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King Davy

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  1. For What it’s Worth and for those who are not aware, The Lake Ontario regs and revised management plan is included in the overall fish management plans for the entire state. DEC Bureau Chief of Fisheries Steve Hurst is working with all regions of New York State to revise and update their fish management plans where many haven’t been reviewed and updated for 30 years or more. A huge task in it’s own right. Included in this project is the Lake Ontario Watershed, both in conjunction with Canada for the overall open waters of the Lake Program, as well as specific plans for our New York open waters and tributaries. I can also tell you as management plans have been updated, many of them include regulation changes to align with DEC’s going forward strategies. So this is a state wide initiative. However lets boil down the Regulation proposals for LO and it’s tribs. To start lets remember the going forward management strategy. And BTW the Steelhead part of this was originally put in place by Bill Pearce, then Fisheries manager back in the late 60’s. The Lake was to be managed for Chinook Salmon as the marquee species in the lake, and Steelhead were to be managed as the marquee species in the tribs. That Coho Salmon, and brown trout along with Lake trout would be a staple to the open water fishery, and icing on the cake in the tribs, and Steelhead would be icing on the cake in the open waters of the Lake. Anyone who has been to the state of the lake meetings or on the DEC site should have already heard or read this. Simply…The Goal is managing the LO watershed for the 12 month a year fishery that it actually is. Which includes a huge stakeholder usage on the tribs. 1) Extending the season on Lake Trout fishing on the Niagara river on the NYS side to align with the Canadian regs. Doesn’t seem to be little if any push back to this. 2) Reduce Brown Trout harvest in the tribs from 3 to 1. NYS DEC from creel census on the tribs that includes harvest and C&R percentages have come to realize that LO and its tribs is now a world class brown trout destination fishery. We grow the biggest brown trout in the US on average. And we have a unique trib fishery that now entertains anglers from as far west as Oregon, and includes outfitters from Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming putting together excursions to come to our rivers and streams. Then add in the out of state anglers from states within a day’s drive of here, and we have a horde of anglers here from Oct. thru Dec when these fish are in the system. This reg could provide maximum opportunity for anglers targeting them. Also recent trib creel surveys suggest more and more anglers are releasing a higher percentage of brown trout. BTW this is a reg that has been proposed several times since 2003. It’s never made it to the docket until now, but in DEC management strategy knowing the high use of our tribs and the very long September to end of April trib season has included it this year. 3) Increase harvest size limit of Steelhead on the tribs from 21 to 25 inches: Also a regulation that was proposed back in 2003 when the tribs went from 3 to 1 fish per day. The rational back then as it is today comes from 1983 thru 2018 data where DEC sizes every fish they handle for spawning at Altmar. The data shows that 98.2 percent of spawning Steelhead are 25 inches or greater. Or true three year olds. The rational today as it was back in 2003, Steelhead anglers would like to see a fish survive the system as at least a 1 salt fish. The term used for migrating steelhead out west. In other words a fish is in the system for at least one spawning cycle. Then open for harvest by anyone anywhere (Lake or Tribs) after that. This was proposed at the Stakeholders meeting for both lake and tribs. Through conversation by the panel it was turned down for the lake and would remain 21 inches as it is today in the lake and only be changed in the tribs. The interest from trib anglers especially after the massive adult die off of our Steelhead in 2014-2015 is to get back to the Trophy fishery we enjoyed back in the 90’s and early 2000’s of having a chance to catch a fish in the 15 to 20 pound range. When steelhead get past that three year 1 salt stage they can grow big and fast. 4) Reduce the lake creel for Steelhead from 3 to 2: This was the result from DEC after turning down the overall 25 inch size limit. Again the rational is managing in this case Steelhead for the long trib fishery in which for close to four months or more, they are the only species in our rivers in any numbers to fish for. OK this is my personal rational for this 2020 management plan and why I’m in favor of it. Steelhead can be and are fished for 12 months a year. They can be accessed by anglers every month and day of the year. Many who aren’t died in the wool trib anglers might say nobody is fishing in Dec through Feb. And that would be a huge misconception. While many smaller water ways may be inaccessible, any tail water fishery is alive an active all winter long with tons of anglers…seven days a week. We have the finest foul weather gear you can imagine to stand in and fish rivers all winter long. WE don’t take that time off….and so either are the fish left alone. Meanwhile Salmon who are not spawning age enjoy nearly six months of solitude, and brown trout who are heavily fished for at least get a short reprieve from angling pressure normally Jan through mid March before the boats start getting dunked again. But not Steelhead they are available year round to either a troller or a trib angler. High dead loss of lake caught steelhead. 2019 was my 48th year fishing the open waters of LO. 22 of those years as a licensed Charter Capt. It simply was never my experience of huge dead loss of any species caught on my boat if the fish wasn’t mortally wounded from fishing hooks. Even in the more dangerous months of July and August. I employed handling techniques to successfully release a fish either rec fishing or guiding if not intending to keep a fish. It is the responsibility of every angler to learn how to and execute proper fish handling techniques. I did everything from releasing fish alongside the boat which many can do with a low profile freeboard boat. To having a 110 qt cooler as a resuscitation chamber in which to carefully place the fish with lake water, and adding ice to keep the temps in the mid 50’s range. That was me….can’t dictate what anyone else does, but I’ve been doing those things since the early 80’s after a few years of guiding when it was evident my clients wanted to pick and choose the fish they wanted to harvest. From my boat to being on others, more harm was done to fish who were kept out of the water too long, allowed to bang around the deck of a boat…or the ever popular hero shot with an anglers fingers through a fishes gills. If that’s going on….yeah box em up. There must be a large population of anglers who know how to properly C&R fish on their boat since on these web boards many share their score card for the day….posts like we were 18 for 24, 25, for 31 etc. I’ll end with this: To Be Fair to all…. I would recommend you don’t simply copy and paste anyone’s personal comment. I know that DEC is looking for YOUR comment. I can tell you if somebody writes in and says I agree, or disagree (a one line yes or no) with any of these regs it will not get counted. If they get dozens of responses with the exact same wording that were obviously copied….they likely won’t count them. They want to hear from you. What your thoughts and experiences are. These regs will be approved or not from you the stakeholder who has his or her own thoughts on what you experience out on the lake or in the tribs or both. This truly isn’t a ballot race. It’s rational thoughts on your experiences and what you’d like to see as management of the LO watershed for April of 2020.
