Friday, March 31, 2023

Good news for Lake Champlain’s trout


News of a reduction to planned lake trout stocking levels in Lake Champlain is another positive sign of the growing strength of the lake’s wild-reproducing populations.

Fisheries managers announced plans to halve the number of lake trout stocked into the lake this fall, cutting the number to 41,000.

University of Vermont fisheries biologist Ellen Marsden and researchers in her lab in recent years have documented evidence that about 10 years ago, lake trout first introduced decades earlier finally started to spawn fish that “recruited” out of the first year of life and into the juvenile stage. Those fish have now grown into reproductive maturity and are continuing to thrive.

“This isn’t just a flash in the pan,” Marsden said.

Marsden confirmed an interesting element of recent stocking changes. A cooperative of New York, Vermont and federal officials in 2021 stopped stocking fish from a New York hatchery, another effort to reduce stocking amid signs of a strong wild population. The logistics and economies of scale of eliminating one hatchery’s contribution all together drove the decision. But after managers eliminated the New York-hatched fish entirely, a postdoctoral researcher in Marsden’s lab found evidence that the genetics of the wild fish in the lake were more closely linked to the New York strain than Vermont fish.

Spring is here! Still no salt report

State officials in December told me a long-awaited report from the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force would be ready for release “early next year.”

I don’t have a state bureaucrat-ese translator with me, but spring has officially arrived, the end of the first quarter of the year nears, and there is still no report from the road salt task force.

Members in recent weeks indicated the task force had met to discuss changes and tweaks and expected the report soon. But the report’s recommendations will be too late to be a part of any budget discussion – at least in the light of day – and could drop just as the focus on snow and ice for many melts into spring.


Photo at top: Lake trout swim beneath an Atlantic salmon in an aquarium at Burlington’s ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. The trout are reproducing naturally in the lake, while salmon still struggle. Explorer file photo.

This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

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