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RUNNIN REBEL

Lake Ontario Bait compared to Lake Huron & Lake Michigan

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The north shore now has six million people adding their waste products to Lake Ontario now daily. Michigan stocked smelt a hundred years ago to support the commercial fishery. They thrived and exterminated the cold water species such as lake trout,blue pike, viscose and white fish. In the 1960's Canada began trawling them out and shipping them to Asia. In the 1970's Pacific salmon were stocked to reduce the alewife and smelt biomass. The Federal Fish guys can stock only native fish, not foreign invaders like Pacific salmon, rainbow trout and European brown trout. After forty or more years of stocking these guys, the forage base is over controlled now. What we have now is not like the past years and may never be again but it is still better than Pacific Ocean salmon fishing.

Im confused, they stock foreign species all the time in Lake O.

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For Lake Michigan, I still dont buy it.  There are bait clouds everywhere.  They just arent in the same places that they used to be when the lake was green and they were doing surveys with nets.  Any fisherman with will tell you that there are clouds of bait hunkered to the bottom once the sun comes up.  They are at the bottom for safety since the water in gin clear.  Once the sun hits the horizon, they come up off the bottom and your fish finder looks like a christmas tree.  Last year it was hard to even catch fish during the power hour since there was so much natural bait.  

 

So other personal observations:

4 years ago there were so many alewives that if you went for a cruise up the Milwaukee river a pack of 20 gulls would follow you because you were chopping them up with your prop.

2 summers ago, they go to the point where they almost had to start sweeping the beaches again due to them washing up on shore

last summer, it often looked like a minefield of floating alewives on a calm day

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None of the regular anglers on lake Michigan that I have spoke to are buying it. One of the great tourney teams from Michigan was at the KOTL event this weekend and they feel the same way.

Reports of this lakes demise have been greatly exaggerated. The bait is coming, and its coming hard. The Kings being caught are fat and large for their age. The emeralds are back in the harbors-critical for young trout and salmon to feed on and an important buffer from predators. For Lake Ontario the biggest deciding factor determining Salmon fishing quality is survival of the fingerlings.

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We caught a bunch of Lakers this weekend in about 150 fow on bottom and they had a pile of gobies in them.

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Regardless of what Lake Michigan anglers say in regard to the bait situation if they think everything is rosy they are in denial. I will simply say that I fish a lot from 2 different ports on the east side of the lake. And things are not great from a chinook perspective.

So far this year out of nearly 300 fish that have come over my transom (only a handful of chinook), I have seen a grand total of one alewife come out of a fish. And that was a trout. All of this has been from a port in the south basin.

Here's the way I see things currently:

Our coho are doing fair eating a diet of bugs and mysids

Our steelhead are doing fair eating mostly bugs

Our Lake trout are doing very well eating gobies and alewife when available.

Our chinook are starving or starved to death as jueveniles. In all fairness the few I've caught seem healthy but with so few around there simply isn't that many mouthes to feed.

My biggest fear is that our offshore water is looking almost sterile and I just don't know how much production the system has in it at it's present state.

Edited by jrs1986

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I see that there is a big difference between the Michigan side and the Wisconsin side of lake Michigan.  There is a ton more bait and also now a ton of shrimp on our side of the lake.  For that very reason we had an influx of natural kings (from the michigan side) for a good part of the summer in the Milwaukee/Chicago area.  Swimming 100 miles across the lake to come eat over here.

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I see that there is a big difference between the Michigan side and the Wisconsin side of lake Michigan. There is a ton more bait and also now a ton of shrimp on our side of the lake. For that very reason we had an influx of natural kings (from the michigan side) for a good part of the summer in the Milwaukee/Chicago area. Swimming 100 miles across the lake to come eat over here.

We've had a fair amount of shrimp in our area as well, but with the prevailing east winds so far this season it wouldn't surprise me that most of that biomass is on the west side of the lake currently.

As far as alewife are concerned, I have heard that there is more bait north of where I am now (st joseph) but think it is still a far cry from what would sustain a strong chinook population, at least for the time being. Hoping for a strong hatch alwwife this season, but keeping my expectations in check as well.

