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Dip Netting Alewives


Pierless

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Can anyone tell me in plain language what the rules/regs are for dip netting alewives for bait in Lake Ontario are please?

The DEC site is kind of a sketchy read (for me) and the DEC officers don’t engage in regulations disputes,...

Here is an excerpt from the site:

"Waters where dip netting is allowed Waters Open Season Daily Hours and Limit Tributaries,.....

(I deleted many listings of waters to get to this part and put in bold font that part I'm most interested in)

.... Marine District Anytime Sunset to sunset

10 quarts All upstream to extent of tidal influences

*Prevailing time

**Exception: dipping in Seventh Lake and its tributaries is prohibited Smelt may be taken in any size dip net as follows:

Great Lake Waters with restrictions for dip netting for smelt Waters Open Season Daily Limit Tributaries

Lake Erie

Lake Ontario

Niagara River Anytime 8 quarts All from lake upstream to first barrier "

The above is from: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/31427.html

I copied and pasted it here (above) and the spacing/wording/clarity of the regulations just isn't clear to me. According to the DEC site, it sounds like I can use as large a net as I like.

I've caught alewives off and on for years and have used a "speed net" made in the Finger Lakes to catch the alewives.

However, the speed net is getting a bit beaten up and it's pretty small too. So, while it's hard enough to net 'em in the first place, sometimes they manage to get out anyway.

Catching bait when night fishing is half the fun, but improving my bait catch rate will get my rigs baited and down faster.

My simplest question is:

"How big a dip net can I use?"

Thanks all!

Pierless

(Neil)

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Motoman,

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about when I say it's a "sketchy" read.

If you click the link I pasted (if it works, or copy paste into your browser) you'll see that there is no spacing between what looks to be the previous category of water(s) and then the Lake Ontario water where is says "any size net."

It is hard to stay within the bounds when the boundaries are not clear.

If anyone else has insight, I'd like to hear it!

Thanks,

Pierless

(Neil)

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OK. I got impatient and did the right thing and called the DEC Region 8 office in Avon.

According to Lt. Tom Stoner, a scap net (seine net) no larger than 36 square feet (6x6 foot square) can be used to net alewives in Lake Ontario.

Lt. Stoner went on to ensure that I was not going to be transporting the alewives and only was going to use them in Lake O.

I'm getting a bigger net,....

Later all,

Pierless

(Neil)

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Cheers!

Well, there'll be no surprising you come Fall Derby Time,...

I know I can grab some of these, I've done it before. However, the net, as I said above, is old and small. The Good Lieutenant set me straight and a 6' x 6' "umbrella" net (scap net) will hopefully put a lot more bait on hooks than the little speed net can.

I was elsewhere on the site and saw rigs for whole alewives, not just cut bait. Sure, we could cut the heads off, but they might still be too big to cram into the bait holder and "peg" it w/a toothpick. That's what I remember the last time I tried that, anyway,... Cut bait is a fillet and only half as thick as a whole alewife.

Oh yeah, the rig was called a "Familiar Bite." Know of these things? Look on the "Tackle & Techniques" section, there is a pic of the Familiar Bite rig. See if you can find some out your way/your travels and I'll see if I can't find some up at the 'Point.

By the way, I still have some goodies for you from the last trip to the shop (yeah, the one I bought a red fire tiger on,..).

Looking forward to having you out for the Fall Derby and maybe for a "test session" before that, if you're up for it!

Salmonite,

Hey! I "saw" you up on that "Familiar Bite" thread! So, have you run any alewives yet? Any luck? Spiritual advice?

The only time I've ever run alewives and caught anything is on Seth Green rigs at the bottom for lakers with the alewives I caught that night (anchored). I'm hoping that these fresh alewives will do the trick in replacing standard cut bait that isn't available for VHS reasons.

Later,

Pierless

(Neil)

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we ran em on sunday at the oak with no hits coming but sunday stunk so i guess they are worth a shot again when the fish are actually hitting.

it seems that all of the big fish are being caught on them!!!! ex. derby winner, also they keep on showing up on attheoak.com more and more.

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Motoman,

Is Little Jon's in Mexico?

Salmonite,

Thanks for the report. Messing around on a boat is the real reason I like fishing so much and just catching alewives is high on the list of "messing around" on a boat! So, I'll grab some alewives and even if they don't produce I'll still have accomplished a goal (remember, when setting goals, always make them attainable!).

