A re-assignment of salmon stocking to the St. Joseph River, Salt Creek, Trail Creek and the Little Calumet River by the Indiana DNR should provide more diverse fishing opportunities for Hoosier anglers in the Great Lakes area, particularly during fall.
The DNR will stock 60,000 fall fingerling coho salmon into the St. Joseph River and 30,000 coho into Salt Creek in Porter County this fall. Trail Creek and the Little Calumet River will annually receive approximately 75,000 coho salmon.
Expanded coho production was made possible by eliminating Chinook salmon from the St. Joseph River stocking program. There will be no net change in coho salmon produced within Indiana hatcheries.
“With the declines in steelhead returns each summer/fall season on the St. Joe and with improved access on Salt Creek, it makes sense to move these fish in order to provide balanced fall fishing opportunities,” said Brian Breidert, DNR Lake Michigan fisheries biologist. “We will continue to evaluate the lake fishery as well as coho returns on the St. Joseph River through the fish ladder passage program and creel surveys.
Breidert said the DNR hopes for annual returns similar to 1997, when 6,400 fish returned from a single stocking of 75,000 coho yearlings in 1996. The DNR also plans to continue to maintain the spring coho fishery in Lake Michigan.
In 2002, Indiana DNR changed its Lake Michigan fish stocking program to better serve anglers. After an open comment period, anglers overwhelmingly supported a new stocking strategy that included an increase in coho salmon, a reduction in Chinook salmon, steady levels of steelhead and lake trout, and for the first time in 20 years, the addition of brown trout.
Indiana nearly doubled the annual coho salmon stocking from 150,000 to 240,000 fish while brown trout were obtained through a cooperative agreement with Illinois DNR.
Annually, Indiana DNR stocks nearly 35,000 brown trout into Indiana waters of Lake Michigan. The additional 90,000 coho were stocked into Trail Creek and the Little Calumet River. Those numbers showed increasing stocking levels within the small tributaries in Northwest Indiana has little impact on fall harvest and returns.
Brian Breidert, DNR Fish & Wildlife, Lake Michigan fisheries biologist, (219) 874-6824.