Oriented Sessions: Lake
The discussion was started with introductions by participants
including a brief description of their affiliation and
suggestions of topics to cover during this group discussion.
Doug Aloisi, Ed Baker, John Bauman, Andrea Drauch, Rob
Elliott (facilitator), Brant Fisher, Marty Holtgren,
Adrienne Kral, Steve Lennart, Stephanie Ogren, Jeremy
Pyatskowit, Don Reiter, Randy Seymore, Larry Thompson,
Major Topics Covered:
- Assessment project updates
- Management project updates
- Fish passage activities
- General sturgeon observations
- Tagging/marking updates and issues
- Tributary Inventory meta-database status
- Lake Michigan Lake Sturgeon Task Group update
- Upcoming funding opportunities.
Assessment Project Updates
Updates were provided for several sturgeon related
projects that are ongoing around the basin.
Funding from the GLFT was secured to continue the Lake
Michigan Status Assessment project for the 2005 field
season. This project began in 2002 and involves work
on nearly all known remnant populations in Lake Michigan
by a large group of co-PIs. Objectives include determining
reproductive status, abundance, age structure, habitat
use and genetic characteristics of both known spawning
populations and fish collected at large throughout the
lake (contact Auer, Baker, Elliott, Galarowicz, Kornely,
Lennart, Peterson, Scribner, Sutton. Genetics results
presented during day 1 of this meeting). Similar genetic
characterization work is being conducted in Indiana
tributaries of the Mississippi drainage basin (contact
The 2002-2003 study of juvenile life history in the
Peshtigo River was completed July 2004 (results presented
during day 1 of this meeting, contact Trent Sutton and
A 2003-2004 evaluation of recruitment success, habitat
preference, and river retention of young lake sturgeon
in the Big Manistee River is nearing completion (contact
Marty Holtgren, Nancy Auer, and Justin Chiotti).
A 2003-2005 review of the historic written record to
infer historical distribution and abundance in the Lake
Michigan basin (contact Phil Cochran and Rob Elliott).
A Green Bay tributaries habitat assessment and decision
tool project focusing on Green Bay tributaries is being
conducted 2004-2005 (Project status presented during
day 1 of this meeting, contact Dan Daugherty and Trent
A genetic analysis of the upper Menominee River lake
sturgeon populations is being initiated in 2005-2006
to help assess population status, abundance and reproductive
success (contact Brian Sloss).
A Great Lakes tributary inventory database of meta-data
describing the types of lake sturgeon information that
have been collected or are available and associated
contact people and literature references is nearing
completion. Once posted on the web in early 2005, people
will be able to update and submit additional information
(database demonstrated during this meeting’s evening
social, contact Emily Zollweg).
Management Project Updates
Wisconsin DNR will be stocking fall fingerling sturgeon
in the Milwaukee River in December. All fish will have
an RV clip and many will also be PIT tagged. Larvae
were stocked in the Milwaukee and Manitowoc in spring
of 2003 and then a few telemetry tagged juveniles and
adults were released in fall of 2003. The intent is
to employ streamside rearing in future years for this
long-term stocking initiative (contact Brad Eggold).
Reintroduction efforts by WDNR continue in the upper
Menominee River where varying numbers of fall fingerling
and yearling sturgeon have been stocked for many years.
Further regulation changes for the Menominee River fall
harvest season aimed at protecting this population continue
to be planned (Poster presented during this meetings
evening social, contact Greg Kornely).
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians initiated a study
in 2004 to compare the early-life history performance
of streamside reared and wild reared sturgeon in the
Big Manistee River. Wild collected larvae were reared
streamside to a size where they could be tagged and
then released back into the Manistee R. as fingerlings.
This will be an ongoing effort by the LRBOI. (Project
description presented during day 1 of this meeting,
contact Marty Holtgren).
Adult sturgeon were again collected from the Wolf River,
tagged with transmitters, and transplanted into the
upper Wolf River through cooperative efforts between
the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin and Wisconsin DNR as
part of efforts to reestablish a spawning population
in the upper Wolf River. Fingerlings raised at Genoa
NFH also have continued to be stocked into an inland
lake within the Menominee Indian reservation and a winter
fishery may be opened on that lake in 2005 (contact
Jeremy Pyatskowit and Don Reiter).
Lampricide treatments in state-designated lake sturgeon
streams were managed to control sea lampreys and protect
populations of lake sturgeons in the Millecoquins, Manistique,
Whitefish and Platte rivers during 2004 (contact John
Fish Passage Opportunities
There was a short discussion about various barrier
and passage initiatives in some L. Michigan tributaries.