  2. Actually HB2 is correct. Especially in years where we have higher water and a cold spring like the past two. I fished all the local streams into Mid May because there were steelhead in those systems. You couldn't take a step in Oak Orchard or Sandy in several good spawning areas without a cloud of Chinook fry following you chomping on stream invertebrates you dug up with each foot step. I even saw King Fry in very small tribs to the east of Rochester in April. In most cases these fry will head to the lake in April, and May, and as late as June if stream temps stay lower then lethal Mid 60's. The seining effort on the salmon river this spring will show a huge bumper crop of Kings, as well as other salmonids. Streams like Irondequoit has Kings all the way to Fishers and above with plenty of cold spring water added into the flow, and the IRON absolutely produces wild fish. Several years ago DEC did shore line seining off Sandy Creek and Oak Orchard and found wild fish. Now having said all this, it's anybody's guess how many of these fish survive to become adults. Remember if numbers at the salmon river hatchery during the clipping program said over half the fish they handled were wild...understand most of the wild fish, don't descend the hatchery. They are spawning naturally in the 11 miles of river they have access to. Personally I'd like to see DEC and MNR clip stocked kings again for at least two generations of fish and develop a program with Rec and Pro anglers to report their Stocked to Natural repo catches. Good data is King....Otherwise very difficult to manage the lake for Chinooks VIA the forage base if you have that big ? mark. However every year in all other streams outside of the Salmon River is a crap shoot because they don't have a base flow rate plan. The Salmon has a treaty to maintain base flows year round, thus why it is so prolific in hatching millions of wild fry.
  3. Bob, never said the ECO's statement was about ticketing a Capt. this year. He simply stated he has written tickets for fishing violations on the lake as well as the tribs. And he mentioned he had written tickets on some Charter Capt's as well. I didn't ask him for specifics, as it was none of my business. There are laws being broken in our entire fishery every year. It's a problem, that only WE all together can address, to where we could make some headway if we were in solidarity with each other and showed our elected representatives that is was a big deal, from a business/economic and a moral sportsman standpoint, and a black eye on our society around this world class fishery and for the law makers in office in the LO regions. But hey thanks for sharing your story...
  4. Gambler, TU does have state council reps who work in Albany on many different initiatives concerning the health of cold water fisheries throughout the state. They like many other organizations both from the lake and the tribs have not been successful in gaining any traction on curbing the illegal activities on either the lake or the tribs. Including In-Land tribs where this goes on as well. In our focus group discussions one of the main topics was this very subject. We even had ECO officers join those meetings on occasion. There wasn’t any progress…and candidly I didn’t expect we’d find any….and here’s why. The DEC is not the target. It’s our elected officials and judges. They make the laws and how severe the penalties are. Our fish laws offer at best a slap on the wrist. Single stakeholder groups have brought these issues to the table numerous times, without any success. WHY…because we are talking to the DEC. We …and my description of “WE” would include TU, ELOTSA, Genny Charter Boat Association, LOTAC, and any other fishing club or professional group to sit down with the elected state senators, and assemblymen and elected Judges in the LO watershed regions. We need leverage, and the most impactful leverage is when these law makers think they are going to lose VOTES if they don’t pay attention to us. When fish are raped out of the tribs or the lake …it’s stealing from all of us. If we are all at the table with these elected officials….we have leverage. If they don’t pay attention we can start sending the pictures of zipper raped fish to our local newspapers to state this kind of sickening activity is happening in this elected officials district. Until there is monetary pain and personal suffering for raping our fishery, no amount of ECO’s and tickets are going to stop this. Heavy fines, jail time and loss of property works in Canada, Alaska and all the western states I visit. We need the entire sport fishing community to get behind calling our elected officials out on this. Single….”Special Interest groups” will never be successful. With many different sport fishing groups involved, showing solidarity, it will gain traction with the general public of ending these dastardly deeds. There by creating a tidal wave of attention to this issue, and maybe finally getting them to take us all seriously.
  5. While putting the Pens together at the Oak, an ECO stopped by to Chat. As usually happens we talked about the difficulty in catching and then having a Judge convict the ticketed offender. The ECO also shared a story about a Charter Boat Captain he ticketed for fishing violations....stating the problem is not only on the tribs. BUT I didn't come away from that conversation that ALL Charter Boat Captains are law breakers. If we REALLY want to fix this.....stop generalizing or profiling people just because of the method they fish, or where they choose to fish when a law is broken in either environment.