15Point,

It's pretty simple to catch alewives, really. Up 'til now I've been using a "speed net" which has a very long handle (about 9'). It has a small hoop on the end of it about 14" in diameter. The 14" diameter of the hoop is to comply with the Finger Lakes regulations for nets to take bait. From what I learned from Lt. Stoner, that rule doesn't apply to the big pond and so that is why I'm buying a new, bigger, net.

The hoop is made of fairly small diameter wire and the net's mesh is made out of very fine wire. It was given to me by a guy that used to night fish Seneca Lake. He told me that an Amish or Mennonite woman made it. It's a real piece of work, I'll tell you. The mesh was hand woven and it's one, long, piece of fine wire that she tied up to make a cone shaped net.

The "speed" comes into play with the use of small diameter wire in the hoop and the net's weave, but also in the handle, as it is airfoil shaped in cross-section and allows it to be ripped through the water very quickly. It is necessary to have speed with such a small net, those little alewives can really move!

So, equipped with an appropriate net (I'll bring the trusty old speed net along, but will first try to use the larger, "umbrella" (scap) net), you venture out onto the lake preferably when there is no moon. The winds must be very light, or at least from the right direction, as you will need to drop a hook during this project.

As I usually am going out night fishing, I anchor in water where the lakers will be at the bottom so that I can target them. This is usually in 100 - 140 feet of water and why you must have the proper water/wind conditions.

Ages ago at a garage sale I bought a "Q-Beam," which was a Styrofoam "float" that housed a round car headlight. It has a pair of wires coming out the top of the float with clamps like for jump starting a car on the ends of them that you attach to a 12V battery. Then, you put the light over the side of the boat, tie the wires/cables and let it float near the side of the boat.

Shortly after "ages ago" I was sitting down waiting for the light to attract the bait when I got up only to find darkness over the gunwale,... I thought the light had burned out at first, but further investigation showed that the wires connecting the float broke, or came apart and all I had left was a pair of clamps and a length of wire. That was the end of that night fishing outing!

As I was on vacation in Fairhaven at the time and as I had nothing to do that evening because I didn’t have bait, I went into town to the little gas station/convenience store/hardware store bought three packages of disposable Styrofoam plates, a round, low-beam headlight and headed back to the cottage. Armed with a roll of duct tape and a pocket knife I cut round holes in plate after plate. Using this method I was able to "lay-up" a stratified model of the Q-Beam I'd lost. It works awesome! However, I think I probably spent more $$ than a Q-Beam costs new (but I don't know where to get them). I've used this contraption for over 10 years now and it's still functional.

The most amazing thing about Lake Ontario is how many fish are in there. You may go out fishing and get skunked and start believing that there aren't any fish in there at all, but you hang that light over the side for 1/2 an hour or so and you will see alewives coming up from the depths and below them you will see larger flashes feeding off of them. It is amazing to look at the depth finder after you've got a good pod of bait attracted and then to see all the hooks slashing through, around and below the pod.

It's best not to get too impatient. If you start to get bait to come to the surface it's best to just let them come and wait until there are a few million of them under your boat. I'm not joking here, if you find the right spot, you will literally have millions of baitfish under your boat! Once some fish are attracted they serve to attract more bait. So, it's best to wait.

Here is where I've used the speed net. You lean over the side, you wait until a large swirl of bait gets near the surface and then you rip the speed net through the water trying to net them. It looks so easy,... The handle of the speed net needs to be as long as it is, as the fish are deceivingly deeper than you'd think. In most cases I'd say I swoop the net over the bait. Sometimes you can feel them bouncing off the handle and that's when you know you've got the depth of your net about right. If you're really on fire, you'll net several at a time. I think my "record" is 7 in one rip through the water. Sounds silly, but it's not as easy as it looks,....

My plan with the umbrella net (this is untested, so this is not "advice" at this point) is to tie it to a large pole of some sort. I'm thinking of the paddle that's on the boat ought to work, but it may need to be longer. The umbrella net should fold up like an umbrella when you put it in the water and open up, uh,... like an umbrella when you pull it up. So, my "stragedy" is to put it down maybe 10 feet below the surface, or so, let the bait swim to the light at the surface and when I see a bunch of them over the net, haul it up quickly, hopefully with a couple dozen of them in it (optimism is pretty thick here, isn't it?).

