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A-Lure-A

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  1. Don’t want to seem all doom and gloom but with the late Spring that we had and now early Winter it is highly likely the 2019 alewife hatch is going to be dismal as well. Was hoping for a warm Fall to allow a little more growth opportunity for them but that didn’t happen. A late Spring followed by a early Winter is worst case scenario for YOY alewife survival. Why even put a limit on Salmon in the lake? If people want to keep salmon, let them. Favorable environmental natural hatch or stocking conditions in any given year will outweigh any reduction in stocking anyway. Also, with alewife populations down, native bait populations will see a rebound. Maybe stock a few more Browns, steelhead, coho, that will feed on other sources of bait. Kings will die before they change their eating habits while other species will adapt. My two cents
  2. Good read. Being both a trib and lake guy I get both sides. My thoughts: 1. Avid trib steelhead/trout fisherman generally are catch and release from what I’ve seen. Having more fish in the trib system to catch would generate and keep more interest than being able to harvest more fish. 2. Stream fish are more likely to be released successfully than lake caught fish. They are also more likely to be caught and enjoyed multiple times once they are in the Tribs. 3. Once water temps reach the high sixties and above the mortality of lake caught fish of all species increases. Having a one steelhead limit lakewide Oct through June and then increasing the limit in July, August, Sept might be a better solution. We were catching Steelies while offshore in August and early Sept this year and remember commenting on how fragile they are. Barely touched or took them out of the water and they still went belly up. Would be a shame to let them go and have them go belly up if folks wanted to eat them. The extent it takes to revive them in these conditions is just not feasible for many. I personally don’t feel comfortable hanging over the side of my boat reviving fish for an extended period. 4. IMO Natural reproduction is much more of a factor in the lakes salmon population in a given year then stocking. In a good year of natural reproduction you probably could still have excellent lake salmon fishing even with no stocking, minus the 2-3 week Sept staging at tribs with no natural reproduction. Higher lake creel limits of salmon is probably the best solution to try and curve a high predator to prey relation, given that any reduction in stocking could easily be countered by high natural reproduction in a given year. 5. Brown trout are a 12 month year fishery and a much more accessible, hardier and well rounded fish then both steelhead and salmon. Many times I have caught more Browns then steelhead Jan-April in our western tribs. They also are not as alewife dependent as salmon and steelhead, available to shore and small boat fisherman year round, have an abundance off prey in the form of gobies, can be caught and released successfully, etc,etc. I had some of my young nephews sending me pictures of browns they were catching of the piers in sept this year and they were totally stoked. Not even a mention that they weren’t catching salmon. 6. Went to the salmon river fish hatchery 3rd week of August this year and the raceways were packed. Questions: 1. Has there ever been any studies of how many steelhead return to the tribs more then once (two salt fish). 2. Why did the thaimine deficiency suddenly become an issue in 2014 after all these years of steelhead eating mostly alewife. 3. Do most charter clients want to keep a ton of fish? I’m not a charter but take newbies out regularly and rarely do they want to keep a lot fish. Maybe a real large one for pictures or a small one to eat, but seldom more than 2 fish. Wondering if things like going from a 4 or 5 fish limit to a 2 or 3 fish limit really has all that much of an impact on returning clients. I would think catching larger fish or catching a large quantity of fish would trump being able to keep a lot of fish as far as clients returning is concerned.
