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Gill-T

Please Email DEC on proposed creel limit changes

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Using the LOC derby weights to gauge the steelhead size is not an accurate way to do it.  Years like this past summer, the kings were available inside of 300' for most of the season.  Less time offshore = less chance of finding big steelhead.  Over the past couple of years,  I have seen a lot of steelhead later in the summer in poor shape after returning from the tribs.  For example during the Sandy Creek Shootout (last Saturday in July) in 2016, we weighed in a 37" steelhead that only weighed 13lbs 6oz.   This fish was very skinny and did not fight at all. It is concerning to see them in poor shape that late in the season.  Are these steelhead not as healthy going into the spawning run and that's why they are in such poor shape in mid to late summer? 

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17 hours ago, GAMBLER said:


Show me a study done on the Salmon river, the Oak or Oswego river where the steelhead are caught over and over again. After reading these studies, they are done out west. The rivers out west are bigger water and a steelhead may never even see a hook in a trip into the river let alone be caught more than once.


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As Dave points out, there are no reports of large numbers of dead trout in any of those tributaries in the fall.  There were reports during the thiaminase problem, lots of deads in the pool areas and the  estuary then.  All trout get released in Douglaston on the Salmon River all year, and they are still getting all they need at the hatchery, plus fishable returns to the fishery all winter.  The Salmon is the major dropback river, and it stays cold into late June, and supports some trout and salmon all summer  Not saying that some fish don’t die, but the number in most of those studies is not massive.      

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Check the gums of fish you catch in the lake especially in May and June. That will indicate if they've been hooked several times. Most rivers are too warm by mid May and the fish have left except for tribs on the east end below the Tug Hill. I've actually caught some drop back Steelhead on dry flies closer to June in the Salmon while fishing for resident Brown trout.

 

Our Lake Ontario Steelhead also carry gill lice, which can contribute to poorer condition. It's common in the great lakes and in the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea rivers where I've caught wild Steelhead. And you see the same effect of poorer conditioned fish. If this is common place for the fish you are catching I hope anglers are alerting the DEC.

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18 minutes ago, King Davy said:

Check the gums of fish you catch in the lake especially in May and June. That will indicate if they've been hooked several times. Most rivers are too warm by mid May and the fish have left except for tribs on the east end below the Tug Hill. I've actually caught some drop back Steelhead on dry flies closer to June in the Salmon while fishing for resident Brown trout.

 

Our Lake Ontario Steelhead also carry gill lice, which can contribute to poorer condition. It's common in the great lakes and in the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea rivers where I've caught wild Steelhead. And you see the same effect of poorer conditioned fish. If this is common place for the fish you are catching I hope anglers are alerting the DEC.

I have seen gill lice in a lot of steelhead over the years.  Some of them seemed sluggish and some did not.  The steelhead at the shootout was measured, weighed and scales samples were taken by the fish and wildlife guys that were taking samples at the weigh in. 

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1 hour ago, GAMBLER said:

I have seen gill lice in a lot of steelhead over the years.  Some of them seemed sluggish and some did not.  The steelhead at the shootout was measured, weighed and scales samples were taken by the fish and wildlife guys that were taking samples at the weigh in. 

Sometimes you just find a sick(ly) fish.  Trolling for Lake Trout in the Fulton Chain, using a lead core rig on an old 9 weight flyrod, I had a hit that I thought was an underize laker, as it came in like a small puppy on a leash.  I was very surprised when I looked over the side to net, to see the largest landlocked salmon I’ve ever caught up there, a 26”  fish that weighed a little over 6 lbs.  If this was the only one I ever caught, I would think all the talk of their great fighting ability was lies.  “Post mortem” showed nothing wrong with the fish, and it tasted fine.

But as Dave points out, Mysis is down and Diporea is pretty much gone, and that is the bottom of the food chain out there especially for the newly stocked fish.  Also seems like there are an awful lot of perch around in bays like Sodus; if the Alewife population is healthy, the perch should be surpressed.       .

