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TOPIC: What is in a number?

What is in a number? Jan 18, 2020 8:11 am #25741

  • bloodrun
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Thanks Ben, and good points as well. I wish we could go back in time and change the decision to support the GLFC strategic plan that enabled the now largely uncontrollable lake trout population. There is basically nothing we can now do to stop what has been put into motion? Meaning, there is no way to reduce the lake trout population moving forward other than basically charter harvest as rec guys generally do not focus on them? Indiana has stopped stocking, is there anyway to force Illinois to stop stocking them on Julians reef? That seems to be the hornets nest on the south end of the lake for trout reproduction.

Not only alewife populations are of concern, but so are gobies. I see very very few larger sized gobies now in the south end, their size and age structure seems to be truncated in the past few years. I catch trout full of 1-2 inch gobies instead of the larger 4"+ as in years past. Those gobies, like it or not, support other species as well including bass, browns and even steelhead. They are a benthic species as you know, and are highly susceptible to lake trout predation because of their preference to live in nearshore "easy to find" spots for trout to pound on them. Once the gobie population crashes, even more pressure will be put onto alewife by lake trout.

I hope your chinook strategy works, it would be great for southend anglers to once again have that late summer/fall returning fishery.
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What is in a number? Jan 19, 2020 2:56 pm #25749

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I don't speak on this site often as i don't have the time to study the information that is available. But it seems to me we are in need of Lake Trout numbers to be reduced. Just a thought I had as I was reading thru the info was to have a monthly Lake Trout Tourney. It couldn't hurt anything. 20-25 boats a month targeting only Lake Trout. Just a thought to put out there. Thanks for listening.
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What is in a number? Jan 20, 2020 8:06 am #25751

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Unfortunately there are those who believe the lake should be returned to it's natural state and see Salmon as an invasive species. Lake Trout rehabilitation has been an objective for decades and now with the depleted alewife population, Trout are spawning successfully and may be out of control at the expense of our Salmon fishery. Short of Commercial netting, I'm not sure there is a solution if there is very little interest in harvesting a fish that lives offshore most of the season and may not be fit to eat.
You can follow the fish stocking program over the years in the "Great Lakes Fish Stocking Data Base" to see where this is headed. Silence is approval and if we don't speak up.....

MANAGEMENT BRIEF
Progress Toward Lake Trout Rehabilitation at a Stocked and Unstocked Reef in Southern Lake Michigan
Kristen A. Patterson, Jeffrey A. Stein & Steven R. Robillard

Abstract
Sustained efforts to restore naturally reproducing populations through the stocking of marked juvenile Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush have occurred since the 1960s but have been largely unsuccessful in achieving that goal. Julian’s Reef in southwestern Lake Michigan has been a targeted Lake Trout rehabilitation site since 1985 and was designated a first-priority site in a revised management strategy for Lake Trout rehabilitation in 2011. We evaluated progress toward rehabilitation objectives for spawning Lake Trout at Julian’s Reef and compared that progress to unstocked Waukegan Reef nearby in light of a recent increase to approximately 50% unmarked adults at both sites, as detected by annual fall spawning assessments. We observed significant progress toward meeting the rehabilitation objectives for adult Lake Trout in southern Lake Michigan. The spawning populations at Julian’s Reef and Waukegan Reef did not differ in relative abundance, sex ratio, age structure, or spawner sources (stocking location; clipped or unclipped) except that the sex ratio at Waukegan Reef during the assessment period favored female spawners. These results suggest that the adult Lake Trout population is strong enough to permit natural recruitment in southern Lake Michigan, warranting the need to identify the source of natural reproduction so as to fully evaluate factors related to rehabilitation success. We propose that management agencies should consider investigating other unstocked sites where Lake Trout may be spawning and should revise their rehabilitation plans to include actions that could limit detrimental impacts on naturally reproducing populations where they exist.
Received October 15, 2015; accepted July 22, 2016 Published online November 10, 2016

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What is in a number? Jan 20, 2020 9:14 am #25753

  • Lickety-Split
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Lake Trout Monitoring in Lake Michigan: 2019 ... - I Fish Illinois
Dave when you have a chance google this. It is PDF file,,,,, check out page 11 graphs.
My fear, as noted by blood run, when Wisconsin went to 5 lakers daily the effect was really nothing. When silver fish are around that is where the fishing is for most including charter fishermen. Also on the opposite side of the lake,,,,, Michigan I believe took more then 3 times the amount of lakers, they needed scales and tails for the box. Even though Indiana stopped the stocking of lakers we still will have them they aren't going away. As stocks improve thru naturals mother nature forces those fish to reach out into new areas just like any other predator.
I know that there is some material being worked on for a southend picture of the lake trout abundance which will be new. There has been a mid lake and northern lake graphs new will be the southend. Possibly at that time when the whole picture is out there will something be done. Can there be some control in Indiana waters???? Should there be??????? Could a new limit be used from October thru January? During spawning times?
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What is in a number? Jan 20, 2020 10:38 am #25754

