Jump to content

Great Lakes Salmon Initiative


EdB

Recommended Posts

The GLSI is advocating for significant Lk Trout cuts to address the forage issue on Lk Michigan instead of cutting kings. Here is some of our latest activity.



The GLSI met in Lansing at Constitution Hall with Chief Jim Dexter and his Deputy Chief last week. There was an expression of suprise from the DNR to the formation of Great Lakes Salmon Initiative . Good news is we are at the table with the MDNR and have a direct line to the people in power. The MDNR has only communicated to the GLSI only through Senators and Lobbyists up to this point . The MDNR finally heard from the board of directors directly and our insights into the future of the fishery of Lake Michigan. One enormous confession we did get was that they missed getting current feedback from the public and were using feedback from 2012 (yes 4 years ago) to justify the current proposed cuts. They were very surprised by the passion and the opposition to the proposed salmon cuts in 2017, starting with the meeting July 12th in Ludington with Senator Booher and the following meetings in Sept in Ludington and South Haven. The position stated by Michigan DNR is to keep up the premise of a 50% salmon cut and a slight cut in L. Trout. This is a compromise from the original proposal. Senators have met with Directors of the MDNR and have firmly expressed their interest in maintaining current stocking levels in Chinook plants, this is carrying tremendous weight. Other states are fighting to keep the king plants at current levels. .. 0% cuts. MDNR also admitted that the lakers are out of balance with the current prey biomass. They have in the GLSI opinion, taken baby steps to reduce the LT population. GLSI offered many ideas that we have heard from anglers to help balance the population.

As a board, we expressed that we represent all angler sectors . . River fishermen, big lake, pier, shore, charter industry and all economic impact areas for businesses. Our recommendations stand firm from our members.... 0% cuts of king salmon plants... stay with the same plant numbers of of 2016.... and get the lake trout numbers in balance!

They heard.. hopefully they listened.... the feed back of the citizens.

There is a proposed conference call on Oct 5th by the LMC for decision on recommendations from the states surrounding Lake Michigan.

Sent from my SM-G920V using Great Lakes Fisherman Mobile App


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome news, I like the proposal direction!  Thanks for your efforts and update.  

Maybe I missed it but I haven't heard anyone talking about increasing the Alewife population?

Looking forward to hearing how the conference call goes today!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Salmon cuts have immediate results.  Laker cuts take longer.  In five years when the alewives are gone and never coming back and we have zero kings to target remember with pride sticking to your guns and continuing to add an alewife only predator to a stressed system.

We'd not been in this mess if the d n r acted more aggressively in 2012 but they bowed to pressure.  Hopefully they don't bow again.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The lake trout are reared to a much larger size than salmon when stocked and they are eating alewives in their first year. We already got a cut in naturally spawned kings this spring from the dismal runs in the fall of 2015.  Since we stock twice as many lake trout as kings, if we cut planting lake trout completely for one year except those required due to the consent degree, it would have a much larger positive impact on bait than the currently proposed king cuts.   There is a lot more lake trout mouths available to cut than kings.  The stocking strategies are way out of whack and we are planting far to many lake trout.  

We recognize the science and can protect the same number of alewives annually by drastically cutting the number of lake trout.   You could skip the entire plant of them in 2017, except those required by the consent degree and the fishery would not miss a beat due to their high population and multiple age classes.   Keep in mind, lakers don't die every three years so their numbers grow exponentially every year.  Those laker plants keep eating alewives in years 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and older.  Anybody who targeted them in the past couple years can attest to their over the top numbers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I meant by increasing the Alewife population, is about raising them and planting them from out hatcheries.  I just don't recall hearing or reading about it in the Great Lakes.  I'm a hobby fisherman and not a expert, but it seems raising bait fish would be more effective and economical?

Here is an example from a Maryland Hatchery, note the ratio of predators to bait fish...

Hatcheries Division 2015 Stocking Summary: 
•American Shad – 1,439,000
•Hickory Shad – 1,477,500
•Alewife Herring – 802,600
•Blueback Herring – 328,000

•Largemouth Bass – 33,242
•Walleye – 604,000
•Bluegill – 87,464
•Redear Sunfish – 20,000
•Hybrid Sunfish – 3,318
•Golden Shiner – 135,000
•Yellow Perch – 56,000
•Tiger Muskellunge – 4,000 
•Trout – 470,030*

*fall 2014 & spring 2015 stockings 
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to agree with FBD on this.  We need to reduce the kings and reduce the lake trout.  I agree that if we can get an equal predatory reduction in Lake Trout then we can hold off on the king cuts for one year but it has to be one or the other or both.  We can't let predation continue at current levels and expect a legitimate future for the king fishery.

