Return of Lake Trout Heralds the Cisco Comeback
BY KATIE STEIGER MEISTER, REGIONAL OFFICE - EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Lake trout are starting to make a comeback! Anglers and biologists are finding unclipped wild lake trout with more frequency, indicating that lake trout are successfully reproducing. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has played a key role in lake trout restoration efforts by supporting increases in the quality and quantity of stocked lake trout. Additional funding has also provided opportunities for more intensive assessment and evaluation of lake trout populations and restoration strategies.
With lake trout populations on the rise, and with changes in available prey, there is a need for more forage species, such as coregonids. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding is supporting ground breaking coregonid restoration work starting with the deepwater cisco, commonly referred to as bloaters. In the winter of 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collected a record-setting two million deepwater cisco eggs from Lake Michigan. The eggs were delivered to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and U.S. Geological Survey facilities to help meet fish stocking goals for restoration in Lake Ontario. Another major step was taken at a recent Department of Interior coregonid workshop where the Service and U.S. Geological Survey identified key science needs and capabilities to support basin-wide restoration of coregonid species across the Great Lakes.
Lake Michigan during winter spawning efforts. Credit: Katie
Cisco restoration is also coming home to our Midwest hatcheries as we begin to develop our capacity to raise ciscoes. This fall we had crews from Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in Michigan working on Lake Huron to collect eggs for our new rearing programs. Once the eggs are collected, they are sent to Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin. With wild lake trout populations on the rise, the time of the cisco has arrived!