  6. Just saw this post. Like many have said, it’s too bad we continue to banter back and forth between Lake and Trib anglers….when we all want the same thing a healthy fishery that provides opportunity. So I sit on these focus group meetings as a stakeholder representing trib fishing interest. Here are the facts. 1) Trib fishermen asked for a 25 inch limit on steelhead for the lake and tribs. We never asked for a creel reduction on the lake. WHY? DEC data from 1983 through spring of 2018 states that 98% of the Spawning steelhead returning to the Salmon river that are spawned are 25 inches and over on average. Furthermore after the die off of adult Steelhead in 2014, we’ve been fishing for smaller fish, and while we gained numbers back after four years of stocking since the die off, we have always wanted a trophy fishery for Steelhead. And Reelexcite (because we sat on the stakleholders meeting together then as well. ) can tell you that in 2004 when the tribs went to a 1 steelhead limit we sought a 25 inch limit way back then. So this is nothing new ….we’ve been working on this size change now for 16 years. 2) Lake Ontario is now a Brown Trout Destination Fishery in the tribs. People who used to go to very expensive places for big browns come here instead. Last Sunday I watched a film at a festival on sea run Browns in Iceland. The anglers caching these nice sea run fish. They are no bigger, and many times smaller than our LO browns. We have a world class Brown trout fishery. So we sought a reduction on the tribs from 3 to 1 brown trout per angler per day. DEC pushed us to state …people will stop coming if the creel is reduced. We produced data that showed the angler use of the tribs increased 10 fold after the Steelhead adjustment from 3 to 1 in the tribs. WHY? Because more people came simply because there would be more “opportunity” to fish to fish if not as many were being carted off. 3) First Pass DEC came back with 25 “ in the tribs, and increasing the size in the lake to 23”. 4) Second Pass DEC came back with staying at 21 inches but dropping the creel from 3 to 2. Here is some of the rationalization: Steelhead can be fished for 12 months 365 days a year. They are available to either a lake or trib angler every day no matter what the season month or weather. Brown trout are a close second. They may have a slight reprieve after spawning and transitioning back to the lake in the winter before the boating season begins. Obviously Salmon and Lake trout have some time to be rested from fishermen. Non spawning salmon aren’t’ being fished for in the open waters of Lake Ontario by large number of anglers from Oct through the following March most years around here. Lake trout are pursued in the Niagara River longer, but as spawners in the lake proper most are left alone. I’m only guessing, but I’ll assume DEC made this Reg to manage this fishery for the full 12 months knowing that Steelhead can be fished for as often as they can be and or are. DEC’s Bill Pearce who was in charge of getting this fishery off the ground back in 1968, had an architected plan, and that was the model DEC was following. Pacific Salmon, Lake Trout, and Brown trout would be the staple fish for the lake and Steelhead would be icing on the cake. Steelhead would be the Staple fish for the rivers, while Pacific Salmon, and Brown trout would be icing on the cake. I believe DEC in their management meetings reviewed these initiatives. Thus their SOTL proclamation, they were managing the lake for King Salmon, and the Rivers for Steelhead. And Brown trout along with Steelhead, and Pacific Salmon would have a play in both environments. McCloud River Steelhead were brought to Lake Ontario and the upper lakes back in the 1880’s. Many of you might not realize this, but remnants of these planting were being caught in places like the Salmon River back in the 50’s and 60’s before this program ever started in 68. Even more prevalent in the North shore rivers all these years and also in the upper lakes. There are many problems on both fronts. Illegal activity is an uphill battle when the highest fine one can get is $250. DEC does not create the penalties for fishing violations. We as sportsmen have to take that up with our elected officials. And Our Judges. I’ve spent the last 20 years in Alaska, and Western fisheries. You do these things there, you go to jail, get fined Thousands of dollars, and lose you equipment car and boat. Pen rearing: Yes we have a trib group doing the Pens at the Oak for Steelhead. We have some folks who’ve volunteered at Sandy. We’ve offered help at the Genny, and the group there has decided to stick with the folks they have. We have another group helping out in Niagara County as well. BUT….all have to understand, the LO fishery especially this time of year is not the only game in town. If you think trib fishermen are sitting on their hands this time of year you are sorely mistaken. There is a dozen stocking events in and around region 8 alone for inland streams and they are involved in all of those. There has been tree planting on several in land streams, tree trimming, and stream cleanups. The folks I represent participate in all of those at the very same time as the Pen programs. However, we should be involved with the pens as well, as many of us enjoy fishing the LO tribs. We have a 12 month a year fishery. It’s been documented for several years now that the usage is higher on the tribs than the lake. For many reasons, that doesn’t make one more important than the other, but it does state, we have to focus on managing this fishery for opportunity for all. I still fish the lake, the tribs and am fortunate to fish some pretty exotic places, and at the end of the day, I’m happiest being in my own back yard either on LO, it’s tribs or the many beautiful streams inland, to the ADK, and the Catskills. We have it all here. For LO, we simply have to work together. Is there going to be pain to bare sometimes, absolutely, but we are now in the 51st year of this marvelous fishery, and it’s still the best one in the US. I hope we can end this unrest and all focus on the bigger picture. This isn’t for any one special interest group, this fishery is for everybody no matter where they fish….and it has to be managed that way.
  7. They lowered the steelhead limit just a year or so ago. Again lots of pressure from their river anglers (it used to be 5 on the lake and the rivers), and the fact that returns to the rivers where they depend on wild fish to reproduce were dwindling. I also participate on the Bi-National focus group. This would be better addressed by say Vince, but listening in, I don't think the Canadians worry to much about harvesting a limit so not much has been done on trying to square up a more universal LO limit for both shores..
  8. Well stated SK8man. This is a diverse fishery with diverse stakeholders, but I think we have the same common goals. A healthy fishery, to where anglers when out fishing on the lake or a river simply have targets to fish for. After that it's up to your individual skill set on how successful you are at caching a fish. And the management strategy taking into account the diversity of both the lake and the tribs should be architected to best serve both.
