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We conducted experimental fishing for lake trout Salvelinus namaycush in Michigan waters of Lake Superior to determine the importance of soak time on catch per effort (CPE) in numbers per kilometer of standard gill net. We modeled CPE as a nonlinear function of the number of nights between setting and lifting (soak time), in which the nets fill at a certain rate toward some maximum after which the nets cannot hold more fish. We found that lake trout CPE increased with soak time at a rate that varied with lake trout density toward a saturation level that was independent of lake trout density. The CPE values of nets soaked 2-5 nights divided by the CPE of nets soaked 1 night were significantly lower than would be expected had CPE increased as a linear function of the number of nights soaked. We derived a means for correcting gill-net CPE values for differing soak times to a common base of 1 night soaked. We concluded that it is inappropriate to assume lake trout catches in gill nets will increase in direct proportion to the number of nights soaked and recommend that CPE of lake trout in gill nets be corrected for soak time.
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Gill net saturation by lake trout in Michigan waters of Lake Superior