“Michigan King Salmon Stocking May Become a Thing of the Past”

News With Fins #3

Chinook salmon were first stocked in Lake Michigan in the late 1960’s, in response to a dying commercial trout industry, and an invasion of alewives.   Since then, Chinook have thrived there for decades, contributing to a “$7 billion Great Lakes sport fishery’, and keeping the alewives population in check.   Their numbers peaked in 2012, and were shortly followed by a drastic reduction.

Since the 2012 peak, Chinook numbers have dropped some 75%, and the DNR has been forced to decrease their stocking efforts dramatically.   They attribute the sharp decline in salmon populations to the equally sharp decline in alewives populations, which is a result of invasive mussel species that are completing for the alewives food source.   They also believe that the trouble for salmon started years ago, and culminated in 2012, when the fish were so hungry that they “were hitting any lure in the water because there was nothing to eat’, which led to record catches that year.

In response to the dwindling numbers, the DNR has already reduced its overall stocking efforts three times since 1999, “from 7 million to 1.5 million’, and are afraid they may have to completely eliminate stocking of Chinooks all together.   They reassure anglers that the big fish will probably continue to be caught in the Great Lakes, but populations will be limited to what the remaining fish can reproduce on their own, so catches will be much less frequent and reliable.

Work Cited:

Ellison, Garrett. “Michigan King Salmon Stocking May Become a Thing of the Past”.  MLive Media Group.  https://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/04/michigan_chinook_salmon_collap.html

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