12/22/2010 from a local State Representative. Contact us if you would like the name.

Stocking is a good strategy when a) the fish to be stocked are sufficient in number to support the desired fishery at reasonable cost or b) stocking is necessary and sufficient to create a spawning population that will proliferate and restore the fishery. The first case is stocking to support a put-and-take fishery. The second case is stocking to restore a population.

When we stock salmon and trout it is the first case; the stocked fish are sufficient in number to support the desired fishery. We have no expectation or need for them to reproduce in the wild. Instead, when they mature as adults and return to our spawning facilities (on Strawberry Creek, the Kewaunee River, and the Root River) we spawn them artificially, and raise the next generation at hatcheries for later stocking to support the fishery in future years. For yellow perch there is no realistic way to provide a put-and-take fishery of any size with stocked fish. The cost would simply be too great.

That leaves the possibility of stocking to restore the population. That might be reasonable if the yellow perch population in Lake Michigan were totally depleted, but that is not the case today. Instead, there is a substantial population of healthy adult yellow perch, but apparently conditions in the lake have changed so that the survival of their offspring is limited. If we were to stock more yellow perch there is no reason to think they would produce more offspring than the wild fish that are already there.

The underlying problem may be that the lake has changed in one or more ways that limit the ability of yellow perch to produce large numbers of offspring. Thirty years ago a yellow perch population like the one we have now produced a series of very large "year classes" of offspring and produced the remarkable sport fishery that lasted from about 1985 to about 1995. Ecological changes to the lake since the 1980's are truly profound and far-reaching. Attached is a short recent paper that deals with that. Also attached is a recent summary of the yellow perch population prepared by a multi-jurisdictional yellow perch task group.