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Tall Tails

Another 20% CUT in Chinook Stocking for 2019

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So more or less ,half  The kings are Nat reproduction . 

The state stocks half and mother nature stocks half .

 

We are like what, 15 generations removed from the first stocks way back when ? 

Seems to me these fish are not Pacific salmon ,but are now a lake ontario strain of Pacific salmon . And maybe they are evolving to the LO ecosystem right before our eyes . I think we may have to throw some of the life cycle stuff for our fish out the window from the ocean fish . Jeff Goldbloom said in Jaracic  park that " life finds a way " . 

We were told at the beginning these fish don't reproduce . I'm curious if over the years to know if the percentage of Nat reproduction is increasing. 

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Many associations along the southern shoreline are directly opposed to this additional cut for many solid reasons.  The Fair Haven Fishing Association is directly opposed to the proposed additional cuts after careful thought and many messages, phone calls, discussions, and emails.  The official letter can be found on the Fair Haven Fishing Association Facebook page at the bottom of the most recent post.  Many anglers who fish the lake are gone at this time of the year and will not be able to make the meeting, but took the time to make their opinions, observations, and concerns known.

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I attended the meeting this evening and left with more questions than I did when I got there.  Attendance was poor IMO.  I was under the impression that the trawls were done at the same time of the year, same spots , same duration and same number of trawls.  I learned that is not the case.  I also learned at the meeting that the trawls were cut down from 10 minutes to 5 minute trawls.  The one graphic Steve Lapan showed, had the trawl locations and the amount of alewife (represented by circles). I am adding a picture of that graphic below.  I questioned this because in 2016, there were three lines of trawls in the offshore Canadian waters, in 2017 there were seven lines in the offshore Canadian waters and in 2018 there were 6 lines of trawls in the offshore Canadian waters.  I don't see how you can compare data that is not collected by the same method at the same time every year? 

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You're right, Brian. But it looks from my vantage point that they tried to hit the same marks, just weren't able to get in all of the trawls in 2016. It's a given that any sort of repeat-measures limnological research is going to have gaps over time. Which makes it hard to put stock in one year's effort. Often, the overall impact is only recognized retrospectively. The baitfish surveys are nice in that there's a rolling record. Fish that were one year old in 2016 but got missed in the trawl would be 2 years old in 2017, which lets them apply a correction. 

 

In other words, it's not perfect, but it's the best we have. I wish I'd come to the meeting. Frankly, it was a sh!t day at work and I forgot.

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The trawling survey results showing the representative year classes needs to not be viewed as gospel. Due to costs and man power, approximately 1,0000 fish are aged per the estimated 1.5 Billion alewives that are in the lake. The survey will never be perfect.  We definitely gather more info than other states. Michigan does just a few locations in the fall. 

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I think Gator responded accurately on the number of trawls in the Canadian waters, with the additional observation that that facet of the program is still in its infancy.  And, honestly, even near the front it was hard to hear with the “separate meeting” being rudely held by some of the “professionals” in the back of the room, which I thought was crowded even if the turnout could have been much bigger (it was certainly larger than two years ago, when a handful of us gathered in the Greece Town Hall.)  Maybe it was due to all the chatter that you missed the additional information on the trawl duration change, that Dr. Weidel  of USGS ran comparable 5 and 10 minute trawls for two years prior to the shift, that demonstrated that results for a 5 minute trawl are comparable, not significantly different, to a 10 minute trawl, and that shortening the time of the trawl allowed for a greater number of tows for the same effort and expenditure.   I am sure we will see greater detail on all this at the SOL in the spring, and Steve LaPan did indicate that he had hoped to have Dr Weidel at this meeting, but he is out on the lake doing fall survey work, I couldn‘t hear what it was for, though.

 

Dave Figura from the Syracuse papers was there, and stayed for the whole meeting.  I am sure based on past reading of his columns, that the Syracuse paper will have a good summary for those who could not attend.  Too bad the Rochester papers don’t see any value at all in the fishery or any outdoor pursuits  any more ( although Leo Roth did get an article in last week announcing the meeting), or you might see something from closer to the meeting location.  Bill Hilts Jr was also there, but left at some point during the meeting.  It is possible that he missed a fair part of the presentation, because it was repeatedly interrupted with what at first were reasonable questions, maybe better held to the end, and then by less civil interruptions that mainly (to my ears) amounted to attacks on the DEC, at which point Steve Hurst, DEC Director of Fisheries, cut off questions until; the presentation was completed.