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Yeah I've caught gill liced Steelhead that have acted normal and others that did not. And we've all caught other salmon or trout that looked and or acted sickly. So unless many fish are showing up that way, we could assume those incidents are not the norm of an epidemic either man made or scientific. 

 

The essence of the three trout regs being the 1 brown trout creel change, and the two Steelhead regs is that these two species never get a down time. They are fished for one way or the other 12 months a year. Where as the remaining salmon population of non spawners still out in the lake have as many as what? Six to 8 months left alone by the lake anglers. And the Salmon that run offer about six solid weeks of chase. The intent has never been to take something away from one environment to only benefit the other. But with 12 months of solid pressure on these two species, is their management decisions to help both. It's clear that trib anglers overall don't harvest Steelhead, and season long trib anglers are releasing more brown trout, yet they are still heavily harvested for food and especially the females for eggs. A high number of trib caught fish are released with the anglers intent to keep them in the fishery to where both trib anglers and lake anglers can catch them again.

 

Which brings us to a legit concern. How to successfully C&R a fish in either environment. There are many tried and true methods that work. It is the responsibility of any angler either on the lake or in a river to have the skills to employ C&R techniques. "Jerry" you could put an entire section on this web page on those techniques. Some have stated that trib anglers put to much pressure on these fish, and in some situations I totally agree. One has to decide when they've over stayed their welcome. Going 20 for 31 fishing river fish is in my mind overstaying your welcome. That is my humble opinion. However we see reports every week during the lake season, we were 28 for 35, or 20 for 31 etc. In any of those scenarios many fish on both the lake and the tribs are being caught and released. So lets face it folks we put tons of pressure on these fish 12 months a year. Steelhead and Brown trout are in the cross hairs all 12 months, and the reason DEC has tried to find some relief in possibly keeping more fish in the system, because nobody believes we'll lighten the pressure. Who wants to volunteer to fish less days?

Edited by King Davy
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14 hours ago, King Davy said:

Yeah I've caught gill liced Steelhead that have acted normal and others that did not. And we've all caught other salmon or trout that looked and or acted sickly. So unless many fish are showing up that way, we could assume those incidents are not the norm of an epidemic either man made or scientific. 

 

The essence of the three trout regs being the 1 brown trout creel change, and the two Steelhead regs is that these two species never get a down time. They are fished for one way or the other 12 months a year. Where as the remaining salmon population of non spawners still out in the lake have as many as what? Six to 8 months left alone by the lake anglers. And the Salmon that run offer about six solid weeks of chase. The intent has never been to take something away from one environment to only benefit the other. But with 12 months of solid pressure on these two species, is their management decisions to help both. It's clear that trib anglers overall don't harvest Steelhead, and season long trib anglers are releasing more brown trout, yet they are still heavily harvested for food and especially the females for eggs. A high number of trib caught fish are released with the anglers intent to keep them in the fishery to where both trib anglers and lake anglers can catch them again.

 

Which brings us to a legit concern. How to successfully C&R a fish in either environment. There are many tried and true methods that work. It is the responsibility of any angler either on the lake or in a river to have the skills to employ C&R techniques. "Jerry" you could put an entire section on this web page on those techniques. Some have stated that trib anglers put to much pressure on these fish, and in some situations I totally agree. One has to decide when they've over stayed their welcome. Going 20 for 31 fishing river fish is in my mind overstaying your welcome. That is my humble opinion. However we see reports every week during the lake season, we were 28 for 35, or 20 for 31 etc. In any of those scenarios many fish on both the lake and the tribs are being caught and released. So lets face it folks we put tons of pressure on these fish 12 months a year. Steelhead and Brown trout are in the cross hairs all 12 months, and the reason DEC has tried to find some relief in possibly keeping more fish in the system, because nobody believes we'll lighten the pressure. Who wants to volunteer to fish less days?

Didn't the DEC say at the one meeting that more steelhead are kept in the tribs than in the lake? 

