Since the discovery of ruffe Gymnocephalus cernuus in the St. Louis River in 1987, state, federal, and tribal management agencies have sought to slow its spread to areas outside the western end of Lake Superior. A debate over control strategies highlighted uncertainties about seasonal movements of this species between Lake Superior and its western tributaries. One strategy called for eliminating reproducing populations in tributaries on the periphery of the range using chemical piscicides. That strategy rested on the assumption that ruffe congregate in tributaries during a predictable time of year. This study was designed to explore that assumption. Ruffe collections from the Iron and Sand rivers during 1995 indicated that ruffe were present in those tributaries throughout the summer but that abundance was not highest at the predicted time: June 19-22. Maximum abundance in the Iron River did not coincide with that in the Sand River and did not occur during June 19-22 in either river. The timing of peak abundance was not clearly related to changes in water temperature. Ruffe were present in substantial numbers in Lake Superior during June 19-22 when aggregations in the tributaries had been predicted. These findings do not support the assumption of the chemical control strategy.
Additional publication details
Seasonal changes in ruffe abundance in two Lake Superior tributaries: Implications for control