 

It should be emphasized that this is not a popular action even within DEC, but they are taking a conservative approach to what they view as increasing instability in the adult alewife population to continue to stay ahead of what could develop into a catastrophic collapse of the King salmon population if the “ Hole” in the adult alewife population continues to deepen .  It should also be remembered that in the committee of professional fisheries scientists that reached this decision, 50% of the participants wanted a 50% cut in King stocking, rather than the 40% cut that is being taken, and one Canadian scientist has recommended elimination of king stocking altogether until the alewife population stabilizes, as was said last night.  And, bottom line, there are still 2.7 million sportfish being stocked into the lake, with a very large contingent of naturally reproduced king salmon as well. 

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There's seems to be a bunch of decisions being made solely on the alewife trawls by a bunch of scientists when there isnt much science in the trawls themselves! No wonder they are making conservative decisions when you consider the minimal knowledge gained from these trawls. Then everyone speaks of the results of the ineffective trawls as if they are facts when really it's suspect data at best!

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I attended the meeting this evening and left with more questions than I did when I got there.  Attendance was poor IMO.  I was under the impression that the trawls were done at the same time of the year, same spots , same duration and same number of trawls.  I learned that is not the case.  I also learned at the meeting that the trawls were cut down from 10 minutes to 5 minute trawls.  The one graphic Steve Lapan showed, had the trawl locations and the amount of alewife (represented by circles). I am adding a picture of that graphic below.  I questioned this because in 2016, there were three lines of trawls in the offshore Canadian waters, in 2017 there were seven lines in the offshore Canadian waters and in 2018 there were 6 lines of trawls in the offshore Canadian waters.  I don't see how you can compare data that is not collected by the same method at the same time every year? 
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I see your point, but from a scientific standpoint it is not all that vital to have identical trawls. If you have a sound method, the results should be reproducible and able to compensate for yearly and daily variability. It is interesting to look at the different years- there are some places that always have fish, and some that are quite hit or miss. That variability is what a good scientific method can account for. With as many trawls as they do, it is unlikely that they “missed” enough fish to make a huge difference.

Regarding the number of bait sampled- removing the earbones and aging over 1000 fish is more than enough to have high confidence in your results. Obviously more data gives your more confidence, but it rarely changes the result.

The other thing I wanted to address is everyone’s contention that they “see a ton of bait on our screens”. As compelling as this seems, from a scientific standpoint there is nothing LESS useful than observational data. Firstly, we are all biased to WANT to see more bait. Secondly, we actively search out bait! Good fisherman fish where the fish are, and a good KiNG fisherman is good at finding bait. It is highly probable that you see the same bait pod several times in a day, as you circle back over productive areas. It’s not that they are ignoring what we are saying- it’s just that the information is relatively useless, given issues with reliability, unconscious bias, etc.

I work in medicine and have to be very good at reading scientific papers. I do it all the time. I can spot bad science from a mile away. This looks like sound science.

Regardless, we are wasting our time arguing about the science- because for the most part we don’t have a leg to stand on. They are the experts, for better or worse. It is far more useful to argue the meaning of that science and the management changes.

I see their point of being conservative, but my biggest question is “when do the cuts get undone?” What are the “ideal” findings that we need next year to get the normal stocking numbers back?? If we have a huge class of 2016 yoy, does that not make up for at least one of the missing classes, considering the boom and bust nature of alewife?? To what extent can our lake support chinook with the bait we currently have?? Should we be doing more to increase natural repro, so that we can be less dependent on the stocking whims of the state?? These are issues where we can have a productive conversation




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I think Gator responded accurately on the number of trawls in the Canadian waters, with the additional observation that that facet of the program is still in its infancy.  And, honestly, even near the front it was hard to hear with the “separate meeting” being rudely held by some of the “professionals” in the back of the room, which I thought was crowded even if the turnout could have been much bigger (it was certainly larger than two years ago, when a handful of us gathered in the Greece Town Hall.)  Maybe it was due to all the chatter that you missed the additional information on the trawl duration change, that Dr. Weidel  of USGS ran comparable 5 and 10 minute trawls for two years prior to the shift, that demonstrated that results for a 5 minute trawl are comparable, not significantly different, to a 10 minute trawl, and that shortening the time of the trawl allowed for a greater number of tows for the same effort and expenditure.   I am sure we will see greater detail on all this at the SOL in the spring, and Steve LaPan did indicate that he had hoped to have Dr Weidel at this meeting, but he is out on the lake doing fall survey work, I couldn‘t hear what it was for, though.
 
