DNR crews begin annual Lake Michigan yellow perch assessment

S/V Steelhead riding through channelThe Department of Natural Resources today announced that survey crews from the Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station headed out on Lake Michigan Aug. 24 to conduct surveys of yellow perch populations and other nearshore fish species. The surveys are being conducted from the research vessel Steelhead, as well as from smaller DNR vessels that permit sampling in shallow, nearshore waters. The surveys will run through September 11.

The DNR has been involved since 1995 in a lakewide collaboration with other Lake Michigan natural resources agencies to assess yellow perch. Data collected during these surveys is used to estimate a broad range of biological variables vital to understanding yellow perch populations in Lake Michigan and associated tributaries.

“Early indications from work in southern Lake Michigan by our sister agencies are that 2015 may be a banner year for yellow perch spawning and survival of young fish, so we’re excited to get out and see what populations look like in Michigan waters,” said Dave Clapp, Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station manager. “Fish hatched in 2010 and 2011 are just now reaching full maturity, so we expect to see an increase in spawning activity and an abundance of young perch this year, supported by increased lake levels and slightly warmer water temperatures this summer.”

Survey operations will be conducted near the ports of South Haven, Grand Haven, Portage, Pentwater, Charlevoix and Petoskey. Vessels involved in the surveys will be docked at these Great Lakes ports, and the public is encouraged to visit the vessels and talk with crew members about fisheries assessment operations.

To learn more about the efforts of all the DNR’s vessels, please visit the Fisheries Research website.
/Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. A suggested caption follows:

Steelhead 8-7-12 leaving CHX.jpg: The research vessel Steelhead will be busy on Lake Michigan in the coming weeks, collecting data on yellow perch populations./