Sea Lamprey Control Improves Lake Champlain Fisheries

ALBANY - The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative is reporting unprecedented success resulting from the on-going sea lamprey control program. The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to improve and manage the fisheries of Lake Champlain. As a result of this program, the number and size of lake trout and salmon in the lake are increasing. This is great news. This is expected to translate into better fishing on Lake Champlain in the coming year. The wounding rate reductions observed this fall on lake trout and salmon also are a good indication that lamprey are having less of an impact on other fish in Lake Champlain. Species such as walleye and the lake sturgeon, which is listed as endangered in Vermont, also benefit.

Personnel from the Cooperative treated five rivers in the Lake Champlain Basin with the lampricide (TFM) in September. Observation of larval lamprey mortality and other data indicate treatments on all five rivers were highly successful. Final assessment of the treatments' effectiveness will be completed next summer employing a systematic search of these rivers to determine how many sea lamprey survived the treatments. Although positive effects are already being seen in response to prior treatments, further improvements to the fisheries are expected over the next four years as more larval lamprey fail to become parasites.

Data collected this fall indicate that the number of sea lamprey wounds on lake trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon continue to decline. The sea lamprey wounding rate is measured as the number of wounds per 100 fish examined. Sampling this fall found 15 wounds per 100 salmon. This is down from 30 wounds per 100 salmon last year. This marks the first time that the management goal of 15 wounds per 100 salmon has been met since the inception of the control program.

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