  3. As disclaimer I’m not a biologist or fisheries manager nor a licensed captain. I took some fisheries classes in college as electives and my memories of salmon fishing in Lake Ontario go back some 35 years. During my peak I likely fished the tribs and lake combined 100 + days a year for many years. In the past five years I haven’t trib fished at all and get out in the lake 25 or so times during the April-Sept season. Ok, now that I have said my disclaimer here are my thoughts/theories: Returns & Staging Salmon: 1. Worse than normal returns this year likely due to poor pen conditions in 2016 as Gambler stated. That said, staging salmon fishing on the west end has been declining for many years. I pier fished 5 solid years in the mid-late 90s and never recall landing more than 2 or 3 fish in hours of fishing. Piers were lined up some nights but nobody was going home with their limit. My guess is it is even worse now. If you are comparing returns to the peak in the 80s there simply are far less salmon stocked today than there was then. 2. In tribs where returns are solely sustained with stocking, staging and upstream migrations are delayed 3-4 weeks later than when salmon were first stocked in the 70s and 80s. My earliest memories are fishing for staging salmon around the Genny in 30-40 fow as early as mid August with combat fishing peaking Labor Day to mid September. By mid 90s it was mid to late Sept. No idea what it is now because after Labor Day I switch to trout fishing for browns fishing away from major tribs or Steelie fishing offshore and still usually catch matures in the mix not even targeting them. My guess is that the reason for later returns is early returning fish have been selected out because they went belly up before making it to the hatchery. Many probably remember all the floaters in the western tribs years back in Sept. Many of those fish that ran early never made it full cycle. 3. Natural reproduction seems to be more of a factor these days as our salmon have evolved to our conditions. I have worked in the Fishers/Victor area for many years and regularly walk the banks of Irondequoit creek in the fall. In the upper portions of the stream where I believe natural reproduction occurs, the heaviest concentrations of bedded up spawning salmon does not occur until after Nov 1st all the way to Thanksgiving. These fishing likely didn’t even begin staging until late Sept and first entered the actual stream well in to Oct. 4. Back to this year. Constant changing winds likely have scattered stagers causing fish too trickle in rather than stage in any great numbers. Daily reports from the DSR on the salmon river haven’t reported any major run, yet the river is full of salmon top to bottom. A good morning run in the DSR this year has been less than a couple hundred fish when usually there has been at least one major run by now of hundreds and hundreds of fish in a morning. Could still be coming I guess but my theory is that with constantly changing lake conditions fish don’t stage in great numbers as when conditions are stable. As a side note, there are reports of tons of Coho this year in the Salmon river. Where the heck were they in the lake all year! 5. In reality pen rearing is only extending the season another 2-3 weeks and at a time of year when salmon are least desirable. I had good fishing for matures right through Labor Day this year and the past few years and then usually switch to trout tactics as I mentioned. Likely the matures I’m catching offshore still around Labor Day are late migrating east end returns. This is coming from a purely recreational standpoint and I understand the concern of those that are in this for business. That said I would much rather have the fantastic spring and summer fishing experienced on the west end when kings are in their prime then the combat fishing on the east end for declining salmon. In years past we accepted that if you want good salmon fishing in early spring you had to move west and many charters did, still do. We may have to accept that is you want good fishing for salmon at the end of the season you have to move east, but it seems far less captains are willing to do that. 6. My guess is there will still be a ton of salmon at the lower falls in a month. Every year I go down there and it is still absolutely amazing at the numbers of fish. Fish simply don’t seem to stage like they used to. Same with Oak. Not sure about Burt or further west. Other Observations: 1. Vince likely is seeing loads of bait as he is in some of the most productive waters of the whole lake. As long as there are alewife in the lake that will inhabit the Niagara shoreline. Same with the Sandy guys. The structure and currents between Devils Nose and Braddocks will always hold bait, regardless of what is going on in the rest of the lake. I can’t say fishing out of I-Bay that I have seen any noticeable amounts of bait the past couple years. 2. Salmon seem to be more spread out all season starting in the Spring. I fished the Niagara region for 20 years in May but the last year few years I’ve saved the time and gas and do just as well out of Rochester then when I fished Niagara. I’m sure the fishing is still phenomenal down there but haven’t felt the need to make the trip with all the good fishing here. I recall good salmon fishing east near Sodus and Oswego not occurring until July or so back in the day. Now they are getting them in decent numbers throughout the entire season. 3. I believe the bait population is lower then what is used to be which is causing a reduced size in our salmon but better catch rates. Too much of a correlation with what is happening/happened in Lake Michigan. For awhile catch rates skyrocketed but salmon size was way down. Bait analysis showed a declining abundance much like ours does now. A few years ago they drastically reduced stocking numbers and salmon size shot right back up as they are regularly catching fish 30 to almost 40lbs the last couple of years. I believe the catch rates have decreased though. Not saying we need to drastically reduce stocking like Michigan, but if we want to maintain a trophy fishery with the 30lb plus potential we have to be mindful of the bait trawl data and stocking numbers. My two cents
  4. Fished slightly east of Irondequoit. Bite started in 250 fow and got better as went out. Made it out to 400 fow. Various spin docs on wire and copper produced and had a few bites on meat down 105. No matures though although we did have a couple rips that seemed like big fish and I know a couple boats scored a mature or two out there but nothing like last week.
