Lake Michigan Chinook Salmon Stocking Plan

State agencies on Lake Michigan annually stock 3.3 million Chinook salmon spring fingerlings. The target level for stocking of Chinook salmon by DNR has been 1,688,500 fish per year since 2006. A 66.9% reduction in stocking of Chinook salmon by DNR would create an annual interim target of 559,000 fish each year. Current plans are to continue stocking at the reduced level for 3 years (2013 through 2015) according to a stocking policy being developed by the Lake Michigan Committee that uses age-3 Chinook salmon weight as an index of fish population health. Under this stocking policy, Chinook salmon stocking will be increased 30% lake-wide if weight is above 9 kg (19.8 lbs) or reduced 30% lake-wide if weight is below 7 kg (15.4 lbs). Stocking numbers would remain if between 7 and 9 kg.

Michigan DNR created an internal task group of the Lake Michigan Basin Team to develop a tactical plan for specific site reductions. The plan remains centered on objectives and criteria developed in the 2006 Future Stocking Scenarios Report developed by staff representing Lakes Michigan and Huron. The criteria used to determine sites where reductions would occur were: 1) Natural reproduction - Stocking sites should be stocked less if contributions of naturalized fish were significant; 2) Maximize fishing opportunities - Consider the contribution to the open lake fishery, local fishing opportunities (fall fishery), and geographic parity; 3) Maintain broodstock - Little Manistee River stocking levels need to support egg take needs; 4) Maintain imprinting net pen commitments - Net penned fish tend to survive better than direct stocked fish. Imprinting net pens are run by volunteer citizen groups who donate time, equipment, and money to support this popular partnership; 5) Hatchery logistics - logistics of moving fish and truck capacity must be considered. Adjustments should be made if stocking levels are too high or low to increase efficiency (i.e. do not stock sites with less than 10,000 fish per site). The above mentioned criteria were applied in determining the 2006 reductions (Table 1). The 2012 task group applied an across the board 66.9% stocking reduction to each stocking site. The group then examined each site to determine if adjustments should be made based on the objectives and criteria. The comments section in Table 1 provides some justification of deviations from the 66.9% across the board reductions.

Table 1. Number of spring fingerling Chinook salmon stocked in Michigan waters of Lake Michigan by stocking site.

 

Port

Previous Stocking

2013 Stocking

Percent Reduction

Justification/Comments

1836 Treaty Waters

Ford River

27,500

12,000

56.4%

Maximize fishing opportunities by maintaining local fisheries in the U.P.; Eliminates Fairport based on an open lake fishery that is less dependent on stocking and maintains Ford and Manistique.

Fairport

21,000

0

100%

Manistique

45,000

34,000

24.4%

Medusa

220,000

72,000

67.3%

Maximize fishing opportunities-this site contributes significantly to the open lake fishery.

Boardman

75,000

24,000

68.0%

Maintain imprinting net pen commitments

Kids Creek

150,000

36,000

76.0%

Reduce a direct stocking site; natural reproduction

Manistee River

70,000

22,000

68.6%

Maintain imprinting net pen commitments; Maximize fishing opportunities

Little Manistee River

 

375,000

 

150,000

 

60.0%

Maintain broodstock; Natural reproduction may offset reductions.

Big Sable River

120,000

38,000

68.3%

Maintain imprinting net pen commitments; Maximize fishing opportunities - popular fall fishery.

Muskegon River

60,000

18,000

70%

Maintain imprinting net pen commitments; Natural reproduction present

Non-Treaty Waters

Grand Haven

175,000

59,000

66.3%

Maintain imprinting net pen commitments

Grand River

75,000

0

100%

Reduce a direct stocking site; Maximize fishing opportunities in other locations; Grand River is also stocked with steelhead and coho for fall fisheries.

Holland

45,000

15,000

 

66.7%

 

Maintain imprinting net pen commitments

 

Black River

45,000

15,000

66.7%

Maintain imprinting net pen commitments

Saugatuck

45,000

16,000

64.4%

Maximize fishing opportunities- Kalamazoo River provides fall fishery with good access. Maintain imprinting net pen commitments

St. Joseph

140,000

48,000

65.7%

Maximize fishing opportunities- St. Joseph River provides fall fishery with good access. Maintain imprinting net pen commitments

Total

1,688,500

559,000

66.9%