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CreditRiverAnglers

Please release Atlantic salmon to assist reintroduction prog

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YT....the last native fishable populations of Atlantic Salmon went away in the mid to later 1800's. The biggest culprite was the loss of habitat. Many of our rivers were used for Grist and flower mills along with the true start of the industrial reveloution. There was also evidence of over harvest by commercial and native fishhermen.

I've never read any research that suggested a lack of forage was also at play. Atlantic Salmon are very susceptible to pollution and habitat changes.....which has been the biggest issue along with over harvest for the Ocean running fish. Once habitat has been compromised in a negative way....it's been very difficult to reverse the environment to where Salmon can flurish again.

It's way to early to tell what increased populations of A salmon will do to the food web.....but we've had since the late 90's when the summer flows treaty was enacted on the Salmon River.....millions of wild kings inroducted through successful hatching from the base flows. Yet the food web continues in it's ebbs and flows....that seems to sustain an extra loading of fish to the system.

Each step I take in the Salmon river in May and June....riles dozens of baby king salmon they are every where. We'll know soon enough what the mix is of wild and stocked fish.....this will be some of the most valuable research data collected in some time.

Everybody has their own thoughts on the species of fish we have. IMHO....I hope we can start to retain fishable populations of a legacy species....this effort needs cooporation ...from Sport fishing anglers.....giving them a chance...and the essence of John's Note to start this thread. There are groups of anglers...that have done some unbelieveable things to support wild Atlantic and Steelhead programs. CRAA....has planted close to 500,000 trees on the credit river in the western basin....and led a movement with 50,000 home owners whose property borders the river to divert their rain water to their lawns...instead of storm sewers that empty into the river causing silt formations that plug up spawning gravel....

On the Salmon River we've begun to plant 1000's of trees the last several years ourselves to promote habitat improvements to erroding stream banks...and hopefully someday create shading that will lower water temps...that will promote wild repo. This will help not only steelhead and A Salmon...but King salmon...and there has even been success found of Coho salmon in this environment.

Only Man can turn things around for all these fish. It's truly not as simple as put and take. Budgets are slim and getting slimmer....we better look for ways to not only have to rely on Gov't funded fish.

Not trying to sound corny ....but this is a 12 month a year fishery....and hands down again IMHO.....the best fresh water year round fishery on the planet.....all anglers both lake and trib fishermen need to work together to maintain that year round world class environment. Take care of the fish.....and they will take care of you.

I learned a lot today. Thanks KD. Like I said above...I am not against it, but I want to make sure its the right thing to do. Which is something we wont know for a while. As for the Natural reproducing Chinooks.....I think that info will be a stake in the heart! Once the DEC sees this is happening then they will definitely cut our stocking on the basis that the forage in the Lake wont be able to sustain the amount of predators. Wild fish hatches will never be a guarantee due to varying stream and river conditions. Ugggghhhhh....I guess we sit back right now and see what happens.

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YT....I understand your concern on the wild kings. I know a lot of Capt's...and Rec anglers alike assume that if we have 6 or 7 million fry that have hatched ....the king stocking will be lowered. I do not work for the DEC...but I'm working with them on many programs ...and while I won't even approach speaking for them....I think nothing is further from the truth....i.e. reducing stocking.

if the size of the fish don't drop drastically......there is no reason to change anything. Just because we have a great hatch of wild fish doesn't mean they have a high survival rate. That's what the marking trailor will show us beginning in the fall of 2011. Take this year for instance....this group of adult kings are from the reduced stocking due to poor recruitment levels in 2007. The wild recruitment was terrible as well...because fish that did spawn naturally had little sucess along with the struggles getting fish to the hatchery.

It's logical that this year class of adult most likely 2010 spawners are going to be bigger on avg. because there are less of them. While we have lots of shakers in the system...they don't on a daily basis eat as much forage as the big boys. What will be interesting to find out at some point...is if the wild fish are more diverse in their pray diets then stocked fish. These little wild fish have a smorgesboard of big giant stone flies to eat as juvies. This trend may carry over to the lake.

I know of fly anglers in Huron...that catch wild kings on dry flies in the harbors in early fall. So it's possible wild fish may be more diverse then stocked fish in eating to grow. I've seen in the past few years on river returning fish....in my best guess to a wild fish VS a stocked one...the wild fish are a tad longer but leaner. fully filled out......while stockers seem to be stubby and bigger shoulders....but that's pure guess work...and looking at the condition of their fins.

