Native lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) once thrived in the deep waters of eastern Lake Erie. The impact of nearly 70 years of unregulated exploitation and over 100 years of progressively severe cultural eutrophication resulted in the elimination of lake trout stocks by 1950. Early attempts to restore lake trout by stocking were unsuccessful in establishing a self-sustaining population. In the early 1980s, New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, Pennsylvania's Fish and Boat Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entered into a cooperative program to rehabilitate lake trout in the eastern basin of Lake Erie. After 11 years of stocking selected strains of lake trout in U.S. waters, followed by effective sea lamprey control, lake trout appear to be successfully recolonizing their native habitat. Adult stocks have built up significantly and are expanding their range in the lake. Preliminary investigations suggest that lake trout reproductive habitat is still adequate for natural reproduction, but natural recruitment has not been documented. Future assessments will be directed toward evaluation of spawning success and tracking age-class cohorts as they move through the fishery.
Additional Publication Details
Lake trout rehabilitation in Lake Erie: a case history