Natural Lake Trout Reproduction Returns to Lake Erie

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For the first time in over 60 years, natural lake trout reproduction has been documented in Lake Erie.  The discovery was made in the spring of 2021 as part of an acoustic telemetry study conducted by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation staff and partners. Multiple recently hatched fry were collected in May and positively identified by Trent University as lake trout through genetic bar-coding.  

“These fry were likely produced by adult fish we stocked as juveniles that grew up to adults and finally found good spawning habitat,” Hatchery Manager Larry Miller said. 

Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) are a cold-water fish and are the largest of the trout species. This deep-water fish was once a top predator fish in the Great Lakes and historically had high value as a commercial and recreational fishery.  

Lake trout populations crashed in the Great Lakes as a result of overfishing, water pollution, and predation by invasive sea lamprey. By the 1960’s lake trout were completely extirpated from Lake Erie, and in the 1980’s the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery began stocking efforts.  

Lake Erie contains some of the largest lake trout available to anglers in New York thanks to the combined efforts of New York and the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery. 

Today, the Great Lakes fishery resources are worth more than $7 billion annually and support more than 75,000 jobs. Anglers come from all over the globe to experience the Great Lakes world-class fishing opportunities. 

Story Tags

Captive breeding
Ecosystem recovery
Fish hatcheries