I wouldn't jump the gun that if we have say 30% of the returning adults confirmed wild fish....that there is going to be any changes....heck if 80% are wild....as long as over all the avg size doesn't change much....their is no reason to change stocking numbers.

I'm around these guys....they are weary of fish health......winner winner chicken dinner...if we have millions of adult fish...and the food web can sustain them.....and if it starts to show wear and tear....they'll make adjustments..but believe me you'll want them to..... LO is the only Salmon fishery in the great lakes that hasn't suffered a total crash.....and it's largely due to the top notch fishery managers and biologists we have in the regions across the lake.

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Rich, since the vast majority of the natural repro is happening in the SR, as long as that is where the bulk of the stocking reductions take place, that's ok with me.

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I'm kidding of course. Since they will still need sufficient returns to the hatchery, the SR would be the last place they cut stocking numbers, and rightly so. It would still suck for the rest of us around the lake though if that were to happen.

Tim

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YT....I understand your concern on the wild kings. I know a lot of Capt's...and Rec anglers alike assume that if we have 6 or 7 million fry that have hatched ....the king stocking will be lowered. I do not work for the DEC...but I'm working with them on many programs ...and while I won't even approach speaking for them....I think nothing is further from the truth....i.e. reducing stocking.

if the size of the fish don't drop drastically......there is no reason to change anything. Just because we have a great hatch of wild fish doesn't mean they have a high survival rate. That's what the marking trailor will show us beginning in the fall of 2011. Take this year for instance....this group of adult kings are from the reduced stocking due to poor recruitment levels in 2007. The wild recruitment was terrible as well...because fish that did spawn naturally had little sucess along with the struggles getting fish to the hatchery.

It's logical that this year class of adult most likely 2010 spawners are going to be bigger on avg. because there are less of them. While we have lots of shakers in the system...they don't on a daily basis eat as much forage as the big boys. What will be interesting to find out at some point...is if the wild fish are more diverse in their pray diets then stocked fish. These little wild fish have a smorgesboard of big giant stone flies to eat as juvies. This trend may carry over to the lake.

I know of fly anglers in Huron...that catch wild kings on dry flies in the harbors in early fall. So it's possible wild fish may be more diverse then stocked fish in eating to grow. I've seen in the past few years on river returning fish....in my best guess to a wild fish VS a stocked one...the wild fish are a tad longer but leaner. fully filled out......while stockers seem to be stubby and bigger shoulders....but that's pure guess work...and looking at the condition of their fins.

I wouldn't jump the gun that if we have say 30% of the returning adults confirmed wild fish....that there is going to be any changes....heck if 80% are wild....as long as over all the avg size doesn't change much....their is no reason to change stocking numbers.

I'm around these guys....they are weary of fish health......winner winner chicken dinner...if we have millions of adult fish...and the food web can sustain them.....and if it starts to show wear and tear....they'll make adjustments..but believe me you'll want them to..... LO is the only Salmon fishery in the great lakes that hasn't suffered a total crash.....and it's largely due to the top notch fishery managers and biologists we have in the regions across the lake.

Dave, just wanted to comment that you're a year early on that. The low water was the fall of 2007, so that affected the 2008 year class. Those are this years 2yo's and should be the 2011 matures.

Tim

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Yup thanks Tim.....and what is the two year old catch look like....good numbers? Hear about shakers...and big boys....but have seen quite a few pics of 8 to 12...14 pound fish...maybe between the wild population and the stockers....the 2011 run won't be as bad as some think.

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Dave, we caught a ton of shakers last year and quite a few 6-12 lb teenagers this year so far, Check out the one pic from my monday report, we had a 9 or 10 lb king with it's adipose, which I assumed would be a wild 2YO. I don't think next year's fishing will be that bad.

As we've seen several times in the past, it depends more on how a particular year class survives than it does the number stocked. While I admit it is anecdotal, based on the large number of shakers we caught last year, I think the survival of the fish that were stocked in the 2008 year class was excellent.

