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Spoiled. We are all spoiled. We want it to be easy. Most everyone doesn't have the time to go out all day and catch one fish... we want more, bigger, and catch them faster (the American way) and in this we lost what's most important- just enjoy being on the water- the scenery- nature.

Fishing now a days is expensive and I know people's frustrations. Between the honey do lists and life in general it's hard to fork out a couple hundred dollars to go fishing and come back with nothing.

Except for of course the captains who do this as a living. But I don't feel its as big as a surprise to an experience captain. They've seen good and they've seen bad.

As in every living species besides humans it is very common for the population to go up and max out and have a massive die off with any species. I think it's just Mother Nature and patience is exactly right. Things will turn around. Hopefully a warmer winter.

Then next year the fish will be way deeper in coolers water and no one will get to them unless you have a 30ft to ride the rollers and that will give everyone something to complain about next year 😂

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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Davy, I have a signed letter from Steve LePan in my possession that states money is not the problem.  I was planning on posting my dealings with the state in off-season.

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Nice then get Steve to buy everybody a brand new hatchery. Last I knew Steve's not the DEC commissioner the NYS finance director or the governor or NYS legislature who probably get to allow Steve to spend his 50 $60 mill but I've know Steve a long time and he can make a strong case if he's got all that cash to wave around.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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Oh, where to begin? The hatchery story is a sad one. Not known to very many was the fact that there was money available and a plan in place for a hatchery in Lewiston. Brand new state of the art facility. The town of Lewiston would help maintain it, university students could help man it, and a true tourist attraction would be added. The proposal was even flexible in what cold water fish would be raised there. In the end it went down the tubes as it was met with complete opposition by the DEC, despite the fact that the feds were interested especially for their beloved Lake Trout.

I know one thing for certain, the adult alewife population is wreaking havoc on the ecosystem of Lake Ontario. We have never had to carefully unhook more 1 1/2 yr old Kings and 8 inch Kings from this years plants or hatches. The reason? I believe that the adult alewives are preying on the yoy Alewives and emerald shiners. This is why so many skippers are desparately impaling themselves on all presentations. I'd like to be excited about these 2 yr classes in the future, but many will probably not make the winter if they don't fortify enough now through Fall. The smaller bait just isnt there for them--and this could be affecting Steelhead recruitment as well. Yes, ultimately more pelagics will lower top end size of mature Chinooks-BUT-we could end up with more 20+ LB fish anyway as slower growth will result in delayed maturity. It's great to see all the mature 2yr old Kings blowing up into the mid teens but there just aren't enough of them to control the adult alewife. Meanwhile tanker after tanker load of Lakers continues to go in from both Countries.

In the end its definitely the administrations--both federal and state that are giving the truly dedicated DEC staff members such a difficult time. We may not need more numbers planted--but we definitely need better quality hatchery product--both in the pen fish and direct stock. The size of the direct stocked Chinooks have been pitiful and have really only been "paper numbers", and not contributing to the fishery as they are feeble and become fish and bird food. We do need to enhance the wild stock of Chinook as well, as I'm certain that most of the longer/older Chinooks are naturals. In some areas, perhaps protection is overdue while spawning, and yes ladders would be great.

There is no need for finger pointing. The competitions are vitally important economically--there just isnt that many boats on the water on non competition days anymore.   

Edited by Capt Vince Pierleoni

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Davy, your December Kings you speak of in the rivers have always been there. As you know there are runs in September, October, November.....and even as late as March.  I am sure there has been some "artificial selection" happening as the droves of bank meat fishermen leave to fill the deer woods in November,  the fish don't have to survive the gauntlet  and actually successfully spawn in water cold enough to create naturals.  If fishermen are saying they are not seeing fish in the rivers in September or October then does that not speak to the state of our stocking program as these early runners are probably stockers and not naturals as water temps are too warm for successful reproduction?  We lost a year class of stockers last year.....nobody will convince me otherwise.  Last year will be a blip on the screen but it has brought to light the state of Altmar.  I think if you were still running charters you might be a little more worried about the physical state of the hatchery.  We are all not "whining" that we are not catching enough fish......I have never fished better in my life.  We have legitimate concerns.

