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Northern Pike Esox lucius

Identifying characteristics: (Native Fish) Single dorsal fin, light colored spots on darker body, upper half of gill cover and entire cheek has scales.

As predators, northern pike can have significant impact on their prey species. As with muskies, pike lurk in the cover of vegetation in the lake’s clear, shallow, warm waters near shore, although they retreat somewhat deeper in midsummer. Pike consume large numbers of smaller fish – about 90 percent of their diet – but seem willing to supplement their diet with any living creature their huge jaws can surround, including frogs, crayfish, waterfowl, rodents, and other small mammals. Their preferred food size is approximately one third to one half the size of the pike itself.

Great Lakes pike spawn in the shallows in April or May, right after the ice leaves, and before muskies reproduce. As a result of their eating habits, young pike grow rapidly in both length and weight. Females become sexually mature at age three or four years, and males at two to three years. Beyond sexual maturity, pike continue to gain weight, although more slowly. Great Lakes pike have an average life span of 10 to 12 years.

Pike eggs and new hatchlings (which stay inactive, attached to vegetation for their first few days of life) fall prey in large numbers to larger pike, perch, minnows, waterfowl, water mammals, and even some insects. Larger pike have two primary enemies – lampreys, and man. Spawning adult northern pike, exposing themselves recklessly in the shallows, are vulnerable to bears, dogs, and other large carnivores.

Northern pike flesh excels in flavor, thus making them a doubly rewarding game fish. Since their skin has heavy pigmentation and an unappetizing mucous coating, most people skin them or scale them carefully.




Lake trout Salvelinus namaycush :

 

Identifying characteristics: (Native Fish) Two dorsal fins including one adipose fin, light spots on darker gray background, lower fins edged with white, tail forked, 11 rays in anal fin.

The lake trout or "salmon trout" as it is sometimes called, is the largest trout native to the Great lakes and other Michigan lake waters. This fish strongly prefers a water temperature of 45-55 degrees F. Thus, while the lake trout may be found in shallow water only 10 to 15 feet deep in spring and fall, it follows these frigid water temperatures to depths of 100 to 200 feet in the summer and winter. This restless denizen of the cold, deep waters is a true wanderer, often ranging many miles in search of prey. A relentless hunter, the lake trout feeds primarily on other fish. Although it seems to have a peculiar penchant for ciscoes, it also concentrates on alewives, smelt or sculpin (dead or alive), and sometimes takes crustaceans, insects, other fish, and even small mammals.

Many lake trout seem to return each fall to use the same spawning beds, although some don't show this homing behavior. The eggs are deposited after dark, often on shoals. Young lake trout become sexually mature at 6 or 7 years of age. The average adult weighs in at 9 - 10 pounds but some individuals weigh up to 50 pounds (the Michigan record is 61 1bs and 8 oz). The life-span of the lake trout may exceed 25 years.

Parasitization by sea lampreys severely reduced the lake trout populations in Michigan from 1935 to 1965. Chemical contaminants and over-fishing pressures have also contributed to the problem, but with better fishing management and control of the lamprey and pollution problems, the invaluable lake trout is coming back.

An unusual from of lake trout occurs in the deep waters of Lake Superior, and is called a cisowet. This "fat trout" spawns at depths greater than 300 feet and is edible only when smoked. In Lake Superior individuals exist covering the entire spectrum from this odd type to the familiar form of lake trout.

Lake trout have also be successfully hybridized with brook trout to form the "splake," obtained by fertilizing lake trout eggs with brook trout sperm. Splake released in the Great Lakes and recaptured 5 or 6 years later have weighed up to 16 pounds. Splake are intermediate between the parent species in appearance.

Lake trout are avidly sought after by both commercial and sport anglers, for food as well as for the sport.


Brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis :

 

Identifying characteristics: (Native Fish) Brook trout have a long, streamlined body with a large mouth that extends past the eye. Color variations include olive, blue-gray, or black above with a silvery white belly and wormlike markings (vermiculations) along the back. They have red spots sometimes surrounded by bluish halos on their sides. The lower fins have a white front edge with black and the remainder being reddish orange. The tail fin is square or rarely slightly forked. During breeding time in the fall male brook trout can become very bright orange-red along the sides.

The brook trout is native to Michigan’s waters and is the state fish of Michigan. They can be found throughout most of the state in many creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, and in the Great Lakes. Brook trout require cool, clear, spring-fed streams and pools. They can be found under cover of rocks, logs, and undercut banks and have been described as stationary. Larger brook trout often inhabit deep pools moving to shallow water only to feed. They prefer temperatures from 57–60 degrees F.

Spawning generally occurs in the months of October and November. Mature brook trout seek riffle areas with gravel in spring-fed streams, spring seepage areas of ponds, lake shores with swift currents, or lake bottoms where groundwater seepage occurs for spawning. Female brook trout use their tails to create a spawning bed (or redd) in gravelly areas. Redds may measure 1 – 2 feet in size. Female brook trout can produce between 100 – 400 eggs depending upon the size and age of the individual. After spawning the female covers the eggs with gravel. Brook trout eggs must get continous amounts of oxygen in order for the eggs to survive. Depending upon water temperatures the eggs will incubate 2 to 3 months before hatching into sac fry.

The sac fry remain in the redd until their yolk sac is absorbed. Then, when they are about 1 ½ inches long, they venture away from the redd to feed. It takes about 2 to 3 years for them to mature and they usually do not live longer than 6 years. Brook trout living in streams often reach sizes between 7-9 inches. Great lake brook trout or coasters can attain larger sizes up to 25 inches and 10 pounds.

Brook trout have been described as voracious feeders with the potential to consume large numbers of zooplankton, crustaceans, worms, fish, terrestrial insects, and aquatic insects. Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, and Diptera often make up a large component of their diet. However, they will often feed on whatever is most readily available.

Brook trout are avidly sought after by sport anglers, for food as well as for the sport. They can be caught by using various bait and lures including worms, crickets, grasshoppers, wet and dry flies, spoons, and spinners.

 © Copyrights Domaine Pipmuacan 2018
 

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