The Indiana DNR recently received 168,000 Chinook salmon eggs thanks to a partnership with the Wisconsin DNR.

Chinook salmon are highly prized by anglers, and the species makes up a significant portion of the fish stocked into Indiana’s Lake Michigan waters. Indiana does not have the infrastructure to spawn Chinook salmon, so the DNR relies on partners in other states for eggs.

Kept at Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery, the Chinook eggs will be hatched and raised until spring 2021, when fingerlings will be stocked.

“Partnerships are crucial for our Lake Michigan program, and we’re very grateful to Wisconsin DNR for going above and beyond to get these eyed eggs,” said Rob Ackerson, hatchery manager at Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery.

Hatchery managers refer to newly fertilized eggs as green eggs. Several weeks after fertilization, the eyes of the salmon embryo become visible, signaling the egg is viable. At that point, the eggs are referred to as eyed eggs.

Although Wisconsin harvested enough green eggs to meet Indiana’s egg request, an unusually low number of viable eggs has resulted in shortages. Wisconsin was only able to provide Indiana with enough eyed eggs to meet just over half of Indiana’s production goal of 225,000 Chinook salmon. By the time the poor eye-up was determined, it was too late to obtain more eggs from any source, because the Chinook spawning run had ended.

“While we’re disappointed to not have our full complement of Chinooks for the 2021 stocking year, we’ll continue to roll with the punches this unpredictable year has delivered,” said Ben Dickinson, Lake Michigan biologist for Indiana DNR. “We will make Indiana’s Lake Michigan fishery the best we can with the cards we’re dealt.”

For more information about Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery, visit wildlife.IN.gov/5465.htm.

More information about Lake Michigan fishing is at wildlife.IN.gov/3625.htm.