  9. I think we are still getting knotted up on thinking this is a tug of war on who puts the most dent in the Steelhead population. When in actuality the intent is not to pointing fingers at one group or the other but to dial in what a specific fishery is, and how best to manage it for both the open waters of the lake and the tribs. Each species brings a different dynamic for anglers. Pacific salmon have a pretty short open water season. Five and a half to maybe six months? They have a very short river season which at best is six weeks. Brown trout and Steelhead are available to a combination of lake and trib anglers 12 months a year. So there will be a lot of pressure on those two species. Even further think about this. Most lake anglers can choose what species you want to fish for that day. Run off shore for silvers, stay inshore for Browns and lakers. Past the salmon season when they are all gone, we fish for what is left. For awhile browns and steelhead. After December, it’s primarily one fish, Steelhead. And managing Brown trout and Steelhead for a full 12 months of chase VS say King Salmon where with our fall, winter and early spring boating season having minimal opportunity and the fact we know spawning salmon are all going to die….these management initiatives are a tad different for CREATING OPPORTUNITY to catch these fish. Let’s go back to the beginning. I’m aging myself, but I was there when Bill Pearce , and some of his top biologists Cliff Creech, Les Wedge and others architected the LO fishery. Like Tanner in Michigan they began with Coho salmon. As they did well, they started to include King Salmon, Brown trout, and of course by Federal direction native species Lake trout and Atlantic Salmon. However one fish had already been here nearly 100 years. The Steelhead. Migratory rainbows from the McCloud River from California were planted in all the great lakes in the 1880’s. Some of these fish were still returning to the Salmon River in the 1960’s but we had long ago lost the habitat required to foster a self-sustaining wild fishery. Our colleagues on the North shore still had and has today the habitat that fosters wild reproduction of Steelhead and why they don’t have massive hatchery stocking of these fish. Back to Pearce, his vision for LO was King and Coho salmon along with Brown trout and lake trout were going to be the primary sport fish for the open waters of the lake, while Steelhead and Atlantic salmon would be icing on the cake in the open waters, and the staple to create a successful River fishery. The Pacific Salmon though short lived in the tribs would be its icing, and brown trout as well. And this all made sense because we know Steelhead are generally in river systems seven months a year and in some systems like the Salmon river easily 8 months a year, and now with the Skamania strain you can catch a steelhead in the salmon river 12 months a year. Bureau of Fisheries Chief Steve Hurst is currently opening up every fishery management plan in the state. To include Finger Lakes and all inland streams and rivers in all regions of the state. Some of the current management plans are decades old, and this initiative is way overdue but a huge undertaking. While Steve and the DEC LO regional managers have spent the last year discussing the LO lake and trib plans, Steve has been leading this effort with many other groups in NYS regions to make sure the management plans are sound to again CREATE OPPORTUNITY to when you go fishing, you are fishing to fish….no matter if you are on the lake or a river . Two years ago Feb 11 we had this (by invite from DEC) to come to Altmar and discuss trib issues for the Salmon river and state wide. There were rec anglers, pro guides who fished the rivers and lake, and business owners. Every LO regional manager and other key DEC personnel were in attendance. This meeting was run by Steve LaPan and Hurst. It lasted four or five hours. Not one single second was there a participant that was blaming trib issues on the Lake fishery , either Charter Operators or Rec fishermen. There have all been a mountain of curve balls as of late tossed at this fishery, and the DEC is simply trying to manage for the whole, not one system or the other. It’s just all this is.
  10. Not sure I heard that. The last trib lake wide creel census Scott Prindle did was I think 2015. I have the results some place , but it was after the die off, and neither the lake or the trib fishing for Steelhead was very good, dismal on the rivers for sure. I will grant you there is a high creeling of Steelhead on the Salmon river during Salmon season, which is usually after labor day until say Mid Oct. However all must understand the people who are fishing at this time are not your serious season Fall, winter, spring dedicated trib angler. Those folks are here to harvest as many fish as possible. If they can catch a steelhead, along with their three salmon, and three brown trout, they are al going in the cooler. Once that crew moves on, the dedicated season long folks show up and fish through the following spring. DEC does do a salmon river census every year, so you will see high creel rate that will skew the remainder of the fishing reports through the spring. Two years ago Feb, several trib stakeholders were invited to the Salmon River Hatchery to discuss trib issues. What came out of that meeting and a few follow ups was the salmon river which is the most important resource to our entire fishery to recruit Pacific Salmon and Steelhead to replenish the sport fisher, it should have it's own management plan and not be mixed in with the general plans. DEC is considering changes just for the salmon river. I found Scotts results. Over 90% of the anglers fishing for Steelhead released all of their caught fish.
  11. Yeah I've caught gill liced Steelhead that have acted normal and others that did not. And we've all caught other salmon or trout that looked and or acted sickly. So unless many fish are showing up that way, we could assume those incidents are not the norm of an epidemic either man made or scientific. The essence of the three trout regs being the 1 brown trout creel change, and the two Steelhead regs is that these two species never get a down time. They are fished for one way or the other 12 months a year. Where as the remaining salmon population of non spawners still out in the lake have as many as what? Six to 8 months left alone by the lake anglers. And the Salmon that run offer about six solid weeks of chase. The intent has never been to take something away from one environment to only benefit the other. But with 12 months of solid pressure on these two species, is their management decisions to help both. It's clear that trib anglers overall don't harvest Steelhead, and season long trib anglers are releasing more brown trout, yet they are still heavily harvested for food and especially the females for eggs. A high number of trib caught fish are released with the anglers intent to keep them in the fishery to where both trib anglers and lake anglers can catch them again. Which brings us to a legit concern. How to successfully C&R a fish in either environment. There are many tried and true methods that work. It is the responsibility of any angler either on the lake or in a river to have the skills to employ C&R techniques. "Jerry" you could put an entire section on this web page on those techniques. Some have stated that trib anglers put to much pressure on these fish, and in some situations I totally agree. One has to decide when they've over stayed their welcome. Going 20 for 31 fishing river fish is in my mind overstaying your welcome. That is my humble opinion. However we see reports every week during the lake season, we were 28 for 35, or 20 for 31 etc. In any of those scenarios many fish on both the lake and the tribs are being caught and released. So lets face it folks we put tons of pressure on these fish 12 months a year. Steelhead and Brown trout are in the cross hairs all 12 months, and the reason DEC has tried to find some relief in possibly keeping more fish in the system, because nobody believes we'll lighten the pressure. Who wants to volunteer to fish less days?
  12. Check the gums of fish you catch in the lake especially in May and June. That will indicate if they've been hooked several times. Most rivers are too warm by mid May and the fish have left except for tribs on the east end below the Tug Hill. I've actually caught some drop back Steelhead on dry flies closer to June in the Salmon while fishing for resident Brown trout. Our Lake Ontario Steelhead also carry gill lice, which can contribute to poorer condition. It's common in the great lakes and in the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea rivers where I've caught wild Steelhead. And you see the same effect of poorer conditioned fish. If this is common place for the fish you are catching I hope anglers are alerting the DEC.
