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A-Lure-A

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  1. Got this guy hooked on trib fishing today! Case in point, both times l took him water was high and muddy and only browns would bite. Steelhead were non existent but browns kept us playing. Also, reinforces my point that browns are a 12 month fish. Boat photo was his first lake fish, also a brown!
  2. Stock more browns! The current food chain can support it. Gobies eat zebra mussels, browns eat gobies. Browns offer small boaters near shore fishing opportunities year round and also can be caught in many tribs Sept-April. They are the heartiest and most adaptive of all the salmonids we have here in LO and a great game fish. They are a win-win for everybody. They also catch and release well and are homebodies. Steelhead come and go with the wind in the tribs, frequently get lock jaw, whereas browns will pretty much stay in a single stretch of a trib all winter and continue biting day after day. Same in the lake. Browns can be found near structure in less then 100 FOW any time of the year providing opportunity for all boats, big or small. They also can be caught in more off colored water which frequently happens in the tribs. I can’t tell you how many times browns have saved the day on a trib when I got there and it was “blown out” from rain or run off. Steelhead completely shut down in those conditions yet browns still remain active. Imagine being an out of towner and faced with those conditions on your trib trip. If only steelhead were available your trip would be dead. Having browns around would at least provide them an opportunity to catch a respectable game fish when nothing else will bite. I’ll also add they are also a great pier fish Spring and Fall. I had some of my young cousins sending me pictures of huge browns they were catching off of Webster pier this fall. They could care less that they weren’t catching salmon. They are a great addition to both the lake salmon fishery and trib steelhead fishery. If either fishery is slow, browns can keep rods bending. In the Fall when staging salmon fishing is slow, Lake trout fishing is considered the go to for many. When you are targeting lakers that pretty much is all you are going to catch though. Salmon can be caught right along with browns late August on in to the late fall, thus filling some of the down time. It’s my opinion that having an abundant supply of browns available will help in promoting the fishery and keep folks coming back. It’s one fish that the lake likely can support more of with little impact on our current bait population. I believe folks from the DEC frequent this site. I’m hoping this can at least be added to the lake management discussion. If it is a hatchery capacity issue then maybe find a way to increase the survival after they are stocked. One thing I know after witnessing many browns being stocked is they pretty much don’t move for days and weeks on end. Cormorants and other predators could easily decimate a pod of fresh stocked browns. I’m proud to say that I took my 6 year old trib fishing for the first time last week and we were 1 for 3 on browns in 15 mins. He was cold and wet after a short period but thank god there were browns around. my two cents
  3. Gambler...Ah Sam Dattilo...he was my Great Uncle. That explains your laker catching ability:). Just out of curiosity what does have the most diverse diet? Browns, lakers, Steelhead, coho... I rarely put any fish under the knife so it would be interesting to hear from others. I’m sure it is season dependent to some extent.
  4. Good point Gambler with closing sections. For a time they closed Orwell and some of the other feeder tribs. Who wants to catch salmon once they are up that high, at that stage of their life, in such a small trib anyway. Let them do their thing at that point.
