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Capt Vince Pierleoni

Time for the NYSDEC and OMNR to increase Chinook numbers

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The last few weeks have served to clarify this situation even more. The alewives have taken over the lake again. I'm not sure if tripling the Lake trout stocking was an attempt to address this, but the predator to prey ratio is out of whack and the alewives are winning. Besides added sportfishing and economic opportunity, putting additional heat on the alewives via the efficient Chinook (aka King) Salmon will result in a healthier alewife population. The way things are going, the "fatness" will decrease and a huge die off is being risked. Counting on "boom years" of wild Kings just isn't enough. We love the natural fish but with todays intense King targeting they need help.

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You are correct Vince. Way more alewife this season and there is a veritable buffet everywhere in the lake. This past week has been proof on two trips. One out of golden hill west and out of the Oak 4 days later that covered water 450 ft out and west to Golden Hills. Bait bait bait! Every where! Predators too, but they are hard to entice when they feed when ever they want on that smorgasbord! Top water has been warm to 25 feet. Most fish are in that column and there are some way down deep 70 to 110 feet. I suspect the big marks deep are mature kings and probably fat from night feeding while the sun is down in that warmer upper layer. Diminished light and quiet surface makes them likely to come grab meals at that time...dropping to the chilly water to just rest and lower metabolism. It is transition time no doubt, and we had an easy transition last year that makes this year a tough one to contend with. I hope that the stratification will help stability in the day bite! Maybe when the alewife move deeper where kings are more comfortable during the bright day, we can benefit from a more consistent bite. I see by the surface temps today that a flip of the lake is slowly happening. Let's hope it sets up a predictable thermocline that will last for a while.

Mark

cent frum my notso smart fone

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As in many things in nature and life itself BALANCE is the key to everything in a working world.  The Lake Ontario ecosystem is a highly complex system and to "get it right" entails getting politics and self interest out of the equation. Cooperation is essential to this objective and Canada and the US are important partners in bringing this about.  ACCURATE and COMPLETE DATA are crucial to making this fishery work long term. Currently much of it is missing....the predator to prey ratio is a poorly understood concept and invasive species have further complicated the picture. Pacific salmon are not only just popular with sport fishermen but they are a very special breed of fish and supreme fighters that we all look forward to encountering. I share Vince's concerns and sincerely hope that their value to sport fishing is never diminished and that we never lose sight of their absolute value to the fishery itself. The fact that they are not "native" to the lake is irrelevant at this point.

Edited by Sk8man

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Aside from the winter we had a few years back that wasn't a winter, I caught more kings out of the Oak this spring per hr than I have in 20 years. Sorry of all the cold water out west & the fishing was bad.

 Last year Oak  Aug till Oct we  caught  a bunch of Kings & from all the reports I saw many did the same till they took off for the Mexico bay area.

  I thought we wanted a good forage base ? That means bigger fish.

 

 Years past we have had bad  fishing parts of the year & all of a sudden the fish show up .

 

 It has been a crazy year weather wise,lets see how it plays out. Lets not be kneejerk & overload the lake , crash the bait & have a hard time catching a 20lber , like Mich did.

 

I think the fish are out there. Sounds like some of you have to get better at catching them or deal with the fact that they don't bite all the time.

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Don't misunderstand, Has been. We are catching Kings. Just being proactive and trying to PREVENT the scenario you have been sold. I've been listening to that doom and gloom about Lakes Michigan and Huron for 2 decades. Last year Lake Michigan had some of the largest fish in years--BEFORE any cut affected anything. Lake Huron is experiencing a resurgence but keep in mind it never was the Chinook lake Ontario or Michigan are. Historically, Lake Ontario produced heavy tonnage per acre for the netters. Apples and Oranges. The message here is control the Alewives better so they DONT over populate, starve and collapse. To properly control may mean a slight decrease in Chinook size but a healthier ecosystem overall.  Many factors affect the size of the maturing Chinook, and this year they are still playing catch up for just subsisting this past winter.

