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Capt Vince Pierleoni

Time for the NYSDEC and OMNR to increase Chinook numbers

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I've been around this fishery since 1976, and have Chartered for 30 yrs. What I'm seeing this season is a tremendous imbalance of predator to prey. The Alewife numbers are mind boggling already, and they all haven't made it inshore yet.

The promoted position of "better safe than sorry" doesn't hold up as wasting fish flesh in the form of dying Alewives instead of Chinook numbers actually creates more spikes and valleys in the Alewife population. I think what happened is the excessive number of adult Alewife out-competed the younger Alewife during this tough winter. Anglers all over the lake are catching 1 yr old Chinooks that normally aren't encountered until later in the Spring. Handling 1 lb "ultra skipper" Chinooks is not good for anyone as they are our future and extra fragile.   

Before this season, I thought the numbers planted were inadequate. Astute angling pressure is way up, information flows like never before, there are more and more anglers on both sides of the fence that target Chinooks exclusively. In addition, warm water predators have increased exponentially, cropping planted Chinooks at stocking sites when in years past they didn't exist. Cormorants go unchecked in many areas. What was considered conservative numbers in the early 90's is now way too low to control the Alewife--even in the years when good hatches of wild Chinooks contribute.

These managing bodies cannot be too worried about baitfish stocks, as the Lake trout target has recently been doubled. If natural reproduction of Lake trout is ever going to solidify, Alewife have to be controlled. For continous strong hatches of Yellow perch and Walleye to take place, Alewife have to be controlled.

Leaving the Alewife population too large is actually a riskier proposition than pressing them, as over populated Alewife exhaust food supplies and are subject to big die offs.

Long live the King.   

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Excellently stated and written Vince. I have attends countless meetings with the governing bodies as well as was a member of the Lake Ontario stakeholders. As you and many others very well know we have been pushing and stressing for a stocking increase for a very long time.....but it always has been pushed aside for one reason or another......hiring freezes, money issues, factory issues etc.

I fully agree with all of your statements and observations. The need for a true predator/prey balance, chinook stocking increase is long over due.

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Wanted to add that hopefully this thread will stay well written and educated discussion as people /add to it. Discussions are great but hopefully it stays ongoing without the childish add ons and finger pointing.

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Don't worry, the 300,000 extra lakers they are going to stock will put a dent in the population!  Believe it or not, I would rather see it stay at 500,000 and stock more kings.  It is much easier to fix an over abundance of kings if the bait population took a dump.  3 to 4 year and the kings are gone. 

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I use a sabiki rig to get bait, yesterday at Charlotte I was getting shiners when as I looked this one looked different, and sure enough it had par markings. This fish was the same size as the shiners I was catching and was,on closer inspection either a 3 inch long trout or salmon. I got about a dozen shiners and in that time caught 4 more trout/salmon. All were released with care. Point being that the Genny is a place that is a somewhat productive spawning ground and that the fall fishing? Should be more closely monitored by dec.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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By the fall fishing I mean upriver by the falls

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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I've been around this fishery since 1976, and have Chartered for 30 yrs. What I'm seeing this season is a tremendous imbalance of predator to prey. The Alewife numbers are mind boggling already, and they all haven't made it inshore yet.

The promoted position of "better safe than sorry" doesn't hold up as wasting fish flesh in the form of dying Alewives instead of Chinook numbers actually creates more spikes and valleys in the Alewife population. I think what happened is the excessive number of adult Alewife out-competed the younger Alewife during this tough winter. Anglers all over the lake are catching 1 yr old Chinooks that normally aren't encountered until later in the Spring. Handling 1 lb "ultra skipper" Chinooks is not good for anyone as they are our future and extra fragile.   

Before this season, I thought the numbers planted were inadequate. Astute angling pressure is way up, information flows like never before, there are more and more anglers on both sides of the fence that target Chinooks exclusively. In addition, warm water predators have increased exponentially, cropping planted Chinooks at stocking sites when in years past they didn't exist. Cormorants go unchecked in many areas. What was considered conservative numbers in the early 90's is now way too low to control the Alewife--even in the years when good hatches of wild Chinooks contribute.

These managing bodies cannot be too worried about baitfish stocks, as the Lake trout target has recently been doubled. If natural reproduction of Lake trout is ever going to solidify, Alewife have to be controlled. For continous strong hatches of Yellow perch and Walleye to take place, Alewife have to be controlled.