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I'm afraid this is what science has wanted all along and I see articles holding up Lake Huron as a success story. A self sustaining lake that doesn't include alewife or Salmon. I feel like we're witnessing the end of a world class fishery. I see your Skamania are now on the chopping block. No Kings, no Skamania, no Brown Trout? We better hope the Trout leave us enough alewife around to keep other people's fish interested in the spring.

www.michiganradio.org/post/great-lakes-f...on-go-native-species

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What is in a number? Jan 20, 2020 3:01 pm #25755

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Dave, I feel your pain and your frustration. and ,,,,,,,, I value your friendship highly. You have been hitting the books hard and alot of what we read can make looking forward dismal.What I have learned over the past few years is the time table for the DNR is much different then for fishermen. As fishermen we are linked into making quick decisions to stay on a hot bite. Many times the thought process of what took place today Fishing is after the fishing day is over.But a lake manager cannot make decisions in that matter. All information is studied and looked at for some time. Many documents that lake managers use for some of their decisions may be 1-2 years old. How much change have we seen in 2 short years. The way forward for us seems like we should be going from A right to Z. A lake manager cannot.
It has taken me time to figure some of this out for myself. Traveling north for the last few years, going to meetings, meeting new fishermen from all over, and meeting some very sharp DNR personal was suppose to help educate me and make some decisions easier.
My frustration is the opposite happened. The deeper I got involved, the harder it was to answer this question "What would you do"? When I went north my thoughts were on Indiana but, if I thought we had issues and we do, what I found out that others are dealing with were even harder issues. So how do I move forward? I have to believe. I have to trust. I know the DNR is just like any other business. not everyone feels the same or have the same agenda. I do know that there are some that will jump on the USFWS bandwagon. I also know that there are some that are working hard to manage for a alewife forage base. It is getting pretty tricky when you add in high paid lobbyist that now want to have rights into how the lake is stocked and managed. I do not want folks from another state to tell us how to manage ours.I have to trust and have faith that we have the people here that should be able to drop personal agendas and come to the table with an open mind. To ask good questions. And push for good answers. When we buy a state license and a salmon/trout stamp we become stakeholders in this fishery. Silver fish is a stocked system so we are also customers.Lake managers have the right to make decisions for their responsible area or state. For Ben to allow meetings coming up tells me he is trying to reach out to the fishing community for ideas. And, he is expecting good solid questions. There is an elephant out there if we let it be. And we can't eat the elephant in one bite. We can come together as a community.To discuss if there is a way forward with stocking. It is a start. Baby steps maybe for some but positive movement forward seen by others.I have to trust that new information is coming. I have to trust that Ben is going to try as hard as it may be to take suggestions and ideas. And I trust that our fishing community will see this as the start of something that could be really good for us. To learn to trust, to have faith that better days are ahead.
King cuts allowed some bait to stock up. Mother nature has kicked in and is doing her job to help now with some nutrient rich water. 2 Years ago I saw smelt in only one day of fish. Last spring smelt were exploding along with a very good to see alewife spawn. There is some exciting things coming to us I feel it..Now is the time to realize that our better days are ahead, we just have to learn how to navigate the new water.
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What is in a number? Jan 20, 2020 5:59 pm #25756

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I also value your friendship Ed and thanks for being the voice of reason. Yes, I get a little frustrated when I read articles claiming Tanner stocked Salmon to rid the lake of alewives by people who claim to be fisheries experts. I trust Ben will do what he feels is best for everyone and grateful he is giving us the opportunity to ask questions and air our concerns.
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What is in a number? Jan 21, 2020 11:01 am #25758

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StormJunkie wrote: I also value your friendship Ed and thanks for being the voice of reason. Yes, I get a little frustrated when I read articles claiming Tanner stocked Salmon to rid the lake of alewives by people who claim to be fisheries experts. I trust Ben will do what he feels is best for everyone and grateful he is giving us the opportunity to ask questions and air our concerns.


