So I just read an article on the third lowest population of alewife ever recorded on the Great Lake of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois & Indiana. I must admit I don’t know how to speak about this topic or ask what I’m thinking, but yesterday there was a report on WISN 12 stating that many restaurants in the state are taking lake perch off their menu due to low numbers of perch. What’s going to happen 5-10 years from now? Is there a possibility that Lake Michigan waters could be completely dead a few years from now? Could there be a bounce back? It’s just such a huge body of water, how is anyone or any natural resource department going to handle this? I’m afraid that 20 years from now no fish life could be sustained thus the worlds biggest swimming pool . I’m hopeful that things change but this is getting ugly quick & it seems like no one has an answer.
The decline of bait fish
You nailed it X kings are eatin machines who's only diet is alewives. No one really has a clue how much wild stock enters the lake from the rivers on the Michigan side. I've heard 75% of Kings caught are wild. Couple this with dangerously low and void of alewife year classes, a longer and colder then normal winter. Unless you find a way of controlling the wild spawn, things don't look good for the alewives.
Of note: Charters & boats reported seeing big schools, between Port Washington and Sheboygan this past year. Largest in many a year. Be nice if that's happening around the whole lake.
There is a lot of good information available on the status of LM. Most chose not to absorb the information. As someone who has experience fishing for Salmon on the Columbia for several years, I can tell you most who fish the lake do not know how good they have it.
My comments to the LM committee did not support increased King stocking due to the truncated year classes of Alewives. My primary interest is sustained salmon fishing on the lake as a rule. My feedback was stop the lake trout stocking as they tend to consume larger alewife, increase rainbow stocking since they mostly eat bugs along with a 2 per day bag limit for them, increase seeforellen stocking along with a 2 per day bag limit, and hold coho about the same. Ultimately, all it will take to crash the alewife on LM is a big year year of wild repro out of the Michigan side and Canada along with increased stocking. The lake is not in a healthy prey fish position. Lake productivity is low for two main reasons: the mussels and the massively decreased nutrient loading from the farms (clean water act).
Blaming the DNR for our own ignorance and misdeeds is what some sportsmen do best
Stocking was cut and baitfish population is rebounding so the WDNR has actually started to raise the number of Kings planted again. Thankfully they are drastically cutting Lake Trout numbers.
Mad4labs is correct.
Read "The Death and Life of the Great Lakes" by Dan Eagan. Great book.
Dan is based out of Milwaukee, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.
A couple details from his book. The alewives actually interrupted the reproduction of native Lake Trout in Lake Michigan. Now that alewives are at 1% of the 1970-1980's population, the Lake Trout are now reproducing in the wild again, without stocking from the state DNR's. Gobies are much more common, and the Lake Trout have done a good job of switching their diet to them. Of course Alewives aren't native to the Great Lakes, as are most of the Salmon species. He also goes into the zebra and quagga mussels and how that has impacted the baitfish. Also that the Great Lakes are significantly cleaner and safer than they were in the 1920's thru the 1970's. Healthier may be subjective though.
Blaming the DNR's is misguided and ignorant.
The real issue are the quagga mussels filtering all the food the bait fish feed on as well as young fry fish, that’s the issue, but how does one stop these in their tracks? It’s not possible because they don’t have natural predators in the Great Lakes, that’s why I’m worried about the future of Lake Michigan
Read "The Death and Life of the Great Lakes" by Dan Eagan. Great book!
It will answer all your questions and leave you amazed at how incredibly man can screw up an ecosystem and also how species adapt (or not) to changes in the environment.
Remember back in 2012/13/14 time frame the Perch thread with that super crazy, and IMO, hilarious guy that was bi%chen about the Perch population on Michigan, while taking 5gl buckets of Perch off the pier of the bar he frequented daily. It was one of greatest threads in the history of LL. The star went by numerous names, depending who was talking to him. Lol Then I think Higgs broke the hits record (Other than Packer thread), shortly after. Lol
Big musky, do you mind sharing what that plan is? I haven’t heard of one
They have an answer, but people do not like it. The DNR is actually very close to accomplishing there original mission of restoring Lake Trout populations following crash and eliminating need for stocked salmon.