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"Mussels" biomass problem


jimski2

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Alewife numbers are a regular topic concerning chinook salmon stocking practices. Large fish need large forage as small forage results in more energy expended than yielded from the small minnows. Why are there low numbers of alewife being reported? The answer appears that too many salmon and lake trout being stocked and recruited from local streams.

This past season we trolled for walleye in late summer conditions on Lake Erie in seventy five foot depths. Many times our hooks dragged bottom and they returned with mussels. Never have we expected to see them out there on the mud bottom, usually they attached to shale and rock structures. If the average depth of the lake is sixty foot, then this mussel biomass is huger than ever. These mussels feed on algae that is what alewife and emerald shiners survive on. Previously these depths in late summer were also home for yellow perch schools ten foot solid. This year only a few perch were found there. Bait schools are now absent there.

Lake Huron scientists now come to the conclusion that mussels contributed to their salmon fishery collapse. Are we facing the same collapse here in New York waters? Do we have studies on the size and effects of the mussel infestation? This is a condition that needs to be studied.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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There are many that think mismanagement played a big role in the demise of Lake Huron as well. If the Mussels are there, not much we can do but more importantly you need to keep a watchful eye on the management of the stocking program by attending important meetings and getting involved, IMO.

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Mussel biomass supposedly has peaked a few years back and has now dipped slightly. Lake Erie is a tough one to figure because schools of perch, smelt, emerald shiners and alewives can be displaced from Lake Huron esp. if looking for more fertile waters. This could have created the massive clouds on fishfinders a few years back. This would give a false sense of tons of fish that then leave or crash. Erie is always cyclical. On years when Erie freezes the amount of emeralds displaced into the upper Niagara becomes more pronounced. Jimski, I would not be worried about the bait in Erie or Ontario unless we have another crappy winter.

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The OMNR Canadian representative Andy Todd worked with Steve LaPan of the DEC to come up with the short term (I hope) stocking reduction figures for Lake Ontario so I am not sure where you are hearing these rumors.  Ontario is no longer stocking Kings in Lake Huron because the bait available in the lake is only plentiful enough to support the naturally reproducing population remaining.

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You have obviously never been down wind of a lot of rotting mussels on shore after a big blow!  And people complain about manure spreading!

 

The Zebra mussel has largely been replaced in LO by the Quagga mussel.  It's bigger, can live to much greater depths, and will colonize on anything it can attach a bissel thread to ( sticks in the mud, etc), unlike the Zebra that wanted hard surfaces for attachment.  I think extent was documented at a SOL meeting a couple of years ago, it would be worth taking a look at the reports on the biologists pages at the NYSDEC website.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I haven't heard much or anything for that matter about  the possibility that the Zebras and Quaggas may be inhibiting the effectiveness of spawning in various species by covering the traditional spawning beds but I can't help but wonder if this is a huge but perhaps largely unrecognized problem in the Great lakes and the Finger Lakes as well (i.e. the reduction in numbers of fish present in many areas.

Edited by Sk8man
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If you notice mussel shells on the beaches, a lot of them are cracked shards. I believe fish like perch crush them in their mouths and spit these shards out while consuming the flesh of the mussels,

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

The shells are broken up by getting washed up in the beach. They are rolled around in the rocks along the beach and lake bottom.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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There is hope yet. I am willing to make a bet that some bored geneticist will make a slight but dominant change in the mussel's DNA. Thereby eliminating the threat. It may cause them to mutate into nice bites for bottom feeders. But seriously, at the point of over population,there usually is a population implosion. It happens in every species.

Edited by rolmops
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Like Jimski 2 I have seen parts of zebra shells in perch but it is unclear to me whether they were actually eating them or may have accidentally ingested them along with food in the weeds or on bottom.

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I really do not think perch have strong enough jaw muscles to break up a muscles shell.  I have found full zebra and quagga muscles in lakers and some perch had small muscles in them but they were whole. 

Is it possible that the stomach acids will dissolve the shell?

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