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Very confusing, these chinooks

we read that everything is pretty normal on the lake, we read how things are terrible on the lake.

We read to much bait, not enough bait, sick bait (alewives)..

Then it's time for the tribs to produce and we read, everything is normal (early) , then they stage and move in and out of the staging areas on the lake and a few fish enter the tribs and everything is normal (again)..

Then nothing, we wait.. In and out they go (lake) so it's just a waiting game again.. Then some fish (coho) make a decent run and now everything is good again BUT where are the chinooks.. Tick tock goes the clock and while I fished the river (DSR -Pineville and ufz) on Oct-1 & 2 and found it to be severely lacking chinooks , the DSR was pitiful and the UFZ while had fish was nowhere near what I would think "should " be, Pineville (we walked well over a mile of water ) was pretty barren.

Then the talk was, everything was late, then the "big" (if you call it ) push came on Columbus weekend and things were normal again , so to speak..

Now following from the arm chair, I read the reports from the DSR , fellow anglers and friends on the water and they have of recent been Lacking numbers of chinook .. The DSR reports are strange, good fishing upper run early, lower run later in day, well that leads to believe they move in in the evening but still only in small numbers..

Yes I have witnessed spawning in the lower river before and even experienced it in the undesired area of the estuary so what you are saying makes sense but still , with that, I have seen far better numbers of chinooks then what I seen this season..

So the unanswered questions still remain:

Are the levels of chinook "normal" or are they low ?

Is the thiamine affecting the chinook as well as the trout ?

Are chinook just lying dead on the lake floor ?

And finally the big question (tongue in cheek ) if they spawn in the gravel of the DSR , does the DSR now own those fish too (just kidding)

Thanks for the report Davy and hope some of the questions can be answered.

Rich

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Well Rich.....that's why they do the science. Cause there are several contributing factors of why the

fishing is GREAT, or is lousy. I have to laugh sometimes. Why is it nobody wants to know when the fishing is Great....WHY it's great...calling for DEC's head to tell us why are these fish so healthy, and the runs are fantastic and every boat is limiting out? Cause if you knew why it is when it's successful, one might answer the why not so successful time frame, with elements that might be missing when it was successful.

Ok enough of the logic.... Multiple species wildlife and fish have been affected in this part of the world the last two years, starting with adverse weather patterns. When I say affected, I don't mean all in a negative manner...but that the norm wasn't the norm the past two years. In science one of more changes to the "Norm" triggers a chain reaction of changes that can make finding the "Paper Trail" much more difficult. It also results in research that may not be part of the "Normal" process of investigating the health and well being of in this case fish species. And if countering the changes with one of more actions without vetting out all the possibilities, may put you deeper in the hole.

Nobody likes the time frame it takes to get results, review the facts and results among the science community to agree on a finding, and therefore agree on a mitigation approved action to counter the negative situation....BUT we have to buy into that this will take some time. I won't be happy this fall winter and spring fishing to way less Steelhead most likely then in years past, but It won't ever stop me from fishing. I will have to wait for the answers. That I know DEC and USGS is researching. Here is the interesting thing despite the off fishing, you still can't find a lonely stretch of a river or stream these days. I guess most people are still willing to go fish.

All I know Rich.....is that on Sunday I fished to fish all day. I choose to fish a method that only gets a positive result in unlocking a fishes primal instinct to chase and kill my swung fly. I choose not to stand over a pool and lob flies and shot in on top of a bunch of fish. I want a player. When it comes to Salmon who are in spawning mode, you are lucky to get a pull or two a day many times.

Sunday I observed fish all day showing themselves moving up river. The percentages of having a King Salmon chase and eat a swung streamer from past experience in my records is probably 1 in 100. I had five pulls and landed two wonderful fish. One was a 30 pound monster hen. So maybe I showed my fly to 500 fish during the day.

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Great response Davy and all so true..

I for one even with our dismal (sophomore ) success on the lake and lack of fish in the trib on my one and only trip, am not calling for heads or knee jerk reaction from the lake management team .. That as you said could lead to disaster, I feel data and trends are what is need to be evaluated before reacting to drastic.

