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Author Topic: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019  (Read 4436 times)

Offline Dianam

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Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« on: Dec 14, 2018, 07:25 AM »
To all with interest in the Gull Lake fishery;

DNR Fisheries and the Gull Lake Quality Organization will be conducting a winter ice fishing post card creel for Gull Lake for the 2018/2019 winter.  I am asking for help in participating and spreading the word.  The goals of the creel are 1. Identify if any smelt are being caught; 2.  Determine if the steelhead beginning to recruit to the fishery; 3. Gather any information on Lake Trout or Northern Pike size and harvest.  The form can also be downloaded from the Gull Lake Quality Organization web site at the following link.

http://glqo.net/2018/12/570/

I'm interested in each trip, how many fish of each species you caught, and the size of pike and lake trout.  Please let anyone you know who may be ice fishing Gull Lake this winter.  I will have sheets available locally at Neds and Beer and Skittles.  Creel information can be filled out on the forms and mailed or emailed to me at the return address on the form, or information can be recorded in a journal or file and sent to me at the end of the season.  I am looking for as much information as we can get over the winter and am interested in trips with no fish caught as well as successful days on the ice.  I really appreciate any help, feel free to get a hold of me.  Hope to see you out there this winter.

Matt Diana
Fisheries Biologist
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
621 N. 10th Street
Plainwell Michigan 49080
269-204-7008
[email protected]

Offline Dianam

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Re: Gull Lake 2018/2019
« Reply #1 on: Dec 14, 2018, 07:30 AM »
 It sounds like there are a few brave souls getting going and it won't be long.  I wanted to get this creel effort out there before the season opened.  I ended up seeing a small (and very late) smelt spawn last year.  Good luck out there.

Offline Jaybes

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Re: Gull Lake 2018/2019
« Reply #2 on: Dec 14, 2018, 07:37 AM »
Already downloaded the form, happy to help Matt. Iím on the Northeast side of the lake and Iíll keep you posted as the season progresses.

General question for you: After cleaning thousands of smelt off our shoreline a couple years ago, I couldnít understand why Lakers and Steelys were being introduced to the lake...can you help me understand the thought process?

I didnít catch a single smelt last year and honestly donít expect to this year unfortunately.

Offline Doeslayer

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #3 on: Dec 15, 2018, 04:33 PM »
Wish i fished near there beer and skittles! You def know the bait to catch fishermen lol
Catch and release, into the grease!
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Online smeltbuster

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #4 on: Dec 15, 2018, 10:15 PM »
Hi Matt, I will be helping ya out as much as I can. My son Tom is the guy that has been helping you out this year w/ getting dorsal fin samples from pike.  A few of those samples were accidentally  caught by me  ;D. We will be targeting Smelt ASAP. Tried catching the Steelies this Fall ,but we had no luck. I am going to try some tricks, through the ice, that used to work , back in the day ! Glad to see that the fisheries division is taking some interest in Gull. Thanks ,           Phil
"Yes officer, my chocolate lab did shoot me,with my brothers 12 gauge"!  11-8-87,true story!          "Sorry were late mom,Chris & me just got done with a cow hunt,we each got a big black Angus with our muzzleloaders"!  (the Christmas eve cow hunt w/ my son; 2004 !

Offline stevenmang85

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #5 on: Dec 17, 2018, 04:44 AM »
I'll be fishing as much as I can. I'll have to stop and grab a form!
gilliams and smeltzillas

Offline Dianam

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #6 on: Dec 19, 2018, 04:17 PM »
Thanks everyone.  To answer the question about continuing to stock in spite of the smelt kill.  The reason we tried steelhead was they are more flexible in their diet and should initially target zooplankton.   The smelt kill appeared to be mostly one year class, so we thought the population would not be severely impacted.  We discontinued the yearling Lake Trout stocking, but were not concerned with the limited predation from the adult Lake Trout (and wanted to keep this popular fishery going).  It appears there may be fewer remaining smelt than we hoped.  We paused the adult Lake Trout stocking this year after the winter smelt reports were so poor.  I did see some smelt in the creek spawning this spring (very late due to the weather).  That year class would have been the one that experienced the summer kill.  It is a tough fish to manage as they are very boom and bust in inland lakes and there isn't an easy way to repopulate them.  This creel is an attempt to get the most information this winter as possible and come up with a plan moving forward.  Feel free to include any comments along with the cards or give me a call (269-204-7008). 

