Rates of dispersal and resultant geographical distributions were determined for three strains of hatchery-reared lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) stocked at six sites in U.S. waters of Lake Ontario. The strains were Lake Superior (SUP); Clearwater Lake, Manitoba (CWL); and Seneca Lake, New York (SEN). The fish were recovered with bottom trawls fished during July and August 1980-1985 at 16 locations, extending from Toronto southward and eastward along the south shore to Dablon Point at the east end of the lake. For SUP fish stocked as spring yearlings, the mean distances from stocking site to capture location 2, 14, and 26 months after stocking were 12, 57, and 62 km, respectively, for fish released at four south-shore sites and 5, 34, and 38 km for fish released at two eastern outlet basin sites. Rates of dispersal for the CWL fish were similar to those of the SUP strain for fish stocked at the four south-shore sites, but were considerably less for fish stocked in the eastern outlet basin. The SEN strain was stocked only in the eastern outlet basin; their dispersal was similar to that of the SUP strain. For fish of the same age, SUP fish stocked as fall fingerlings became more widely dispersed than those stocked as spring yearlings. Movement of lake trout between the eastern outlet basin and the lake proper was limited. Large numbers of fish were captured on the Niagara Bar, but few moved past there into the west end of the lake. Movements of lake trout from stocking sites were generally with the prevailing currents. Differences between geographical distributions of the SUP and CWL strains were probably due to the influence of different current regimes at the depths they occupied. These results will be useful in selecting the best genetic strains of lake trout for rehabilitating the species in Lake Ontario, as well as for identifying the best stocking sizes and maximizing post-stocking survival of hatchery-reared fish.
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Dispersal of three strains of hatchery-reared lake trout in Lake Ontario