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Here is a jumbo Alewive from Lake O todaypost-139597-14630872342976_thumb.jpg

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On the south shore on the west end of the lake this week the Bait has been 20ft thick for the first 3-400yrds out onto the lake. The kings are big and not starving. Very fat and healthy. I snagged 11 alewives in 4 hours of fishing .

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Long as we have zebra mussels we have a grave problem. ZOOPlankton is key for the alwife. ...they need to eat it's that simple.

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On the south shore on the west end of the lake this week the Bait has been 20ft thick for the first 3-400yrds out onto the lake. The kings are big and not starving. Very fat and healthy. I snagged 11 alewives in 4 hours of fishing .

That's good to know but you are in the good alewife spawning grounds as well. It's not the same in other areas of the lake.

I did see 3 alewife in the 20 silver fish that I cleaned this morning, 2 in a juvenile king and 1 in a coho. That brings my yearly total up to 4 alewives seen in a total of about 290 fish. Not good from my perspective, hopefully other areas are like yours.

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That's good to know but you are in the good alewife spawning grounds as well. It's not the same in other areas of the lake.

I did see 3 alewife in the 20 silver fish that I cleaned this morning, 2 in a juvenile king and 1 in a coho. That brings my yearly total up to 4 alewives seen in a total of about 290 fish. Not good from my perspective, hopefully other areas are like yours.(/quote)

Edited by Capt Vince Pierleoni

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Yes, all my posts are in reference to Lake Michigan. I thought a few of those who replied to my posts were also talking about Lake Michigan. Sorry for any confusion, I guess I'll have to preface my future posts so everyone knows which lake I'm referring to.

Vince:

I envy your situation, unfortunately I fear ours is the exact opposite. I think more pelagic predators will put more pressure on our already depleted alewife stock. With our offshore water appearing nearly sterile and the depleted nutrient load going into the lake, I just don't know what kind of ability the system has to rebound. Hopefully I'm wrong and this mild winter we had can kick start things back into gear.

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I'm speaking about the west end of lake O

Yup we're worlds apart, I was hoping you were in the Chicago area and had a bunch of bait around.

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Fishing lake trout, I am seeing more and more lake trout spitting up smelt.  The DEC says the smelt numbers are low but the smelt sightings are increasing for me.  The other day, we had some good bait schools hugging bottom in 155-170'.  The lakers that were pulled from the bottom there were spitting up 4" smelt.  This was a trend we saw all last season. 

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" 300.000   more long living lake trout into the system ? "  : A political agenda to turn back time to the way Lake O was 100+  years ago    and perhaps re-establish   the commercial  fishery ?

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" 300.000 more long living lake trout into the system ? " : A political agenda to turn back time to the way Lake O was 100+ years ago and perhaps re-establish the commercial fishery ?

It is sad that it seems like the states are the only ones interested in keeping the salmon program alive. It is ever apparent that the feds could care less.

To my knowledge the USFWS is dumping 3 million lake trout annually into Lake Michigan, certainly putting more stress on our bait.

How is the effort going to naturalize chinook in Lake O? That may put you guys ahead of the game.

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I don't think they would re-open the commercial fishery again, at least in NY be political suicide to do that. With the fisherman and the animal rights/environmentalists people crushing them

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I believe the state wants the lake trout more than you think.  It is all about the all mighty dollar.  Think about it, the state has to spend a ton of money to raise and stock kings.  Lakers are raised by the Feds and the DEC does the stocking.  They are not smart enough to figure out that Kings = money spent on sport fishing on Lake Ontario.  Lake trout will not draw the amount of tourism dollars that the salmon fishery does.  It is plain and simple.  You take kings out of the equation, towns that thrive on the Lake and stream fishing will become ghost towns. 

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So guys is it bait related to mussels or poltical? Or the ecosystem failing? One thing is certain as of right now take the stocking program out of the equation lake o is pretty dead..the smallmouth perch walleye fishing is bad,, not referring to east end for walleye but the lake as a whole isn't really diversified.

Assuming the decline is related to food for alwife caused by zebra mussels and such why wouldn't lake O have the same destiny as MICHIGAN and HURRON?

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