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Lake Superior lake trout harvest

Fishing Wisconsin

fighting a lake trout

Lake trout are a popular target in the Lake Superior fishery.

The Lake Superior Lake Trout Season opens on December 1 and closes the following September 30. However, Lake Trout are managed based on a safe total allowable harvest or quota system. When the recreational total allowable harvest is approaching the season may close prior to September 30. This page is designed to be updated periodically for anglers to track the harvest and explain the regulation. 

Lake trout harvest (WI-2 waters)

Lake trout harvest counter

Harvest chronology

Click on the white cross hatch icon below to see lake trout harvest totals for 2020-2021. Monthly harvest totals will be updated periodically. The season may close when the harvest total reaches the trigger. Please note: The harvest number may not include all charter reports.

Lake trout harvest totals 2020-2021
Date Month Harvest Total Harvest Number to reach the trigger
Dec '20
33
33
9,467
Jan '21
159
192
9,308
Feb '21
1,406
1,598
7,902
Mar '21
526
2,124
7,376
Apr '21
69
2,193
7,307
May '21 2,689 4,882 4,618
June '21 3,264 8,146 1,354
July '21  3,262 11,408 --
Aug '21 869 12.277 --
Sep '21 1 12,278  

Monthly harvest totals will be updated periodically

Lake Trout Harvest Trends
Lake Superior (WI-2) cumulative lake trout sport harvest, 2017-2021.

Lake trout sport angler quota calculation

The lake trout sport angler allocation for WI-2 during the 2020-2021 fishing season is 12,670 fish. Angler harvest is monitored with the use of a creel survey and mandatory charter captain reports. A harvest trigger has been set to prevent overharvest of lake trout. When the 9,500 fish trigger is reached, lake trout fishing in WI-2 may be immediately closed, with no more fishing for lake trout. The trigger was set to account for delays in data processing during times of potential high harvest.

Lake Superior lake trout management

Lake trout harvest zones

 

The lake trout in Lake Superior are managed within two harvest zones (WI-1 and WI-2). Lake trout numbers declined in the WI-2 zone – the Apostle Islands area of Lake Superior - during 2003 to 2012.  As a result, harvest quotas were reduced for sport and commercial fishers. 

How was this regulation selected? Over the past several years, Fisheries Management has asked anglers for input regarding various lake trout regulation options. In the fall of 2017, anglers participated in a poll that included four different bag and length limit options (see below) and the associated risk with each option reaching the quota before the end of the season (September 30th).

Lake trout harvest zones

 

Results from the survey indicated a majority of participants supported a regulation that included a bag of two lake trout with a 15-inch minimum and one fish that could be longer than 25 inches.  This regulation option allows the greatest harvest opportunity but also has a moderate risk of reaching the quota prior to the end of the season.