The Cold Water Task Group (CWTG) consists of fisheries scientists from state, provincial, federal and university agencies conducting research on Lake Erie. The CWTG is a sub-committee of the Lake Erie Committee (LEC), appointed by the LEC and addressing charges from the LEC relevant to cold water fisheries management in Lakes Erie and St. Clair and connecting waters.
Lake Erie Salmonid Stocking
A total of 2,235,499 salmonids were stocked in Lake Erie in 2015. This was a 1% decrease in the number of yearling salmonids stocked compared to 2014, and was equivalent to the long-term average since 1990. Minor decreases in stocking numbers were observed for Steelhead, but Lake Trout stocking was at its highest stocking effort since directed stocking began in 1982. Although Brown Trout make up only 6% of all trout stockings, the numbers stocked increased 3% from 2014. By species, there were 304,819 yearling Lake Trout stocked in all three basins of Lake Erie; 141,013 Brown Trout stocked in New York and Pennsylvania waters, and 1,789,667 Steelhead/Rainbow Trout stocked across all five jurisdictional waters.
All agencies stocked yearling Steelhead in 2015. The summary of Steelhead stocking in Lake Erie by jurisdictional waters for 2015 is: Pennsylvania (1,079,019; 60%), Ohio (421,740; 24%), New York (153,923; 9%), Michigan (64,735; 4%) and Ontario (70,250; 4%). Steelhead stocking in 2015 (1.790 million) represented a 5% decrease from 2014 and 3% lower than the long-term average. Annual stocking numbers have been consistently in the 1.7-2.0 million fish range since 1993. The summer open lake Steelhead harvest was estimated at 6,460 Steelhead across all US agencies in 2015, essentially equal to 2014 estimates. Estimates for Ontario were not available in 2015. Overall, this harvest was lower than average harvest from 2008-14. Overall open lake catch rates remain near the long-term average, but effort remains minimal. Tributary angler surveys, which is where the majority (>90%) of the targeted fishery effort for Steelhead occurs, found catch rates of 0.32 fish/hour in New York during 2014-15.