Tim

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Yeah Tim...it truly is about survival....earlier in this thread I mentioned the St Mary's river Atlantic salmon program where they only put in 25K fish a year...and get returns in the 4 to 7K range....which is a fantastic return for so little stocked.

Looks like maybe some of the exotics...like the spiney water flea...the Goobies....and this red mysis shrimp...could be contributing to bolstering the food web.....helping fish survival....who knows.....you guys may have to stop cursing the fleas on fishing rigs and rigger cables....

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who knows.....you guys may have to stop cursing the fleas on fishing rigs and rigger cables....

not as long as they make it so we can't reel in our damn lines we won't :D

Tim

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At the spring state of lake meeting DEC said that the preliminary and very preliminary figures indicated approx 20% of Kings were due to Nat Repro. Studies from SUNY ESF indicate that nat repro is highly variable from year to year.

Tom B.

(LongLine)

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Great to see so much positive pashion for the fishery. And a pleasure to fish with you and the guys at SR the other week Dave. That evening I landed a grilse on a Caroline and rose four others (but no takes). I can attest to the predatory nature of Atlantic's, having seen them rise 20 feet for a bomber in the Maritimes. I find the fight similar to steelhead, but need to put a few hundred under the belt before I pass any judgement. On the north shore fish have been mostly grilse so lacking weight and power, but I have had some high flyers, easily 6 feet. But steelhead will be as agressive and so will kings and coho. It depends on pressure and many other variables.

Thiamine concern:

This has been a concern for all salmonids in the Great Lakes feeding on Alewives and smelt. However steelhead have a vary diverse diet and seem uneffected. Keep in mind all the rivers from Toronto to Kingston on the Ontario side are 99% wild with only hatchery strays filling the 1%. Our runs are strong, but are depressed from 1990 levels. The opinion of most bios and serious anglers is over harvest is the cause, but our MNR moves at a snails pace due to lack of funding and other reasons.

DFO (Federal Dept of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada) tested samples from all the returning Atlantic salmon last fall on the Credit River. They showed Thiamine levels four times above the limit needed for successful egg/fry survival. Thus last years data shows thiamine is not an issue whatsoever! Wild fry on the SR last year is also a positive sign.

Chinooks which prey more exclusively on smelt/alewives have proved science wrong too. They are reproducing in huge numbers. While many NY tribs have barriers and lack the geology to support high levels of natural reproduction, the SR is a factory. So are the Sandy and a few other tribs. The north shore rivers also produce huge numbers of wild chinook, including many chinook that stay up to a whole year in the river (chinooks normally smolt out in May/June in the same year they hatch). Sadly MNR has no firm estimates, but visit any eastern GTA trib and you can see thousands of wild chinook fry in May. None of our eastern rivers are stocked (except a couple pier stocking sites), yet all the rivers have solid runs of chinook (few thousand or more for the main systems). Keep in mind these systems are small, 20-30 feet accross for the most part. IMHO I would estimate they average 1-4 mill a year (all the streams), but that is just an educated guess.

Last year in a jack creel study our club did at Port Credit we had 46% wild jakcs, 54% clipped. Yesterday I had 5 jacks, 4 of which were clipped. But my buddy in the same area the past two days had 22 jacks/up to 12 lb fish, 14 wild, 8 clipped. It will be interesting to see what knowledge and proof of natural reproduction occurs.

Having watched the Georgian Bay/Huron fishery crash in the 2004-present era, we do need to understand the lake better. That fishery started as a stocked fishery, but within two generations (8 years) stray kings went from a few hundred in the Nottawasaga river to tens of thousands running. In the last two years of major runs fish size dropped from 20-30 lbs to 8-12 lbs. Then there was little left over. Yet the steelhead were fine, albeit they dropped in body size a bit (and have since recovered). Chinook size is slowly returning (15-18 lb is best these days - and rare), but quantity is none existant. Interesting that the SSM Atlantics are still doing well in this same water and breaking 20 lbs when kings are not (or very rarely).

Lake Ontario is far more prolific than Gbay/Huron, but we must be very careful. The more knowledge, the better. And it appears, as noted above that Atlantic's have a very wide range of feeding habits, deep, shallow, fish, insect, ect, like steelhead.

Atlantics also grow more slowly than chinooks so they should not have the same energy consumption levels as a chinook. Based on growth I would bet somewhere between a steelhead and a king for food energy needs. I am not aware of any research on this subject yet.

