The modern sport fishery for salmonids in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan was begun during 1963-1969 with the stocking of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), brook trout (S. fontinalis), brown trout (Salmo trutta), coho salmon (O. kisutch), and chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha). The fishery grew rapidly during 1969-1985 as angler effort increased 10-fold, catch rate doubled, and catch increased 20-fold. The stocking and catch became increasingly dominated by chinook salmon, with coho salmon and lake trout of secondary importance and brown, rainbow, and brook trout of least importance. Trolling dominated the fishery, particularly by launched-boat anglers and, more recently, by moored-boat anglers. Charter boat trolling grew the most continuously and had the highest catch rates. The catch by trollers was dominated by chinook and coho salmon and lake trout. Pier, stream, and shore anglers fished less overall, but had catch rates that were similar to launched-boat anglers. The catch by pier and shore anglers was spread among chinook and coho salmon, and lake, brown and rainbow trout. The catch by stream anglers was dominated by chinook salmon. The percentage of stocked fish that were subsequently caught (catch ratio) was highest for fingerling chinook salmon (12.9%). Yearling brook trout, brown trout, coho salmon, lake trout, and rainbow trout had intermediate catch ratios (5.1-9.8%). Fingerling brook trout, brown trout, and lake trout had the lowest catch ratios (2.5-3.5%). The catch ratio for rainbow trout dropped from 9.8 to 5.1% after stocking with a different strain (the Shasta strain). Fingerling rainbow trout produced the lowest returns (<0.5%). We derived stocking recommendations for each species and life stage based on these catch ratios, and catch objectives based on maintaining catch levels recorded during 1983-1985.
Additional publication details
Changes in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan salmonid sport fishery, 1969-1985