Marked success of rehabilitation of lake trout in Lake Superior has been due principally to the control of the sea lamprey and closure of the lake trout fishery in 1962 and large-scale plantings of yearling lake trout in 1959-66. After the sea lamprey became established in the late 1940s, spawning stocks of lake trout began to decrease and were almost nonexistent by 1960-61. After control of the sea lamprey and closure of the commercial fishery for lake trout in 1962, the abundance of spawning stocks began to rise and reached the highest levels on record in 1964-66. Successful spawning in 1964 and 1965 was demonstrated by catches of age-0 lake trout in 1965 and 1966, the first evidence of natural reproduction since 1959.
Plantings of hatchery-reared lake trout in Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior began in 1952. The percentage of hatchery-reared fish in catches of juvenile lake trout increased almost steadily from 1953 to 1965 (when nearly all were of hatchery origin). The abundance of juvenile fish increased from 1959 to 1962 and remained nearly constant in 1962-66. The success of lake trout plantings was highest in 1959-61 but generally declined after 1961; the success of the plantings was inversely related to the abundance of older lake trout.
Annual increments of growth of hatchery-reared lake trout varied from 1.1 to 5.0 inches after planting. The average lengths of fish of identical age-groups varied according to gear of capture, depth of water, and season. More than 65% of the season's growth of age-III lake trout took place after September.
The findings indicate that the present rate of stocking lake trout may be higher than necessary to maintain optimum abundance.
Additional publication details
Rehabilitation of lake trout in the Apostle Islands region of Lake Superior