Hopefully it's just a back to back harsh weather pattern and things will recover in a more natural balance..

Maybe you read my Lake trout threads and questions / or not / but the Lake itself has many great opportunities for fishing other then salmon and I am excited to explore them as well.. Trolling does get boring to me no mater the species but we enjoy the lure of "big" fish and the surrounding area..

 

As for the tributary fishing, after 35+ years and guiding as well, I'm just plain burned out on the tribs..  While it's a fabulous fishery there is just no gas left in the tank there for me any longer.. Totally understand the theory of "players" VS fish hooked.. Its almost the same words I would tell clients, You will see many fish but catching the few willing is the reward, learning is the key..

We did only single handed fly on the swing with bunny leeches /comets &  traditional salmon flies , what a blast seeing fish chase them down..

Be well , I  always enjoy reading your thoughts, insight and real data information:

Rich

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Back to my first paragraph. I've really only witnessed Salmon nesting in the DSR on years of late runs. So the other condition one has to include is that Salmon may be spawning at river mouths, or much farther down river then normal as they are in prime nesting condition arriving this late. I saw dozens of pairs of salmon nesting yesterday less then a mile and a half from the lake. If they are...many fishermen will never see these fish.

By your own admission that the fish are probably stopping and spawning on the DSR then what you are describing in not a lot of fish. The run of kings should be 100,000 fish strong. If only 500 fish move up after every rain and gives life to the river for a few days you might be talking about a run of MAYBE 5,000 kings? Not enough to support the fishery's historical number of fishermen.  There are 300,000 kings stocked every year in the Salmon River.  From the DEC numbers, 76% of Kings caught in the Salmon River by trib anglers are wild so add them to the mix.  Add 2 year old early spawners. We are missing fish.  

There has to be a way with some sort of tripped light-sensor technology that could be placed in rivers to get a crude head count of fish moving up a tributary. It would be nice to put scientific numbers ahead of opinions.

Edited by Gill-T
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By you own admission that the fish are probably stopping and spawning on the DSR then what you are describing in not a lot of fish. The run of kings should be 100,000 fish strong. If only 500 fish move up after every rain and gives life to the river for a few days you might be talking about a run of MAYBE 5,000 kings? Not enough to support the fishery's historical number of fishermen.  There are 300,000 kings stocked every year in the Salmon River.  From the DEC numbers, 76% of Kings caught in the Salmon River by trib anglers are wild so add them to the mix.  Add 2 year old early spawners. We are missing fish.  

There has to be a way with some sort of tripped light-sensor technology that could be placed in rivers to get a crude head count of fish moving up a tributary. It would be nice to put scientific numbers ahead of opinions.

There is a method out there called the Didson system. They use it on the West Coast in Canada. Here is a link a site that talks about it   http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/publications/article/2012/02-22-12-eng.html.  The only issue on the salmon river is the variety of species.

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Ha ha....100,000 fish? there has never been a run of 100K fish in the salmon river. You must be fishing at the mouth of the Kenai river Gill. The DEC handled Aprox 800 fish last year to take 4.2 M eggs. I may have fished on fish to a "TuG" ratio of 500 fish for five bites going by in a couple hours...in about 150 yards of an 11 mile long river.

I hope your not in an accountant Gilly...or work for the IRS....

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You are also missing the fact that historically only 3 to 5% of the fish have returned as adults. Meaning 9K to 15K of the 300K actually return as adults. I would imagine after the last two winters all species have experienced mortality they normally wouldn't have. Not saying there is not less fish....but am saying that the numbers of fish that are in front of me more then meet my expectations of having fish to swing to.

I sure would love to have the opportunity to swing a fly past 500 STEELHEAD a day. that would be really nice. Let's stock 1.7 Million of them!!!!!

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You are also missing the fact that historically only 3 to 5% of the fish have returned as adults. Meaning 9K to 15K of the 300K actually return as adults. I would imagine after the last two winters all species have experienced mortality they normally wouldn't have. Not saying there is not less fish....but am saying that the numbers of fish that are in front of me more then meet my expectations of having fish to swing to.

