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October 1, 2013

CLEVELAND, Wis. - A draft proposal for a new, simplified strategy for how Wisconsin allocates stocked chinook salmon among its Lake Michigan counties will be among the topics discussed at the Oct. 12 meeting of the Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum.

"Wisconsin's strategy for stocking fish is an important decision and will set the future course of stocking numbers and strategy for the lake for years to come," says Brad Eggold, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor for southern Lake Michigan. "We hope that many anglers and others who are interested in the Lake Michigan fishery can attend the coming Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum where the group will discuss the new strategy."

Eggold says the forum offers the public the chance to hear more about the draft proposal and discuss it with DNR staff and other interested individuals.

The forum, an independent group of anglers, charter boat captains and commercial fishers facilitated by University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, meets starting at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 12 at the Wells Fargo Room on Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland.

The meeting is open to the public and also will include presentations by a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee expert on the impacts of zebra and quagga mussels on the Lake Michigan food web, and by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service expert on the effectiveness of lamprey control in Lake Michigan.

Eggold says the proposed draft chinook stocking strategy seeks to simplify how DNR decides where fish get stocked and would provide counties a baseline level of stocking to support fall fishing runs. The new strategy also would factor in charter boat trips and angler effort and harvest rates directed at chinook salmon. Under the stocking proposal, each county would receive a base number of fish to be stocked there to maintain a fall nearshore chinook salmon run; collectively, these base allocations will account for 75 percent of the fish stocked. The remaining 25 percent of fish stocked will be allocated among the counties based on four proposed factors: The number of charter boat trips by county; angler effort directed at chinook salmon in the fall and the harvest rate of chinook salmon in the fall, Eggold says.

The fourth factor is a placeholder now for information forthcoming from returns of chinook salmon with a coded wire tag embedded in their snout. DNR will be collecting chinook fish heads throughout summer and into October this year and in coming years to look for the coded wire tags that can help tell when and where a fish was stocked.

Eggold says that the baseline allocation per county is done to assure fall fishing opportunities, which anglers said they wanted during previous fishery meetings.

"By giving each county a base number we believe we'll continue to provide that fall fishing opportunity they want up and down the lake," Eggold says.

Several completed and ongoing research studies show that where a fish is stocked doesn't really matter when it comes to where a fish is caught in the summer, but that stocking location does matter to the fall fishing runs. Chinook swim all over Lake Michigan during the open water season, with early results from an ongoing study showing that more fish caught in Wisconsin waters come from other states than from Wisconsin. The same study suggests that fish caught in the fall in Lake Michigan tributaries are more likely to have been stocked in that same water as a young fish.

DNR developed the stocking proposal based on comments and direction from stakeholders and members of the Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum. The proposal was also available for public review through Sept. 23.

The proposal is intended to guide stocking in 2014 and beyond as Wisconsin carries out its agreement with Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and five Michigan tribes for all of them to adjust stocking levels of chinook salmon to bring the number of predator fish like chinook back into line with the number of prey fish and to account for increased natural reproduction of chinook.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold, DNR fish supervisor, Milwaukee, 414-382-7921; David Boyarski, DNR fish supervisor, Sturgeon Bay, 920-746-2865

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 01, 2013

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