July 8, 2014
MADISON -- Continued prudent management of Lake Michigan's yellow perch population is needed to ensure enough spawning stock remains to take advantage of years in which lake conditions permit young fish to survive.
That's among the conclusions of a new report drawing on the expertise and ongoing research of participants at the Lake Michigan Yellow Perch Summit held in Chicago in March, 2014. With yellow perch accounting for approximately 17 percent of the sport catch in Lake Michigan, the report highlights the significance of the fishery while documenting the unsettling environmental changes that have led to a continued population decline since the peak of the 1980s.
"The summit explored factors behind the low survival rates of young perch as well as steps that could be taken to strengthen the population," said Brad Eggold, southern Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "The short answer is that, unless we can get rid of the quagga mussel, the yellow perch population will continue to be negatively affected. In Wisconsin, we're fortunate to have very well-informed sport anglers who understand the need to protect spawning populations to maintain the wild fish that we do have."
Those who remember the abundant perch fishery of the 1970s and '80s recognize the ecological changes brought first by the invasive zebra mussel and followed by the even more destructive quagga mussel. Both invaders siphon nutrients from the water column and concentrate them at the bottom of the lake - out of reach of newly hatched larval perch that float and feed near the lake's surface. By protecting spawning fish, the hope is that variations in hatching times will allow enough perch to emerge coincident with a zooplankton hatch that might ensure greater survival.
The report also:
To view the Lake Michigan Yellow Perch Summit, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "Lake Michigan management reports" and click on the link for "Lake Michigan yellow perch summit summary report [PDF]."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold, southern Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, email@example.com, 414-382-7921; Jennifer Sereno, communications, Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org; 608-770-8084.