Offline Jaybes

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #7 on: Dec 19, 2018, 06:57 PM »
Thanks everyone.  To answer the question about continuing to stock in spite of the smelt kill.  The reason we tried steelhead was they are more flexible in their diet and should initially target zooplankton.   The smelt kill appeared to be mostly one year class, so we thought the population would not be severely impacted.  We discontinued the yearling Lake Trout stocking, but were not concerned with the limited predation from the adult Lake Trout (and wanted to keep this popular fishery going).  It appears there may be fewer remaining smelt than we hoped.  We paused the adult Lake Trout stocking this year after the winter smelt reports were so poor.  I did see some smelt in the creek spawning this spring (very late due to the weather).  That year class would have been the one that experienced the summer kill.  It is a tough fish to manage as they are very boom and bust in inland lakes and there isn't an easy way to repopulate them.  This creel is an attempt to get the most information this winter as possible and come up with a plan moving forward.  Feel free to include any comments along with the cards or give me a call (269-204-7008).

Thanks for the response and the good info. Been fishing GL my whole life and Iíve never seen anything like that smelt die off. Kinda surprised I still fish for them after scooping thousands of rotten smelt into garbage bags off the shore  :'(

Iím hoping they bounce back, but I donít have my hopes up. Not only did I not catch any last year, I didnít even mark them in my normal spots. Will keep ya posted this season though  :tipup:

Offline steelheader32

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #8 on: Dec 21, 2018, 10:19 PM »
Iím happy as all can be to see some action takin to try and help the fishery at my favorite winter lake. One thing I have always wondered for a few years now tho is, have walleye ever been stocked in Gull lake? I donít see anywhere in the site where they have been...BUT over the last few years a few have been pulled through the ice. 2 of wich I witnessed myself during pike tourneys, in 2016/2017 season their was 5 walleye reported being caught through the ice that Iím aware of..if they havenít been stocked could this mean gull could very well hold them if they were to be stocked? And btw all the ones I seen from gull were healthy, I spoke with the guy who got one during a tourney last year and it had bluegill about the size of a nickle and an equal amount of perch The same size in its belly, Thanks for any help with this question.

Offline wilsonmi

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #9 on: Jan 11, 2019, 07:47 AM »
There is no record of it being stocked on our end.  It is quite common for lake associations, angler groups or individuals to buy fall fingerling walleye from private fish farms.  They are suppose to get a permit from the local fisheries biologist before stocking in a public water.  As we have found in many cases doing fisheries surveys, this does not always happen.  People like to move fish from one body of water to another also which is unlawful and a good way to introduce fish pathogens into new waters.  We find walleye in lakes they shouldn't be in, pike in designated trout lakes, smallmouth bass in lakes they were never in before, and redears in new places, which can easily hybridize.  Our best guess is that an individual purchased a small number of fall fingerlings a few years back and put them in.   

Offline Fish Killa

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #10 on: Jan 24, 2019, 02:14 PM »
Just wanted to report that I have caught several 5" or less bluegills with black spots in all the fins but not on the main body of the fish. Gills above this size do not have it at all.
I'm not as good as I once was but I am good once as I ever was.

Offline Jaybes

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #11 on: Jan 26, 2019, 04:41 PM »
Just wanted to report that I have caught several 5" or less bluegills with black spots in all the fins but not on the main body of the fish. Gills above this size do not have it at all.

The big ones have the parasite as well. Gull gills are famous it, plus the bug eyes. It all fries up the same  ;D

Offline KZOO13

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #12 on: Jan 29, 2019, 01:40 PM »
Will the collected creel card results/info ever be made public or posted on the site? I'm all in for helping the Gull Lk fishery, I have fished it year round for 10+ years.

However the case may be, I would not like Gull to get any more publicity than it's already getting. I can just imagine the circus if results of those lakers and steelhead get posted (Happened last year when the laker bite turned on and it made its way to Facebook, next day there were 5 times the people lol). I'm all for people fishing Gull, but trash and parking seems to be getting worse every year. Us local guys feel it the worst.

