Experimental plantings of fin-clipped lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) of various ages have been made in southern Lake Superior since 1952. The catch of planted lake trout by the commercial fishery was used to measure the success of stocking. Estimates of total returns were based on samples of 8.2 to 21.2% of the Wisconsin catches in 1955-62 and 36.4 to 46.8% of the Michigan catches in 1959-62. Marked lake trout were assigned to various plantings according to the fin mark, length of fish, readings of age from scales, and locations of capture.
Estimated returns from Wisconsin plantings of 9-month-old lake trout varied from 2.1 to 6.4%. Wisconsin releases of 16-month-old fish yielded returns of 5.7 to 37.3%. Returns from plantings in Michigan were 0.3% for 9-month-old fish and 1.5 to 3.8% for 16-month-old fish. The ratios of the returns from plantings of 16-month-old fish to those of 9-month-old fish were 3.9:1 for Wisconsin releases and 6.7:1 for Michigan releases. Lake trout planted in Wisconsin generally survived better than those released in Michigan. Returns from fish planted at ages of 17 to 40 months in Michigan in 1958-59 were far greater than those from 16-month-old fish released in Michigan, but were not as high as from the most successful plantings of 16-month-old fish in Wisconsin. Lake trout released in 1960 from shore and from boats survived equally well.
Average size of lake trout at release was more closely related to survival than any other factor. All except 1 of 10 highly successful releases were of fish larger than 22 per lb, and all 6 poor releases were of fish smaller than 34 per lb. Fish that ran 22 to 33 per lb survived only moderately well. A size of 17 to 20 fish per lb appears to be close to optimum.
Abundance of native lake trout, American smelt (Osmerus mordax), and sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) all appeared to be unrelated to stocking success. The only apparent method of rapidly improving the success of stocking is to rear all lake trout to an average size of 17 to 20 per lb.
Additional publication details
Returns of hatchery-reared lake trout in southern Lake Superior, 1955-62