Leaving the Alewife population too large is actually a riskier proposition than pressing them, as over populated Alewife exhaust food supplies and are subject to big die offs.

Long live the King.   

 

I agree with you Vince, but given the harsh Winter let's make sure we go through the Summer and make sure the bait is still there. The last two years the bait has been insane. I just don't want to ever see us get to what MI got to with low forage bases, and unhealthy fish. Not to mention IF they increase it for a few years are we gonna b**ch when they lower it back down to the levels we're at now when the forage base reaches lower levels?

 

 

Don't worry, the 300,000 extra lakers they are going to stock will put a dent in the population!  Believe it or not, I would rather see it stay at 500,000 and stock more kings.  It is much easier to fix an over abundance of kings if the bait population took a dump.  3 to 4 year and the kings are gone. 

 

Not buying bud! Hahahahaha You know you want more Lakers! 

 

 

I use a sabiki rig to get bait, yesterday at Charlotte I was getting shiners when as I looked this one looked different, and sure enough it had par markings. This fish was the same size as the shiners I was catching and was,on closer inspection either a 3 inch long trout or salmon. I got about a dozen shiners and in that time caught 4 more trout/salmon. All were released with care. Point being that the Genny is a place that is a somewhat productive spawning ground and that the fall fishing? Should be more closely monitored by dec.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United mobile app

 

 

That was probably a pen fish released recently. The Genny has a Chinook and Steelhead pen program.

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Given the usual pattern of lake warming from west to east (south shore at least) I am wondering about the actual distribution of the concentrations of bait. Do we experience an "apparent" surplus of bait in say the western half of the lake south shore while the eastern parts or north side for that matter are much less dense at this particular time of year? If the bait pods were to "congregate" west/south (temporarily) with the higher temps and spawning it could give an artificially high reading of the numbers vs. when the bait is spread out throughout the lake and out deep....just a thought...as usual Vince comes up with an interesting issue that provokes thinking...

Edited by Sk8man

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Long live the King.   

 

:yes:

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Given the usual pattern of lake warming from west to east (south shore at least) I am wondering about the actual distribution of the concentrations of bait. Do we experience an "apparent" surplus of bait in say the western half of the lake south shore while the eastern parts of north side for that matter are much less dense at this particular time of year? If the bait pods were to "congregate" west/south (temporarily) with the higher temps and spawning it could give an artificially high reading of the numbers vs. when the bait is spread out throughout the lake and out deep....just a thought...as usual Vince comes up with an interesting issue that provokes thinking...

I agree. We just returned from a week of fishing out of Oswego and didn't see a pod of bait. Water was way too cold. 40 degrees off of Rudy's on the 9th of May. Not sure if anyone else saw bait. A derby going on and it was like a ghost town out there. From looking at the leaderboard, most people fished out west or around Henderson for Walleye.

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I

Not buying bud! Hahahahaha You know you want more Lakers!

.

Rick, it is easier to find bigger lakers with lower numbers in the lake. There is a lot less weeding out of smaller ones. With the recent upswing in laker populations, I have to work a lot harder to find slob lakers.

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Nutrient rich water from Lake Erie May concentrate more forage here than the east end.

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Why fix it if it ain't broken....just saying :)

 

If you can't catch kings these days it is the conditions not for a lack of kings. Putting more kings in the lake would not help the poor fishing we had down at Niagara this Spring. I fished the late 80s and 90s when stocking was higher and alewife populations were insane. Catch rates were actually worse for me back then. I remember the Spring and Fall fishing being excellent but the Summer fishery was dismal. Seems like we have a good balance right now.

 

Couple observations that seem to contradict an over abundance of bait:

 

1. No 40lb kings like there used to be.

2. Catch rates are at a all time high.

 

My two cents

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Completely disagree with the notion to increase Salmon Stocking at this time. The numbers that are naturally reproducing are roughly 1/3 of the current stocking numbers for the NYS state side, and the data has actually shown that the biomass is stable for roughly 2 years. So 2 years of the same number of counts for the bio mass should increase the number prey fish in the lake? I am not seeing the data to support that. The eastern end of the lake is pretty much a barren wasteland at this time of the year for Chinooks and historically has always been that way, but this winter was one of the worst we have seen in easily the past decade, and we are not sure if we are going to see a natural crash of biomass yet... Local area data is important, but there is no logic in managing a lake for what is seen in a 30 square mile area. 

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Cormorants + open season = happy hunters and possible fish. Why risk it.

