This paper examines the population dynamics of the bloater (Coregonus hoyi) in Lake Michigan during a progressive decline in abundance from about the mid1960s through the mid1970s, and during a subsequent recovery that is still underway. The study focused on developing a data base and methodology for projecting fishable surpluses, in cooperation with a chub technical committee sponsored by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The Technical Committee was formed in 1974 because of depletion of bloaters and other deepwater ciscoes or 'chubs,' as they are known by Great Lakes fishermen. Subsequently the Technical Committee recommended a lakewide ban on chub fishing that was fully enacted by the states of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin in 1976.
With the Committee's help, commercial fishery statistics and stock assessment data were obtained from state and federal research files and used with various indirect analytical techniques to estimate relevant population parameters. The lakewide fishable stock in fall 1973, before the fishery was affected by several incomplete closures and then by the lakewide ban, was estimated as 48 to 73 million bloaters weighing 20 to 29 million pounds. Exploitation of the estimated stock varied considerably among 11 statistical districts in the several jurisdictions. Yield to the fishery exceeded production by the stock in some districts.
Theoretical yields of bloaters totaling 3.59 to 3.72 million pounds were projected from 1979 for all waters combined. These projected yields were intended as guidelines for experimental quotas that the states might establish, because the population had stabilized and the potential for recruitment had improved in most areas.