|Wisconsin and Indiana fisheries biologists worked together earlier this month to save Indiana’s plan for stocking Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan in 2016.
Indiana normally receives Chinook eggs each year from Michigan, but record-low numbers of fish returning to streams from Lake Michigan to spawn left Michigan unable to spare eggs for Indiana.
On short notice, the Wisconsin DNR offered to let Indiana use the Root River Steelhead Facility in Racine, Wisconsin, as a backup source for Chinook salmon eggs.
On Oct. 10, Indiana DNR biologists and hatchery staff worked alongside Wisconsin DNR staff to spawn more than 100 pairs of Chinooks. Approximately 539,000 viable eggs are now resting in incubation trays at Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery near Walkerton. That is likely more than enough to meet the 2016 production goal of 200,000 fingerlings.
Had the Indiana DNR not taken advantage of Wisconsin DNR’s offer, no Chinooks would be stocked in Indiana waters in 2016.
The Chinooks will be given a coded wire tag in March 2016, and stocked in late April 2016. These tagged fish will be identified by having a missing adipose fin, and be the fifth-year class of Chinook salmon marked under the lake-wide federal Great Lakes Mass Marking Program.
The rapidly changing Lake Michigan ecosystem further underscores the need for agencies around the lake to work together to manage the fishery. These partnerships have been in existence for decades but the partners involved expect their importance to increase.