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WILD King Salmon


uplander01

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WILD King Salmon

There has been a bit of discussion amongst the guys I fish with that are seeing pictures of these big fish and some confusion about whether or not they are stocked fish or wild (adipose fin presence)?  In the case that they may be wild naturally reproduced fish shouldn't we be figuring out a way to revive them and put them back?  After all, even in Alaska and BC they are finding out you just can't keep taking those older fish without giving them a chance to reproduce, or you are killing the life blood of your fishery.  I get that when outfitters take people out its a big whoop for many of them to have their picture taken at the board of death on Chinook Pier, but if these wild fish keep showing up we need to of course take trophy pictures and get them back in the water....my opinion.  Can anyone shed some light on whats going on with these seemingly impossible to explain wild kings we are seeing?  All the way down to how to identify, etc?  I feel we are on a precipice of maybe needing to re-think how we are looking at these fish as a commodity if we want to be having this fun with these big fish 10 years from now.  Seems to me Lake Michigan is figuring out a way to stay alive, if its possible we should help her.

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If they wanted to protect numbers, the limit would be dropped from 5 to 3 again.  As it is, the DNR seems to want us to catch as many salmon as we can.  I bet you a bunch of Charters would be happy if they lowered the limit to 3 again.

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For five years, all planted kings had the adipose fin clipped.  This program is now wrapping up and moving to mass marking of steelhead.  Since a rare king makes it more than 3 years in the lakes (don't believe all the bs about kings running at 4 years old, when lots of studies have shown that unless stressed most kings, like 95% depending on the river, run at 2-3 years old) at this point in time it's safe to say all kings in Lake Michigan that are stocked are fin clipped.

What's so impossible to explain?  Pinks were planted, once, by accident like 40 years ago and now can be found all over Superior and Huron and even in Michigan.  The Pere Marquette has not been stocked in like, forever, and has a great run of kings.  Coho naturally reproduce in many Lake Superior streams, and I catch rainbow smolts while brookie fishing in Allegan County.  There's been natural reproduction of almost all the fish to some extent in the big lake for some time, with the lakers taking off as the alewive population crashed, due to a switched diet - the alewives had a chemical in them that hampered egg development.

We even allow people to catch spawning fish and wade through their redds.

With so many salmon and so much productive water they can spawn in, it's kind of amazing that with all we do not to protect the fish, we still see about 70% wild fish in the catch.  But even one pair of kings successfully spawning can hatch 1000's of smolts.

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A missing adipose fin is a sign of a stocked fish like the one pictured in this post.  

If there wasn't a stocking program in place, I'd be more apt to consider catch and release.  If reproduction is a concern (which I don't think it is), that can be addressed simply with the stocking of more fish, or reducing the # of fish anglers can keep.  I agree with your statement that Lake Michigan is "figuring out a way to survive", but the threat to Lake Michigan isn't the over harvesting of salmon, it's the invasive species and the disruption of the food chain.  

If all the Lake Michigan anglers got together and agreed to do catch and release, the DNR would stop the stocking program.  The net result is the same number of fish in the lake, but now I have to buy farm raised salmon from Meijer.

20170805_205931.jpg

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Not sure how well bigger kings would survive released into warm water.  Earlier in the year not so big of a deal when the lake is 50 top to bottom.  We had a 15# last Saturday that just fought and fought and fought.  When I finally netted it, I didn't have to smack it, as it never twitched.  Warm water was 80' deep and we hooked him and fought him in that bath water.

I know releasing salmon, big salmon, is more common in Lake Ontario but can't speculate as to why.

Lots of dynamics going on with salmon right now.  Will be interesting to sed how it pans out.

 

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I've got lots of people who like to eat salmon.  Wild caught salmon is $20 a pound.  Skinned and pin bones removed, I get about 35% yield on kings from cooler weight to fillet weight, so a 15# king is a $100 fish.  A two man limit of heavies back in the day put more meat in the freezer than shooting a nice buck.

I don't eat fish but I smoke and can a lot of it for gifts.  I once laughed about losing a nice king in the prop wash, and my buddy said "I will bring some t bones out here and throw them over if we lose a king and see if you laugh".

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I release a lot of fish. I make judgement though based on how active the fish is once I caught it. How long the fight took. How much warm water is there. Right now there is cold water not very far down. I'd release a fish in a heartbeat in this. Sometimes unfortunately I just feed the seagulls. If someone is with me that eats fish. I'm happy to help fill his freezer.  

 

About 50 seconds into this video they release a fish. They tow it until it looks healthy. Once it looks good, they let it go. You could also do this method and if its dead. Just reach over cut its gills. bleed it and stick it in the cooler 5 minutes later.

 

 

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