Glad the cold water this Spring sent you some more Chinnys this Spring. It was like the 80's when I was out of the Oak. Have a great rest of the season and stay safe.

Edited by Capt Vince Pierleoni

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It seems to me that the crash of the bait was linked somewhat to the zebra invasion & the general cleanup of the lake & less phosphorus in laundry detergents & fertilizers.Also the dumping of raw sewage into the lake.  Back then you couldn't see the bottom in 6' of water on a good day , now you can see  down 20'. I remember as a kid up at the islands the weeds so thick you couldn't get through them , same spots now are barren rock. We use to catch smelt by the buckets but not any more. It's a different lake now than before.

Seems to me there are more dead areas. More black lifeless water & the Migratory  fish concentrate in the greener Live water.

 

 Also in Mich it has taken 2 decades as you stated Capn Vince for it to get back. I don't think it's doom & gloom but I say make damn certain before you do anything. You of all people know more than most any of us about out there as you live it each day , so I respect your observations.

 

Fishing for trophy fish is supposed to be challenging. Lake O offers us something special that can't be found to many places in this world. I thank God it is in my backyard . I think the DEC does a good job under a tough situation over the years to keep it as good as it is.

 

 I like the 30# ers . Settling for more smaller fish  would be settling for mediocraty.

Edited by Has Been

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More knee jerk reactions to a 1 year observation will put the lake in more danger than you think.... 1 year means nothing in the grand scheme of things, lets see what they numbers come up with over a 5 year span, if there is a trend make a move, if there is no trend and the data is an outlier, don't change a thing. 

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No comment to the last post. When I joined I was warned about incognito posters. This will be my last post on this thread. Take it for what its worth to you.

Contrary to what many think, if you like 30 lbers excessive bait isn't what grows them. Bait in balance grows more of them because excessive bait causes a much higher percentage of Chinooks to mature early. Thanks to the hard work of the DEC and the clipping study(please don't insinuate that this thread was an attack on the field staff, they are some of the best in the biz and very dedicated), we have learned that the pen fish get a faster start than the naturals--leading to a higher percentage of them maturing in their 3rd year than what would normally. In contrast, Kings that scrounge their first year(wild fish) or Kings that have prey in balance and actually have to seek them out, often don't mature until their 4th year. The vast majority of the bigger Kings last season were 4 yr olds. It is best in todays fishery to have both, as the intelligent pressure on Kings is at an all time high. There are fleets on the North shore where only a few years ago there were none. Gone are the days when most trollers ambled around hoping to catch anything. Today, even the tinnys are lethal King fishing machines, targeting them everyday. It's just a simple fact that if you are counting on the Chinook Salmon to control the Alewife, giving us better Yellow perch hatches, better Walleye hatches, better Lake trout hatches , increased viability for Atlantic Salmon and a HEALTHIER Alewife population(one that isnt so large that it stresses its food source)--you have to take into account that they are being cropped out of the system. Not to mention, what may have got the job done before stocking number-wise today faces increased predation from birds and warm water predators that were not there 30 yrs ago.

On the bright side, the 2016 Chinook class looks to be a strong one.  Oh, and I had alewives fouling our lines out in 520 fow today. That has never happened to me before.  Good luck to all.

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Vince I know it is frustrating but thanks for starting the thread and giving your great input. I for one have picked up some good info to mull over and think about.  As always I enjoy your posts and learn something from them. Les

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I think it is funny that a couple of guys are questioning Vince's observations. The guy spends more time on Lake Ontario watching a fish finder than most will in a decade. I would take Vinces opinions and observations over a couple of guys that fish Lake Ontario a couple times a year.

Edited by GAMBLER

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I think it is funny that a couple of guys are questioning Vince's observations. The guys spends more time on Lake Ontario watching a fish finder than most will in a decade. I would take Vinces opinions and observations over a couple of guys that fish Lake Ontario a couple times a year.

