Larval fish occurrence in inshore and offshore zones in the northern main basin of Lake Huron was assessed during 2007 as part of a larger ecological examination of Lake Huron foodwebs and habitats. Day and night collections using neuston and conical nets at inshore (1.5–15 m depths) and offshore (37 and 91 m depths) locations at De Tour and Hammond Bay to assess the abundance, phenology, and spatial distribution of pelagic ichthyoplankton during spring and early summer were made. In general, densities of larval fishes were higher at De Tour than Hammond Bay during daytime neuston net collections, with the exception of Longnose Sucker, which were only collected at Hammond Bay. Lake Whitefish, Burbot, and Rainbow Smelt dominated inshore catches in early spring with Cisco, Deepwater Sculpin, Emerald Shiner, Bloater, Slimy Sculpin, Ninespine Stickleback, and Yellow Perch larvae also collected. Nighttime nearshore and offshore sampling revealed that Rainbow Smelt and Burbot larvae were present in relatively high abundances compared to inshore densities. Concentrations of larvae of deepwater demersal fishes such as Lake Whitefish and Deepwater Sculpin suggest that inshore zones in northern Lake Huron are important nursery habitats emphasizing a critical production and recruitment linkage between inshore and deepwater zones.
Additional publication details
Spatial distribution of pelagic fish larvae in the northern main basin of Lake Huron