Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wisconsin Fishery
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wisconsin Fishery Project

Maximizing the capture of lake sturgeon and other species in the fish elevator on the Menominee River

January 2017 - December 2019


Participating Agencies

  • Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act

The lake sturgeon is a large, iconic, long-lived fish that is important to the economy and culture of Wisconsin. However, populations of lake sturgeon have decreased drastically over the past two centuries. This is due to a suite of factors including overfishing, habitat loss and fragmentation, and water quality degradation. While dams have numerous benefits, they also have drawbacks that can negatively influence lake sturgeon. Lake sturgeon have regular migrations associated with spawning and feeding that can be up to 330 km. Dams impede the historic travel corridors and due to the physiology and benthic orientation of lake sturgeon make conventional fish passage (e.g. fish ladders) inaccessible for these fish. There are knowledge gaps in lake sturgeon passage such as: behavior during migration, passage design, implementation and development of operation windows, and improving assessment and monitoring of passage efforts. Our objectives are: 1) Increase knowledge on lake sturgeon behaviors near dams and to improve efficiency of the Menominee River fish elevator. 2) Experiment what attraction flows, seasonality, photoperiod, scents, and retention modifications we can make to the elevator to improve capture and efficiency. 3) Develop of home ranges and life history characteristics for these populations using radio telemetry.