Outdoors: Chinook staying in shallow waters
Written by Gary Post Tribune   
Friday, 15 July 2005 10:06
Brian Breidert, Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan chief fishery biologist, said that the strange weather pattern has been the main factor in allowing chinook salmon to be in shallow water this time of year.

?With the southern tip of Lake Michigan being at Michigan City, the winds have controlled the water temperature,? Briedert said. ?South and east winds push the warm water away from shore and then cold water up-wells or backfills.?

While the water temperature at Gary was approximately 74 degrees on Tuesday, the water temperature at Michigan City was 58 degrees in 50 feet of water Breidert said. He said that due to an east wind, the water temperature off the beach at New Buffalo was recorded at a bone-chilling 38.1 degrees on the surface.

Generally this time of the summer, most chinook salmon are miles off shore, where they are gorging on baitfish. With the cooler temperatures, however, baitfish such as alewives have moved back toward the shoreline.

On Tuesday evening Ball State personnell, working on their annual perch study, noted a heavy concentration of alewive in 15 to 30 feet of water. That could explain why a fisherman angling for perch that evening claimed to have caught a chinook in 22 feet of water off of Mount Baldy.

With another round of hot weather being predicted for early next week, it is becoming increasingly more possible that the chinook?s extended stay in shallow waters off of Michigan City might continue indefinitely.

Keep in mind that many of these fish weigh 10 to 12 pounds and are three-year-old salmon that, come fall, will be four years of age and ready to migrate up tributaries to spawn and die.

?The chinook have keyed in on huge schools of alewive that are longer in length than other schools,? Briedert said. ?As long as the baitfish stay shallow, you can count on the salmon being there to gorge on them.?

Briedert said the chinook might have actually doubled their weight since spring and now it?s common for them to weigh up to 10 and 12 pounds. By the time they begin their spawning migration this fall, their weight will likely average between 13 to 20 pounds.

Breidert?s assistant, biologist Janell Palla, said that stomach contents surveyed this spring have revealed some feeding patterns of trout and salmon.

? The chinook stomachs have contained alewive while samplings of both steelhead and lake trout have revealed that they are consuming a large number of round gobies,? Palla said.

 
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