St Marys River Walleye Seasonal Migration Pilot Study
Project Title
St. Marys River Walleye Seasonal Migration Pilot Study
Project Code
Project Duration
April 2011 - August 2011
Project Description
The St. Marys River is a 115 km connecting channel between Lakes Superior and Huron characterized by high levels of habitat heterogeneity and a diverse native-dominated fish community. Potadromous fishes migrate annually to and from the river, but little is known about movement of walleye the principle native predator. A better understanding of walleye movement within and to and from the river is important for managing this species not only in the river but also in Lake Huron's North Channel and main basin. Walleye in the lower St. Marys River make up a number of discrete spawning stocks. Post spawning walleye are found through out the river suggesting fish move considerable distances and may follow a seasonal pattern of distribution to various river reaches. A 1980s study describes post spawning up river and down river movement by walleye from the principle spawning location in Munuscong Bay and return to the bay in January, February and March. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources undertook a seasonal movement study of the Munuscong Bay, Bar River and Potagannissing River spawning stocks via jaw tagged fish and angler reported capture in 1998-2000. Munuscong Lake fish were found to disperse as reported in the 1980s study. The Bar River fish also dispersed up and down river and the Potagannissing River fish moved up the east side of St. Joseph Island into the St. Joseph Channel. Angler reported captures were few and the understanding of walleye seasonal movement needs further investigation. In 2011 an opportunity to test the tracking of walleye movement in greater detail was made possible by the deployment in the river of an acoustic array for the study of sea lampreymovement. The principle investigators agreed to this project’s use of the same array and the separation of acoustic data for walleye from the larger lamprey data set .
Management Benefits
Participating Organizations