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DNR fisheries biologist retires after nearly 40 years of service

The year fisheries biologist George Madison began his career with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, a brand-new Ford F-150 pickup truck cost $8,373, the stage musical “Phantom of the Opera” debuted in London and the Soviet nuclear reactor in Chernobyl exploded.

In the interim, more than a generation has passed.

Madison retires Friday after what he says was a very rewarding career.

“For me, it’s been a lot of fun and 38 years went by pretty fast,” Madison said in a farewell Facebook post. “I enjoyed every bit of the DNR and I absolutely enjoyed the beloved staff and the fellow stakeholders, colleagues and anglers.

“There is a saying that ‘We as DNR fish biologists have won the lottery,’ which is absolutely so true. Michigan has 10 million citizens and (for) the select few that are allowed to manage Michigan’s resources as fisheries management biologists (it) is a lifetime gift honor that is incredible.

“From here on out, I plan to manage Michigan’s fisheries with a Fenwick fishing pole and my special bluegill lure that I call ‘the weapon of mass destruction.’”

Madison was born in Livonia and graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette with a bachelor’s degree in biology and conservation with a fisheries emphasis.

He worked for several years on a variety of projects with the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service before coming to the DNR.

Some of his career benchmarks include:

  • In 1978, Madison worked as a summer wildlife intern for the U.S. Forest Service in Munising counting loons on area lakes within the Hiawatha National Forest.
  • In 1979, he worked as a summer fisheries intern for the U.S. Forest Service in Munising and lived in a tent all summer and worked on fisheries surveys on area lakes within the Hiawatha National Forest.
  • Summer 1980, Madison worked for the National Park Service’s Cape Cod National Seashore as a park ornithologist.
  • In fall 1980, he worked as a fisheries technician for the National Park Service in the northwest Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.
  • From 1981-1985, Madison worked in the Hiawatha National Forest as a fisheries technician for the U.S. Forest Service in Munising.
  • Then in 1986, he was hired as a fisheries technician for the Michigan DNR at the Rose Lake Wildlife Area field office near Lansing.
  • In 1987, Madison transferred to the DNR Escanaba Customer Service Center as a fisheries biologist and remained there until 2003.
  • In 2003, he then transferred to the DNR’s Baraga Customer Service Center as the fisheries unit supervisor.
  • In 2010, the DNR Fisheries Division consolidated the western Upper Peninsula fisheries staff to the Crystal Falls field office and Madison’s position was changed to a senior fisheries biologist.

Madison has since continued to work in that capacity from the Baraga Customer Service Center in Baraga County.

Over the years, he has been a familiar face at public meetings and as a panelist on the "Ask the DNR" television program on WNMU-TV13.

One of his first projects back in 1987, when he became a fisheries biologist for the DNR in the Upper Peninsula, was to work on introducing Arctic grayling to Ackerman Lake in Alger County.

Ironically, his last field project in November 2023 was to stock Arctic grayling in Houghton County’s Penegor Lake.

George and his wife, Lynne, live in a small log cabin north of L’Anse.They enjoy operating a little hobby farm, along with getting out for fishing, kayaking, snow skiing and participating in all the outdoor recreation opportunities that the U.P. offers.

With their children grown, they make time to enjoy visiting grandchildren and for travels to other parts of our country.

At a recognition ceremony a few years ago, when Madison had completed 30 years with the DNR, he said his favorite part of his job was helping the public enjoy the great fishing that Michigan has to offer.

Lynne Madison said in a Facebook post that her husband’s “knowledge, wisdom, generosity and enthusiasm for his work were unmatched.”

“He is looking forward to the next chapter and finally having more time for hobbies and family,” she wrote. “Look for him this summer fishing his favorite lakes, biking, gardening, and running his chainsaw.”

Accompanying photos are available below for download and media use. Suggested captions follow. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.

Madison: A photo of George Madison on the shores of Penegor Lake in Houghton County in November 2023.

Microphone: Mike Lakanen of Public TV-13 at Northern Michigan University attaches a microphone to the shirt of Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist George Madison before a broadcast of “Ask the DNR.”

Stocking: George Madison, in his last field outing as a fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, empties Arctic grayling into Penegor Lake in Houghton County.

Thirty: From left, former Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter, DNR fisheries biologist George Madison and former DNR Director Keith Creagh mark Madison’s 30 years with the DNR at an employee meeting in Marquette.

Winter: George and Lynne Madison enjoy a New Year’s Eve snowshoe hike in Baraga County in 2016. (Photo courtesy of George Madison)

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