The Coaster Connection: Lake Superior and Chicago
BY HENRY QUINLAN, ASHLAND FWCO
Ashland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) fish biologist, Henry Quinlan, was the guest speaker for the Oak Brook, Illinois, Trout Unlimited Chapter at their September meeting. OBTU Chapter members have been involved in Lake Superior coaster brook trout rehabilitation, management, and research efforts for nearly 20 years.
Henry provided an overview of brook trout harvest regulations in Lake Superior and in tributaries accessible to migratory trout and salmon. In Ontario and Minnesota protective regulations have resulted in increases in abundance, size, and range of coasters. In Michigan and Wisconsin where regulations do not protect brook trout larger than eight inches in the tributaries, there is little evidence of coaster rehabilitation progress. Exceptions are at Isle Royale and in the Salmon Trout River (Marquette County) where protective regulations are in place. Henry also discussed management and assessment actions on a lake-wide scale and provided an update on the joint Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service effort to re-establish coasters in Whittlesey Creek, Wisconsin.
In 2008, the OBTU Chapter provided support to Ashland FWCO for coaster rehabilitation through their Conservation Fund. Equipment was acquired for setup of a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag detection station that Ashland FWCO installed on Whittlesey Creek. The station allows continuous monitoring of brook trout movement in an out of Whittlesey Creek for fish that have received a PIT tag. To date over 2,500 have been PIT tagged and released in Whittlesey Creek. A few brook trout have been detected leaving the stream and entering Lake Superior and subsequently returning to the stream up to two years later.
With recent consolidation of Trout Unlimited chapters in Illinois, the TU Oak Brook Chapter now represents over 600 Trout Unlimited members throughout the state. Ashland FWCO fishery biologists and Oak Brook TU members continue to seek opportunities for collaboration to promote coaster rehabilitation progress in Lake Superior.