The Indiana DNR has a message for Chinook salmon anglers this fall: if it’s missing a fin, please turn it in.

Specifically, the message refers to a missing adipose fin, which identifies Chinook salmon that are part of a multi-state research project to study the movement of the species in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Anglers this fall on Trail Creek, the Little Calumet system, Salt Creek and the Lake Michigan area near Buffington Harbor and East Chicago should watch for Chinook salmon with a missing adipose fin.

Anglers who catch one are asked to bring the fish’s head to the DNR Lake Michigan fisheries research station at 100 W. Water St., Michigan City, during normal business hours. On weekends, anglers can take heads to Lake Michigan Tackle, 1315 Franklin St., or Chief’s Bait Shop, 1114 W. Fourth St. (US 12), both in Michigan City.

The adipose fin is a small fin on the top of the fish, near the tail. (See graphic below.)

Since 2011, state agencies in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois have been clipping the adipose fins of all hatchery-raised Chinook salmon to distinguish them from naturally reproduced fish and to represent that they have been injected with a small microtag in their snouts.

The microtag has a numeric code that tells researchers where the fish was stocked.

The DNR asks anglers to deliver only the heads of the fish and not the entire carcass. It is important for anglers to provide date of capture, location of capture, length of the fish, and weight of the fish when possible. Cooperation from anglers will provide valuable assistance to biologists working on the research project.

Most of these fish will be 16 to 25 inches long and are from the 2011 year class. This fall will be the first year in which many of those marked Chinook salmon return to streams to spawn.

DNR fisheries biologists will scan the fish head to determine if a tag is present. They will then freeze the head and provide it to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for tag extraction.

During spring 2012, nearly 100 of the Chinooks were collected during the tournament season.

For more information, or to arrange the delivery of a fish head, call Brian Breidert at the DNR Lake Michigan fisheries research station, (219) 874-6824.

For more information: Brian Breidert, DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, (219) 974-6824.

Logo courtesy Indiana Department of Natural Resources

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