Status of pelagic prey fishes in Lake Michigan, 2018

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Acoustic surveys were conducted in late summer/early fall during the years 2004-2018 to estimate pelagic prey fish biomass in Lake Michigan. Midwater trawling during the surveys as well as acoustic 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 2018 survey consisted of 33 acoustic transects 648 km total (403 miles) and 52 midwater trawl tows. Bottom depth at sampling sites ranged from 5 to 245 m (16-804 ft). Mean prey fish biomass density was 8.5 kg/ha, which was 1.9 times higher than in 2017 and 2.4 times the long-term (15 years) mean. The numeric density of the 2018 alewife year-class was 52% of the time series average and 1.8 times the 2017 density. The 2018 cohort was 7% of total alewife biomass (5.2 kg/ha). In 2018 alewife comprised 61% of total prey fish biomass, while rainbow smelt and bloater were 2% and 37% of total biomass, respectively. Small bloater were extremely rare in 2018 and were only caught near Frankfort, Michigan. Their density (< 1 fish/ha) in 2018 was the lowest observed in the 2004-2018 period. Biomass density of rainbow smelt and bloater remain well below observed in the 1980s-1990s. Cisco are infrequently caught in this survey, including the past two years. In 2018 three adult fish were caught (> 400 mm), with two in Grand Traverse Bay and one south of Manistique, Michigan. These results indicate that cisco density is very low at the lake level.

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Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Status of pelagic prey fishes in Lake Michigan, 2018
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 15 p.
Conference Title Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Lake Michigan Committee Meeting
Conference Location Ypsilanti, MI
Conference Date March 25, 2019
Country United States
Other Geospatial Lake Michigan
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