I sure would love to have the opportunity to swing a fly past 500 STEELHEAD a day. that would be really nice. Let's stock 1.7 Million of them!!!!

Where are you getting 300,00?  Is that what is stocked in the Salmon River?  If so, add a lot to that to make up for natural reproduction, and strays that return to the hatchery and not the trib they were stocked in.  If 50% of the fish swimming in Lake Ontario are naturals, most of that comes from the Salmon River. 

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There has to be a way with some sort of tripped light-sensor technology that could be placed in rivers to get a crude head count of fish moving up a tributary. It would be nice to put scientific numbers ahead of opinions.

we defiantly need a wire count on several Key rivers other wise how are we going to truly know if our salmon numbers are up or down? Wait for the DEC to tell us? Cause we all know they will claim greatest year ever no matter how few salmon there are.

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Yeah Gambler DEC stocks 300 to 360K of the 1.7M in the river to recover a brood stock. As far as the natural fish....they are predated on as tiny yoke sac and fry by everything from a three inch long stone fly, to Cray fish in there that we could do a lobster bake on...to every kind of fish you can think of. Some  stomach surveys were done of the very healthy stream brown trout population in the river, and they were eating Chinook fry like popcorn in a movie house. So while the % of adult fish are higher on the natural side...that 60 to 70% of survivors of all the fish which to date is still believed to be anywhere from 3 to 5%. 

 

And I...and many others are not disagreeing that after these two past winters among other factors that 3 to 5% could be even less. BUT ....we'll reload and put another 1.7 m in...maybe up to 2.1 with surplus, and they will have surplus if they take 4 M eggs again...plus the natural repo which may be much better if we have normal winter spring conditions.

 

BUT what we won't get back quickly is the down turn in Steelhead. No natural repo that impacts an increase in numbers of adults....no hatchery space to increase the  stocking...unless we REDUCE KINGS....(HA HA).....I can see the hate mail now. Maybe me and my Metal head friends will start squeaking louder and ask DEC for more Steelhead..... 

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Careful what you wish for Dave. Without the salmon fishery on the lake and Tribs, you will not have a steelhead fishery. You will be standing stream side wondering if lake trout will ever come into the Tribs. The steelhead would eat too many alewives and go belly up like last fall. Have fun swinging flies to whirling steelhead.

Edited by GAMBLER
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Lol,

I recall catching many lakers in the SR river while the season was closed .. The river was wild with chinooks and lakers but lacking in trout..

So glad for the 1 rainbow trout limit as I feel it was a real game changer in quantity .. I know , it made people upset over size VS quantity but man , I recall articles from the 80's saying the average steelhead was 6-8 lbs with legit teens common.. I don't think that has changed. What has seemed to change is that everyone wants to catch them, not just the freaks of old...

Maybe I'm wrong but I would gladly take a self sustain fishery over a ton of stocked chinooks.. Of course I don't think the tribs are capable of that happening so we must rely on the lake management to do things in everyone interest , including the fishery..

I sure hope the balance of nature along with the reintroduction of cisco & herring plays out so the trout & char prosper..

Rich

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Yeah gambler because I fish for every fresh and salt water species that swims I'll never be in a situation where I don't have something else to fish for. I do catch lakers on a swinging fly on the mighty Niagara. 20 pound char on a 7 wt in cold water will fight like a tiger. Great sport.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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Ha ha....100,000 fish? there has never been a run of 100K fish in the salmon river. You must be fishing at the mouth of the Kenai river Gill. The DEC handled Aprox 800 fish last year to take 4.2 M eggs. I may have fished on fish to a "TuG" ratio of 500 fish for five bites going by in a couple hours...in about 150 yards of an 11 mile long river.

I hope your not in an accountant Gilly...or work for the IRS....

Davy, I said "should be 100,000 kings running the Salmon" not there ever has been. If we are only going to have one hatchery and only a few tributaries creating naturals, and the state is relying on natural reproduction to fill in the gaps needed to control alewives, then we should be trying to create a run on the Salmon River that takes into account current mortality equations. I also think everyone on this forum would be for increasing steelhead numbers as well.