  13. I would love to see a study on mortality for C&R for both the tribs and the lake. We know that would be expensive to put radio devices on a number of fish, and then the dedicated science resources it would include to track fish, collect and produce the data. I would imagine unless DEC has the funding for such and expensive project we wont see that. All the fish are smaller at least the species that spend enough time off-shore. Salmon and steelhead. We know that some species that YOY Steelhead require like mysis shrimp have been in serious decline for years. So I'm sure it's never one culprit that is impacting our fish for food source. It's probably several food source factors. One thing for certain if we harvest a fish , they aren't ever getting bigger. So if we keep a few a little longer maybe we can see some bigger fish despite the food source issues. We spent a year of discussing several management factors, along with Data DEC has collected. They took the collective information and crafted these solutions. I'll be honest my focus was not on creel limits but keeping steelhead to adult stage in the system on both the lake and tribs. And you can see that wasn't the direction DEC was willing to go. Reducing the brown trout limit from 3 to 1 on the tribs has been on and off the regs docket at least three times since 2003. We'l see if that has support this time. Our brown trout are getting hammered every day from Oct to December. As far as shutting down the tribs and beside the economic values nearly 2 million angler hours bring to the LO shore line, we don't have successful natural reproduction of Brown trout and steelhead in our south shore streams. And why NYS stocks them. Neither the lake or trib fishing would survive without stocking. Making shutting them down to fishing on non factor. And I would believe that lake anglers who don't fish the tribs find plenty of spring browns in trolling the shoreline as well as rainbows and steelhead during the late spring and summer. It's highly likely any adults of those species that were in spawning have been caught once or several times and are still in the system for the lake fishermen as well.
  14. Hey nice to know I still have some fans on this site. Yes I sit on a Focus Group Panel with DEC, along with Vince, and Bob, and Tom A, and several others discussing management initiatives for the entire Lake Ontario fishery. We are fortunate to have the greatest 12 month a year sport fishery in the United States right here in our back yard. I say 12 months because from Sept. to the following April and sometimes May we have some of these sport fish in our tribs from the east end to the Niagara. For several years the efforts on the tribs has been about double the effort on the lake. There are rational reasons for that right? Much easier to come to a river or stream to fish, without having the investment in a boat and all the gear. But it's a fact that we have a very busy 12 month a year destination fishery. Travel the road ways in Oct and Nov along the lake and you'll see cars here from Montana, Oregon, Colorado, not to mention any state east of the Mississippi. We are now a destination for Brown trout, as we have the finest big brown trout fishery in the US. While we worry about forage for Salmon, Brown trout have a diverse inshore feeding diet that grows them big and fast. And yes the harvesting of brown trout for their eggs has become a bigger target it seems every year. That includes the milking of fish, or slitting their stomachs streamside which is illegal, (and I've personally had two groups ticketed this past fall calls to CO's)...but very hard to catch and control. The one brown trout limit for the tribs has been considered since 2003. DEC creel studies are starting to show trib anglers are more interested in C&R of brown trout. Steelhead: Again since 2003 Stakeholders have been asking DEC to consider a flat 25 inch size limit for Steelhead ...why? Because since 1983 when the Salmon River Hatchery started collecting data of all returning fish, Salmon and Steelhead they sized them along with other data. As of the information we have from the 2018 spring egg take of Steelhead, 98% of the adult spawning fish since 1983 till now are 25 inches and above. Hence true 3 year old's. Everybody like to have plenty of fish to fish to, but the tribs stakeholders are very interested in having trophy fish as well. Look at the LOC results of late. Last falls winning Steehlead was only 14 pounds.We used to catch fish much bigger in the 1990's and early 2000's. I've caught six true 20 pound steelhead in my life time. Five of them from Lake Ontario. In 2014 due to B1 deficiency problems with steelhead which DEC and USGS determined was consumption of highly toxic (to them) poor conditioned alewives, we lost a massive amount of our adult population of steelhead. So as of the spring of 2015 we essentially were starting over to replenish the future of steelhead for the entire fishery. While hoping younger Steelhead would survive. As of this fall and now winter fishing, I believe we are seeing encouraging results. However, remember we have a very highly used winter and spring fishery and in most of the open river systems anglers only have one fish to target. Steelhead. Much of the stream migration of brown trout is way over with a combination of over harvest and the fact that the majority of the browns have returned to the lake. So unlike the lake fishery where we never have only one species to fish for, in most cases for nearly four months trib anglers have one species to target. C&R. will be debated for ever. Here is one thing that can't be debated. If C&R is killing the fish in the tribs, there would be no hiding it. There would be scores of brown trout and steelhead laying right next to the tons of dead salmon who die in the tribs as well. And that just isn't the case. In 2014 when we had the massive die off of steelhead in the tribs there was no hiding it. I will admit it is much easier to handle a fish for release kneeling In a river than a boat, but I was a Charter operator for over 20 years, and have been trolling the lake from 1971 until now, and it's on you the angler to be responsible to handle a fish properly in your possession. So make sure any fish isn't banging around the desk of the boat or fingers aren't in gills etc. If properly handled these fish can survive the short time they are in 70 degree water. There IS oxygen in that water to allow them to recover. We've all experienced turning around to re-net a fish that we think is going to die, only to find the fish has vanished once we get back to where it was released. And I'm talking about any trout or salmon, not just Steelhead. Finally we have to stop being divided. I'm fully aware on the challenges both professionally and as a rec angler when trying to go catch fish. At this point DEC feels the proposed regs spreads the wealth of this entire 12 month fishery to simply have the opportunity to fish to fish. In the case of the lake Steelhead creel and avg party of four can still harvest 8 fish at 21 inches and over, yet still have slots to fill out their limit with other species. This keeps an additional 15% of the avg. harvest on the lake maybe in play for the fall, winter and spring river fishing.
