GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Atlantic salmon will again be stocked at four Lake Huron locations in 2014. State officials are gearing up for the second round in a five-year experiment to determine if an Atlantic salmon fishery can be created there.
Approximately 100,000 yearling Atlantics were planted in the lake during the spring of 2013, but none appeared in the catch so far, according to state fisheries officials.
“We expect that all that to start rolling next summer,” said Todd Grischke, the Lake Huron basin coordinator for the Michigan DNR. “A lot can happen between now and then, but we will be evaluating the harvest each of the next two seasons and weaving that information into a long-term plan of where to go.
“Next year we are looking at stocking 130,000 yearlings. And, if all goes well, we will look at a 150,000 more in 2015 and stick to the same study design.”
Atlantic salmon may help fill the fisheries gap that was created in Lake Huron when Chinook salmon population collapsed in 2003 and 2004. Grischke and others are hopeful that they will fare better being a more opportunistic feeder. Chinook salmon rely on alewives which virtually disappeared. Atlantics are also thought a good compliment to the multi-species fishery that is developing in Lake Huron now. Walleye, steelhead, perch and some Chinooks are all being caught.
STOCKING TO INCREASE OVER NEXT TWO YEARS
The 2014 plan calls for increasing Atlantic stocking at each of the four locales that got them this year. The St. Mary’s River will get 50,000 yearlings in 2014, up from 35,000. Alpena/Thunder Bay will get 25,000 instead of 20,000, and the Au Sable River will get 35,000, up from 30,000. Lexington will get 20,000 rather than 15,000.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Frank Krist, an avid angler from Rogers City and the chairman of the Lake Huron Citizen’s Advisory Committee, a group of anglers convened by the DNR for discussion and review. The group recently reviewed the plan.
“The fish stocked this (past) spring will be big enough to be caught in the 2014 spring fishery,” Krist said. “And next fall about 30 to 50 percent of those fish will be mature enough to return to the stocking sites to spawn.”