I do sincerely appreciate the efforts put forth by the GLSI in reducing LT plants but you need to move from your king reduction stance

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ed, I remember when you were in here pushing to get things ran in this state based on "sound science". What the DNR is doing is sound science. What you're proposing isn't how science works. You don't abandon it when it doesn't say what you want it to say.

 

Now, Should the laker stockings be drastically cut? Absolutely. I agree with you fully on that. Will they need to cut the kings until the overall laker population can be drawn down? Yes.

 

I hope you're successful on getting the lake trout cut drastically. I hope you're not successful on temporary cuts to the kings.

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, FBD said:

Salmon cuts have immediate results.  Laker cuts take longer.  In five years when the alewives are gone and never coming back and we have zero kings to target remember with pride sticking to your guns and continuing to add an alewife only predator to a stressed system.

We'd not been in this mess if the d n r acted more aggressively in 2012 but they bowed to pressure.  Hopefully they don't bow again.

Science says that if we keep going the way we are with the Kings, we will have a catastrophic failure of the forage base, remember Lake Huron, People are short sighted, these reductions will benefit the fishery for years to come, remember Lake Trout , Steelhead, Coho and Brown trout are not dependent on the alewife for forage, they do terrorize the goby population though. The Ideal way to get things in balance would be to attack the mussel issue, not worry about the number of Kings you catch.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bait will do just fine on its own if they have something to eat and don't get decimated from the top down.

Just got done sending in my Salmon Ambassador info.  8 kings this year,  6 were natural fish.  We could stop king planting entirely and not see much off a fall off in catch rates.  74% of fish reported in Grand Haven last year were natural, and only 10% of the stocked kings caught at GH were planted at GH.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"We could stop king planting entirely and not see much off a fall off in catch rates"

If that were true then what you said about Salmon cuts having "immediate" results would be false.

The cuts that have already been made have been noticeable. And I think they were over due. Not sure I believe further cuts are needed but how would I know. I only know what I see and that is very limited.

I do know the State and Federal have been working for many years to protect and grow the Lake Trout population. I think they see it as the Lake Trout are native while the Salmon are not. 

Natural reproduction of Lake Trout should be much higher than it is for Salmon.  So it stands to reason that the Lake Trout population would be the least affected by reduced stocking, ie... we could stop planting Lakers and not see much of a fall of in catch rates. Most anglers don't have the equipment to be able to target Lakers anyway. They are for the most part a big lake only fishery.

Whatahoot  brings up a good point. If you look back in the past records, MI at one time did stock bait fish into the Great Lakes. I believe Canada still does. I heard the DNR statement that TGA mentioned. I don't buy it myself. If that were true then we are doomed no matter what. But if they ever did start such a program I would hope it would be Smelt they were releasing and not Alewives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I regret some of us may disagree on this my friends. Please know the GLSI is striving for the same goal most of you have which is a healthy, long term, balanced, multi specie fishery in Lk Michigan that our kids and grandkids can enjoy like we do.  We respect the science and there is nothing in our proposals that go against the current science on Lk Michigan. The GLSI is not advocating for no plant cuts. MDNR and the science say we need to reduce predation on alewives. We agree. The MDNR made a huge king cut 3 years ago and it seems to be working. The number of kings in the lake has dropped dramatically and it’s proven by weir returns in 2014, 2015 and so far this year. The size of the kings increased dramatically in 2016 but overall numbers are still at historic lows. All the sport fish species in 2016 are healthy and much larger than recent years. We have had 2 back to back solid year classes of alewives.  We still agree the forage base is at risk.

We think most anglers would prefer a balanced fishery with a good chance to catch some kings. We remain concerned that the goals of the MDNR and Feds for Lk Michigan do not align with what we the anglers who fund them want. When you read the Feds and MDNR’s lake tout restoration plan, you will see what I mean. They have agreed to it and have been implementing this plan. I have the full report in PDF version and will be glad to email it to anyone if you PM me your email. Here is some info taken from this report. "Lake trout need to become more of a dominant predator in the fish community in areas targeted for restoration. Strategies that reduce the occurrence of alewife in the diet of Lake Michigan lake trout or decrease the availability of thiaminase to alewife need to be developed or poor survival of lake trout fry will continue to hinder the restoration effort in Lake Michigan. Stocking should be increased as much as possible beyond the current level (2005) of 2.4 million lake trout per year. Natural reproduction of lake trout is occurring"

Does the angling community and fishing industry around the great lakes want lake trout to become the dominant predator in Lake Michigan?