Offline wmu1989

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #13 on: Jan 31, 2019, 08:47 AM »
Will the collected creel card results/info ever be made public or posted on the site? I'm all in for helping the Gull Lk fishery, I have fished it year round for 10+ years.

However the case may be, I would not like Gull to get any more publicity than it's already getting. I can just imagine the circus if results of those lakers and steelhead get posted (Happened last year when the laker bite turned on and it made its way to Facebook, next day there were 5 times the people lol). I'm all for people fishing Gull, but trash and parking seems to be getting worse every year. Us local guys feel it the worst.

I totally agree KZOO13. I'm not a local, but have fished there for many years. It's disgusting the amount of trash left behind be certain individuals(slobs), who give the rest of us a bad rap. If it doesn't stop, the locals will stop our ability to park and gain access.

Offline moose49017

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #14 on: Feb 07, 2019, 10:58 AM »
I'll certainly help in the survey.

I'd like to see Gull Lake get a HD mapping from Navionics.
I know as individuals we can email them and ask that they include Gull Lake. I have done it in the past and would encourage others to do the same.
Was wondering if Dianam can help at all in that regard?
It's such a wonderful lake an a great resource. I feel it deserves it.

Offline sfw1960

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #15 on: Feb 08, 2019, 07:45 PM »
It already is, you must use the sonar chart layer.

https://webapp.navionics.com/#[email protected]&key=uuxaG~nihO

Matt has nothing to do with that.
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Offline moose49017

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #16 on: Mar 08, 2019, 09:09 AM »
No, according to Navionics Gull has been mapped but not in HD which would give us more accurate 1' contour lines and structural information.
Three lakes just South of Gull is on the map but it's almost totally wrong.
Heck, their map shows Three Lakes having a 105' and a 96' hole. Lol
And we know that's wrong.
There is probably no chance of them ever fixing Three Lakes.
But Gull on the other hand is a wonderful lake and resource. Worthy of an HD mapping.
Hence my comment that since Navionics has indicated they are open to mapping suggestions. I email them from time to time and would encourage others to do the same.


Offline skibumm100

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #17 on: Mar 13, 2019, 07:05 AM »
Navionics displays contours for Little Long Lake and it's not even close. The contours shown are not for that lake. The max depth shown is 25 feet deeper than Little Long. Must be some other Little Long Lake that Navionics decided to move here. :-) I have not found the contours to be accurate on Gull, either. The humps are not in the right location. It's like all the contours are shifted.

Offline Jaybes

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #18 on: Mar 14, 2019, 08:28 AM »
Navionics displays contours for Little Long Lake and it's not even close. The contours shown are not for that lake. The max depth shown is 25 feet deeper than Little Long. Must be some other Little Long Lake that Navionics decided to move here. :-) I have not found the contours to be accurate on Gull, either. The humps are not in the right location. It's like all the contours are shifted.

You're exactly right.  Little Long's Navionics is an absolute joke.  Gull is better, but definitely not accurate.  I use it to mark spots to return to, but I never trust the contours/depths. 

Offline Dianam

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #19 on: Mar 22, 2019, 02:25 PM »
Just a reminder now that the ice is off, to send in your creel forms if you have any.  I really appreciate all the help and glad to see smelt getting caught.  I'll be monitoring the spawn.  Also, I use the C-map Genesis maps for Gull.  It is user generated data, so may not be perfect.

Offline Jaybes

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #20 on: Nov 20, 2019, 01:44 PM »
Just a reminder now that the ice is off, to send in your creel forms if you have any.  I really appreciate all the help and glad to see smelt getting caught.  I'll be monitoring the spawn.  Also, I use the C-map Genesis maps for Gull.  It is user generated data, so may not be perfect.

Hey Dianam, was there output from the 2018/19 study that you can share?  Very interested in the data!

Thanks

Offline ddykehouse

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #21 on: Dec 03, 2019, 07:16 AM »
Agree with Jaybes, would love to see the data on the Lake.   Hopefully the Smelt will rebound.   I grew up in the area and fished this lake for many years. 