Dave Figura from the Syracuse papers was there, and stayed for the whole meeting.  I am sure based on past reading of his columns, that the Syracuse paper will have a good summary for those who could not attend.  Too bad the Rochester papers don’t see any value at all in the fishery or any outdoor pursuits  any more ( although Leo Roth did get an article in last week announcing the meeting), or you might see something from closer to the meeting location.  Bill Hilts Jr was also there, but left at some point during the meeting.  It is possible that he missed a fair part of the presentation, because it was repeatedly interrupted with what at first were reasonable questions, maybe better held to the end, and then by less civil interruptions that mainly (to my ears) amounted to attacks on the DEC, at which point Steve Hurst, DEC Director of Fisheries, cut off questions until; the presentation was completed.
 
It should be emphasized that this is not a popular action even within DEC, but they are taking a conservative approach to what they view as increasing instability in the adult alewife population to continue to stay ahead of what could develop into a catastrophic collapse of the King salmon population if the “ Hole” in the adult alewife population continues to deepen .  It should also be remembered that in the committee of professional fisheries scientists that reached this decision, 50% of the participants wanted a 50% cut in King stocking, rather than the 40% cut that is being taken, and one Canadian scientist has recommended elimination of king stocking altogether until the alewife population stabilizes, as was said last night.  And, bottom line, there are still 2.7 million sportfish being stocked into the lake, with a very large contingent of naturally reproduced king salmon as well. 

I heard all the info Lucky. I just don’t see how you can make 3 trawl lines in 2016 seven trawl lines in offshore waters in 2017 and six in 2018 and compare them accurately. There were definitely more alewife offshore last year and by doing less trawls in that water, you skew the data. They did more trawls in shallower water and came up with more red x’s. I’m not saying bait numbers are not low but the science should compare the same set of data year after year to be more accurate. I still think a one year creek bump is in need. I know they said they didn’t think it would make a difference but what would it hurt? Every king taken out of the system would save bait.


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1 hour ago, justtracytrolling said:

There's seems to be a bunch of decisions being made solely on the alewife trawls by a bunch of scientists when there isnt much science in the trawls themselves! No wonder they are making conservative decisions when you consider the minimal knowledge gained from these trawls. Then everyone speaks of the results of the ineffective trawls as if they are facts when really it's suspect data at best!

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Please see “A Technical Review of the Lake Ontario Forage Base Assessment Program. MacNeill, D.B. 2005. New York Sea Grant Extension Program, Oswego, NY. 42pp.”  (https://seagrant.sunysb.edu/glsportfish/pdfs/forageassess05.pdf)  for an examination of the science of the trawls and the levels of confidence to be expected.    This is an extremely well vetted and high quality monitoring program with a great deal of science involved.   If science had to produce complete certainty before action could be taken based on its conclusions, we would still be living in the stone age.  Such everyday occurrences as vaccination or use of x rays for diagnostics, even employment of internal combustion engines, would never have been implemented because not all of the risks or uncertainties could have been overcome.   The trawl program is designed,  as closely as possible in a variable environment, to repeat sampling methodologies which yield, after rigorous analysis, information about age structure, growth and condition , and spatial distribution and numbers of alewife in Lake Ontario.  Combined with other scientific monitoring activities of NYSDEC and other agencies such as USGS and USEPA, scientists can at least have some knowledge of state of the lake and its overall health and potential for sustaining fish populations.  What is the alternative, throw a bunch of fish in the water and see how they do?   I will contend that if that had been the program since the inception of Salmon stocking in 1968, the salmon would have likely been gone for good before 2000, especially if NYSDEC and OMNR had followed the ‘Stock more and more” clamor that was heard in the 90’s, when the first indications of alewife decline, likely in response to the shift in trophic state of the lake, were seen.