Trust me, that frustrates many biologists and managers as well. It was one of those tropes that got started back in the day and was said so often in the media and in the angling public that it just became accepted. Even by some within the management community, regrettably. Tanner himself said he did it to create a sport fishery, not to control alewife. Although if I recall correctly, in his book he alluded to taking some credit for the reduction in alewife die-off, because it was a convenient correlation (though not causation) and in doing so he might have built support for his stocking program. In any case, I have a federal report from 1970 in my office talking about how to address alewife die-offs seen in 1967-1968, and the only mention of biological control basically says that predation by trout and salmon is not enough to significantly influence alewife populations in the foreseeable future (1970s). At the time, almost all the discussions surrounded commercial alewife fisheries, or beach mitigation strategies. Using stocked salmonids to control alewife wasn't even really a consideration, other than that in the future it should be determined how many alewife were needed to sustain the salmonid fishery, when considering how many to remove via commercial fishing or other means.

I'd also like to point out what might seem like a subtle nuance, but is actually a pretty important distinction: science and management are two different things. Management has to consider a lot of often competing goals, and both the economic/cultural/human side of things in addition to simply the biological aspects. Just because a scientific report is written that says "to achieve ABC, X, Y, and Z should occur" doesn't mean that managers will implement X Y and Z, because doing so might be detrimental to the rest of the alphabet, so to speak. And, university researchers or academic folks often have different viewpoints on what a system should be look like. So it can be a bit frustrating for managers when scientific reports or quotes from academics are held up as proof of management agenda.

Lake Michigan is a disturbed ecosystem. It will NEVER return to pre-Welland canal, pre-overfishing, pre-habitat destruction state. It's simply impossible. Yes, there's a place for native species. They have high cultural value for some, and also substantial ecosystem value. But to believe that native species should predominate a lake that is so changed from where it was before massive biological and physical/chemical change is somewhat of a naive or misplaced ideal, in my personal opinion. Other people in the natural resources field might vehemently disagree - we have different values. But, right now in Lake Michigan, the bulk of the forage base are invasive species (gobies and alewifes). Even the plankton community that supports juvenile fish has a large portion of invasive species in it. It's just not prudent or desirable to go back to a more "native only" predator community.

Lake Michigan managers aren't managing the lake with an end goal of domination by native species. I know it might seem like it... but trust me, if managers wanted to make Lake Michigan dominated by lake trout, all they'd have to do is stock 15 million kings a year, wait a couple years for the inevitable crash of the alewife population, and see an explosion in lake trout reproduction as a result of releasing them from the negative reproductive effects of eating alewife.


Ed raised a good question about increasing harvest for lake trout during the fall-winter months, when lake trout are nearshore in Indiana. Most data show that a good chunk of those fish are from the stockings which occurred in Indiana during the 2000s and 2010s. Those stockings were discontinued a few years ago. There's very few wild fish coming out of our waters, at least where much of the fishing effort is happening, like the Port of Indiana. So increasing harvest of mostly stocked fish, combined with the stocking being eliminated means that in a few years, those fisheries would probably peter out. Personally I think the minimal reduction in predation pressure (in the grand scheme of things) that eliminating that specific fishery would not be worth sacrificing the growing angler effort spent targeting lake trout jigging during the colder months, but that's just my opinion. A lot of people have started to take advantage of those fish and it provides a pretty unique fishery at a time when not much of one existed before - pretty cool that you can catch 10+ pound fish on light tackle in November and December.


Last thing I'll leave for people to ponder - in terms of going back in time and not having the Joint Strategic Plan and cooperative, consensus based management of Lake Michigan, I think it's also important to consider what things would look like today if we used a time machine to avoid any consensus based management agreement being established. Would there'd ever have been the same degree of states sharing salmonid eggs with each other? For states like Illinois and Indiana, which almost completely rely on salmonid eggs from Michigan and Wisconsin, what would their trout and salmon stocking programs look like? Would there be a lakewide, cooperative data collecting and sharing apparatus? Would there have been effective leveraging of resources to coordinate sampling, data standards, and data analysis between multiple federal agencies and multiple states? Would there be anywhere close to the same current understanding of lakewide ecological issues, statuses, and trends? Would states have successfully managed at cooperating to avoid crashing the system? Without everybody working together, sharing data, and sitting down at the table to manage things together, there'd be a lot more chaos and I am of the opinion that avoiding wide-spread, cataclysmic events would have be much tougher. I don't think anybody would disagree that the lake was close to the brink from 2013-2015. If not for drastic measures brought about by cooperative management I truly believe the lake's forage base would have been irreparably changed. Of course, that's all very speculative, and while it's an interesting thought experiment, I'm hoping at the upcoming meetings we can focus on the future and how best to manage our collective resource moving forward, rather than litigate things that happened decades ago.
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What is in a number? Jan 21, 2020 7:16 pm #25759

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Well written Ben, that's a lot of good info.

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