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Not sure I heard that. The last trib lake wide creel census Scott Prindle did was I think 2015. I have the results some place , but it was after the die off, and neither the lake or the trib fishing for Steelhead was very good, dismal on the rivers for sure. I will grant you there is a high creeling of Steelhead on the Salmon river during Salmon season, which is usually after labor day until say Mid Oct. However all must understand the people who are fishing at this time are not your serious season Fall, winter, spring dedicated trib angler. Those folks are here to harvest as many fish as possible. If they can catch a steelhead, along with their three salmon, and three brown trout, they are al going in the cooler. Once that crew moves on, the dedicated season long folks show up and fish through the following spring. DEC does do a salmon river census every year, so you will see high creel rate that will skew the remainder of the fishing reports through the spring. Two years ago Feb, several trib stakeholders were invited to the Salmon River Hatchery to discuss trib issues. What came out of that meeting and a few follow ups was the salmon river which is the most important resource to our entire fishery to recruit Pacific Salmon and Steelhead to replenish the sport fisher, it should have it's own management plan and not be mixed in with the general plans. DEC is considering changes just for the salmon river. I found Scotts results. Over 90% of the anglers fishing for Steelhead released all of their caught fish. 

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It certainly makes sense to manage the Salmon River differently given that it is the only southern trib with viable reproduction.


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I know for what I am about to say I'll probably get "hammered" and there are many vested interests involved but I have always wondered why the Salmon River wasn't an only C and R stream because of its critical and complex importance to the fishery. Out west many streams are considered as C and R only and their importance to the fishery is much less than the Salmon but the same vulnerability applies.

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The guys from Jersey want to fill their boxes before they go home:smile:.  In my case the SR has been C+R for about 15 years now ( now some wise guy will say something about NOT catch, and release, rough getting older :lol: )

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5 minutes ago, Sk8man said:

I know for what I am about to say I'll probably get "hammered" and there are many vested interests involved but I have always wondered why the Salmon River wasn't an only C and R stream because of its critical and complex importance to the fishery. Out west many streams are considered as C and R only and their importance to the fishery is much less than the Salmon but the same vulnerability applies.

The bigger head scratcher is the Niagara.  The Niagara River falls under lake rules.  The Niagara is a heavily fished steelhead river and still allows 3 steelhead per day per person.  Why isn't the creel limit at 1 like the rest of the tribs?  What are canadas limits?  Seeing that steelhead don't stay in US waters, their limits could affect our fishery.  IMO all creel limits and seasons should be the same on both sides of the lake for Lake Ontario trout and salmon. 

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I just looked up the regs in Ontario.  The are as follows:

Atlantics -1 over 63cm

Browns - 5

Lake Trout - 3

Salmon - 5

Steelhead - 2

I think the lake managers need to get these on the same page. 

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I think we are still getting knotted up on thinking this is a tug of war on who puts the most dent in the Steelhead population. When in actuality the intent is not to pointing fingers at one group or the other but to dial in what a specific fishery is, and how best to manage it for both the open waters of the lake and the tribs. Each species brings a different dynamic for anglers.

Pacific salmon have a pretty short open water season. Five and a half to maybe six months? They have a very short river season which at best is six weeks. Brown trout and Steelhead are available to a combination of lake and trib anglers 12 months a year. So there will be a lot of pressure on those two species. Even further think about this. Most lake anglers can choose what species you want to fish for that day. Run off shore for silvers, stay inshore for Browns and lakers. Past the salmon season when they are all gone, we fish for what is left. For awhile browns and steelhead. After December, it’s primarily one fish, Steelhead. And managing Brown trout and Steelhead for a full 12 months of chase VS say King Salmon where with our fall, winter and early spring boating season having minimal opportunity and the fact we know spawning salmon are all going to die….these management initiatives are a tad different for CREATING OPPORTUNITY to catch these fish.

