Chinook Salmon Stocking to be Increased in Lake Michigan
Eugene L. 12.19.22
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced they will be increasing the Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) stockings in Lake Michigan next year. Starting in the Spring of 2023 the Indiana DNR stocking levels will go up by 50,000 fish, this is in accordance with the Lake Michigan Committee agreement. This bump up of 50,000 salmon will increase the annual production target for Chinook salmon from 225,000 fish up to 275,000 fish.
With the baitfish species populations having rebounded in the lake from an all-time low in the mid-2010s. This was due to lake-wide stocking level reductions made by all the state agencies on Lake Michigan during the past decade. Lake Michigan biologist Ben Dickinson of Indiana DNR, says that the bait population coming back has improved the predator-prey balance in the lake, allowing for the stocking increase. This should benefit anglers, but biologists will be continuing to monitor the levels in case of needed future adjustments.
“Anglers should realize increasing stocking does increase predation pressure and may increase future risk to baitfish populations,” he said. “We will continue to closely watch the predator-prey balance to help ensure the long-term health of the fishery.”
Staff from Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery in Indiana recently traveled to Michigan to obtain additional Chinook salmon eggs to meet their new production target.
“Indiana doesn’t have the infrastructure to take salmon eggs, so partnerships are crucial for our Lake Michigan program,” said Rob Ackerson, Mixsawbah hatchery manager. “We’re grateful to our Michigan DNR partners for providing us with the opportunity to obtain eggs.”
Fish from the Michigan eggs will be raised at Mixsawbah to be stocked in April 2023. The chinooks will spend one to three years feeding in the lake before returning to their stocking sites as mature spawning adults.