These alewives are amazingly large, too. I have caught alewives easily over 8" long. You'll see several classes, or sizes of them, but most of the ones I've seen/caught are well over 5" anyway. People do eat them. They are a herring, but I wouldn't, nor would I recommend it. I think the salt-run alewives are probably better tasting,...

Alewives are pretty fragile. I usually hook them right up to my rigs and send 'em back down with a minimum amount of time out of the lake. They stay lively for a good long time if hooked properly and gently. The thing that alewives need most is oxygenated water, so an aerator is critical to keeping them for any length of time at all in a bucket. There are several articles up on the web that give instructions on how to make bait tanks for alewives and how to salt the water and this and that to keep them alive for up to a week or so at a time. I've never had an alewife last more than a few hours in a 5 gal. bucket, so I'm not a good source of advice on any of that stuff. Besides, I'm just using it as bait for night fishing and if we're going to try to use them trolling as an alternative to cut bait, they'll be dead anyway.

My "preservation" of alewives is lacking too, I'm sure. I usually just put a half dozen is a zip-lock sandwich bag and toss them in the freezer. Take a bag out, thaw them and then put 'em on your rigs. I'm sure you can salt them and that'd help preserve them and might help to keep their scales on, which is probably pretty important, as far as using their natural coloration as the thing that lures them in.

There's probably a lot of things I missed, but you'll figure that out soon enough. Oh, one thing that may help you out a lot is that if you're only going out to get bait, you probably don't need to be in 100+ feet of water. However, I've had better success in deeper, as opposed to shallower water. The light penetrates a long way down, especially nowadays with the water clarity of Lake O and so deeper water allows for more bait to be attracted. All the bait needs to see is a speck of light and they swim to it. This is why a moonless night is an important part of this project, as the moon, though dull in comparison to a 55watt halogen peering into the water, is a powerful attractor and competes with your light to a large extent. I have attracted alewives on a moonlight night, but the numbers simply aren’t there.

The DEC rules state that it is illegal to net bait in bays, or tributaries of Lake Ontario, so, you really shouldn't employ this technique anywhere other than out on the lake. 'Course, maybe there are fewer DEC officers out at night, but I wouldn't take that chance.

There are alewives in Sodus Bay; I've seen them. They are a little smaller than the ones out on the lake and they aren't as chrome/shiny as the ones in the lake. They actually look kind of greenish and not nearly as pretty. This is a good reason to not bother with them in the bays, as they won't make as good a lake bait (?). Let's put it this way though, if you're fishing in a bay, trying to match the natural forage base is the way to go, but most bay fishermen don't think of an alewife, as a forage fish - not true.

Whew! I'm tired of writing. You're probably tied of reading, but you asked 15Point!

Later,

Pierless

(Neil)

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15, the old timers on the finger lakes used 1/4sticks and drove the wardens nuts. I netted mooneyes out of the Oswego river in the spring when they were running.They ran after the smelt run. Use a legal size smelt net. Got them on either side of the river,at that time the school was three foot wide from top to bottom. I've seem them in the inlet of Ibay also. I don't think you can move fast enough to get them in a 36by36 but you can try. Good luck.

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they bite very well on sabiki rigs at night under the lights or during the day if you can find a school.i do it all the time,boaters world has the sabiki rigs and probably cabelas too,get the smallest ones made.usually have one on every hook when you find them,screw buying cut bait,use the native stuff.

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yes mexico bay right on rout 3 , big sign JONS tackle good place too stop in and pick some stuff up ! i also would like too net up some around here sounds like it could be some fun ! :lol: can you use a cast net ?

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Way to much work when you can buy it :) FAMILIAR BITE, I think Abes in Sodus has the Familiar Bite and the bait heads and rigs..I bought some on culver road in Rochester, S&R tackle...SPEND MORE TIME FISHING and less time baiting... Last weekend I had it fire 3 times in an hour on the wire...all very nice rips...

Spend your money on bait not gas to catch bait...no brainer to me

Mark

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Mark,

You are right about time and money, if you're into it from an efficiency standpoint. Nowadays, it's hard not to be!

However, I reference what I wrote (I wrote too much,...)

"Messing around on a boat is the real reason I like fishing so much and just catching alewives is high on the list of "messing around" on a boat!"

Besides, I do this at night and there's not much going on with trolling for trout/salmon after sundown, unless you're doing the night fishing thing, but that's not trolling anyway.

Still, I'm psyched to hear that your Familiar Bite rigs fired off three times last weekend and so I'm encouraged for my prospects.

Regards,

Pierless

(Neil)

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