Let’s go back to the beginning. I’m aging myself, but I was there when Bill Pearce , and some of his top biologists Cliff Creech, Les Wedge and others architected the LO fishery. Like Tanner in Michigan they began with Coho salmon. As they did well, they started to include King Salmon, Brown trout, and of course by Federal direction native species Lake trout and Atlantic Salmon. However one fish had already been here nearly 100 years. The Steelhead. Migratory rainbows from the McCloud River from California were planted in all the great lakes in the 1880’s. Some of these fish were still returning to the Salmon River in the 1960’s but we had long ago lost the habitat required to foster a self-sustaining wild fishery. Our colleagues on the North shore still had and has today the habitat that fosters wild reproduction of Steelhead and why they don’t have massive hatchery stocking of these fish.

Back to Pearce, his vision for LO was King and Coho salmon along with Brown trout and lake trout were going to be the primary sport fish for the open waters of the lake, while Steelhead and Atlantic salmon would be icing on the cake in the open waters, and the staple to create a successful River fishery. The Pacific Salmon though short lived in the tribs would be its icing, and brown trout as well. And this all made sense because we know Steelhead are generally in river systems seven months a year and in some systems like the Salmon river easily 8 months a year, and now with the Skamania strain you can catch a steelhead in the salmon river 12 months a year.

Bureau of Fisheries Chief Steve Hurst is currently opening up every fishery management plan in the state. To include Finger Lakes and all inland streams and rivers in all regions of the state. Some of the current management plans are decades old, and this initiative is way overdue but a huge undertaking. While Steve and the DEC LO regional managers have spent the last year discussing the LO lake and trib plans, Steve has been leading this effort with many other groups in NYS regions to make sure the management plans are sound to again CREATE OPPORTUNITY to when you go fishing, you are fishing to fish….no matter if you are on the lake or a river .

Two years ago Feb 11 we had this (by invite from DEC) to come to Altmar and discuss trib issues for the Salmon river and state wide. There were rec anglers, pro guides who fished the rivers and lake, and business owners. Every LO regional manager and other key DEC personnel were in attendance. This meeting was run by Steve LaPan and Hurst. It lasted four or five hours. Not one single second was there a participant that was blaming trib issues on the Lake fishery , either Charter Operators or Rec fishermen. There have all been a mountain of curve balls as of late tossed at this fishery, and the DEC is simply trying to manage for the whole, not one system or the other. It’s just all this is.  

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This thread is an interesting one indeed. As I am reading through it I realize how much it captures the passion involved in so many different angles of the issue of maintaining a viable and vital fishery in these current times. Much of the time our natural tendency is to have our respective perspectives skewed toward our more intense individual passions:smile:. We have a lot of legitimate concerns and interests but we may also need to step back away from things a bit and take stock of what we do have  right  now and be very thankful for it because it is the sum total of years of effort by many people many of whom may remain nameless but their contributions to the fishery which we all enjoy remain. Today we enjoy fishing in a fishery that despite the emerging concerns and issues is one of the best in the nation and one which a lot of others may be scratching their heads right now wondering why there are these "complaints" or passionate concerns. Perhaps it is that we are somewhat "spoiled" and the "us vs.them" appearances of the trib and lake fisherperson's extremely different perspectives amplifies this view. When you step back away from things a bit it is clear that we have a great deal to be thankful for  and that the DEC personnel, fisheries staff, the stream pen implementors/maintainers and the various other involved personnel deserve our respect and thanks for their efforts and this is not always clear when viewing commentary here. In short, we need to maintain a more global view of how this fishery benefits all of us, and how and what we can do to improve it. We have enough to be concerned about with the invasives etc. than to be at logger heads among ourselves.

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What I am getting at Dave is we need to be on the same page.  A 5 fish limit in Canada and the Niagara needs to be treated as a trib are two big issues that need to be looked into.  The Niagara River steelhead fishing by boat is gaining in popularity.  There is opportunity for the fishery to get beat up.  The areas of biggest potential impact to the fishery should be looked at first.  A five fish limit in the lake (Canada)  and a three fish limit on a trib (Niagara) raise my eyebrows . 