  5. Pinned cheaters with rubber bands. 6 ft leads, use good swivels. Haven’t stacked in 15 years
  6. Because of high summer water temps most LO tribs rule out any salmonids natural reproduction that’s YOY have to spend at least one summer in the tribs. You likely will not see any significant natural reproduction of Steelhead, Atlantic’s, Coho in LO because once trib temps increase above 60 or so degrees there is almost 100 % mortality of the juveniles in the tribs. Chinooks yoy on the other hand migrate out before lethal trib temps become a problem and are best suited for LO natural reproduction. My guess is that Chinook naturally reproduce in more LO tribs then many think.
  7. Start at the 22-23 bar and go all the way out to the 27 if you have to. Matures were out there all last week and as of Sat. Be safe.
  8. I’m for status quo until we have a couple years in a row of decent alewife production. The few times I’ve ventured past 400 fow this year I’ve caught both 1 and 2 year old salmon. There seems to be a good crop to support the next couple of years. Given the cool Spring we had this year and the delayed spawn we are at a real risk of having another year of poor production with the 2019 alewife. A cold winter or even a normal winter could be devastating to this years alewife crop as the fish likely will be younger and smaller than normal going in to this winter. I see less risk in stocking a few less salmon possibly that the lake can sustain than stocking more. Worst case if there is miscalculation and we stock too less, instead of catching 10-20 salmon in a morning we catch 5-10 with a real chance at a 30 plus lb fish. It is also is likely that stocking less salmon won’t have a negative impact on catch rates at all if the bait population is lower. If salmon fishing is slow, lake trout will take a beating which will also have a positive impact on alewife. You would have a hard time convincing me that any increase in stocking right now is justifiable. My two cents
  9. Been told that 90% of the cormorant diet is gobies. Abundant and easy for them to catch
  10. I’ll be an armchair quarterback here, but couldn’t the DEC use a “follow the hatch” stocking strategy? When Spring trawls indicate a good alewife production, stock more kings the following Spring. When production is down, stock less. Life cycles of each species run fairly parallel. When the alewife are at maturity so would the kings. Of course, natural reproduction throws a twist in that approach but it is better then stocking the same amount regardless of prey availability. I suppose that is kind of what they are doing now with the recent stocking reductions to a certain extent so I give them credit for that. In a lot of these threads I read a lot of opinions, subjective numbers, and speculation being treated as fact. “My fishfinder shows this”, “ my buddies are telling me that”, “ I’ve caught less of this or more of that” “the reason is because of this”. We can argue back and forth about Lake Michigan catch rates, but what does the creel data suggest? We can come up with theories about what is causing lower weights in salmon or maturity at different ages, but what is the objective data telling us? Is the data telling us that Lake Michigan salmon are indeed maturing later than Lake Ontario? If it is true that abundance of bait causes salmon to mature early, then when the lake was polluted with alewife in the 80’s wouldn’t the majority of mature salmon be 2 years then as well. I don’t think the data would suggest that which contradicts the idea that our salmon are maturing early because of more bait. Nobody can dispute that there were tons more bait in the 80s, early 90s and the majority of mature salmon were 3 year olds, not 2. I’ve read studies that say the opposite regarding maturity. When conditions are unfavorable, such as insufficient food source, individuals reproduce at an earlier age and smaller size to keep the gene pool going. It is too much of a coincidence that as Lake Michigan reduced salmon stocking the size of their salmon increased. There is some merit to what Captain Vince is saying about “watching what you wish for” and the larger size correlation to low catch rates. Are you willing to sacrifice lower catches for larger salmon? But why reinvent the wheel when we already have a test tube with Lake Michigan. What does their objective data show when they lowered stocking rates? How much did the creel increase/decrease, how did it affect the average size and age class? All information that should be available and taken into consideration for our Lake Ontario management. In a perfect world if there was always a perfect balance of predator/prey then size and catch rates would remain unchanged. The DEC certainly has their job cut out for them in trying to maintain that balance and I give them kudos for their efforts. My two cents
  11. Just me or does this sound pretty bleak? Cold spring this year already a bad sign for yoy alewife survival in to 2020 unless winter is abnormally warm. Thinking we take a page from Lake Michigan’s book. Those guys seem pretty happy this year with 30 plus lb fish common once again.
  12. 50s down 90-100 over 400 plus off Ibay tonight. FISH ON!!! Everything we threw at them got bit.
  13. Irondequoit creek gets fairly strong runs of kings every year. I don’t believe kings have been stocked there in a long time. Could be strays from the Genny I guess but it makes me wonder. The creek does support a resident brown trout population all year
  14. Nice job Dave and thanks for the tip. Was worth the trip yesterday.
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