Month of August brings trawl survey to Lake Erie

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will conduct a trawl survey in Lake Erie near Monroe, beginning Aug. 7 and continuing through Aug. 10.

“This survey is a component of the DNR’s annual efforts to assess the fish community in Lake Erie,” said Todd Wills, the DNR’s Lake Huron-Lake Erie Area fisheries research manager. “The data from this survey will be used to describe the status of prey fish populations, assess the abundance of juvenile walleye and yellow perch in Michigan waters, and continue our monitoring efforts for invasive species.”

A trawl, which looks like a large, mesh sock, will be towed on the lake bottom behind the research vessel (R/V) Channel Cat, which has a home port at the Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station in Harrison Township. A number of sites will be sampled in Michigan waters, from the mouth of the Detroit River to the Turtle Island area along the Michigan-Ohio border. The trawl is towed for five to 10 minutes at each site and then hauled on board the vessel. The catch is then sorted, identified and measured.

Since the trawl does not remain in the water overnight like traditional survey nets, it poses no threat to boat activity in the surveyed areas. The DNR does remind anglers and boats to give the R/V Channel Cat room to maneuver while it is actively trawling, which is indicated by displaying a double-triangle day shape from a mast on its roof.

The DNR shares information collected from its annual Lake Erie survey efforts with partner agencies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario through annual meetings fostered by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Collaboration through the commission’s Lake Erie Committee supports fisheries management efforts across the Lake Erie basin. Survey data also will be summarized and made available for the public this winter.

For more information about this particular survey, contact Todd Wills at 586-465-4771, ext. 22 or willst@michigan.gov.

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