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> Don't touch those nets!
Grumpa
Posted: Sep 27, 2017 - 08:54 pm


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https://www.baytoday.ca/local-news/dont-tou...research-727788

As has been discussed numerous times in previous posts....the walleye population sampling being done by all interested party's (OMNRF, Nipissing First Nation and various research organizations) over the next 2 years....will determine if the present over abundance of 'juvenile' walleye in the system are moving towards a balanced population of more mature fish in the older age/size classes.
To further protect those fish from the 2011/12 and subsequent spawns that are now on the cusp of exceeding the protected sports fishing slot (nothing harvested under 46cms or 18.1")....don't be surprised if the OMNRF doesn't tinker with the current protected slot again this coming year or possibly the next.
I wouldn't be completely shocked if the current 46cm/18.1" size limit is increased or extended (based on the sampling results this fall and next) to 'further' protect the fish above that size for another year or two.
This would allow those fish just now approaching the 18.1" length to spawn even more times before being exposed to the sports fishing harvest again.
The healthiest and most productive breeding fish in the Nipissing walleye population are generally those fish in approximately the 16" to 25" category (noting that the population is heavily skewed towards 'female' fish above about 20" in length).
Eventually...once the Nipissing walleye population again achieves a properly balanced age/sex/size distribution... the OMNRF will want to go back to sheltering the 'most' productive breeding fish.
Whether that means that anglers would be allowed to once again harvest a small limited number of immature/juvenile fish under...say 16"....would be up to debate. But I believe that would be the best case scenario for sports fishermen and hopefully, still is the intended goal of the OMNRF.
But until the OMNRF is convinced the walleye population is completely in balance and fully self sustaining again...it won't want to alter or upset the agreed recovery that's currently under way.
Hence the need for all the annual sampling that's being undertaken.
Up until the current regulations were implemented in May 2014 the old protected sports fishing slot was nothing harvested between 40-60 cms or 15.7" to 23.6"....the bulk of the prime breeders.
At some point in the future the Ministry will want to get back to selectively protecting those prime breeding fish.

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canadadude
Posted: Sep 28, 2017 - 08:13 am


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The problem with protecting 16"- 25" walleye is the stress put on the smaller below 16" year class. I get you want to protect your spawning fish but if in fact you stress the younger class the problem becomes less fish will be entering the spawning cycle. The number of 16"-25" can decline rather quickly if fisherman are only allowed to harvest fish below 16". In the short term you are protecting the spawners, but in the long term you may be getting yourself back into the same problems a few years down the road.Less fish reaching the spawning maturity is not helping sustain the fishery.

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Grumpa
Posted: Sep 28, 2017 - 09:14 am


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And that's exactly where the lake was prior to the 2013 Fall walleye index netting survey being done.
That's why it's vitally important for the OMNRF to move forward with extreme caution....from this point.
In January 2013 the daily catch limit was reduced from 4 to 2 with nothing allowed between 40-60 cms.
Unfortunately by that time the entire population, front to back, was under duress. The current sports fishing regs (May 2014) were implemented specifically to rebuild the entire population starting with the 2011/2012 spawns as a foundation base.
And from all analysis, up to this point, a virtual catch and release fishery (nothing under 18.1") has done what the Ministry intended.....bring the population back from the brink.
So what and when is the next step? That's the million dollar question. You don't want to unwinded the work that's now be accomplished up to 2017.
But a complete sports fishing ban, in perpetuity, for juvenile fish under 16" was never the end goal of the OMNRF.
A balanced walleye population where a sustainable sports fishing harvest of a very select and limited number of smaller fish was again allowed...while protecting the bulk of the prime breeding stock...was always the stated end goal of the OMNRF.
It outlined those goals in its fisheries management plan....which continues to be the blueprint for the lake's walleye recovery.
From a stakeholders perspective, the OMNRF's perspective and certainly the sports anglers perspective... that's where everyone would want to end up.

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canadadude
Posted: Sep 28, 2017 - 09:57 am


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If and when the population becomes more stable, a slot of 16"-21" fish for harvest may make more sense the returning to the harvest of immature younger fish. Maybe a reduced limit will be needed as not to pressure the population, but allowing the immature fish to at least reach a spawning size I believe is better for sustaining a healthy population. It makes no sense to me to harvest fish before they have the chance to at least complete 1 spawning cycle.

