Movements of yellow perch marked in southern Green Bay, Lake Michigan, in 1950

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society




To obtain information on the post-spawning movements of yellow perch that spawn in southern Green Bay, Lake Michigan, 4,172 fish caught in drop nets were marked by tagging with monel-metal strap tags attached to the right operculum and 24,799 were marked by clipping off the second or membranous dorsal fin. Marking was done during the period from May 3 to 17, 1950, at six main stations, all located in the southern end of Green Bay.
The average length of the tagged perch was 7.3 inches and all fell within the range 5.5–14.4 inches. Most (90.9 percent) of the fish were below the minimum legal length of 8.0 inches. The follow-up procedure consisted of informing commercial and sports fishermen of the program and enlisting their cooperation in watching for marked fish; accounts of the investigation were released through newspapers and descriptive posters were distributed. The personnel connected with the investigation examined catches frequently.
The large majority (101 or 79.5 percent) of the 127 tagged perch recaptured in the experimental nets during the marking operations were retaken at the tagging station at which they were released.
Of the 108 tagged perch captured by commercial fishermen and anglers following the opening of the season on May 20, 96 were taken by drop nets, 6 by gill nets, and 6 by hook and line. The mean lengths for the three groups were 7.7, 7.1, and 9.25 inches, respectively. All recoveries were made in the Wisconsin waters of Green Bay.
Most of the “open-season” recoveries (86 fish; 79.6 percent) were made during the period May 20-May 31. Recaptures during subsequent months were: June–14; July–7; August–none; September–1. Of the 86 perch recaptured May 20–31, 70 were retaken inside and 16 outside the tagging area. The majority (14 of 22) of those recovered after May 31 were retaken outside the tagging area.
The average length of the 20 tagged yellow perch recaptured by drop nets (data restricted to fish from a single type of net to avoid bias from gear selectivity) outside the tagging area (8.42 inches) was 0.96 inch greater than the mean length (7.46 inches) of the 76 fish retaken inside the area. This statistically highly significant difference lends support to the belief of commercial fishermen that the larger of the yellow perch that spawn in southern Green Bay move out soon after spawning.
The percentage of recapture of tagged perch increased sharply with increase in the size of the fish. Not one of 169 tagged fish less than 6.5 inches long was recovered. The rates of recapture at greater lengths were: 6.5 to 8.9 inches–2.5 percent; 9.0 to 9.9 inches–11.4 percent; 10.0 to 14.4 inches–16.7 percent. Among the several factors suggested in explanation of this relationship, the most important appear to be the lesser ability of the smaller fish to survive the rigors of handling and tagging, greater loss of tags from the smaller fish, and the greater likelihood of overlooking the smaller of the tagged fish in the sorting of the catch.
The factors just mentioned and the lack of knowledge of the efficiency of measures taken to obtain records of recoveries preclude the 2.6-percent return of all tagged fish from being accepted as an approximation of the rate of recapture. Neither should the 6.6-percent return of tagged fish of legal size (8 inches and longer) be taken as an estimate of the rate of exploitation.
Although 465 fin-clipped perch were recovered in the experimental nets during the marking operations, only 68 of 24,799 fish so marked were recovered after the fishing season opened. All but one of these 68 were retaken near the point of marking. The difficulty of detecting a perch with a missing membranous dorsal is believed to be a major cause of the poor returns from fin-clipped fish.
These investigations have demonstrated that for studying migration of yellow perch, tagging is superior to fin-clipping as a method of marking. The technique of the tagging, however, needs to be improved, and better means must be found to trace tagged fish of small size. Furthermore certain small regions in the bay not at present open to commercial fishing must be explored in order to obtain more comprehensive information as to migration.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Movements of yellow perch marked in southern Green Bay, Lake Michigan, in 1950
Series title:
Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Year Published:
Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s):
Great Lakes Science Center
12 p.
First page:
Last page:
Online Only (Y/N):
Additional Online Files (Y/N):