Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) were sampled annually in 1973-1988 with bottom trawls in Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior. Biomass averaged 1.6 kg/hectare. Fish 1-3 years old made up 64% of the biomass, whereas fish of harvestable size (>=4 years old) made up only 31% of the biomass. Year-class strength was variable among years, but a Ricker recruitment function described the relation between year-class strength and parental stock size. Age-specific mortality increased substantially as fish became sexually mature at age 4, perhaps as a result of energy depletion associated with high reproductive and maintenance costs in a suboptimal thermal environment. Yield-per-recruit analysis indicated that most of the age-specific annual mortality was due to natural causes. Natural mortality, rather than limited recruitment or fishing mortality, was the major factor controlling harvestable stock size. Regardless of the size of a year-class produced, natural mortality greatly reduced its abundance, prior to maturity and recruitment to the fishable stock. This high mortality, combined with very slow growth, limits the biomass potential of the harvestable stock, and sustainable yields from this population are therefore low.
Additional publication details
Dynamics of a yellow perch population in western Lake Superior