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Completely disagree with the notion to increase Salmon Stocking at this time. The numbers that are naturally reproducing are roughly 1/3 of the current stocking numbers for the NYS state side, and the data has actually shown that the biomass is stable for roughly 2 years.

Luckily we had enjoyed unusually warm summers most of this decade to "fill the food-web" prior to this cold winter. At the same time we have had warm fall temps with low rainfall. To count on natural reproduction numbers with poor spawning conditions is a little crazy. Everyone can agree that the bait is going to be in the west end of the lake this time of year so it may give a false sense on how much bait is out there lakewide. However, everything is relative. If Capt. Vince says there is more bait on the west end then he has seen in a long time....then take his word for it as he is on the water more than anyone. Where is the Koho research vessel now? To get an accurate picture of bait numbers lakewide (assuming all the bait is west of Rochester), would it be easiest to take bait level reading right now on the west end of the lake? Perhaps what is needed is a less stringent hard cap number on the amount of Kings stocked year-to-year. More active management. Warm years with good production......put more kings in to control bait numbers. After cold hard back-to-back winters.....stock less.

Edited by Gill-T

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I agree that lake wide management of the fishery can't be based upon 30 sq miles however the USGS preyfish studies assumes a random distribution of alewives across the lake.  A couple years ago I proposed at the State of the Lake meeting, that that may be incorrect and received some very strange looks.  Actual trawl data per geographic area is not published in the Annual report.  IMO, there are more Alewife on the West end than the East.

 

The Alewife is not a strong swimmer and is very temperature sensitive.  Yes they can go vertical in the water  column daily and yes they can go from shore out to 300 FOW over the course of a year but I do not believe they can go E-W.

 

Things leading me to my conclusions

1. More salmon are caught on the West end during Spring & Summer. (In Fall, they don't care about food or temp - within reason)

2. Mussels have changed the food web drastically in the last 10 yrs.

3. Salmon have been tracked and are known to be wanderers.  Why would a S.R. fish go to Olcott if he wasn't looking for food?  I mean, why leave food for food?  Salmon are known as "eating machines."

4. I very rarely mark the large bait pods in the Central area that other guys seem to report and also have much better luck trolling N-S than E-W. 

5. Temperature :  Alewives are known in the literature to hate drastic temperature changes and generally aren't found in the thermocline. Drastic temp swings cause die offs which are happening basically in the Central area right now. Temp transects generally show the west end more temperature consistent and friendly.

6. Upwellings are sudden temp changes and they seem very frequent in the Central area. (which may have to do with the ridge out there and/or currents-winds)

 

Of course, I could be full of bull, but that's my $.02 (In case you missed it - There are more Alewives West than East)

 

Tom B.

(LongLine)

 

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Anyone see the legislation on Spoonpullers from the canadian government about stocking?  Looks like they are looking to stop stocking fish that are non-native species and only stock native species.  Hmmmmm Lakers and Atlantics anyone? 

Edited by GAMBLER

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If you are following what is going on Spoonpullers.com......some scary crap about to go down with the Canadians potentially getting out of the Pacific game.

Oops Brian you beat me to it by a couple of seconds

Edited by Gill-T

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The bait is minimal at the genny so far, something I don't remember in years past. Sodus, Wilson, olcott are loaded, beyond past numbers. Why? We will never know. There has been many small wigglys (salmon)caught around my port this year. Are they wild? I believe so. There has not been numbers and size of salmon I am seeing here in Rochester since I started in 1976. Numbers of salmon and trout couldn't hurt us. Bring it on.

Edited by brucehookedup

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DNRoch,

If thats the case, then why the massive increase in Lake trout stocking without public input? Very long lived, voracious predators. Hmmmmm.

Mostly since the Lake Trout are federal fish, not state fish, and there were 2 major die offs of Lake trout that happened in the past 3-4 years I believe where just about every fish if not all of them were killed from a disease.

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The reason for the increase in lake trout stocking is to increase natural reproduction. The percentage is low but the more they stock the more natural reproduction they will get.

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This is way off topic BUT when they were looking for funding years ago with some of the laketrout hatcheries shutting down. LOU started a thread with contact info. I as a out-of-stater did asking for support from Hillary. My reply from her people said ( as best I can remember ) she had her hands full taking care of N.Y. state voters and none for out-of-state people. Never addressed the issue or what her plan was for or against , P.O. me for sure.....anyway the funding was found not sure if she helped or not but .....

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