Northern Refuge Lake Trout
Project Title
Movement of lake trout in northern Lake Michigan: an evaluation of the efficacy of the Northern Refuge
Project Code
Project Duration
April 2021 - December 2025
Project Description
Northern Lake Michigan contains many historically important spawning reefs for lake trout, hence a large fish refuge ("Northern Refuge" ~2300 km2) to protect lake trout from fishing was established in 1985. The efficacy of the Northern Refuge has been questioned, thus information on lake trout movements within and outside the refuge would inform decisions on whether to maintain the refuge. Recovery of coded wire tagged lake trout stocked in the Northern Refuge provide some gross unidirectional movement data, but degree of multidirectional exchange between refuge and non-refuge waters and, thus, degree of protection via refuge residency is unknown. We will evaluate the efficacy of the Northern Refuge by deploying a grid of acoustic receivers in northern Lake Michigan to track the movements of lake trout within and across the refuge boundary. Lake trout will be tagged on four known spawning reefs within the refuge. We hypothesize that the refuge effectively protects lake trout from exploitation during residency, including the spawning period, but a portion of fish will emigrate from the refuge between spawning seasons.
Management Benefits
Participating Organizations