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Kevin J Legg

Protecting SLR walleyes

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There is a study being done to establish how many actual strains of eyes inhabit the river. There was a study done from 1983 to 1999 that showed gill net results were stable from 83 till 90 then trended up in 95 to record number in 99. Eyes were 3rd most abundant species behind perch and rock bass. It would be neat to see today's numbers. You can look for it at " Fish communities and Fisheries of lake st. Lawrance" on goggle.

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Listen, the walleyes have self regulated...last time out I got one smallmouth solo, and Kevin and his guest got one walleye and a couple smallmouths. Not all days are banner days.

 

Seriously, you all know we spend a lot of time on the water and have been lucky to learn the behavior of a few fish in a few places. Not really different than a guy who knows a stream, has a home lake, or trolls the big lake. Early in the season I'm bent on getting fish for the freezer, a 4th of July clambake where I fry fish bites for the kids, and a neighborhood fish fry next week.

 

Just like last year, I now self impose a slot limit for the rest of the season just like Roybee, Kevin and others. Responsible  anglers realize the damage that overharvesting can produce. I don't keep every fish I catch. Depending on how badly they are hooked,or how tough a fight they had getting into the boat, I then decide whether they get put in the live well or back into the river.

 

I would hate to have to release fish I know are going to die because of a mandatory slot limit. Additionally it doesn't pain me to put a 28 incher back, but no matter where you set a slot, anglers here could conceivably not be able to keep any of their catch. Some days you can't buy a fish under 24. Imagine trailering all the way to fish, getting a couple 25 + fish and  not being able to take anything home.

 

You guys are right that those who can be on the water as much as me, a retired old fart who worked a whole career dreaming of having a fishing boat tied to a dock out front , can really put a hurt on a fishery, duck pond or deer woods. The key is to set example all of the time. It's not always about limits or 10 lb fish.

 

Sorry for the rant.

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Well said Prof T! Those of us who spend tons of time out there must set an example 100% of the time. I agree any change will be unpopular....but there may come a day where angler success and pressure are too much to sustain...while that has not yet happened I just feel if we start asking questions and questioning our own practices perhaps it never will crash. Conservation is simply not harvesting all you possibly can and "conserving" some for the future.

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We also need to be cautious about depending on government agencies to regulate our resources. If anyone is interested in a fascinating read on the history behind the many invasive species in our Great Lakes, I suggest you read Pandora's Locks. It documents the sad story of how the Seaway, Welland Canal, and Erie Canal contributed to one of the greatest man produced ecological disaster of all time. Sadly, there was data warning the agencies of the problems with ship's ballast that was ignored. I guess we are still blessed to have the fisheries that are available today.

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To dovetail the theme of Gene's post, personal accountability, next to Muskie fisherman, I believe Walleye fisherman to be among the most conscientious anglers. In addition to the exploration and implementation of regulatory measure(s) to improve and protect our walleye population on the SLR we should also look at simultaneously promoting education, community, outreach, and stewardship of the great walleye. Perhaps we think about organizing A Group like Walleyes Inc with this type of mission in mind and make sure as many anglers as possible understand that we all play a pivotal role in making sure the right type of walleye fishery is here to stay for generations.

Education is vital in not only opening the minds of todays anglers but shaping the habits of future fishermen.

Edited by EsoxAC3

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Hi EsoxAC3,

A group dedicated to SLR walleye propagation, research, education and sport fishing exists. Google st Lawrence river walleye association. Pretty interesting group that has done a lot from what it says. Maybe folks on here would be interested in joining. They may have some population data. Looks like they are farther east primarily.

Marty.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G870A using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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To dovetail what you have said Gene, I believe that next to Muskie fisherman, Walleye fisherman are among the most conscientious anglers with respect to the conservation of our fisheries. In addition to the exploration and implementation of regulatory measure to improve and protect our walleye population on the SLR we should also look at simultaneously promoting education, community, outreach, and stewardship for the great walleye. Perhaps we think about organizing A Group like Walleyes Inc with this type of mission in mind and make sure as many anglers as possible understand that we all play a pivotal role in making sure the right type of walleye fishery is here to stay for generations.