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Love reading your opinion Capt. Vince. It's always an edification listening to a man that has been around this fishery as long as you have, on all sides of the lake and to digest what you have to say. Keep it up! Love hearing it!

Edited by Storm Warning II

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Having one hatchery for the whole south shore of the lake is just plain stupid and short sighted. God forbid the day when a catastrophe happens and we lose everything from Altamar. The NYS government which may or may not include the DEC doesn't really give 2 hoots about anything but the almighty dollar....the shame is the fishery here in NY brings in much cash to their coffers.

When things crash and really go sour then they will act but I fear it will be too little and too late.

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I wonder what would happen if we mixed fresh caught eggs and sperm in buckets and let it go in or near gravel beds like for instance Irondeqoit creek. If we only have 10 people do 2 buckets each we should have tens of thousands fertilized eggs in the creeks. That should add a few hundred salmon that could start a logarithm that ends up in the tens of thousands and beyond.

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Folks, thanks for all the comments and insight.. Please consider that I am all very new to the lake fishing but have been fishing the tribs for over 35 years.. First as you all may know I have been out on the lake from Mexico EVERY single weekend  since June 13th and struggled severely.. We just haven't been catching many fish (4 salmon, 2 browns, 1 steelhead and a sheepshead) and haven't been marking many fish but do mark lots of pods of bait but don't see the predators around these bait pods.. We have covered TONS of water from the plant to sandy pond in all ranges of depth to 500fow.. Now in saying that we have drawn the conclusion that we are doing something wrong in the lack of fish we are seeing on our sonar and not necessarily or lures..  Last week I figured it would be a sure thing with staging fish but we drew a blank .. I'm not about to get in a pizzing match over tons of boats trying to all fish the same water sow we stayed outside them in 140fow and again marked very, very few fish..

 

Now Davy, you are a master of the future and I enjoy reading your postings which are very well written and explained .. Thank You..

It leads me to questions, I turn helping to learn :

1. hatchery, When the Salmon stocking numbers were reduced (1/2 I believe) what was used in that space they once occupied .

2. Lake trout, do you think the increased stockings are in effort to control Goby

3. I'm pretty sure you covered this before but what was the purpose to start stocking bloaters and herring into the lake

 

I am discouraged in our success but have never felt we were wasting our time because we enjoy every single opportunity to be able to get away from the grinds of everyday work and the possibility is always there , or not.. We call it fishing as well as relaxation & recreation.. 

Thanks:

Rich

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Good read all....i understand fishing is off but this year was my first trips on Ontario and honestly the fishing didnt seem nearly as tough as i read about. I think most are spoiled and forgot how good we have it....how can we expect AMAZING fishing every year...seems as though fishing has always had ups and downs

King Davy

I especially like your comments on releasing fish. 2 years ago a guest on my boat took me for steelhead in the SR and I caught a nice one put it on a stringer and quit. A couple guys said i really should release it. I then sat and watched the guys catch 20 or so and release them all...i figure they all killed at least one or more, but i got the dirty looks carrying out the ONE fish i came for...i havent been back.

 

Folks, thanks for all the comments and insight.. Please consider that I am all very new to the lake fishing but have been fishing the tribs for over 35 years.. First as you all may know I have been out on the lake from Mexico EVERY single weekend  since June 13th and struggled severely.. We just haven't been catching many fish (4 salmon, 2 browns, 1 steelhead and a sheepshead) and haven't been marking many fish but do mark lots of pods of bait but don't see the predators around these bait pods.. We have covered TONS of water from the plant to sandy pond in all ranges of depth to 500fow.. Now in saying that we have drawn the conclusion that we are doing something wrong in the lack of fish we are seeing on our sonar and not necessarily or lures..  Last week I figured it would be a sure thing with staging fish but we drew a blank .. I'm not about to get in a pizzing match over tons of boats trying to all fish the same water sow we stayed outside them in 140fow and again marked very, very few fish..