  5. Rolmops, I hear ya, but Michigan has seen a huge rebound of 35 to 40lb salmon in 2019. They estimated their wild contribution to be even higher at 60 + %. I think size will come back some once we have a better balance. Agree that stocking reductions alone won’t have as much of an impact as it did in the 90s due to natural reproduction and pen rearing. Problem with natural reproduction is it is unpredictable with boom and bust years. I think the DEC uses 50% as an average but some years it could be higher or much lower. 50% is a misleading number though when it comes to total population. 50% of 2 million is a vastly different number then 50% of 500,000. Stockinq and pen rearing artificially keeps the population consistent, but that doesn’t mean the wild population will be as consistent. In a natural environment there is usually symmetry between predator and prey abundance. When prey abundance is up, predator populations follow. My guess is that our Chinook natural reproduction is lower right now. Usually the same environmental conditions that cause a prey population to shrink, in our case cold winters, have the same affect on predator survival. Plus the YOY chinook that do hatch have less of a chance of survival because their main food source isn’t as abundant, slowing their growth rates and making them susceptible to predation themselves. To a lesser extent the same probably happens with our stock fished although they have a bit more of head start on their growth from the beginning. I’m sure there are some years though where our pen reared and stocked fish have better survival then others. The reduced stocking of lake trout though, for the most part, probably does directly impact their population over time since they do not have the reproductive success of chinook. My guess is that with all the great chinook fishing the adult lake trout population has rebounded after years of being hammered in the 90s and early 2000s. That, along with the cold winters, has likely played a role in our current alewife population. Lake trout aren’t the massive alewife eating machines that chinook are, and reductions in their stocking numbers certainly will have less of an immediate impact on current alewife predation, but over time they take their toll. We could not stock any chinook at all, totally protect our spawning population once they hit the tribs and have them naturally reproduce. We will have years of great fishing and years of poor fishing but both the predator and prey population will be in perfect balance as usually happens in a natural environment. Then again, their is nothing natural anymore about our current Lake Ontario ecosystem. Really the best solution is to have a couple warm winters that produce outstanding alewife hatch’s. At the end of the day, I will always enjoy chasing trout and salmon regardless of what happens. Some years will be better then others, but my passion will be the same. Happy Holidays
  6. Likely our bread and butter fish, the lake trout, will take the biggest hit if salmon fishing declines. Cowbells will be flying by 9am. Even though you can C&R them better than steelhead, mortality will still be high in the Summer months. I’d imagine that any charter east of Oak Orchard looking to put clients on fish is going to save gas and opt for more of sure thing with lakers. Heck Charters do that even now if customers aren’t specific about what they want to catch. The upside to this is predation on alewives from lakers will be significantly reduced. Likely having as much or of an impact on increasing alewife abundance as the reduced salmon stocking. The impact will be long lasting as well since lake trout are long lived. With pen rearing in full effect and the natural reproduction we have nowadays, I’m not so sure the reduced stocking will have as much of an impact on salmon fishing as it did in the 90s. Sure, 20 + fish mornings will not be as common, and likely salmon fishing will be best in the Spring west and to the east in the Fall like it has in the past. I remember struggling to catch 2 or 3 salmon in the 90s. I don’t think it will get that bad...maybe. Other difference is, with the advent of the cowbell, I suspect the laker population will get hit heavily and fast. Difference between then and now is just about everybody knows how to fish lakers now. The use of cowbells as a laker fishing technique was not well known until the late 90s. Once it caught on, after a few years of heavy lake trout fishing along with the already reduced salmon stocking the alewife population bounced back and salmon stocking was increased. I really don’t think reduced limits or size restrictions will have much of an impact on trib fishing. As many other folks have mentioned I have a heck of a time getting lake caught steelhead to survive, especially once surface temps hit 68 plus. Since I prefer to catch steelhead in the streams and hardly ever keep fish in the lake, I truly would be in favor of reductions if I thought it would help. From a purely humane perspective I think it is a shame to release any fish that will not survive if somebody is willing to eat it. As others mentioned it is difficult to avoid catching steelhead while salmon fishing in the summer as they are found in many of the same water as salmon after June. Possibly April through June a creel reduction would make sense because steelhead somewhat can be targeted on surface and have a better chance of being released. I peaked in my trib steelhead fishing in the mid 90’s to about 2013, when my first son was born. I fished the tribs 2-4 times a week October-March. My logs all show that my best years were late 90s to about 2004-2005. I think the biggest impact of steelhead fishing in the tribs is the fishing pressure they get regardless of how many fish are in the system. For example, I remember taking days off from work when the the Genny blew out and then came back to that “perfect green” color. Easily 20-30 plus fish could be caught the first couple of days. By day 3, 10-15, and after that people struggled. Having more fish in the system wont stop the gluttony that happened the first few days and fishing will still be slow after that. It’s not that these fish die, it is they stop biting after being caught a couple times. The only solution would be to get folks to stop fishing after catching 5 or 10 fish, instead of continuing to catch 10 or 20 more. That is just not going to happen. Same scenarios at the Oak and Sandy. Thinking back, the reason why my fishing was best in the 90s through early 2000s was the use of center pins had not come in to full effect. I was a early adopter. Once everybody started using them, just like the effect cowbells had in the laker fishing, the pressure on these fish once in the tribs tripled. Again, this regulation has zero impact on me, but I thought I’d share an outside perspective.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. Pinned cheaters with rubber bands. 6 ft leads, use good swivels. Haven’t stacked in 15 years
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. Been told that 90% of the cormorant diet is gobies. Abundant and easy for them to catch
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