You got that Brian. Hard to argue with a guy who has been doing this longer than Ive been alive and as Brian stated spends more time on the water in a month than most do all season. We can ALL learn from someone like this. It's his livleyhood and he sees what has been going on at Lake O for a LONG time. He's only tryin to make Lake O better and we should ALL listen. You can come up with all the figures and studies you want but I would tend to believe someone like Vinny over some guys who sits in an office all day and hasnt been on the water in years. THANKS for your concern Vinny

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 we have learned that the pen fish get a faster start than the naturals--leading to a higher percentage of them maturing in their 3rd year than what would normally. In contrast, Kings that scrounge their first year(wild fish) or Kings that have prey in balance and actually have to seek them out, often don't mature until their 4th year. The vast majority of the bigger Kings last season were 4 yr olds.

That's an interesting, as I've kind a that myself but never had the true data behind it to back it up other then my own observations where I noticed that when I would see a 30 plus king it usually would have all of its fins. Almost makes you think twice about feeding them 6 times a day in the pens :rofl: . I would be interested in knowing if there is a way to get a greater percentage of kings to the 4 year mark maybe through selection at the hatchery or something.(I'm sure something like this has been tried)

There is defiantly an increase in people's ability to catch salmon and to be able to catch salmon for more months during the summer. It wasn't that long ago that 95% of people considered salmon fishing to be a May, last half of August-September only fishery. But now people are successfully targeting salmon May-September which has in turned cause the number of salmon being taken out of the lake to increase dramatically. Which has been shown by angler surveys done by the DEC which show that we have all time record catch amounts for the past 11 years and as its not like there are more salmon in the lake now then what there where in the 80's(basing that on stocking numbers)

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All I know is that since I have been doing this lake thing( I started back around 1975 or so ) I have seen an awfull lot of changes to the fishery & LO itself. There was a time late 80's early 90's I think that you couldn't crack the Fall  LOC leaderboard w/ a 36# king & there were a bunch of 40's. The lake was packed full of bait back then & every other year or so The lake would "Shimmer" on the way out for miles   on a sunny day from all the dead mooneyes.

 

  It was known back then that the larger fish were 4 year olds & There was talk that maybe some were 5 years.

 When  was the last time  we saw a 40 # fish ? It's been a while.Why?  I hear the reasons but some don't make sense to me.

 

  Maybe part of the reason we haven't had 40# fish for a while is Genetics. If you take eggs from small fish maybe you get small fish. If you take eggs from fish that mature in 3 years Maybe the fry mature in 3 years. Food for thought.

 

 

 

 All time catch rates ? What's the problem?

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Genetics and naturalization are one part of what make the fish size limited, although I am sure there a ton of other factors. Back in the 60's and 70's the strains used on the Canadian side were descendants of the Tule River or Puget Sound strain. Over the years natural selection has bred out the Tule strain and the lineage of most salmon in Lake Ontario comes from Puget Sound seed stock. This strain is not normally much bigger than 30-40 LBS on average.

The fall run Puget Sound strain strain we have also matures typically after 3 winters "at sea" or in the lake....I think Vince's points about pen vs. upstream fry source are completely valid and perhaps some of these up stream fry are living longer before maturing. Last Sunday I caught a 8 LB female Chinook that I kept to eat. It was full of small skein eggs and it looked like a 2 year old fish to me.

I did wild source Chinook egg collection in Ontario at the Credit River for the Ringwood Fish Culture station for 6 years between 2006 and 12 and was part of the team that ran the program at Ringwood. We always selected males and females for large size. An interesting fact about this however, the larger (and possibly older) males and females produce poorer quality eggs and sperm, probably not unlike us humans. We had some University student arrive one year with a nifty expensive microscope that filled a minivan. They confirmed that the best quality sperm came from small young males, and the best of the best came from those pesky 1 LB jacks. This might be something that explains the drift in size over time as more and more of the smaller, high quality males contributing to egg fertilization successfully produce smaller adults of their own.

