PHOTO: Wild Lake Trout Found for First Time in Six Decades at Lake Erie

by Courtney Blackann

Lake Erie scientists are celebrating after wild trout were discovered in Lake Erie for the first time in 60 years. The discovery was made last week after The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) confirmed their presence.

The exciting news comes after decades of overfishing. dating back to the late 1800s, trout were fished in the lake which borders Canada as well as New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, according to the Daily Mail.

‘This phenomenal Great Lakes story of recovery is a testament to the perseverance of the researchers and biologists from DEC and partner agencies who worked tirelessly to help restore this fishery,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a written statement.

Further, the efforts of officials to improve water conditions contributed to the naturally born trout population.

So how exactly was the discovery made? The simple answer is through science. A lot of really cool science.

Through a process called acoustic telemetry, or using sound to collect data in open spaces, scientists were able to detect the presence of the trout. Additionally, scientists used genetic bar-coding to confirm that the fish were born naturally.

After European settlers began fishing trout in the northern region, the trout population quickly dwindled. Prior to the decline in population, trout grew to massive sizes. Some of the creatures even reached lengths of 50 inches and weighed up to 75 pounds.

By the early 1960s, however, natural trout were few and far between. Decades of dedication to bringing them back and improving water quality shows a happy future for the population.

Overfishing Not Only Factor Affecting Trout

While the presence of wild trout in Lake Erie is cause for celebration, it wasn’t all good news this summer.

Due to droughts plaguing the west, Montana shut down recreational fishing because of the conditions. Not only were there drops in water level, but the rising water temperatures increase risk to fish. The famous brown trout which inhabit the Montana waters can easily get sick in hot waters. This makes fishing slightly dangerous.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department restricted fishing in several bodies of water earlier this summer. Parts of Yellowstone National Park are also seeing the effects. Additionally, restrictions applied to Madison, Beaverhead, Missouri and Stillwater as well.

While local anglers may be slightly miffed about the issue, the closures are part of the state’s drought policies. Hot, dry weather created drought conditions for much of the western United States this summer.

At a time when states experienced hotter-than-usual temperatures and wildfires, the low water temps made for an even rougher summer.