches, riprap or just to “tidy up” the shores.  The fish cribs also provided a place for anglers to look for fish that congregated in and near the cribs.

Fish Cribs in Manitowish Waters

From 2011 to 2015 a truly collaborative effort with many hours of volunteer labor resulted in the placement of over 50 cribs in the Manitowish Waters Chain of Lakes.  Tom Kramer, with help from his brothers Chuck and Mike and many more volunteers, planned, built and placed the cribs that are still in place today providing necessary habitat for a variety of fish species and other organisms.

Built on shore, logs were used to construct 8’ x 8’ x 4’ tall structures in a “Lincoln Log” style.  Spaces between the logs allowed fish to swim in and out of the cribs once the cribs were in place on the lake bottom.

After transporting the large heavy cribs to lake shores, 4 wheelers or ATVs hauled the cribs on to the ice in winter and stuffed them with brush, increasing the woody habitat.  The weighted structures then sank in the spring as the ice melted.