 

Now Davy, you are a master of the future and I enjoy reading your postings which are very well written and explained .. Thank You..

It leads me to questions, I turn helping to learn :

1. hatchery, When the Salmon stocking numbers were reduced (1/2 I believe) what was used in that space they once occupied .

2. Lake trout, do you think the increased stockings are in effort to control Goby

3. I'm pretty sure you covered this before but what was the purpose to start stocking bloaters and herring into the lake

 

I am discouraged in our success but have never felt we were wasting our time because we enjoy every single opportunity to be able to get away from the grinds of everyday work and the possibility is always there , or not.. We call it fishing as well as relaxation & recreation.. 

Thanks:

Rich

hI Rich.

I know whay you mean about catching stream fish,I watch guys fishing steelhead throwing them on the bank then throwing them back,repeating this over and over.many do die as i have seen hundreds of dead trout on our salmon creek.

I ;ile your attitude in taking one fish and calling it

I take a few fish lake fishing especialy the salmon and steel head,lakers to are pretty good

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This is a good read. People can not be more wrong in saying we need to handle kings more carefully and practice catch and release. No doubt in my mind kings all die that are brought up from 120 feet of water (possibly 45 degrees) to the bath water on top. Don't even consider releasing matures after you have your photo party back into the lake. THEY are DEAD! I truly believe 100 percent of mature kings that get caught during the summer and possibly fall are dead on arrival. Use to believe 50 percent were surviving but I am convinced after trying to revive countless matures they nearly all die. Keep in mind what has happened on Lake Erie with the steelhead runs. We are seeing less than 30 percent of what we saw in the early to mid 2000's. Nobody talks about it, the dec is completely lost and has no idea how bad the fishery has fallen...no idea! All about stocking, we can make excuses all year...stocking stocking stocking...Erie discontinued strains that led to its fall...now it's Lake Ontario...goodbye the dec is the only one who can truly fix this. Pull up your records from 1999-2003 and repeat your stocking steps for both Great Lakes or forget about it.

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Rich I enjoy your thoughts on this forum as well.

1) I was in all those meetings with DEC when they announced the reduction in King Salmon stocking but I'm not sure what they offered up as a place holder. We can get that info from DEC. For what ever reason, I think back then the Steelhead stocking number was around 550K, and the carrot was increasing that number to 750K, because Steelhead have a more diverse diet and it was felt would have less impact on the lower bait fish populations. Maybe Vince or others who were in the room remember better. Like I said we can call Dan Bishop or others and find out. Thing with steelhead and Coho salmon they take up space in a hatchery for 12 to 18 months.

2)USGS and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission are all about native species, and their return as a self sustaining species. I've heard through the grapevine that USGS and DEC have found more wild lake trout in the system this year then ever before. But that's all relative. I don't know what that means until they show the data. The goal is to find a species of LT that thrive in the wild , reproduce naturally, and have a sustainable population. I know they've now found goby's in deeper colder water then what is thought of their normal range, and I'm sure if they swim in front of a LT, they'll get eaten. But the two aren't related. It's all about attaining the feds goal.

3)Bloaters and Ciscos are native species to LO from the White fish family. this again is a USGS program and it's actually an "experiment" to see if they can as well put some in and see if they get natural reproduction. USGS is not intending nor do they have the where-with-all to stock billions of bait fish. This if it ever worked creates more diversity in the forage base. I'm not sure how long the leash is for Dr Jim Johnson and this program. I'm sure USGS offices in all the great lakes is watching this.

