The extinction of the native populations of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in Lake Michigan in about 1956 has been followed by a decades-long attempt to reestablish self-sustaining populations of this valuable species in habitats it formerly occupied throughout the lake. One of the most recent management strategies designed to facilitate recovery was to make a primary management objective the establishment of sanctuaries where stocked lake trout could be protected and self-sustaining populations reestablished. In the present study we employed habitat survey and mapping techniques, field and laboratory bioassays, egg traps, sediment traps, and gill nets to examine the potential for successful natural reproduction by stocked lake trout on Clay Banks Reef in the Door-Kewaunee sanctuary in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan. Our study revealed (1) there was suitable habitat on the reef to support the production of viable fry, (2) spawner abundance on the reef was the highest recorded in the great lakes, and (3) eggs taken from spawners on the reef and held on the reef in plexiglas incubators hatched and produced fry that survived through swim-up. We conclude that Clay Banks Reef has the potential to support successful natural reproduction by stocked lake trout.
Additional publication details
An evaluation of lake trout reproductive habitat on Clay Banks Reef, northwestern Lake Michigan