Outdoors blog: Brule River, North Shore steelhead updates
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Brule River, North Shore steelhead run updates
A total of 761 steelhead entered Wisconsin’s Brule River this spring, according to Dennis Pratt, fisheries manager for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Superior. Added to last fall’s run of 8,130 steelhead, a total of 8,891 steelhead made up the 2009-10 run.
That’s close to the average fall-spring run of 8,946 from 2003 to the present and up from last year’s combined run of 7,736 steelhead.
This year’s run included a record 8,795 wild steelhead and 96 fin-clipped, hatchery-reared fish from a stocking experiment that was discontinued in 2001. The 22-year historical average wild run is 6,352.
This year’s run was dominated by 5- and 6-year-old fish, Pratt said, which made up 69 percent of the total run. The fish were in excellent condition — “fatter than normal,” Pratt said — most likely because of abundant forage in Lake Superior.
“We expect that next year’s return will drop down closer to the historical average as two year classes age, unless a greater than average number of young fish return,” Pratt said.
Meanwhile, on the North Shore, 714 steelhead were counted at the Knife River trap, said Don Schreiner, Lake Superior area fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Of those, 409 were wild fish, and 305 were stocked steelhead. In addition, 26 Kamloops rainbows were captured at the Knife River trap. That compares to 499 unclipped and 297 clipped steelhead last year.
Clipped steelhead are hatchery-reared fish that are raised from the eggs of wild fish.
At the French River, DNR officials counted 397 Kamloops rainbows this spring. That’s close to last year’s total of 404 and up from a total of 316 in 2008. This marks the third year in a row that returns have been well below average.