  15. I won't dive into the decision any further. many have chimed in. There is nothing I can add that is meaningful. But I will address Brian's comments on helping with the pen's. You are 100% correct. We've been away from this too long. We did help at the Oak, Sandy, and Genny back when LOSA was active. They've been gone for 10 years, and candidly we tried to partner unsuccessfully with TU back then to help with some stream rehab projects and the Pens we got involved with. I wouldn't join TU back then, because they didn't have an interest in Great Lakes fisheries anywhere in the Great Lakes. Now TU has an active group that is focused on the Great Lakes fisheries...and we have an active group at one of the oldest chapters in the US in Seth Green here in Rochester that has new blood and are all in to re-engage. Shame it took this long, but beside manpower TU is also an opportunity to find funding for the projects. So yes the Lake guys have been carrying the load, and I can say from Fishing experience especially the Genny group you've done a great job. I see several year classes of Steelhead in the fall and winter while fishing the Genny and I have no doubt those returning fish are a result of a solid Pen program. We look forward to working with Sam on the Genny, Bob, and Rob at Sandy and the Oak...and we have the Buffalo, TU and FFF groups looking to work with Joe Y in Niagara Country and help bolster their man power and funding. I know I've been beating the drum for focus on a 12 month a year fishery and all of us coming together lake and trib stakeholders to partner in doing these kind of projects. It's way past time we put our efforts and hopefully money where our mouth is. Looking forward to getting to know the guys and gals who've been holding do the fort for a long time.
  16. However, those that drive up and snag fish, are staying in their cars, eating PB&J or putting seven guys in a room, for sure drinking a lot of booze and maybe eating at gin joints, But they are also keeping away the anglers who would rent many rooms, eat in all the restaurants buy much more expensive tackle than surf snagging rods and black sponge. I could give you hundreds of names of people who have serious cash to spend that go to expensive places , who would easily spend it here, for the chance to "Fish" to our salmon in our rivers. The chances to get a fish to bite that truly isn't taking nourishment anymore yet still has the instinct to strike...but won't with cannon balls of lead crashing down around them is slimmer than none.
  17. Yankee, Gambler and Lucky all make valid points. Yes we have to get away from this Them against us attitude. We have a 12 month world class fishery. And it needs to be managed that way. When we had the die off of Steelhead in 2014 there was no hiding dead steelhead in our rivers, even in the Genny. So while I don't think there is anywhere near the mortality that some may think from C&R, (because there isn't really a way for these dead fish to hide)....I'm one that believes that trib anglers have to take a look in the mirror and decide when they've over stayed their welcome. I say that for lake anglers as well. My rule of thumb is if I can't tell you something unique about fish number 1, number 8, number 16, and number 24, just maybe I've over stayed my welcome and am putting way more pressure on the fish then is necessary. And these days I'm done way before 10. The Salmon season brings a different type of angler to our rivers. They are a group that intends to harvest any fish . And to Rick's point "by any means". And many of these folks aren't true dedicated trib anglers who chase fish throughout the fall winter and spring on our rivers. many are hunters biding their time till hunting season get started. They have every right to fish our rivers legally and harvest their legal limit, and many do. While serious steelheaders would never kill one of these fish. One of the main reasons is after about December in many of the LO tribs, they are the only species left. We are starting to see more brown trout being released (over 70%) likely for the same reason. So we can catch them at another time, or somebody else can enjoy them. But back to Rick's point. We need to all be on the same team. look out for each other. If you really don't need to eat that fish, then put it back. No matter what species. I've caught five 20 pound plus steelhead in my 47 years of lake fishing, charter fishing and trib fishing. 1 in Little Shelter Valley on the North shore, One with a Charter off the Genny River in August. 3 in the Genny swinging flies in the early 2000's. And the latest one in the Sandy River out in the Aleutians in Alaska. They are pretty rare indeed.
  18. It was a focus group of folks who spent all or at least half their time in the case of the Charter boat /River Drift boat guides that were invited.. on a river. For the record, the message I sent out to folks invited came from references I received from the DEC and local stakeholders. Some took offense of me....when in actuality I didn't personally invite anybody except a couple folks from our region 8 TU group. Some who were also guides. The target was to have an informational talk with people who were very close to the day to day fishing on the rivers. There were several business owners there who had collected comments thoughts and observations from the 1000's of customers they had through their shops and businesses the past three years. You'd have to ask the DEC for sure, but I believe they came away happy with the participation, professionalism and candor of the participants. Of course with all the mistrust swirling around ...this was labeled a Secrete Meeting ...A request was made by DEC to speak to highly knowledgeable tributary stakeholders...and that's what they got.
  19. Gill- T …I know as long as there is a FERC license with the power company on the Salmon River, we will have Chinook Salmon forever. Sure there are people who would like the King Salmon program to end, they are trout fishermen, walleye fishermen, bass fishermen, on and on. How about fresh water Striped Bass. Honestly I don’t care to address any more the nonsense of somebody wanting to do away with Kings, just as I’m tired of all the absolutely ridiculous statements from those who think the DEC and the Feds have some clandestine plan to replace Pacific Salmon with Atlantic Salmon. There is so much shooting from the hip on these web boards, and the knowledge is a phone call away to your regional managers. Of course they read this board EVERY day, and know how much some of you distrust them even after managing this fishery for a half century to be what it is today…a world class fishery both in the Lake and the tribs. So maybe they won’t take your calls. What a shame after all these years, we are so divided and profiled that Lake guys think trib guys and Vice Versa are not after the same thing. All we all want to do…is “FISH to FISH”…and if the fish I favor to fish to is different than yours….why is that a problem? And or especially the method….and more important as long as my method is ethical, and legal….has nothing to do with being an elitist. We have wasted so much opportunity, burned so many bridges being divided, when we have so much talent in stakeholders, and some of the top Scientific professionals from both the State DEC, MNR, and USGS, to where we could be leveraging all of our experiences and their knowledge to sustain this great resource. The target has to be universal, and for the life of me I can not fathom why instead is controversial. The target should be for every man women and child that wants to fish for trout and salmon is a healthy 12 month a year fishery that undoubtedly is used heavily by stakeholders interested in both the open waters of the lake, as well as it’s many breathtaking rivers and streams. As far as meeting with DEC…THEY ASKED US TO MEET last Feb!!!! THEY INVITED US…..oh was I yelling? They knew that last winter was year three of a devastating low success rate of Steelhead fishing, and for what ever reason poor brown trout returns. There were businesses closing their doors, and some barely hanging on with up to 50% loss of revenue. It GOT their attention. So they wanted to talk to trib concerned stakeholders. They also know that a Public meeting was not going to be as focused as having a invited group that could substantiate …or Not…what they were hearing, and what their creel census was showing them. Much like the focused BiNational group. Were there people in the room that may have favored one species over another…sure….But this wasn’t a meeting to make policy and regs, or shut down anything. It was an information collection opportunity. We truly have to stop all this nonsense of mistrust. The avg trib angler is not unhappy or offended that the lake fishing is good. It’s actually the opposite, we know if there is good fishing in the lake ….hopefully it will translate to great returns to our rivers. In the case of Steelhead since the die off in 2014, what ever the fishing was on the lake ….DID NOT translate to the tribs. I’m sure the average lake concerned angler can understand that when we are standing in 34 degree water trying to catch a fish…we are truly interested in actually fishing to fish. That’s our only requirement. But how is that any different than a person out in a boat. When the Steelhead fishing crashed we didn’t demand more fish…because we KNOW that isn’t possible. There is no space, and adding more pressure to the forage base that is in question on how steady it is….isn’t the right answer either. This would be an opportunity if we were truly a brother and sisterhood of concerned anglers for all (trib and lake) to say….you know steelhead numbers are down. Let’s maybe not take as many and more important let’s handle these fish with the upmost care to get them back….and hopefully in a year or so things will trun around. And maybe that did happen, but we are so divided we don’t even discuss these kinds of courtesies . Gill T you can drink all the beer you want, but I drink 12 year old single malt (yeah it’s a Fly Fishing Elitist Thing) the most expensive you can afford…and I know Dr…you can afford it.. Bring your credit card maybe two or three….…you’ll need it.