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Davy, I said "should be 100,000 kings running the Salmon" not there ever has been. If we are only going to have one hatchery and only a few tributaries creating naturals, and the state is relying on natural reproduction to fill in the gaps needed to control alewives, then we should be trying to create a run on the Salmon River that takes into account current mortality equations. I also think everyone on this forum would be for increasing steelhead numbers as well.[/quote

Disagree . The management needs to take into account the entire lake ecosystem, not just 1 tributary.

A 100,000 return in the Sr would either be disastrous or a fully self sufficient fishery dependent on the lake ecosystem which I think study's don't support. Example: stocking reductions.

It kinda saddens me that being a trib angle for so many years and now a lake angler for the past 2 , lines still seem drawn in the sand about what should be done from lake management.

In the total end of all this , it's sill a pretty damn good fishery that should be united and not divided .

Let the people do their job , micro management sucks

Rich

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Rich s, the DEC stocked surplus Kings in 2014 probably due in part because they listened to us fishermen who are out there on the water when we told them there was too much bait and not enough predators. The DEC does listen to us to some degree. This is not a fight or pissing match but rather a discussion on how to make things better. Being proactive instead of reactive. Many on this forum obtain their livelihood from the fishery. I could care less if King Davy thinks I am nuts, I harbor zero ill-will to anyone who displays a counter point to the discussion. I have a passion for fishing Lake Ontario since I was a young boy and I have invested a lot of time, thought and money into the sport.....and I don't want to see it go away. There was a window in time recently when the DEC, FWS, and OMNR were so focused on using federal dollars to restore Atlantic Salmon, Lake Trout and Bloater Chubs?? that they took their eye off the golden goose that helps drive the economy.

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Rich s king Davy also has a different agenda than most. He would rather the king be totally gone so he can have a lake full of Atlantic salmon. Look back at his posts. You will see it.

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DEC in my opinion are concerned little about the economics behind the entire fishery. Mainly because that is not what they are charged to do. If economics played a major factor in this equation they would stock all they can realistically produce. As we all know. That is not the case

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5% return on 300,000 stocked is 15,000 fish. That would be very optimistic. Thats not a whole lot of fishh when you think about it.

Exactly! Now look at how few fish are stocked in ports like Olcott. I have fished for salmon from Alaska to Chili and I can tell you we are shorting the gamefish capabilities of Lake Ontario. Spend any time trolling in June in Niagara county and you will spend maddening hours upon hours with bait filling your fish-finder with no hooks around it. A lake out of balance.

Edited by Gill-T
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DEC in my opinion are concerned little about the economics behind the entire fishery. Mainly because that is not what they are charged to do. If economics played a major factor in this equation they would stock all they can realistically produce. As we all know. That is not the case

The late great DEC fisheries chief Bill Pearce, who is enshrined at the Altmar hatchery, clearly spelled out in the "year 2000 plan" document that bolstering the south shore economy WAS one of the original goals. Sadly, this emphasis definitely has taken a back seat. Hmmm, or has it?  Perhaps after hearing of the astronomical increases in the "pay for fishing rights" game on the SR, maybe its just being targeted in a different way. 

We were warned when the Atlantic Salmon program began that the end game would be high cost limited access fishing.

Too bad the inconvenient truth is the greatest solution to one of the biggest obstacles to restoring any naturally reproducing Atlantics--the Alewife--is best controlled by the pelagic Chinook Salmon.

As for increased numbers of adult Steelhead for trib anglers to fish for, the simplest solution is a better density of Chinook for Lake anglers. This is a far better idea than planting more fish in a system where many are mysteriously dying. Wild Steelhead actually are doing quite well in Lake Ontario, but evidently they aren't originating from the Salmon river.

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Exactly! Now look at how few fish are stocked in ports like Olcott. I have fished for salmon from Alaska to Chili and I can tell you we are shorting the gamefish capabilities of Lake Ontario. Spend any time trolling in June in Niagara county and you will spend maddening hours upon hours with bait filling your fish-finder with no hooks around it. A lake out of balance.

"shorting the gamefish(especially pelagic) capabilities of Lake Ontario"  .   Very well put, and therein lies the frustration many feel.  I've seen it in competitive balance twice, 1989 and 2012.   

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