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Lake trout spawning studies: Updates, new survey, and comparison to standard September gillnet survey

March 31, 2020

In Lake Ontario, lake trout restoration efforts have not established a self-sustaining population. Herein we describe efforts to evaluate standard and new surveys, and to estimate dispersal from stocking locations, to better understand impediments to natural reproduction. In 2019, lake trout egg deposition was sampled at two locations, Stony Island Reef, and Ford Shoals. No eggs were collected at either site. Egg deposition rates at Stony Island Reef, expressed in eggs/net/day, were lower in 2019 (0) and 2017 (0.0004) than in 1987 and 1989 (1.27 and 0.27, respectively). Spawning lake trout were indexed using standard gillnets set at six locations along the southern shore. Sites were fished overnight with two nets, except Youngstown where only one net was set. When comparing the standard September gillnet survey to the spawning survey, the spawning survey caught more and older fish, but had a similar representation of strains. Both gillnet surveys revealed that, during the early to late fall, most lake trout (>72%) are caught as adults near where they were stocked as juveniles. This spawning survey demonstrated that lake trout in spawning condition are aggregating near possible spawning habitat, but the presence of adults alone cannot identify the specific spawning habitat. Egg deposition results suggest lake trout may be depositing eggs in different habitats then they have in the past. Alternatively, our egg collection methods may not be effective when egg abundance is low. Lake Ontario lake trout restoration would benefit from survey approaches that identify specific spawning habitat.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Lake trout spawning studies: Updates, new survey, and comparison to standard September gillnet survey
Authors Stacy Furgal, Christopher Osborne, Brian F. Lantry, Brian C. Weidel, Dimitry Gorsky, Michael Connerton
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype State or Local Government Series
Series Title New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Report of Investigations
Index ID 70218166
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center

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