Why Atlantics went extinct in Lake Ontario?

As KD noted, habitat loss and over fishing were the key factors. Lamprey and Alewives may have played a small role too as they invaded the lake as the Atlantic population was in a tail spin. Loss of access was very likely the primary cause. The Toronto area was really not started until 1791. In 1792-93 the govenor's wife wrote of huge runs of salmon in the Credit and Humber rivers, our two largest west of Trenton. Initial settlement occured in 1800-1820 along both rivers. Dams were the first things to be built. The earliest dams were simply huge trees felled across the river with rocks added. I am sure most salmon jumped them. But by 1820 the first real dams were going in. Barriers to fish migration. Stop a fish from reaching its spawning grounds and you cause their extinction quickly. The main stem of the Credit River below the escarpment falls had 68 dams by 1858 :o !!!!!!!!!!! The first one at the first rapids. By the 1840's salmon runs had crashed on many rivers around the lake. By 1850 the fishery was already in ruin. A slight resergence in the early 1870's, due likely to stocking by the father's of modern aquaculture, Samual Wilmot in Ontario and Seth Green in NY. A decade of below average temps at the same time no doubt helped. By the late 1870's it was obvious the fishery was lost. The very last salmon was caught in a net in 1896. The end! In 20 years early settlers destroyed a massive salmon population numbering in the many, many millions with nothing more than axes and hard work.

How many salmon were there???

On the Credit, estimates in the 1830's of the run ranged from 50,000 to 300,000 fish per year. This year our steelhead run was 6,500 fish, chinooks maybe 6-10k, some coho, browns and a few Atlantics. The estimates are just that as nobody counted the fish or knew anything about fish science. Yet the recorded information we have is truly astounding. Hundreds of barrels (yes barrels) of salmon harvested in one night on many rivers including the SR. A favourite record of mine. Written by a Scottish preist who started a church in Mississauga, on the banks of the Credit River at what is now Erindale Park, our clubs home turf! On July 29, 1827 he wrote something to this effect (I'm paraphrasing from memory): After a freshet (rain) we (he and one other fellow) took to the river by the church to spear salmon. We took the canoe across and pulled it ashore. We waded into the river with spears and began our task. The salmon were so plentiful we lost track of our work from the great fun we were having. Only upon realizing we had speared so many fish the canoe sank and was pulled into the river with a shotgun and a bottle of scotch. The shotgun was recovered. I'd bet a $1000 nobody could go to that spot now and spear 10 chinooks during the run, let alone fill a friggin canoe!

Two of Ontario's other top salmon rivers were the Moira and the Trent. Both rivers flow into Bay of Quinte and are known for bass and walleye today. Fish also had access 170 inland through the Oswego river system. All lost in 20-40 years due to dams, over fishing and habitat damage. Crazy.

Millions of chinook salmon were also stocked into Lake Ontario in the 1870's. Some fish were reported caught, but no fishery ever survived. But by the 1880's steelhead started to access the lake and had limited stocking and isolated runs. Funny enought the wild Gbay steelhead population began around 1898 when a dam burst releasing a bunch of pond rainbows to the Nottawasaga River. They took to the lake and had access to enough spawning water to build a population.

I would also agree with KD that the larger fish being caught over 15 lbs are likely SR fish, but they could be ours too. MNR has been stocking fish every year since 1988, but mostly 50-75k of fry for research and only the odd return came of them. Last year we had some four year (2 lake year) fish hitting 7-9 pounds. So they should run 12-15 lbs this year.

Thanks for the support and steady catch reports...awesome fishery we have!

john

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i have always had an interest in atlantic salmon reintroduction. i thought it would never happen because of the lack of interest abroad. truth is this post shows that there is a hint of heritage left in you guys. heres another picture of our biggest of 3 atlantics caught in one single day on lake ontario, less than 100 yads from the mouth of the salmon river break wall. all released. third fish was smaller so i didnt feel the need to bring it abaord. the pictures are crummy because i wanted to release them as fast as possible. this is by far my favorite fish. the big one jumped 6 times. sometimes tailwalking for over 3 seconds. most importantly, thank you CRA!

AXRyi.jpg

AXZ1J.jpg

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