Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are found throughout Lake Superior, Lake Nipigon, and their tributaries. Lacustrine and adfluvial life history variants were historically popular with anglers and were called coasters; coaster brook trout populations are now severely reduced and are of conservation concern. Coasters were known to grow larger and mature later than their stream resident counterparts. This study compared movement patterns, age, size, condition, and relative weight of wild coaster and resident brook trout from the Hurricane River, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan. Wild brook trout ≥ 100 mm from the Hurricane River downstream from Hurricane Falls were tagged with passive integrated transponder tags and monitored for stream-lake movement behavior from May 2003 to November 2007. During 2006 and 2007, brook trout were scale sampled and aged to construct a regression that was then used to calculate the age of all brook trout tagged from 2003 to 2007. Most brook trout movement took place in the fall with October the peak month of emigration with a secondary peak in late spring/early summer and some activity nearly year round. There were no differences found in age structure, size or condition between coasters and residents while in the stream. Our data suggest that a priori growth differences are not determining the expression of coaster outmigration and that stream-lake movements made by coasters, likely driven by habitat requirements, may be highly flexible and facultative.
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Vol. 35 • No. 3