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Could the reduction in stocking of king salmon and the re-introduction and stocking of native baitfish species be tied together ?. Less predators will give their  native baitfish programs a kickstart and chance to increase the baitfish numbers much sooner....not sure if the kings  target the native baitfish species at any particular time of year,, but if they do that might make sense.. Or is the salmon stocking reduction just a budgetary thing $. . 

 Wild Atlantic & steelhead  survival numbers might be much better also if they preyed on abundant native baitfish species rather than the alewives which cause all those vitamin b and thiamin problems.

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It would be easy to make the assumption that the reduction in King catch rates for mature salmon the last two years was the result of a "secret" reduction in stocking numbers to reduce predation on the infant Bloater Chub program, however,  I would doubt that is true as stocking numbers are bound by international treaty with Canada.  The reduction in King stocking numbers happened a LONG time ago as a result of the changing food web due to pressures from exotic species and reduced nutrient loading in the lakes.  The Bloater Chub program will probably benefit Lake Trout reproduction and could boost size of mature salmon.  Nobody can say yet if the plankton-eating whitefish will help or hurt the overall sport fishing landscape yet.

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Thanks Davy ,

Yes I was referring to the reduction of salmon a long time ago and was just wondering what took their place they occupied in the hatcheries .

I fish for lake trout during ice season on lake George which is all natural reproduction, no stocking . It is truly an amazing fishery with an enormous amount of what we call Big lake trout compared to other area stocked ( lake trout ) waters.

While I have yet to catch an Ontario lake trout it just blows my mind the size of them on that water body and don't really understand why there are so many stocked and natural reproduction is a concern . It just seems there should be more natural reproduction going on . I am going to turn my efforts a bit more towards them out there next season :)

Like I said , I'm very new to this Lake fishing and trying to learn as much as I can which in turn should help increase my success .

Thanks again

Rich

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The food chain has changed.  Global warming can even be affecting this.  As far as the emerald shiners go, the Fisheries should do a strict management of the harvest and selling of this bait species.  Even a moratorium should be considered on this species.  Each level of the food chain needs to be addressed.  I have seen emerald shiners harvested without concern for their habitat, before, during and after their spawning cycle.  Reminds me of the east coast fishery, just a different species in this instance.  Would really be nice to hear about what is being done to stop any further evasive species from the Lake Boats entering the Great Lakes.  I sure do hope that any future invading species are being stopped and all freighters are inspected and fined for not cleaning their bilges and systems.  Hmmm........it is hard to look ahead and make changes before they happen and almost anyone can look in the past and make judgements.   Most of these individuals may be called lawyers and politicians..... :lol:

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Didnt you get the memo that its called "climate change" now, because there isn't global warming?

silverfoxcharters.net

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Well Rich, the feds have been trying to revive lake trout to native sustainable status in the Great lakes including Ontario since the late 1950's when the Great lakes Fishery Commission got started with the Charter to turn things around from the polluted waste lands that the GL's had become and improve the habitat to where lake Trout and Atlantic Salmon would once again swim and be self sustaining.

Obviously that hasn't worked out too well. They loaded the lake in the 70's 80's and 90's with 1.5 mill a year, then started backing them down to 1/2 a Mill, had some hatchery issues where most of the allotment didn't get planted, and then fired up the big numbers again...all the while never having enough measurable success in sustaining wild stocks to end stocking.

I guess we are going to hear encouraging news on the latest wild repo results, but who knows if they have found a break through. Personally I've never bad mouthed Lake Trout, they are a beautiful fish, and yes they get big out here. Are they fun to catch trolling...not so much, but if people would pull up in open water and jig for them like the Finger Lakes, you'd have a whole new experience, and they would become a much more targeted species. Setting the hook on a 20 pounder in 100 foot of water on a medium action rod, and you are in for a lot of fun...jus sayin'

