Bay Brown Stocking

Better Chance for Survival

Original Author: Jeff Alexander

April 19, 2016, 9:22 pm

A new approach to stocking brown trout in the Bay of Green Bay appears to be working.

At a boat launch north of Sturgeon Bay, a tanker truck from the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery meets up with the Coregonus, the DNR’s research vessel.

Close to 10,000 young brown trout are ready to be transferred.

“We noticed about 10 years ago that we were having low returns of brown trout in Green Bay and so this effort is trying to combat that, to try to increase the survival of those fish that we’re stocking,” says David Boyarski, DNR Northern Lake Michigan Fisheries Supervisor.

“We would dump them right along shore here, the birds would sometimes have a feast on them,” adds DNR Fisheries Technician Tim Kroeff.

Predator fish like walleye would also swarm the trout, which is why in 2012, fish biologists decided to try something new.

Roughly half of the 125,000 brown trout stocked in the bay are now transported about a mile off shore, in deep water, and released.

For these 16-month old trout, it’s suddenly a whole new world.

“You can definitely tell they go through a little shock, they’re a little bit wondering what’s going on in the world and it takes them a few hours, maybe a few days even to get their senses about them and to start behaving more naturally and avoiding predators,” says Boyarski.

Unfortunately for some, their time in the bay is only a matter of seconds.

A flock of gulls has caught on to what’s happening and the birds find a quick meal as the trout are finding their bearings.

Overall though, biologists say the offshore release seems to be working.

Sport fishing catch rates have risen the last two years.

“Nice thing about the Seeforellen strain is they mature a little bit later and more of a trophy size for anglers, the state record is almost 42 pounds,” says Kroeff.

Perhaps the next state record just entered the big water.