Chinook Salmon Stocks Troubled In Lake Michigan

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is considering another reduction in the number of chinook salmon being stocked in Lake Michigan, according to If the prized stock continues to go down, fisheries managers say that they may eliminate its stocking altogether.

The population drops are similar to the ones seen in Lake Huron before the chinook salmon stock collapsed there in 2003 and 2004. In Lake Michigan, it has dropped about 75 percent from its peak in 2012 and the fall 2015 fish harvest at weirs in Manistee and Traverse City was down more than 80 percent since 2014.

Managers believe that quagga mussels are at the heart of chinook salmon’s problems in Lake Michigan. The invasive mussels are essentially filtering out food eaten by diporeia, tiny shrimp that baitfish prey on. Losses in baitfish have rippled up the food chain to hurt the chinooks.

Juvenile Chinook salmon. (Credit: Roger Tabor / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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