Application of Otolith Chemistry to Investigate the Origin and State‐Straying of Steelhead in Lake Erie Tributaries
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Application of Otolith Chemistry to Investigate the Origin and State‐Straying of Steelhead in Lake Erie Tributaries

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  • Journal Title:
    Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
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    In Lake Erie, the fishery for steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss is overwhelmingly dominated by stocking from state agencies in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Managers that stock steelhead may become concerned if a sizeable portion of the fish they stock do not return to the waters in which they were released and instead stray to other states (“state‐straying”). During fall 2009, spring 2010, and spring and fall 2015, we evaluated the origin and state‐straying of adult steelhead in five annually stocked tributaries of Lake Erie. We also investigated spatial differences in the origin and state‐straying of adult steelhead at different stream locations in two tributaries during 2015. Otolith chemistry signatures were first used to discriminate among yearling steelhead from each of the state hatcheries that stock Lake Erie and wild juveniles from Cattaraugus Creek, New York, and the Grand River, Ontario, resulting in a mean jackknifed classification accuracy of 88% (range = 72–100%). Otolith chemistry analysis was then performed on unknown‐origin adult steelhead collected in Lake Erie tributaries during the fall and spring spawning runs, and natal sources were identified by using source‐specific otolith chemical signatures. State‐strays averaged 46% (range = 13–88%) of the adult fish collected, and high percentages of strays were identified in Chautauqua Creek, New York (72%), and Cattaraugus Creek (88%). Steelhead collections in these New York tributaries during a second year revealed that the percentage of strays present was consistently high, and large proportions of strays were identified in both upstream and downstream locations. These results suggest that state‐straying is widespread in Lake Erie tributaries and that strays make up a large proportion of New York's Lake Erie tributary fishery. Strategies to reduce straying may include practicing upstream releases and reducing the number of hatchery fish that are released in some states.
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    Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 147(1), 16-30
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    0002-8487;1548-8659;
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    Accepted Manuscript
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    Library
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