A program designed to improve the restoration and management of Great Lakes
fish communities is coming to Indiana this spring, the Indiana Department of
Natural Resources said.
The Great Lakes Mass Marking Program will kick into full swing in mid-March
when the DNR marks nearly 225,000 small chinook salmon scheduled for spring
stocking in Lake Michigan. The 2011 marking effort will focus on chinook
salmon to assess natural reproduction levels and provide fishery managers
detailed data on survival parameters of each agency’s stockings.
Coded wire tag-mass marking technology has been used effectively in the
Pacific Northwest and parts of the Great Lakes for many years, but federal
funding has allowed for a basin-wide effort with all federal, state and
tribal fish hatcheries participating.
“The mass marking program is very important, and Indiana is committed to use
this technology to learn more about where Indiana’s fish are caught and to
compare survival from our three stocking sites,” said Brian Breidert, a DNR
fisheries research biologist. “In addition to a fin clip, each fish will
receive a micro-tag specifically coded to a stocking location. Current
estimates indicate over 50 percent of the chinook salmon in Lake Michigan
are wild fish, and use of mass marking will refine that estimate and lead to
a better understanding of chinook population trends.”
The hatchery-raised chinook will be about three inches long when tagged and
close to four inches long when released in March.
Biologists will use a specially designed trailer to count, measure, remove
the adipose fin, and inject each fish’s snout with a small coded wire. These
tags cannot be seen with the naked eye but the clipped adipose fin will tell
biologists and anglers that a tag is present, indicating a hatchery stocked
Beginning in 2012, biologists will collect information and chinook salmon
heads during creel surveys and fishing tournaments. They will focus on fish
with the missing adipose fin.
Trout and other salmon species will be tagged in future years so biologists
will have the ability to answer questions regarding those species as well.