Efforts to restore lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in Lake Huron after their collapse in the 1940s were underway in the early 1970s with completion of the first round of lampricide applications in tributary streams and the stocking of several genotypes. We assess results of rehabilitation and establish a historical basis for comparison by quantifying the catch of spawning lake trout from Michigan waters in 1929-1932. Sixty-eight percent of this catch occurred in northern waters (MH-1) and most of the rest (15%) was from remote reefs in the middle of the main basin. Sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) increased in the early 1980s in the main basin and depressed spawning populations of lake trout. This increase was especially severe in northern waters and appeared to be associated with untreated populations in the St. Marys River. Excessive commercial fishing stemming from unresolved treaty rights also contributed to loss of spawning fish in northern Michigan waters. Seneca-strain lake trout did not appear to be attacked by sea lampreys until they reached a size > 532 mm. At sizes > 632 mm, Seneca trout were 40-fold more abundant than the Marquette strain in matched-planting experiments. Natural reproduction past the fry stage has occurred in Thunder Bay and South Bay, but prospects for self-sustaining populations of lake trout in the main basin are poor because sea lampreys are too abundant, only one side of the basin is stocked, and stocking is deferred to allow commercial gillnetting in areas where most of the spawning occurred historically. Backcross lake trout, a lake trout x splake (s. Fontinalis x s. Namaycush) hybrid, did not reproduce in Georgian Bay, but this genotype is being replaced with pure-strain lake trout, whose early performance appears promising.
|Title||Lake trout rehabilitation in Lake Huron|
|Authors||Randy L. Eshenroder, N. Robert Payne, James E. Johnson, Charles Bowen, Mark P. Ebener|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of Great Lakes Research|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Great Lakes Science Center|