Over 9 Million Fish Released into Michigan Waters in 2023


Mill Creek was stocked in two locations, at Mill Creek Park (pictured above) and at Shields Rd. Photo by Doug Marrin.

Each year, Dexter’s Mill Creek is stocked with brown trout as part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fish hatcheries program, which keeps Michigan’s waterways teeming with fish for anglers. This year’s numbers are in, and they are impressive.

In the spring and summer of 2023, the DNR has reported successful fish stocking endeavors. This year, the DNR stocked a staggering 9,335,410 individual fish, spanning eight distinct species and one hybrid, with an accumulative weight of more than 269 tons.

Dexter’s Mill Creek received almost 4,000 brown trout averaging a little more than five inches in length. Mill Creek was stocked in May and is the only site to receive fish in Washtenaw County.

The department used specialized trucks to transport fish to various stocking sites. These 17 vehicles, notably featuring the phrase "Fish for the Future," traversed over 89,000 miles in 2,233 hours. A total of 375 trips were made to 705 different locations across the state.

"We had excellent spring and summer stocking seasons that will bring significant benefits and fishing opportunities to Michigan anglers," stated Ed Eisch, DNR Fish Production Manager. "With the hard work and dedication of our staff, healthy, high-quality fish were reared and delivered to stocking sites in excellent condition. The numbers produced and stocked were right on target for most areas."

A Michigan DNR fish-stocking truck near the mouth of the Swan River in Presque Isle County. A total of 385,765 fish were stocked at this location in spring 2023. Courtesy of DNR.

Different hatcheries across Michigan produce various types of fish. The type and quantity of fish produced by each hatchery are influenced by factors such as the water source and temperature. Six state-run and two cooperative hatcheries collaborate in Michigan to ensure the availability of required species, strains, and sizes.

The hatcheries reported the following stocking statistics for the spring and summer:

  • Marquette State Fish Hatchery: Stocked 341,423 fish of various types weighing 41,771 pounds at 98 sites.
  • Thompson State Fish Hatchery: Stocked 997,431 fish with a total weight of 78,659 pounds at 54 sites.
  • Oden State Fish Hatchery: Stocked 679,488 fish weighing 96,372 pounds across 123 sites.
  • Harrietta State Fish Hatchery: Delivered 780,654 fish totaling 95,751 pounds in weight to 228 locations.
  • Platte River State Fish Hatchery: Stocked 2,350,685 fish that weighed 158,038 pounds at 48 sites.
  • Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery: Stocked 1,514,617 fish weighing 127,806 pounds at 49 sites.
  • Lake Superior State University's Cooperative Teaching Hatchery: Stocked 28,646 Atlantic salmon in the St. Mary’s River.

Apart from these hatchery-specific stocks, 2.7 million walleye spring fingerlings were raised collaboratively by the DNR, tribal partners, and local sporting groups. These fish were stocked at 90 locations, including inland waters and Lake Michigan.

Fish stocking is pivotal in supporting Michigan's robust Great Lakes fishing, an industry valued at over $7 billion. The fish are nurtured in state hatcheries for varying durations, from one month to 1 ½ years, before being stocked. Some hatcheries are also expected to supply additional fish for stocking this fall.

For more information, visit Michigan.gov/Hatcheries.

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