  20. It’s too bad these conversations on a web board get personal. Gill-T you don’t know me, or anything about me, and my 45 years of experience of the 49 years this fishery has been in existence. I’ve spent a life time on the open waters of Lake Ontario, was a staff writer for the original Great Lakes Fisherman, and for 7 Years the Lake Ontario Editor for New York Sportsman magazine. I wrote more articles about King Salmon and how to catch them than any other writer of that time for Lake Ontario. Was President of the Western Lake Ontario Charter Boat association, and on the NYS Sport Fishing council. Spent countless hours working WITH the DEC to fully understand their science, methods, forecasts, and operations. Much like the owner of this web site Jerry has. Had the second boat out of Braddocks Bay with Downriggers on it back in 1972, built a Heahkit depth finder and temp gauge to try and chase these fish…and having to teach ourselves back in those days how to locate and catch these marvelous fish. Unlike the resources everyone has today. I’ve caught King Salmon in all the Great Lakes except Erie, and as far as Alaska and British Columbia. I am NOT one of the trib anglers who wants King Salmon fishing to end in Lake Ontario. How dare you spew your unintelligent nonsense. In fact I just finished a trip where I enjoyed immensely catching big Kings and Coho’s on the Salmon river…and YES on a fly,..some that I designed …and one that my NYS Fishing Guide wife Lindsay has designed that has gone viral all the way to New Zeeland to catch big rainbows in their magnificent rivers. Do I chose to spend my days with a fly rod in my hand. Yes I do, a skill I learned as a 15 year old kid and have been enjoying from Here to Alaska and BC to Labrador, Fla, Bahamas, Mexico, Belize, Alphonse Island in the Seychelles and LI Sound. After doing this for over 50 years…I just like to catch them the way I like to catch them. I enjoy having the rod in my hand to feel the “TAKE” once you’ve unlocked the primal instinct of a sport fish to swim at top speed to kill it’s prey. That doesn’t make me an elitist, it makes me a “Tug Addict” Do I choose to fish for Steelhead , and Atlantic Salmon over King Salmon, sure because they are more fly friendly then Kings. And King Salmon in a river is not the same fish it is in the open waters of LO. Especially losing weight from not eating anymore , and full of hormones as they prepare to spawn. . And for MY Money…and I think we are still free thinkers and speakers here in the good old USA, there is no greater fresh water sport fish on a fly…than an Atlantic Salmon. My choice… my business. You don't understand the Atlantic Salmon program here in Lake Ontario. This is strictly in the experimental stage, and has been since they started and stopped the last 30 years. Mainly because they (The Fed’s) who are managing this program at the highest level have been looking for a strain of Salmon that survives and returns. They now have one….AND in talking to Andy Todd Monday…the Canadians are now focused on Sebago’s a native Maine strain of fish that thrives in the inland lakes. Could have easily been one of the strains that LO had back in the 16,17, and early 1800’s. And they are doing fantastic. BTW they are doing very well in the early returns in Canada if the pictures that Andy showed me Monday night are any indicator. BUT the Atlantic Salmon program is not now, or has ever been an effort to replace King Salmon or any other species of fish swimming in the lake. On the South shore we will never have rivers with habitat that sustains these fish, except one, the Salmon river. However the wild cold rivers of the North Shore certainly will. Atlantic salmon have the highest tolerance to low 70’s water than any other Salmonid… Further more, there’s no hatchery space or budget with the DEC …OR the Feds, to raise millions of Atlantic Salmon to dump into the lake. You are not going to create a major sports fishery with 60K fish, and the experimental fish from the Febs. BUT you can create a niche fishery for some rivers….Salmon River here…and at least three in Canada for the summer fishery. We’ve been catching beautiful Atlantic Salmon in the Salmon river ALL SUMMER long, without the crazy crowds and nonsense that goes on once the Kings return. And the group of knowledgeable anglers who are enjoying this, aren’t bashing Lake Fishing, nor do we think or feel like elitists ….WE just want to fish. Understand the DEC is also stocking these same Atlantic Salmon in the Finger lakes, and I don’t hear those anglers complaining about catching them in the open waters and rivers. Just because an angler chooses the tool he or she fishes with as a fly rod….how does that make me/them an elitist…? Your statement at the top of your post shows your ignorance. Lake Ontario is not just a King Salmon fishery. I’m extremely happy fishermen enjoy King Salmon fishing, I do as well, but I enjoy other species more. My preference, and my business and truly none of your business. Finally….for all others please accept my apology for being a tad irritated. Gill-T…get off your keyboard, come to Rochester, and buy me a Scotch, and I’ll teach you all the things you THINK you know about me, but you obviously don’t
  21. AMEN Abe...I thought it was a great question and answer discussion with intelligent thoughtful questions and honest answers. We saw the result of the last three years of wild fish hatching success, that has to be factored into the equation. I think the important thing I get out of these talks is it's evident the DEC and MNR are always striving for better ways to study the science and improve their process. It's never going to be a 1+1 = 2 in dealing with all the possible variables to the equation...especially dealing with mother nature.