I totally agree Esxox, we could form a club, that's a lot easier then a organization, I organized a four wheel drive club years ago. It just evolved into a big club. I think this would also take off as there are so many passionate walleye fisher folks, as to meat hunters. I'm in. Mike

Edited by pap

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SLR Walleye Association stocked 30-35,000 fingerlings this year! Sure would be interesting to know if our fish were coming up river from Ogdensburg area, down river from BRB, Chaumont, Quinte or are breeding somewhere locally.

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Kevin, when I read up on the Erie eye poulation this spring it was stating that less than 1% run up the rivers to spawn and the rest spawn on the shoals in the western basin.  You know better than most How the SLR has a very changing river bottom.  Perhaps the SLR Eyes do not need to migrate that far at all. 

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This is not based in fact.... But I have also been told that it is probable that the SLR eyes spawn on the local structure available to them in the river. Very cool. Adds to the mystery of the SLR walleye if true.

Edited by EsoxAC3

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I was wondering the same thing. Talking with some of the locals I know they use to be in LOTI in the spring. When I talked to a guy from DEC fisheries he wasn't sure where they were spawning. They certainly have the ability to migrate a fair distance as can be seen in Bay of Quinte and Erie fish but certainly could be spawning locally. Be nice to know for sure. I suggested to the guy at DEC that a group of us would be willing to tag our released river fish to try to monitor there movement but he didn't seem receptive to my suggestion.

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I was also told they used to spawn in french creek and Bearup's creek.

Edited by EsoxAC3

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Maybe someone from SUNY ESF would like to take it up as a masters or Phd thesis project. You would think that the DEC fisheries at the Cape Vincent research site and world class research boats and equipment would jump all over this one. To me the walleye is a very unique and valuable game fish that still has a lot of unknowns surrounding it. This is an example of the gap in available science / information. The US and State government spends a lot of money to study many things that are far less useful and even wasteful. If you look at the DEC fisheries website they post their annual research and fisheries updates. This would be higher on the list than many that I have seen. Oh well. I did read that they were slow to get on board with the SLRWA efforts to help boost the walleye. Maybe a not invented here view?

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The Great Lakes Fishery Commision has done a lot of walleye studies, but the eye focus is on erie for the most part and nothing for Lake Ontario. I did come across a study of the black river spawning grounds, too many high water events that washed the river bed down too the limestone bed, leaving no small gravel beds to spawn on.

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I have done a little looking on the DEC website and found a related "St Lawrence River Fish Communities" page. At the bottom of this page there are 3 links to .pdf documents. Take a look at the middle one labeled "2015 St. Lawrence River Fisheries Update". This contains graphs showing population trends for the major game fish species. It is interesting that the Walleye population really grew in the last 15 years. It peaked in 2009 and is currently looking like it is on the increase again. This may be in line with the stocking efforts for the SLRWA that has been underway. Glad to find this information. Looks like their are a couple more links within this .pdf with more background as well. Good rainy day reading. Good luck everyone. I hope to fish the river again in late August or September.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/102945.html

Edited by Stillwater

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Im a member of st lawrence tiver walleye assc.

They are a great bunch of guys and yes they also work hard at raising and releasing fry into the river.

As stated earlier it was around 35,000 fry . Not sure but every year is not the same success .

Being self regulated sportsman is a big help, think about the cold water of last spring when the walleye spawned late , but the season was open. You know guys kept fish because they could, it will be interesting to see that year class of fish and how the numbers of fish shake out. Just my two cents.

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They have done a super job and I believe had a great impact on that section of the river and perhaps up river as well.

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According to the SLR Valley Sportsmen's Clubs face book page they have stocked about 1 million walleye total so far. That has got to have made a major contribution to the overall population in the upper and lower river sections. Fish naturally love to swim upstream against the current. Ogdensburg stocked fish are probably migrating up river. Kevin's proposal for a tagging study would be able to confirm this for sure. Neat pictures of netting walleye to collect eggs.

https://www.facebook.com/St-Lawrence-Valley-Sportsmens-Club-218012358215701/

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Fished with a guy from ti bio station last year he said they tagged a lot of eyes in the river and most of the eyes spawn either in black or grasse river. He also said they are flamers and that they have tagged fish in o berg and they have been caught in black and boq. When we fish the river we will usually release anything over 26-28" after we put a few in the freezer. As you know sometimes its hard to find eyes under 26" some nights

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