During the mid 1970s to mid 1980s, prior to the installation of the lamprey barrier/fishway on the Brule River, anglers raised concern about a perceived declining steelhead population. After careful deliberation by state and concerned citizens, a stocking program utilizing Brule River strain fish was instituted. The initial stocking strategy was modeled after recent successful west coast wild rehabilitation programs, Wisconsin’s and Michigan’s Lake Michigan’s steelhead plan and a Cornell University genetics evaluation conducted on numerous steelhead populations inhabiting the western end of Lake Superior. The initial strategy called for a 5 year project which included annual stocking of 50,000 wild yearlings larger than 7” in length reared at the Brule River hatchery/rearing station and released in downstream reaches prior to smolting. Due to many unforeseen limitations within the hatchery system in rearing wild trout, the project included near annual adjustments to improve quality of the product and evolved into a lengthy experiment. Three different life history strategies (2 year-olds, fingerlings, and yearlings) were used to improve adult return rates, encompassing 14 year classes and 20 years of evaluation.

To read the draft report on this project, click on Stocking Experiment Report – (draft 3).

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