|Kenny Bock of Iowa caught and released this lake trout while ice fishing on Gullrock|
It was Good Old RL02-4178, that is, it had been tagged by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests and its tag number was RL02-4178. It was a female and she is well known to MNRF fish and wildlife personnel.
Red Lake biologist Toby Braithwaite said they have been tracking the movements of Number 4178 since 2012 when she and 24 other lake trout had sonic tags surgically implanted in them.
Although lake trout have always been caught by winter fishermen on Gullrock, it was generally believed that they moved upstream to the deeper waters of Red Lake as soon as the water began to warm in the spring.
Number 4178's sonic tag has shown that she spends most of the summer in Gullrock and only begins to head west in late July. Finally, in October, she makes a sprint to Pipestone Bay to spawn and then zooms back to Gullrock covering more than 31 miles in a single day!
|Red Lake trout at Dorion hatchery.|
Biologist Braithwaite notes fishes' ages are determined by taking a ray from a pectoral fin (one of the fins on the side near the head) and examining it through a microscope. The ray shows rings like a tree.
Back in 2002 it was determined that Red Lake's lake trout were in jeopardy and a program was begun to restock the lake using its own fish.
Each fall the MNRF stays at Bow Narrows Camp while lake trout are caught and their eggs and milt taken before the fish are returned back to the lake. These eggs are taken to the MNRF fish hatchery in Dorion and are brought back as fingerlings 18 months later. More than 500,000 fish have now been stocked in this fashion.
There will be 85,000 yearlings and 50,000 fry released this year.
The 2015 egg collection was the largest ever and the fish researchers hope to release 178,000 yearlings in 2017.
Adult fish that are caught by the MNRF during the fall spawning project have little yellow tags attached to them, just like Number 4178. If you catch a fish with such a tag, write down the number or take a photo of it before releasing the fish. Fishing regulations require that all lake trout must be released on the spot.
In addition, however, make a careful inspection of the fins of the fish. All of the stocked fish will be missing a fin since the hatchery personnel clip a different fin each year. You should report tag numbers either to the MNRF or to us at camp who can relay the information to Braithwaite and his fellow researchers. A report of a trout with a clipped fin would also be welcomed since it signals that the stocked fish are surviving. If you could also get a length on the fish, that would be helpful because when combined with the information on which fin was clipped, it would tell the researchers when the fish was stocked.
Braithwaite says the latest assessments show lake trout are now spawning in the Potato Island basin and the Trout Bay areas in greater abundance but seem to still be declining in Pipestone Bay.
|Hatchery personnel clip fins of anesthetized trout. Toby Braithwaite photos|
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