In my opinion the introduction of a new strain like the BC Campbell River or the Kenai River strain that often lives 5 years or more and regularly produces 50-70 LB fish would be awesome. However, there are issues with this in that this strain and many other BC and Alaska races are spring spawners (aka Spring salmon) and this would probably generate much competition and chaos with the existing Chinook base and food web. We need to be careful that introducing new strains doesn't wreck what we already have.

Anyway...just some of my thoughts. Interesting thread....

Glenn

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Well now it's August. ..many tournaments later since May and many, many goose eggs on the boards from seasoned salmon trollers. Lots of reports of bait everywhere and lots of water covered including my efforts from Johnson Creek to the Scotch Bonnet Gap with the same results as reports from Wilson to Mexico.....it's a big lake, but not that big when narrowed down by several hundred trips everywhere, every week. Salmon densities are sparce, Captain Vince may be right, and if he is, I hope the river run will be enough for the brood of next season. Hope we don't have drought for the first part of the runs. I seem to recall low water conditions 3 years ago and DEC went looking for fresh roe from trib fishermen, ...or was that just a story? Any how. ..

Labor Day weekend is coming in three weeks. It's the fourth quarter and we are way behind..

Cent frum my notso smart fone

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We Deff will not have a drought for the run this year. Plenty of water in the res, and more on the way!!!! But I can see the state saying they need more $$$ to stock more fish, or some other reason to not stock more.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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Haven't the past several years been banner?I know we have been spoiled on the east side the last few seasons. Fisheries are tricky. I give NY state tons of credit for their work.

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Unfortunately, they can't just arbitrarily decide to stock more kings.  The stocking numbers for both NY and Ontario are set by an international joint commission between NY and Canada and the numbers are revisited every 5 years.  I'm not sure when the next time is that they go though that process.

 

They did stock surplus kings this year at the various ports to make up for low coho stocking numbers dues to poor eye up at the hatchery.  I believe the only place that got coho this year was the Salmon River to ensure enough returns to the hatchery for brood stock.

 

Tim

Edited by Tim Bromund

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I think it is funny that a couple of guys are questioning Vince's observations. The guy spends more time on Lake Ontario watching a fish finder than most will in a decade. I would take Vinces opinions and observations over a couple of guys that fish Lake Ontario a couple times a year.

I couldnt agree more! Some people regurgitate what they are told or read. Others do the research or actually fish professionally, and dont hide behind screen names. One other observation...those who hide behind screen names seem to be far more critical and less constructive sharing very little useful info. Just my 2 cents....Thank you to all of you who share great reads and info!

Justin Okrepki

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A lot variables to consider in what had been a lot of variation in the ecosystem over the past 4 years.  I was hoping the fishing would turn on and there would be more reports and less angst.  I still want to believe that everything is ok and that one factor is the culprit for all these negative reports but if I see this year at the piers and in the streams is no better I will believe it then.  I do not know if my glass is half empty or half full or full of liquid and air.

Anyway,

Good Luck and Tight Lines,

Joe

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I was weary of Vince's prediction at the beginning of the season, but now with most of it behind us I am totally on his side!

 

Prime Time August and we managed 1 Mature fish each day this weekend running the last 4 days 2 trips a day. 40 hours of fishing for 3 fish over 20lbs! We marked a ton of bait with no fish on it. Instead of increasing Chinook numbers the state/Feds decided to add an extra 300,000 LT to the system. A fish that lives up to and over 20yrs old. You cant control something that lives for that long. Salmon die in less than 4yrs. Much easier/faster to recover/adjust to changes in the ecosystem. Oh, and I'll say it again, people don't come here to catch LT! More Kings!! More Kings!!!

 

Like Vince we have fished all over this Lake this Season. The lack of Kings is frightening! 

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I'm with Rick and Vince ...and if they aren't getting them...they just aren't there. and the large abundance of baitfish being noted  all over the lake underscores this.

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