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Well stated SK8man. This is a diverse fishery with diverse stakeholders, but I think we have the same common goals. A healthy fishery, to where anglers when out fishing on the lake or a river simply have targets to fish for. After that it's up to your individual skill set on how successful you are at caching a fish. And the management strategy taking into account the diversity of both the lake and the tribs should be architected to best serve both. 

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1 hour ago, GAMBLER said:

I just looked up the regs in Ontario.  The are as follows:

Atlantics -1 over 63cm

Browns - 5

Lake Trout - 3

Salmon - 5

Steelhead - 2

I think the lake managers need to get these on the same page. 

Before someone gets the idea that they would be street legal in Ontario with 5 Pacific salmon, 5 Brown trout, 2 Rainbows, 3 lake trout, and an Atlantic salmon per person per day from the lake see the following from Page 10 of the Ontario Guide:

“Throughout the province there are standard aggregate limits for all species of trout and salmon in combination. You may only catch and keep in one day or possess no more than five trout and salmon in total under a Sport Fishing Licence (S–5) or two trout and salmon in total under a Conservation Fishing Licence (C–2). In addition to the aggregate limit, you may not exceed individual species limits where they are otherwise stated. “

With our 3 silvers plus an atlantic plus 2 lake trout, a New York Angler can keep one more than a Canadian, although our mix is more specifically limited..

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They lowered the steelhead limit just a year or so ago. Again lots of pressure from their river anglers (it used to be 5 on the lake and the rivers), and the fact that returns to the rivers where they depend on wild fish to reproduce were dwindling. I also participate on the Bi-National focus group. This would be better addressed by say Vince, but listening in, I don't think the Canadians worry to much about harvesting a limit so not much has been done on trying to square up a more universal LO limit for both shores..

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They can change all the limits they want ,but IMO , it won't make much difference . The fish are about 2/3 the size they use to be . And the LOC leader boards are a good indicator of this . We catch what is out there . 

The lakes ecosystem has change since the first stocks . The bottom of the food chain is way smaller . Maybe the alwives don't have the nutrient value to pack the pounds on . Or it's something else . 

Also both lake and tribs guys are better at catching them . You can c&r , but there is a percentage released ,especially lake caught ,that won't make it . 

 

 Caught a winter early 1980s Skamnia 

38" that weighed a little over 13# . 

Got it under the driving park bridge . Was easy back then to catch 15# plus steelhead . Caught a bunch up to 20#. 

Now if I get a 12 # it's an event . Although I have landed a few the last few years maybe 14# . 

 

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There you go, catch and release loads up the unharvested fish numbers and the forage base is unable to support the over stocked lake. Damn do gooders still want to cut back the fish harvest. We need to harvest the fish instead of releasing them. We need to educate the size, season, quota promoters as they are the problem for our regulations.


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I have heard of successful steelhead spawning. Not as good as kings (as they only need to spend 4-5 months in the stream) where steelies need over a year- but successful spawning none the less. And natural repro has been described for rainbows since the early 1900s.

 

My feeling is that we should have short c&r seasons, when peak spawning tends to happen. Late oct for kings and nov for browns for example- much like we do with bass. And unifying our creel regs on all tribs makes sense to me. Are people opposed to keeping only one brown in stream? Or having the legal size be bigger for steelies?

 

Reducing steelhead creels to one per person on the lake, or god forbid browns to one per person, would absolutely destroy east end charters. Those guys depend on trout April, May, June and even parts of July. The kings just aren’t as common there. So any talk on this front would invite violent pushback from trollers

 

 

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The brown creel limit proposal is trib only

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NYS loves money so I have a hard time believing they would deter out of state fisherman from making that late October trek.  I personally DNC about  creel limits on Ontario because I don't eat those fish anyways, however, I did care when they change the regulations on the Hudson and haven't been back there since so I can understand the other side.  Just my two pennies...

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