Lake Huron

Image Credit: USGS Great Lakes Science Center

Reintroducing Cisco into Saginaw Bay

Fishery managers are seeking to bring Cisco back to Saginaw Bay because of its historical importance as a spawning and nursery habitat that also likely supplied fish to the main basin.  Cisco became extirpated from Saginaw Bay in the 1950s likely due to overfishing, habitat degradation, and negative interactions with invasive species.  The ultimate goal of reintroducing Cisco is to 1) diversify the prey fish community and promote sustainability and resiliency of the food web, 2) establish a large prey fish that can reconnect the broken connection between the nearshore and offshore waters of Lake Huron, 3) provide a prey buffer for other fishes in Saginaw Bay such as Yellow Perch, and 4) potentially support its own future fishery.

Beginning in 2018, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with several federal, state, and international partners, began stocking Cisco into Saginaw Bay.  To date, over 5 million cisco have been stocked in the spring (about 65 mm or 2.5 inches in length) and fall (about 100 mm or 4 inches).   Stocked fish from each season are differentially marked to assess when survival is better.  Several agencies are collaborating to evaluate survival of these stocked fish, and more than 60 have been recaptured to date.  One key milestone yet to be documented is natural reproduction by stocked Cisco.

Numbers of Cisco Stocked in Saginaw Bay

The chart below shows the number of cisco stocked in the spring and fall of 2018 through 2023. In total, 5.5 million cisco have been stocked in Saginaw Bay since 2018.