Lake Michigan has over 1,600 miles of shoreline, spanning the full lengths of Wisconsin and Michigan. While Indiana has only 45 miles of Lake Michigan coastline, the state has already stocked nearly 600,000 trout and salmon into the great lake this year, according to Indiana’s DNR.
Among the fish stocked were 90,280 brown trout fingerlings, 77,166 Coho salmon yearlings, 225,776 Skamania steelhead yearlings, and 195,915 Chinook salmon fingerlings.
Covid cancelled spring egg harvesting so no winter-run steelhead were stocked in Indiana. To make up for that shortfall, Indiana raised extra Skamania steelhead yearlings and obtained twice as many brown trout as usual in cooperation with the Illinois DNR.
Cooperation with the Wisconsin DNR allowed Indiana to procure enough Chinook salmon eggs for hatching. Indiana’s hatchery staff also worked with other state agencies to secure more than 59,000 Chinook from Illinois and 39,000 from Michigan.
“The last year has been a challenge to navigate with production shortages, canceled egg takes, and many pandemic-related issues,” said Ben Dickinson, Indiana DNR Lake Michigan biologist. “I’m proud of our hatchery staff for being adaptable, and very grateful for all our Lake Michigan state agency partners for helping to ensure we can stock a variety of species to maintain our diverse fishery.”
Indiana’s spring stockings into Lake Michigan’s public waters and tributaries included: East Chicago Marina, East Branch Little Calumet River, Salt Creek, Trail Creek, and the St. Joseph River. While Indiana spring fish stockings in Lake Michigan are complete, coho salmon fingerlings are scheduled for stocking in October, and winter-run steelhead fingerlings in December.
The efforts from this stocking program hopefully lead to more fish like the enormous 39-pound chinook salmon caught by Nate Wellman during last weekend’s Tournament Trail Muskegon Open.