  22. After all that is said and done…..I trust the DEC, MNR, and USGS scientists. And here’s why. 2017 marks the 49th year DEC has been managing this Trout and Salmon Fishery. Fast Forward to Mid 70’s, five years before the Salmon River Hatchery came on line, and the health dept in NYS urged the DEC to stop stocking King Salmon due to contamination issues with Mirex and Dioxin. Still the DEC maintains a brood stock, and a year later when the decision after testing what P/P/M…and P/P/B mean to the human body of these chemicals stocking started up again…slowly, and then Mother nature as she always does tossed in a curve ball notably the winter of 1977. Back then said to be the harshest in 100 years, (But didn’t come close to (2014.15) for cold. And we had a massive die off of Alewife. The shore lines looked like the Pre salmon days. But back then DEC wasn’t stocking millions of these fish, they didn’t have the capacity yet. And they were 10 years into the game and hadn’t had this type of hard down crush on the forage base to deal with….Then the 80’s, the Golden age of this fishery that some of us remember. Bait rebounded probably somewhat because the Predator numbers hadn’t been brought up to it’s peek. In 1993 I am many of my colleagues sat in the Cornell Cooperative Extension building, I was representing the Western Lake Ontario Charter Boat Assoc. and at the time had a seat on the NYS Sport Fishing Council and we listened to Bob Lange tell us DEC was reducing stocking to 1 million salmon from what was at the time about 2.1 M. They determined the forage base was impacted hard again, and the results of their trawls (with much less sophisticated tools then they have today) mandated their management plan to make this move. Maybe/probably they were a bit over compensating as at the very same moment Lake Michigan was suffering through their second crash of salmon … The mid to late 90’s was a struggle, we fished hard, we caught salmon, we caught some very big salmon into the early 2000’s…we POUNDED the steelhead because they were there and easily caught to satisfy our customers, but come the millennium the bait studies showed a resurgence of alewife, and the DEC certain of their data restored the stocking back to capacity, and many years even tossed in supplemental stockings of kings. 2016, now the most modern techniques and technology in use by USGS, DEC, and MNR they see a warning sign again. But IMHO don’t jump into a drastic cut in half decision, but a more calculated one. 2017 data by the same teams and technologies confirms the warning they started to discover last spring, yet these same tools techniques and scientists see a light in the tunnel. Yet they continue to make a calculated management decision, because that’s what men and women of science MUST do. For the most part the past 17 years has been highly successful on the lake and the tribs. We certainly had another nasty curve in 2014 with significant die off of adult Steelhead. Reports on them in the lake seem much better this year let’s hope that’s true. This essay is a chronology of the past 49 years. Again only speaking for myself, but the men and women of these three agencies have more than earned my respect. Have they made some errors or mistakes…for sure. Who of us hasn’t in our work. Are they going to error on the conservative side because they are managing for five years down the road not just next year….yes thank God for that.
  23. Hey Vince really love your event for the ladies. Would like to donate cash or if that's only done through a raffle tickets..I'd buy $100 worth, but would like my tickets to go to the lady participants. Also not sure what you are raffling off.. I'll have to check the FB page...but my wife Lindsay who is a NYS Licensed Fly Fishing guide might give away a free trip to a couple ladies...if you need more prizes. Let me know.

    1. Capt Vince Pierleoni

      Capt Vince Pierleoni

      Awesome Dave. She is overwhelmed right now not only with the work it takes, but support like yours.  Your donation can be earmarked to the ladies prize structure. Send to reelin for a cure, c/o Steph Pierleoni, PO Box 212 newfane, NY 14108.  Your wife's donation of a trip could be used as a raffle item if you wish. Thank you! Vince

  24. Banana's aren't just a boat thing. I'd never have bananas on my boat ever....and when I had a crew going out, I'd ask if they had any on them. If so, they had to stay onshore. BUT the Banana thing is simply bad for fishing. One time headed up to the Salmon river. I was going to be gone for several days on a combo Trout Salmon and Albie fishing trip to LI sound. We had two or three bananas laying around...figured they'd go to waste...I take them for a snack while fishing the river. Got there at 0-Dark-30. Rigged up and hit the water.. Left the bananas in the truck. For six solid hours I had Trout and Salmon all around me, and couldn't get a single fish to take. I trudged back to the truck in the pouring rain beaten. Opened the door and saw the bananas. Could it be? I ate them all right there. Next morning before leaving for the Sound, I hit the Upper Fly area. Figured it would be crowded. It was Oct on the Salmon River after all. NOT a soul there. Hmmm. Went up to a favorite swinging spot. Stepping down and casting, hooked a 10 pound brown trout. Next time through the run a 15 pound Steelhead dime bright that ran me down river for a 100 yards. Decided to try another spot and landed two more chrome fish. IT HAD TO BE THE BANANAS!!!! I was with a guide friend on the Delaware, floating the main stem. All day long no shots at fish looking up. Couldn't believe it. We parked on an island and he offered me a banana...!!! HUH? We've had this evil fruit onboard all day???? I tossed it in the weeds and crushed it. Next run, Fish raising everywhere....20 + inch Wild Browns and rainbows.....NUFF SAID
  25. YAY!!!! This will save on my Dentist Bills...to have loose fillings replaced.
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