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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I Wonder. . .

I have been doing the Lake Ontario fishing thing for a long time. When I think about it, I wonder why I choose to wake from a nice sleep at 3am, grab a coffee and drive to the boat that is docked in Oswego, NY. I wonder why I choose to keep my fishing tools in tip top shape, keep the boat clean and well maintained and keep abreast of the latest fishing methods. I wonder why as a seasoned AARP member, I keep on fishing and am willing to put up with the demands of that particular life style. Sometimes I wonder why I am still fishing and most importantly I wonder why I still love the fishing challenge.

The other night I attended a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation "State of the Lake" meeting as I have for over 30 years. It is a great way to keep myself informed regarding fishing and environmental related subjects. I have always wondered why more anglers do not take advantage of the myriad of data regarding the condition of the lake. Many make a living off the lake and they seem to take and not give. I would think that more stakeholders would be interested in the detailed status of the fishery. Now I wonder how many stakeholders will be upset with me for pointing out this fact and to that I say, "If the shoe fits wear it".

 This year I clearly saw just how divided the stake holders seem to be. I wonder why I did not notice this before. Anyhow, there really appears to be several stake-holder positions that make DEC's job a bit complex. First there are the lake trollers, who basically fish from April thru October. It is a combination of recreational and charter anglers who take advantage of what DEC says is a "put, grow, and take fishery". Some practice "catch and release", if they desire, while others will combine catch and release and catch and keep outings according to their customer's preferences. Their fish of choice, of course, is the mighty Chinook salmon.

Late September starts the transition whereby salmon and trout move to lake tributaries. Some lake fishers move their angling prowess to the streams and rivers with the legendary Salmon River leading the way. This group of fisher persons have interests in both fisheries. Some apply the "put, grow and take methods and some may go the "catch and release" route. In September and October they target salmon and later in the fall/winter season they hunt for steelhead.

Next comes the Steelhead seeking group who are more inclined to practice catch and release methods. At the meeting the other night an attendee proposed that DEC set up a catch and release only section which would be off limits to the put, grow and take angler, protecting steelhead harvest for the catch and release aficionados. By the way, the proposal came from a lodge operator who believes that a steelhead should be caught and released as many as ten times making their customers happier and their cash registers a little fuller. I wonder if that person knew anything about proper catch and release methods as related to catch and release mortality. If steelhead could think I wonder what they would think of that. Probably would like it better than becoming someone's dinner.

The next angling group are fly fisherman who already have a section of the Salmon River all to themselves. You have to fish their way since a portion of the river has been set aside just for them. In this section of the river it is fish their way or the highway. All fish caught must be released.

Can you begin to see just how difficult the Job is for DEC to keep everyone happy? Each group seems to want what is best for their particular angling style. As long as the proponents are happy with dedicated areas, portioned off to fit a certain angling style, variety of choice seems to work. As it stands now, the system is working well and lake and tributary anglers alike seem to be somewhat happy. However, things can get a bit contentious when one group proposes a change that effects another group. Until then enjoy the fishery.

Recently the NYSDEC and Federal personnel completed their spring bait assessment trawls. They found that the young of years class of alewives was very low, probably due to a couple of very severe winters. There is a concern that the alewife population could be in jeopardy. According to the scientists they might have to cut salmon stocking so that these predators would have less of an effect on the alewife population.

I wonder why that every time there is a concern regarding a diminishing population of alewives the mighty Chinook salmon is always the fish targeted for reduced stocking. Well, there is another predator in the lake that never seems to be affected. That predator is the long lived alewife gobbling, least sought after fish by anglers, the Lake Trout. True, that most anglers will target lakers when other fish become elusive and difficult to catch mostly due to unfavorable wind patterns. Stocking fewer fish such as chinooks, will affect the lakes mega million dollar fishing industry in a negative fashion. Stocking fewer lakers would probably have no revenue effect at all. I wonder why we do not consider this. If we need to make stocking cuts I would hope planting fewer lakers will be considered. That is if we can put aside the fact that Lake Trout were native to the lake and thus must be restored to a natural reproduction population, so say the feds. By the way, the natural reproduction goal has not been achieved despite over thirty years of annual stocking. Yes a few natural born lakers have been seen, however, the returns are minimal.

When you fish with us, you do not have to wonder whether we have the experience necessary to catch fish. You will quickly see that we know what we are doing, since we have been doing this longer than most. Want references? We can provide plenty. Ever wonder which charter boat guided an angler to the current NYS record brown trout? Yup, you guessed correctly if you picked us. It is your choice to keep your catch, practice catch and release, or a combination of both. You choose what best fits your needs. You can have it your way. It is your choice, not ours.

We love to fish and would love to have you fish with us.

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 2:14:22 AM


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