 

The trawl data as presented in terms of numbers and year classes is one of the measures, but in a more detailed paper that was provided to the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission stakeholders group,  and as was stated by Steve Lapan last night for those who were listening, “growth and condition of alewife declined across all age classes, meaning less energy transferred to predators for every alewife eaten,” and “ New York and Ontario anglers noted smaller Chinook salmon in 2018.  Angler creel data confirm smaller lengths, weights, and ‘body condition”(weight for a given length or ”plumpness”) of Chinook Salmon in July and August.”  Again, what is the alternative?   And, even if the wonderful conditions reported for the west end of the lake are all true, what about the remainder of the lake, especially the Canadian side, where conditions reported by the GLFC group were vastly different than those touted by the west end charter captains.  So maybe the science is not perfect, but I’ve seen nothing that says watching TV is better.

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Trawl data is the best we have right now but it is far from perfect as stated. In the end the trawler is fishing for alewives. Numerous times when I was on the Kaho I noticed large amounts of bait showing on the graph and very few got picked up with the tow. You still have to catch them in order to count them. 

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Lucky. Those quotes you posted from Steve Lapan while you were "listening" were in the printed handout.    :lol:

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50 minutes ago, Gill-T said:

Trawl data is the best we have right now but it is far from perfect as stated. In the end the trawler is fishing for alewives. Numerous times when I was on the Kaho I noticed large amounts of bait showing on the graph and very few got picked up with the tow. You still have to catch them in order to count them. 

 

How do you know the number or density of fish producing the “ mark(s)” on the screen, except by what you haul up with the trawl?   Steve said last night that if someone could produce a reliable quality controlled “sonar” or “ hydroacoustic” method, they would be the first to use it.  There is an unscientific “leap of faith” between the mark(s) on the screen and a numerical value.  The folks at the Cornell Research Facility have been using and attempting to perfect hydroacoustics for many years now, but it is my sense that the techniques are still only capable of providing supplementary information, and the primary and “ truthing” information must still be obtained by trawling

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22 minutes ago, UNREEL said:

Lucky. Those quotes you posted from Steve Lapan while you were "listening" were in the printed handout.    :lol:

If you got the handout last night, I have an earlier one, from July, and Steve pointed out both verbally in the presentation, not  to pick nits or anything.:headbang:

Edited by Lucky13

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I think it would be quite conceivable that a computer program could be developed to pair with sonar and in real time measure the amount of bait showing vs the total space on the screen. We have technology now in our over-the-counter fish finder that allows us to map out the bathymetry of the bottom contours as we pass overhead. It would prove much cheaper and safer than trawler hauling. 

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I'm pretty sure that is what everyone wants to see, but no one has developed it, and, more importantly, ground truthed it against existing data to the level of confidence that is out there for the trawls. 

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SMH.... This post is nauseating.... It really doesn't matter what anyone thinks is right... The DEC is going to do what they want.... It's been the same since I've started fishing 40 years ago...

What else is nauseating is the fact that us lake guys are the ones volunteering time, and raising money for the Penn Rearing programs which the DEC says is a good success. I tend to agree with them. Just recently the DEC commented that the "Trib guys" get involved....now emails are out volunteering from Trib guys... SMH.... Pretty funny that guys stood around with their hands in their pockets for years, but now the DEC hints they should get involved and people are lined up.... Very telling indeed.... See all you guys in the spring.

 

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I think it would be quite conceivable that a computer program could be developed to pair with sonar and in real time measure the amount of bait showing vs the total space on the screen. We have technology now in our over-the-counter fish finder that allows us to map out the bathymetry of the bottom contours as we pass overhead. It would prove much cheaper and safer than trawler hauling. 

You are basically describing a computer model. Models need to be compared to actual scientific observation and adjusted based on observed data to be worth using for prediction and analysis. If you guys don’t trust the scientific observations now, how in the heck can you trust the computer model?

Two words. Weather forecasts. There is a tried, tested, adjusted, and tested again model using state of the art sensors and radar systems. How much do you trust your weatherman?


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Okay leaving thread now as not to cause anymore nausea lol. 

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If I'm not inducing nausea in somebody, I'm not doing my job right!! C'mon Matt, you've got to stay with us. Your opinions are always well-stated and fun to read, even if I don't always agree completely. 

 

It's a great point about how hard new technologies are to introduce, particularly when they're replacing age-old techniques with a large historical database. That's one reason that I got out of fisheries science early and went into molecular genetics. 