Thanks.
Tight Lines!
 ~Dutch~

Offline Dianam

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #22 on: Jan 21, 2020, 08:05 AM »
Hey Dianam, was there output from the 2018/19 study that you can share?  Very interested in the data!

Thanks

Yes, I'll provide an update shortly.  I am working on a report with the ice creel, the summer pike spine collection, and the smelt spawning monitoring and I will post it here.  I didn't get much participation from the winter creel last year, so the reports were spotty.  The short summary was a good number of anglers reported good (although spotty) smelt catch.  I had complaints that northern pike fishing was terrible, but some anglers really got into them (mostly around 24" range with a few big ones).  I didn't get enough panfish reports to say much, other than it was slow for some, good for others.  More to come, always interested in fishing reports even when there isn't an official creel going on. 

Matt

Offline Fish Killa

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #23 on: Jan 27, 2020, 09:59 AM »
Curious as to what direction Gull is headed in now. I have noticed the Lake Trout stocking has slowed and we are now seeing plants for Rainbows once again.

On a side note I am seeing a lot of juvenile smelt in the south bay at all depths. Keep in mind that this is the only part of the lake currently with safe ice.
I'm not as good as I once was but I am good once as I ever was.

Offline Jaybes

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #24 on: Jan 28, 2020, 08:07 PM »
Curious as to what direction Gull is headed in now. I have noticed the Lake Trout stocking has slowed and we are now seeing plants for Rainbows once again.

On a side note I am seeing a lot of juvenile smelt in the south bay at all depths. Keep in mind that this is the only part of the lake currently with safe ice.

Iím also interested in the stocking numbers.

FishKilla- to your comment about the juvenile smelt, you are correct; however they didnít start that way. For the first couple nights of good ice I caught all mature, large smelt in South Bay. But I went again tonight and caught dozens of tiny smelt. Not sure what happened to the big ones, but it was all juvenile tonight! Regardless, I hope this indicates good things for the overall Smelt population in GL.

Offline moose49017

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #25 on: Feb 04, 2020, 12:08 PM »
Jaybes,
That sure is encouraging to hear.

Offline Dianam

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #26 on: Feb 05, 2020, 08:22 AM »
I am finalizing the Gull Lake report, but wanted to post a summary here and answer some of the questions.  The report will outline the management and discuss the decision making thought process.

Smelt

A fish kill occurred on Gull Lake in 2016 and was primarily composed of smelt.  Anglers reported poor fishing for smelt following the fish kill.  Spawning run monitoring and a volunteer ice fishing creel were conducted to evaluate the status of the smelt population.  A total of 33 angler trips were reported in the 2018-2019 winter volunteer creel.  Trips averaged 4 hours for a total of 197 angler hours reported.  A total of 16 trips targeted Rainbow Smelt (48%) with the remaining mostly targeting panfish or Yellow Perch (36%), Northern Pike (6%) and one trip each targeting Lake Trout and Rainbow Trout.  Anglers reported a total of 1,414 fish caught of which 89 were released.  Smelt were captured in the highest number and none were released.  A total of eleven Northern Pike were reported ranging from 19 to 28 inches.  Five of the eleven Northern Pike reported were larger than 24 inches and all legal fish were harvested.  No Rainbow Trout or Lake Trout were caught.  Smelt anglers average catch rate was 10.9 fish per hour compared to 3.8 fish per hour for other anglers.  The smelt population has rebounded well and catch rates have been good although angler effort appears down.  Early indications from 2020 is that smelt are present and being marked.  Some 2 to 3 inch fish are being caught indicting successful reproduction in 2019.  Few smelt were observed spawning in Prairieville Creek in spring monitoring in 2018 and 2019.  DNR will search for other potential spawning locations in 2020 to determine if smelt are using other sites.  Thanks to all who provided reports.  Angler feedback is essential to monitoring the smelt population and fishery in Gull Lake.

Northern Pike

Northern Pike are an important fishery in Gull Lake.  Many anglers target Northern Pike through the ice in winter and by casting or trolling in open water.  Angler reports have indicated that most fish captured are 22 through 25 inches and the number of legal sized fish has declined.  Anglers have asked for modified regulations to provide better fishing opportunities on Gull Lake (e.g. slot limits).  However, without length and age data, it is difficult to determine if lack of larger fish is due to excess exploitation/mortality or poor growth.