The White Rapids Dam on the Menominee River has been
discussed as a potential site for field testing the
race-track design fishway described by Boyd Kynard during
the morning presentations but a final decision to proceed
with installation has not yet reached. The sea lamprey
control program has proposed a new sea lamprey barrier
on the Cedar River. Sea lamprey control personnel are
consulting with FWS and MDNR on the type of fish passage
and consideration is being given to the potential need
for sturgeon passage in the future. The dam near the
mouth of the Manistique River is failing and permitting
passage of lamprey. Lampricide treatments are now required
and are very costly due to the size of the watershed
(largest in the Upper Peninsula). Work is in progress
to design a sea lamprey barrier. The pros and cons associated
with fish passage are being discussed with the FWS and
the MDNR. Excellent habitat for sturgeon exists above
this barrier so passage could be very beneficial for
rehabilitation in this system (contact Ed Baker).
General Sturgeon Observations and Data Collection
It was discussed that biological data should be collected
from incidental captures of sturgeon whenever possible,
including a genetic sample (fin tissue snip placed in
scale envelope and air dried). Numbers of fish encountered
incidental to other fishery assessments appear to be
increasing in recent years and at numerous locations
around the lake, not just in areas adjacent to known
spawning rivers. If measures of total or fork length
and girth at taken, weight (and age) can be estimated.
Fish should be examined and scanned for several types
of tags (see tagging discussion below) and characterization
of sea lamprey marks may also be valuable. Genetic samples
also may eventually be able to be used to determine
sex, depending on success of current research efforts
at Purdue University.
The occurrence of dead sturgeon in Green Bay during
late summer of the past 3 years and its likely association
with Botulism was described (contact Rob Elliott). A
few fish have also washed up in southern L. Michigan.
Doug Carlson provided a Powerpoint presentation during
the sturgeon health breakout group the day before describing
similar mortalities in Lake Erie and Ontario in recent
years and the apparent association with zebra muscles,
gobies, and increased algal growth.
Tagging/marking updates and issues
The GLFT has provided funding to supply most agencies
around Lake Michigan with additional PIT tag readers
and tagging materials in 2005 (contact Erik Olsen).
There is also a coordinated PIT order being put together
for everyone needing tags (contact Rob Elliott). The
question of starting to use the ISO standard 134 kHz
tags instead of the 125 kHz tags was discussed (same
cost). New and future advancements in antenna technologies
are being developed for the ISO tags that would be nice
to take advantage of. The new PIT tag readers as well
as many existing readers that people are using will
read both tag frequencies, but there are some older
readers that would need to be replaced if some people
started to use the ISO tags. Rob Elliott will investigate
further and provide more details prior to placing the
coordinated tag order.
Though most people are injecting PIT tags under the
anterior dorsal scutes, a few fish have apparently been
tagged elsewhere in some of the other lakes so it is
a good idea to scan the entire fish for possible tags.
Numerous fish in L. Michigan have been tagged with various
floy and monel tags, often in addition to PIT tags.
Elastomere marking and microtags (CWTs) have occasionally
been used for some fish stocked in the Menominee River,
and fish stocked in the Milwaukee R. this year will
have an RV clip. CWTs also have been used to mark hatchery
fish stocked in L Superior. Be prepared to check captured
fish over closely for numerous tag types.
The creation of a Great Lakes lake sturgeon tag database
is back on tap for 2005. This database will provide
a web based means to identify a contact person(s) for
recaptures of sturgeon containing PIT tags as well as
other tag types (contact Adam Kowalski or Rob Elliott).
Lake Michigan Lake Sturgeon Task Group update
This task group is organized under the GLFC Lake Michigan
Committee and Lake Michigan Technical Committee structure.
Membership is open to all interested. Steering committee
members are Rob Elliott (chair), Ed Baker, Marty Holtgren
and Brad Eggold. A draft version of a Lake Sturgeon
Rehabilitation Plan for Lake Michigan that was developed
following input from the first Task Group meeting in
September 2003 was circulated for review in December
2003. Comments are still welcome. A smaller work group
dealing specifically with the genetic conservation,
propagation and stocking section of the Plan met in
June 2004. A draft of that section is currently out
for review by the members of that work group, after
which it will be distributed to all Task Group members
for review (presentation given during day I of this
meeting, contact Rob Elliott, Ed Baker, Brad Eggold
or Marty Holtgren). Additional small work groups are
focusing on priority rankings of rivers for rehabilitation,
identifying and inventorying critical habitat, developing
standardized assessment and data analysis procedures.
Rob Elliott has been asked to prepare a lake sturgeon
section and presentation for the upcoming State of Lake
Michigan report at the March GLFC Lake Committee meetings.
He will be contacting people for input and review of
what needs to be prepared.
Upcoming funding sources
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has put out a call
for proposals for Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration
Act funding. There are a number of priority research
needs identified for lake sturgeon in Lake Michigan.
Preproposals are due in December. The Great Lakes Fishery
Trust request for proposals (including those for sturgeon
research) should be coming out in December with preproposals
due in late January, 2005. This timeline for sturgeon
proposals has been moved up to match the timing for
their other fisheries research categories, to allow
for a longer proposal review period, and to keep the
proposal submission dates from conflicting with spring
field work. Fox River Natural Resources Damage Assessment
(NRDA) funds are another potential source of funding
available for sturgeon restoration work within the Green
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