Retired Brood Fish Make a Splash in the Northland
BY CAREY EDWARDS, IRON RIVER NFH
moment to adjust to their new environment before swimming out to deeper
water. Credit: USFWS
Iron River National Fish Hatchery (NFH) produces 1.2 million lake trout and coaster brook trout for restoration purposes in the upper Great Lakes. Several thousand adult and juvenile brood fish are held on station to produce eggs to achieve this goal. Adult brood fish are “retired” as their efficiency at producing eggs declines, egg/fish requests decline or space is needed for new brood fish. The hatchery staff makes every effort to place these fish in the local fishery. This year was exceptional in that an entire strain of brood fish was retired. Due to the success of the lake trout restoration program in Lake Huron, fish requests were significantly reduced, making the Seneca Lake strain of lake trout no longer needed at Iron River NFH.
Working with the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan Departments of Natural Resources, Iron River NFH was able to stock over 2,000 lake trout in nine inland lakes across the Northland. Most fish averaged between 7 and 12 pounds. Area fish managers were very appreciative of the opportunities these fish provide local anglers. Heartwarming and hilarious fishing stories are often shared while unloading trucks at the lakes. One tale retold was of a fisherman in a canoe that hooked a lake trout so big that it pulled him across the lake.Another story of a first time angler landing a lunker lake trout in northern Michigan which inspired her to become hooked on fishing for life. Yet another story reminisces of about a children’s fishing event with dozens of children lined up along the shore trying to land a big one.
It was a little bit sad to say goodbye to a group of fish that we have taken care of for up to six years, but it’s really a three-fold success story…rearing space has been opened up for new opportunities at Iron River NFH, lake trout restoration is nearing completion in Lake Huron, and quality fishing opportunities abound in the Northland.
released. Credit: USFWS