Chinook Stocking Effort

In a remarkable feat of distance swimming, tiny Chinook salmon released in Lake Huron two years ago swam their way through the Straits of Mackinac and down through Lake Michigan into the waters off of Racine, according to newly released data gathered with the help of Wisconsin anglers.

Brad Eggold, Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor for the WDNR, said the 400-mile journey of fish released by the State of Michigan points to the benefits of coordinated management efforts given the mobility of species like salmon. Other fish caught at the Racine checkpoint originated from stocking efforts in Door County, western Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

The study documenting the movement of fish throughout the lakes also indicates that natural reproduction of Chinooks is picking up steam in Lake Michigan. For Chinooks that are one year old, 55 percent of the population now comes from natural reproduction.

“We could not undertake this type of research without the support of an educated and dedicated group of anglers willing to save the fish heads and bring them in to our collection points,” says Eggold. “The results continue to provide incredible insights into the movement and reproduction of Chinook salmon while demonstrating the benefits of interstate cooperation. For example, anglers harvesting fish in Racine are catching fish stocked everywhere in Lake Michigan and in some cases, fish stocked in Lake Huron.”

Eggold says state agencies with jurisdiction surrounding Lake Michigan as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like to encourage anglers to continue providing fish heads so the research can progress through additional years. Door County drop-off locations include Howie’s Tackle, 1309 Green Bay Road, 920.746.9916; and Department of Natural Resources, 110 S. Neenah Ave., (Monday-Friday, 11 am to 2 pm), 920.746.2860.