IDNR Announces Chinook Salmon Stocking Reduction

Chris Young
IDNR Announces Chinook Salmon Stocking Reduction
SPRINGFIELD, IL - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), along with partnering fishery management agencies around Lake Michigan, today announced plans for a 62 percent lake-wide reduction in Chinook salmon stocking beginning in 2017.  The stocking reduction represents a commitment by fishery managers to maintain a quality and diversified Lake Michigan salmon and trout fishery in the face of a changing ecosystem and record low abundances of prey fish populations, including alewives. 

The proposed 2017 stocking reduction comes four years after managers implemented a 50 percent lake-wide reduction in Chinook salmon stocking in 2013.  Fisheries management agencies met several times with constituents in 2012 to decide on changes to the salmon management strategy which were then instituted in 2013.  Increases in natural reproduction of Chinook, and declines in the abundance of alewives and overall productivity of the system have led to recent stocking changes to maintain the predator-prey balance in the lake. 

“As a signatory to the Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries, Illinois works cooperatively with other states, tribes and federal agencies to manage multi-jurisdictional fisheries in Lake Michigan,” said Dan Stephenson, chief of the IDNR Division of Fisheries.  “Stocking fewer numbers of prized Chinook salmon is not a decision we desire, but with continuing declines of prey species, a further reduction in predator stockings is warranted to balance predator and prey fish populations and stabilize the fishery.”

”Our fisheries biologists use the best science available when making management decisions that affect Illinois anglers and the economically important Lake Michigan fishery.  We remain committed to providing the highest quality fishing opportunities for the residents of Illinois and the many non-residents who visit and recreate along the lakefront,” said IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal.

For 2017, Lake Michigan managers propose a total lake-wide stocking of 690,000 Chinook salmon, down from the current 1,800,000. The proposed reduction follows the 2013 stocking cuts, when state natural resource managers agreed to a decrease from previous levels of 3.3 million Chinook stocked each year. 

Under agreement among the agencies, Illinois would now stock 90,000 fish each year, Indiana would stock 45,000 fish, Michigan 200,000 and Wisconsin 355,000.  The proposed 2017 stocking plan reflects past stocking performance and spring/summer angler success in catching Chinook from various stocking locations around the lake.  In addition, the plan should include enough fish to ensure fall spawning runs at egg collection weirs and for stream, harbor and nearshore anglers in each state.

The IDNR will hold an informational public meeting to discuss the Chinook stocking reduction and salmon and trout management in Lake Michigan.  The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, 2016, and will be held at the CMS Suburban North Regional Office Facility, 9511 W. Harrison Street, Des Plaines, IL  60016.  Attendees are asked to please use the south parking lot and enter through the building’s south doors.

The agenda will include informative presentations on recent changes in the lake ecosystem, Chinook salmon and prey fish population abundances, coded-wire tag returns, Illinois salmon and trout harvest, and tools used to inform trout and salmon management decisions.  Time will be reserved after the presentations for questions and open discussion of mutual matters of concern.

For more information on the Lake Michigan fishery in Illinois, call the IDNR Lake Michigan Program at 847-294-4134, or check the website at
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