Northern Pike age structures were collected by anglers from February through October 2018.  Anglers were recruited through coordination with the Gull Lake Quality Organization, online angling forums, and biologist angler contacts.  Anglers were instructed to collect the first three dorsal spines as close to the base as possible and report total length and date of capture.  Scale envelopes and instructions were provided.  In addition, the parking lot attendant at the boat ramp collected spines from anglers at the ramp who were willing to participate. 

A total of 69 Northern Pike spines were submitted to DNR from Gull Lake in 2018.  The average length of submitted fish was 24.1 inches and ranged from 12.3 to 31.5 inches.  Fifty seven percent of fish submitted were greater than 24 inches and legal to harvest.   Northern Pike average length-at-age was similar to the state average for ages 1 through 4, but much lower for ages over 5.  Almost half of the age-4 fish captured were over 24 inches in length (45%) with 3 fish over 28 inches that were likely females.  Fish age-5 and up were a mix of legal and sub-legal sized fish that averaged 24 to 26 inches.  Angler harvest and competition for prey may both influence the average length-at-age observed.  High angler harvest can crop off older fish resulting in depressed size structure and few larger fish.  Because growth rates of younger fish are not depressed and the population is low density, it is unlikely a lack of prey that is limiting size structure.  High growth rates were observed in the DNR survey in 2002 when smelt populations were still rebounding and larger Northern Pike are most likely preying on larger bodied suckers and only feeding on smelt opportunistically.  Despite reduced size structure, Northern Pike are reaching the size limit by age 4 and recruiting well to the fishery.  Potential management would be to continue to maintain a harvest-based fishery where 24-inch fish are available to harvest with fewer large fish; or protect larger size classes and potentially increase size structure while allowing harvest of smaller fish (e.g. slot limit).  DNR fisheries will meet with anglers and GLPO in the near future to explore these options with those who fish on Gull Lake.

Offline Dianam

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #27 on: Feb 05, 2020, 08:36 AM »
Management

DNR has had no reports of steelhead being caught following the 2017 and 2018 stocking.  Fish were not available for stocking in 2019.  This stocking was implemented on a trial basis to determine if low level stockings of steelhead would have greater success than the rainbow trout stocking in the past.  We have decided to discontinue stocking of steelhead based on poor returns.  Smelt populations have begun to rebound.
 We plan to begin stocking Lake Trout brood stock again once they become available.  The proposed rate is the same as in the past (0.25/acre every other/third year as available).  My goal moving forward based on angler feedback is to manage for a low density lake trout population and maintain the smelt fishery.  We have some options for managing northern pike and I will likely hold a pubic meetings in the near future to discuss.

Online smeltbuster

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #28 on: Feb 05, 2020, 10:22 AM »
Thank You , Matt !   Great report.  Just wanted to share here,that our trolling success this past year ,for Trout,Pike & Bass was way down. My reasoning for that is all the clouds of baitfish that we marked,w/ big "Hooks" under them ! This was the 1st.year in several that our 2 boats did not catch any Lakers.  I also did some dedicated trolling,still fishing & night fishing for Rainbows & had zero success. I will also let everyone know that I did catch a 26" Walleye out of Gull,in August,while trolling. ;D. the bluegill bite was on fire in Sept. . This also was a poor year for me,catching Master Angler Crappies. I attribute that to the fact that some guys found out about my Honey Hole & pretty much cleaned it out.   It seems that the Smelt are doing pretty good, but the bite has not been too good this year. Like you said,lots of little ones.  Thanks again for taking the time  to keep us all informed .    Phil
"Yes officer, my chocolate lab did shoot me,with my brothers 12 gauge"!  11-8-87,true story!          "Sorry were late mom,Chris & me just got done with a cow hunt,we each got a big black Angus with our muzzleloaders"!  (the Christmas eve cow hunt w/ my son; 2004 !

Offline Jaybes

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Re: Gull Lake Fishery 2018/2019
« Reply #29 on: Feb 10, 2020, 10:50 AM »
Matt - Thanks for the summary and the work you put into this.  I'm very interested in the pike public forums!  Looking forward to learning more in the future, keep up the good work.

 



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