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Chinook Salmon

Fishing Regulations Indiana Freshwater Fishing

Wisconsin and Indiana fisheries biologists worked together late last year to save Indiana’s plan for stocking Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan in 2016.

Indiana normally receives Chinook eggs each year from Michigan, but record-low numbers of fish returning to streams from Lake Michigan to spawn left the Michigan DNR unable to spare eggs for Indiana.

On short notice, the Wisconsin DNR offered to let Indiana use the Root River Steelhead Facility in Racine, Wisconsin, as a backup source for Chinook salmon eggs.

In early October, biologists and hatchery staff from the Indiana DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife worked alongside Wisconsin DNR staff to spawn more than 100 pairs of Chinooks.

Approximately 539,000 viable eggs were transferred to incubation trays at Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery near Walkerton in LaPorte County. That is likely more than enough to meet the 2016 production goal of 200,000 fingerlings.

Had the Indiana DNR not taken advantage of Wisconsin DNR’s offer, no Chinooks would be stocked in Indiana waters in 2016.

The Chinooks will be given a coded wire tag in March 2016 and stocked in late April 2016. These tagged fish will be identified by having a missing adipose fin, and be the fifth-year class of Chinook salmon marked under the lake-wide federal Great Lakes Mass Marking Program.

A rapidly changing Lake Michigan ecosystem further underscores the need for agencies around the lake to work together to manage the fishery. These partnerships have been in existence for decades, but the partners involved expect their importance to increase.

Lake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes and the sixth largest lake in the world. It is the only Great Lake entirely within the United States.

Chinook salmon were first introduced to Lake Michigan in 1966 and 1967 to provide angling opportunities and to feed on an overabundance of non-native alewives that had become a nuisance and health hazard along the lakeshore.