INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) The Indiana Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday it will increase the number of Chinook salmon stocked in Lake Michigan.
The change will increase the annual production target for Chinook from 225,000 to 275,000 starting in the spring of 2023.
Baitfish populations have rebounded from an all-time low in the mid-2010s after lake-wide stocking reductions made by all state agencies during the past decade.
Ben Dickinson, Indiana DNR’s Lake Michigan biologist, says the improved predator-prey balance in the lake allows for the increase, which should benefit anglers, but biologists will be monitoring for the need for future adjustments.
“Anglers should realize increasing stocking does increase predation pressure and may increase future risk to baitfish populations,” he said. “We will continue to closely watch the predator-prey balance to help ensure the long-term health of the fishery.”
Staff from Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery recently traveled to Michigan to obtain Chinook salmon eggs to meet the new production target.
“Indiana doesn’t have the infrastructure to take salmon eggs, so partnerships are crucial for our Lake Michigan program,” said Rob Ackerson, Mixsawbah hatchery manager. “We’re grateful to our Michigan DNR partners for providing us with the opportunity to obtain eggs.”
Fish from the eggs will be raised at Mixsawbah to be stocked in April 2023. They will spend one to three years feeding in Lake Michigan before returning to their stocking sites as mature spawning adults in the fall.