Lake Huron will get 60,000 to 80,000 Atlantic salmon yearlings starting in 2013. That could climb to 120,000 in future years if more can be produced at Platte River State Fish Hatchery in Beulah, Grischke said. His agency has spent three years learning how to raise them. The hatchery primarily has been used to rear Chinook and Coho salmon. Growing Atlantics from an egg to yearling stage is a bit trickier, he said.
The Platte River facility draws water from the Platte River. Atlantic salmon are more susceptible than Coho and Chinook to diseases such as furunculosis and whirling disease, which might be present in the water. A $150,000 ultraviolet water filter was installed to reduce the potential for disease, a problem that initially plagued the experimental program.
The idea to stock Atlantic salmon originated with members of the Hammond Bay Area Anglers.
The group was aware of the success Lake Superior State University has had growing and stocking them on the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie. Group members urged the DNR to attempt the same, hoping to fill the void created by the Lake Huron Chinook salmon collapse in 2004.
Atlantics are expected to survive where Chinook did not because they are opportunistic feeders. Their diet is more diverse than Chinooks, which only feed on alewives.