Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Great Lakes fish samples needed for study

Alpena, Mich. – State fishery officials and Great Lakes groups
are looking to anglers to collect information or to submit samples
from their catch for several different studies that will guide key
sportfish management decisions in coming years.

On Lake Huron, biologists studying the natural reproduction of
chinook salmon are asking fishermen to cut off the tail portion of
the fish to check for oxytetracycline, a food additive given to
hatchery-reared fish that accumulates in their bones.

State scientists look for marks left in the vertebra by OTC,
which shows up under fluorescent light. The DNRE typically collects
sufficient samples from tournaments on Lake Michigan, but is in
need of tails from southern Lake Huron, according to Jim Johnson,
DNRE biologist and manager of the Alpena research station.

“It’s important for us to understand how best to stock the lake
and maintain the balance between predators and prey. The prey base
is already so week” in Lake Huron, Johnson told Michigan Outdoor
News, adding that results of the study have been surprising since
the department began the program in 2000.

“We have had very strong natural recruitment. If anything, it
looks like the hatchery fish are doing less well than the natural
fish over the past six years,” he said.

Michigan Sea Grant Educator Dan O’Keefe is helping to spread the
word about how anglers can help contribute tail samples through
various fishery seminars and meetings throughout the state, as well
as the agency’s website.

“This is a neat study because it’s really a critical piece of
info for resource managers,” he said.

O’Keefe also is working to enlist anglers in another effort to
submit information on attached lampreys or the wounds they inflict
on sportfish in the Great Lakes, and encourage them to submit the
data online. The Lamprey Hunter Program is part of a Great Lakes
Fishery Commission study on the eel-like parasitic fish to
determine spawning locations, and to target chemical treatments to
control populations, which have been reduced by 90 percent since
they invaded through the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1930s,
officials said.

“This is a program geared toward any anglers, even if you only
go out a couple of times a year,” O’Keefe said. Last year’s data
showed a much higher wounding rate on the Michigan side of Lake
Michigan versus Wisconsin waters, O’Keefe said.

“We really need more people reporting to say things more
reliably,” O’Keefe said.

The Lamprey Hunter Program was first launched in Wisconsin in
2006, and Sea Grant began spreading the word in Michigan last year.
In total, 110 hunters have signed up, with 40 from Michigan, 31
from Wisconsin, and the remainder in other Great Lakes provinces
and states, said Marc Gaden, communications director for the Great
Lakes Fishery Commission.

Officials are reaching out to charter captains, commercial
operations, and big-lake fishermen this year, and are optimistic
about the possibilities the online-based program provides.

“We have the ability with the Internet to go lake-wide and
basin-wide with it,” Gaden said.

A third program, known as the DNRE’s coded wire tag study, also
relies heavily on angler input.

Fishery resource managers are asking anglers throughout the
Great Lakes basin to keep an eye out for salmon, lake trout, and
steelhead with a missing adipose fin – the small fin on the back of
the fish between the dorsal fin and tail.

“It’s an indication that a coded wire tag has been inserted in
the snout of the fish. The tag has all kinds of information on it,
such as the fish’s age, where it was stocked, what hatchery it was
raised in … and if it was raised under any experimental
conditions,” said Jay Wesley, DNRE manager for the state’s
southwest fishery.

To learn how to submit OTC tail samples, anglers may contact Jim
Johnson at the Alpena research station at (989) 356-3232 or log on
to and
search “OTC.” Potential lamprey hunters can find more information
on that program at

More information on the DNRE’s coded wire tag study can be found
by going to, then
clicking on “fishing” on the left side of the screen. A link to
“report marked and tagged fish” is at the bottom of the page.

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