DNR completes spring survey of Isle Royale lake trout populations

Contact: Edward Baker, 906-249-1611, ext. 309 or Gary Whelan, 517-284-5840
Agency: Natural Resources

May 29, 2019

DNR fisheries biologist in a hat and sunglasses holds a redfin lake trout while standing on a boat deck, blue sky in background

Earlier this month, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources surveyed the unique Lake Superior lake trout populations located at Isle Royale. The DNR conducts this survey every five years, and it yields data essential for the proper management of the fishery resources around the island.

The research vessel Lake Char deployed gill nets around the island to capture the lean, siscowet and redfin strains of lake trout – the types of trout known to cruise the deeper waters around the island complex. Fisheries managers collect and use this abundance, health and species data to better manage and ensure the long-term health and sustainability of these unique fish populations.

“Survey data indicate the lake trout populations around Isle Royale remain healthy and are expected to continue providing world-class recreational fishing for years to come," said Edward Baker, the Marquette Fisheries Research Stationmanager. "A highlight of the survey was capture and subsequent release of a redfin lake trout that was 53 inches long and weighed 34 pounds.”

R/V Lake Char on the water

Baker said the Isle Royale survey is part of an ongoing effort to learn about the unique lake trout resources at remote locations around Lake Superior, including Stannard Rock and Big Reef.

“These surveys would not be possible without the state-of-the-art RV Lake Char, the DNR’s 56-foot-long vessel on Lake Superior," Baker said.

The RV Lake Char crew uses the vessel, built in the mid-2000s, and its modern equipment to safely and efficiently survey Lake Superior to ensure that its self-sustaining lake trout populations are wisely managed for current and future anglers. The DNR will conduct surveys in many other areas of the lake in the coming months, with the Big Reef, near Munising, coming up in mid-June.

To learn more about fishing for lake trout in Michigan, go to Michigan.gov/Fishing.