Status of Pelagic Prey Fishes in Lake Michigan, 2014

Michigan Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Lakes Fishery Commission
By: , and 


  • The Publications Warehouse does not have links to digital versions of this publication at this time
  • Download citation as: RIS | Dublin Core


Acoustic surveys were conducted in late summer/early fall during the years 1992-1996 and 2001-2014 to estimate pelagic prey fish biomass in Lake Michigan. Midwater trawling during the surveys as well as target strength provided a measure of species and size composition of the fish community for use in scaling acoustic data and providing species-specific abundance estimates. The 2014 survey consisted of 27 acoustic transects (603 km total) and 31 midwater trawl tows. Four additional transects were sampled in Green Bay but were not included in lakewide estimates. Mean prey fish biomass was 6.5 kg/ha [31.7 kilotonnes (kt = 1,000 metric tons)], equivalent to 69.9 million pounds, which was similar to the estimate in 2013 (29.6 kt) and 25% of the long-term (19 years) mean. The numeric density of the 2014 alewife year-class was 3% of the time series average and was the lowest observed in the 19 years of sampling. This year-class contributed <1% of total alewife biomass (4.6 kg/ha). Alewife ≥age-1 comprised 99.5% of alewife biomass. Numeric density of alewife in Green Bay was more than three times that of the main lake. In 2014, alewife comprised 71% of total prey fish biomass, while rainbow smelt and bloater were 1% and 28% of total biomass, respectively. Rainbow smelt biomass in 2014 (0.08 kg/ha) was 66% lower than in 2013, 2% of the long-term mean, and lower than in any previous year. Bloater biomass in 2014 was 1.8 kg/ha, nearly three times more than the 2013 biomass, and 20% of the long-term mean. Mean density of small bloater in 2014 (122 fish/ha) was lower than peak values observed in 2007-2009 but was similar to the time series mean (124 fish/ha). In 2014, pelagic prey fish biomass in Lake Michigan was 71% of that in Lake Huron (all basins), where the community is dominated by bloater.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Status of Pelagic Prey Fishes in Lake Michigan, 2014
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher USGS, Great Lake Science Center
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 49
Last page 59
Country United States
State Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois
Other Geospatial Lake Michigan
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table