The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife has joined forces with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to implement a pilot project to continue the restoration of native lake trout populations in Lake Erie.
Lake trout are listed as a species of concern in Ohio because the population was greatly reduced by sea lamprey predation, particularly in Lake Erie’s eastern basin. There has been very little lake trout natural reproduction documented in Lake Erie over the last three decades, despite extensive annual stocking by neighboring state agencies in the eastern basin.
During the week of Nov. 5, approximately 120,000 surplus lake trout fingerlings were stocked in Ohio waters of Lake Erie, including the central basin (Fairport Harbor) and western basin (Catawba). These surplus lake trout were raised at the newly-renovated Service Allegheny Fish Hatchery in Warren, Pa. Approximately 200,000 lake trout are raised annually at the Service’s hatchery facility for lake trout restoration efforts in Lake Erie’s eastern region.
Lake trout stocked in November have adipose fin clips and a small, coded wire tag implanted in their snouts. Specific lot numbers on the tags allow biologists to recover stocking, growth, survival and migration return information when the fish is recaptured.
To determine stocking success, ODNR Division of Wildlife fish biologists will collect lake trout catch information and fish heads from anglers, commercial fishers and future assessment surveys. Future reef assessment surveys will determine if adult lake trout are homing in to stocking locations to spawn. Restoring lake trout as a key predator in the coldwater regions of Lake Erie will help maintain a healthy, balanced ecosystem.
The Service’s mission is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.com.