 

So, a point about that from a conversation that Brian and I had last night. I think we can all agree that the salmon are spawning at an earlier age now than 25 years ago. However, they're the same strain with similar genetics, at least at the DNA level. What's changed? One possibility is the interaction of their genome with the environment. There's a field called epigenetics that come into vogue over the last decade which focuses on how "transient" modifications to our DNA can lead to changes that persist for generations. One of the things that my lab is researching involves how a parent's sensation of food quality can alter reproductive choices in offsping. The point I'm getting to is that Mother Nature has a way of telling life to reproduce more quickly when they're balanced on the edge of survival. I'm not talking starvation...the fish are healthy...what I'm referring to is a "boom-or-bust" lifestyle where nutrient availability isn't constant or where the nutrient quality of the food is somehow suboptimal...it could even relate to a vitamin deficiency.

 

I'm not claiming that this is what is happening. I'm simply saying that it's a possibility based upon what we know and forms a good premise for looking at epigenetic markers in this population. Sorry if I flew my nerd flag too high.

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I won't dive into the decision any further. many have chimed in. There is nothing I can add that is meaningful. But I will address Brian's comments on helping with the pen's. You are 100% correct. We've been away from this too long. We did help at the Oak, Sandy, and Genny back when LOSA was active. They've been gone for 10 years, and candidly we tried to partner unsuccessfully with TU back then to help with some stream rehab projects and the Pens we got involved with. 

 

I wouldn't join TU back then, because they didn't have an interest in Great Lakes fisheries anywhere in the Great Lakes. Now TU has an active group that is focused on the Great Lakes fisheries...and we have an active group at one of the oldest chapters in the US in Seth Green here in Rochester that has new blood and are all in to re-engage. Shame it took this long, but beside manpower TU is also an opportunity to find funding for the projects. So yes the Lake guys have been carrying the load, and I can say from Fishing experience especially the Genny group you've done a great job. I see several year classes of Steelhead in the fall and winter while fishing the Genny and I have no doubt those returning fish are a result of a solid Pen program. 

 

We look forward to working with Sam on the Genny, Bob, and Rob at Sandy and the Oak...and we have the Buffalo, TU and FFF groups looking to work with Joe Y in Niagara Country and help bolster their man power and funding. I know I've been beating the drum for focus on a 12 month a year fishery and all of us coming together lake and trib stakeholders to partner in doing these kind of projects. It's way past time we put our efforts and hopefully money where our mouth is. Looking forward to getting to know the guys and gals who've been holding do the fort for a long time.

Edited by King Davy
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The pen projects are more important than ever. Some projects need help in huge ways. I can tell you the Sandy creek project is not hurting for volunteers or funding. We have a great turn out every year and the committee has gone to the town and other outlets and been successful getting funding. It bothers me that guys find all the time in the world to go catch these fish yet they can’t give a couple hours for these projects. Some guys don’t have the time but have donated to the projects which is very helpful. These projects are beneficial to lake, stream or pier fishermen.


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4 minutes ago, GAMBLER said:

The pen projects are more important than ever. Some projects need help in huge ways. I can tell you the Sandy creek project is not hurting for volunteers or funding. We have a great turn out every year and the committee has gone to the town and other outlets and been successful getting funding. It bothers me that guys find all the time in the world to go catch these fish yet they can’t give a couple hours for these projects. Some guys don’t have the time but have donated to the projects which is very helpful. These projects are beneficial to lake, stream or pier fishermen.


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Do you feel the public should be the ones footing the bill and effort for said projects

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I'll through in my 2 bits...
Do I think the public should foot the bill? To a degree yes..... The DEC provides the fish, transports them to the sites, and gives us the fish food. .... It's our tax dollars and license fees that indirectly do this. So now comes the real need.... Backs... Strong backs to put the pens in and take them out.., volunteers to feed the fish... Money raised by seminars, flea markets, raffles ECT... Are used for net repairs/ pen framing repairs...ect...
Without the volunteers and donations, the pen projects would not exist, the fish ( kings and Steelhead) would be direct stocked and be victimized by cormorants and other predators...
So...do we sacrifice a little time and sweat for a successful program ( DEC agrees), or do we go out cheap and lazy hoping the little guys can get enjoyed when they are bigger?

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26 minutes ago, bandrus1 said:

 

 

Do you feel the public should be the ones footing the bill and effort for said projects

 

Just so you know... the public is already footing the entire bill and all of the effort for every pen rearing project... 

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