We have had two back to back large year classes of alewives. It is interesting the science we have did not predict this. They did not foresee the dramatic increase in the size of the fish this season. That is because the science behind this is far from settled and relies on computer models and forecasting that is far from perfect. It is also interesting that when the GLSI requested all the raw data gathered in the forage surveys, such as GPS locations, transects, dates and time of the surveys, they would not give it to us. What is there to hide? Don’t we pay for this research? This spring, researchers made requests through the internet and social media for anglers to send in photo’s of our depth finders showing bait and the date, time and GPS location. They wanted to assess if their survey locations were in places where anglers are seeing lots of bait. That was shut down by higher up bureaucrats a few weeks later. Why if they truly want to assess the validity of the current science and location of their surveys?

The king population is at historic lows after the last round of cuts and their size is up dramatically. It indicates they have a lot of food for the current population. King catch rates are at historic lows. On the other hand, lake trout catch rates are the highest they have ever been in years. Yet they don’t want to cut lake trout and want to hammer king plants another 50%. The token lake trout cuts currently proposed are only for fall fingerlings which have poor survival so the cut is really not much at all. They are not cutting any of the 18 month old yearlings that have a high survival rate due to their size. They eat young alewives. Cutting those would be a meaningful cut that would protect alewives in the first year.

There has been talk about relying on natural reproduction for our king fishery. I ask two questions about that. If the natural reproduction is so good, why did the king fishery drop so much in the years after the plant cuts? Shouldn’t all the natural fish have filled the void? The king returns to our rivers are at historic lows the last 2 years. The Little Manistee Weir got 654 kings back last year. The average for the 10 prior years was 9000+ kings and even higher prior to that. I just checked weir counts for this season. They did one egg take, spawned 108 pairs, got a total of 889 kings, many were immature jacks and now they are waiting for more fish to arrive to schedule the next egg take. How many more fresh kings from the lake will come up after Oct 6th? I doubt many. This river has primo spawning habitat but it clearly did not spawn many fish to produce these dismal runs. How many will smolt this spring from these low numbers returning this year? It looks like a second year in a row with a cut of naturally spawned kings. We don’t think we can rely on natural reproduction alone to sustain our king fishery.

If you want all planting stopped, you need to get organized and lobby your position to the DNR because they and the scientists don’t want that now. We do have some skepticism about the science but accept that we should reduce predation on the forage base by reducing plants to protect it long term. We feel the past king cuts worked as intended and did just that. We want a balanced fishery, not all kings, not all lake trout, a mix of all 5 species is ideal. Since kings have taken numerous cuts in past years, we want cuts to lake trout this spring to balance the predator base and protect our forage base. They just need to figure how many lake trout they need to cut to equate the forage protection a 50% king cut would do and cut that many trout. If that is done, we can protect the same amount of forage as the proposed king cuts would do and not cut kings for one more year to assess past cuts. That is supporting current science. It is just a different approach to achieve the same results.

I can live with a least a chance to catch a couple kings a trip. There was a number of trips this year were we never caught a king. All in all, the last 2 years have been the worst fishing in my entire life but I can live with what we have. If the king fishery declines anymore, getting up at 4AM is not going to be worth it. I and many others won’t do that for lake trout. It will have a negative impact on the economies of all the lakeshore communities. If we keep planting the numbers of lake trout we are right now, they can wipe out the alewives as fast as kings. When you read the lake trout restoration plan maybe that is the intent? Plant so many lake trout that don’t die for 20 years, create an ever expanding population, create a predator pit of lake trout, wipe out the alewives and then we’ll have a self sustaining lake trout population in Lake Michigan. Along with it goes the king fishery, the fishing industry and supporting businesses up and down the coast. All you have to do is look at Lake Huron to see how devastating it was there. Nobody is flocking there to target lake trout. The goal to restore lake trout is a noble one and it has happened in Huron and Superior. With the change in the forage base, priorities for Lake Michigan need to be adjusted. The goal to restore lake trout and maintaining a vibrant king fishery may not go well together. I think most anglers would prefer Lk Michigan is managed for salmon as the top predator and not lake trout. Lake trout should be a component of the fishery but they should not dominate the lake. We already have great trout fisheries in Superior and Huron. If we cut enough lake trout in 2017 to protect the same amount of alewives that the current 50% king cut would do, than we are supporting the current science and just offering an alternative to achieve the same goal.  Cutting trout protects alewives for 10-20 years instead of 3 years with kings.  Let’s see what happens in 2017 and then re-evaluate what is needed for 2018. That is what the GLSI is fighting for. I hope some of you will join us.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...