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Nice pics, Skipper. I would guess they are from 2011 or 2012. In 2012 anglers got a taste of what it would be like if the lake actually had a population of King Salmon in a decent predator to prey ratio. It was the result of a super natural repro year class. The entire lake saw them as 2 yr olds in 2011, 3 yr olds in 2012, and 4 yr olds in 2013. In  a normal healthy population, the 3rd year class will always be the largest represented as mature fish. If a certain year class is huge, that leaves a greater number of those fish as 4 yr olds--it's a numbers game. Today with smaller populations of each year class and relentless intelligent pressure(who can blame us--they are the best) on the Salmon, the number of the normally small percentage that reach age 4 is extremely low. I guess we can hope for another big hatch, or work to see that the stocked Salmon are actually healthy enough or protected enough(pen projects) so that more can contribute to the fishery and more can make it to age 4. It's a numbers game, plain and simple.  

As for that large stocking cut--it actually wasn't as large as the DEC wanted. They were shocked that despite their relentless scare tactics the fishery congress( I was a member) chose a reduction plan that also included a reduction in Lake Trout stocking. Congress members were educated that it actually was the Alewife that was the "bad guy", and not the King Salmon. If you were a trib guy, more King Salmon in the lake meant less Steel harvested in the lake; if you were a perch or walleye guy, more King Salmon meant some kind of control of the Alewife and gave the hatches of these fish a fighting chance; if you were a southshore restaurant or motel owner it was a no brainer--the Salmon get people to come here--in droves. There was no option to leave stocking alone. Some of us believe with every fiber of our being that it was the beginning of an attempt to wean anglers off of Pacific Salmon. The cut was devastating, and not until pen projects got rolling and base flows changed did the Lake Salmon fishing improve.

As for the hatchery space, the extra space wasnt used for anything else after the cut was made. There were actually TWO Salmon rearing hatcheries--the Caledonia hatchery was taken out of the Chinook rearing business. I know one thing, if Bill Pearce was alive today he would be sad. He was the fishery chief who brought Pacific Salmon to NY waters, and he was damn proud of the program and not just for the biological benefits but the vibrant sportfishery it brought to the open lake. 

In order for anglers to experience decent open lake catch rates, the density must be there. When adult Salmon are in close proximity of good numbers of other adults they become extremely competitive and at times, easier to hoodwink and catch. When solitary, a returning open lake King Salmon is as moody and cagey as a top end predator gets.  

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Very informative information relative to this and last year. One question that I haven't been able to understand is the difference between this spring /early summer, the fish were here. Everyone was saying wow this is going to be a banner year. Then wala ??? The fall comes and there in sparse numbers.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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This Spring in the west end was more of a classic Spring "set up". Salmon seeking warmer temps and migrating baitfish--or merely following them "in" are found in concentrated numbers--thus triggering frenzied feeding periods as the "greed factor" kicks in. The west end has been "left holding the bag" for several years now, on both the North and South shores. Many believe it stems from the one U.S. hatchery being at the extreme East end. Others believe that the West end imprinted matures get cropped off early with all the pressure the west end gets in both U.S. and Canadian waters. I cannot speak for the Canadian returns in the west end, but the returns to the western basin were FAR stronger when the fish were planted from the legendary Caledonia hatchery. Lastly, there is  growing evidence that the best returns are to rivers where natural repro occurs--which is a good thing for sure. I have recently learned that the Canadians are looking to address this disparity--perhaps planting more of their allotment into dammed rivers or rivers where natural repro does not occur. This is a very smart idea.   

Very informative information relative to this and last year. One question that I haven't been able to understand is the difference between this spring /early summer, the fish were here. Everyone was saying wow this is going to be a banner year. Then wala ??? The fall comes and there in sparse numbers.


Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

Edited by Capt Vince Pierleoni

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Great perspective on the issues Vince. Lets hope intelligence prevails in this situation and someone with some sway can map out and implement meaningful changes that yield the result we all desire......before it is too late. Unfortunately bureaucrasies are slow to change and usually reactionary not proactive in their efforts.

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Great info, nice reading has anyone fished today. Plan on going Saturday .

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