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Grumpa
Posted: Sep 28, 2017 - 11:31 am


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QUOTE (canadadude @ Sep 28, 2017 - 09:57 am)
It makes no sense to me to harvest fish before they have the chance to at least complete 1 spawning cycle.

Over time a population top heavy with nothing but juvenile fish is not the end result that the OMNRF hoped to achieve. That's not the population balance they were trying to get to when they published their 2012 lake data review.

http://lnsbr.nipissingu.ca/wp-content/uplo...e-Nipissing.pdf

The OMNRF, after numerous sports fishing regulatory changes since 2010, has managed to rebuild the lake's walleye 'foundation' in 3 short years (as their fisheries management plan hoped and intended).
Once sampling data is analyzed from both the fall index netting and the spring spawning assssments this year and next.....I'm confident the OMNRF will again select the right set of sports fishing regulations to not only continue the current recovery but protect the most important segment of the breeding population that's now growing in numbers (see the adjoining post on this board 'Another outing, more hogs').
If the health of the overall walleye population will once again allow a sports fishing harvest of a limited number of juvenile fish....then the OMNRF will again permit it....that's their stated objective.
Right now I completely trust the OMNRF's blueprint.....clearly it seems to be working and on track as predicted.
So it only makes sense to follow the fisheries management path (and its objectives) through to conclusion.
The 10 year fishery management plan (implemented in May 2014) has a mandatory interim review mechanism in place at year 5....that would be early 2019 by my calculations.
You could likely assume status quo with continued accumulation and analysis of sampling data until then.
The OMNRF seems to have gotten it right this time....should the fishery continue to evolve as they believed it would....then there's no reason to think the OMNRF will deviate from their original objectives.
Why would you change the plan if the science indicates your desired results are being achieved?

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Fossy47
Posted: Sep 28, 2017 - 03:52 pm


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Thanks Grumpa, Informative and well stated.
Let's hope we/they continue to participate to achieve these goals.

Cheers,

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Getin
Posted: Oct 01, 2017 - 08:15 pm


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Some sound discussios there. BUT is there not a better solution such as stocking? Why isnít our MNRF learning from our friends south of the border to stock heavily and generate a fishing industry that is not so fragile? Just to give you an example, Lake Oenida with a depth similar to Nip and an area of only one fourth of Nip gets stocked with 150 million (yes 150 million) walleye fry each year! How many Nip gets?

And I know a senetive issue for those who want to be politically correct, what is the impact of sport fishing on Nip compared to commercial fishing using nets?

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buddy
Posted: Oct 01, 2017 - 09:58 pm


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We usually see a good and vibrant discussion every spring about stocking, and this spring wasn't any different. If you missed it, here is one of the threads. http://www.lakesimcoeoutdoors.com/forums/i...topic=30662&hl=

Regarding Lake Oneida, I did a quick look and although it is true that they stock 150 million fry yearly, they also use that lake as a feeder for other lakes in NY state and therefore remove 300 million eggs, so that in itself would remove about 100 million fry, so the supplementation in reality is perhaps about 50 million.
Here is the quote.
"Oneida Lake is the main egg collection location for walleye in New York State. The NYSDEC Oneida Fish Hatchery in Constantia collects over 300 million walleye eggs a year from Oneida Lake. The resulting walleye fry and fingerlings are stocked throughout New York State. Oneida Lake is stocked annually with around 150 million walleye fry."

Still a lot better than Nipissing but you have to look at each lake individually as not all lakes are the same in regards to habitat, water quality, forage, etc.
I know that we all like to be armchair biologists, myself included, but we should really leave these decisions up to the pros. They've learned a lot over the years, sometimes by making regrettable errors. A case in point would be Trout Lake. It was supplemental stocking that destroyed the natural lake trout spawning in that lake. As it turned out the stocked fish were able to out compete the native fish when feeding but at spawning time they were never able to reproduce because they hadn't imprinted to any of the spawning grounds when they were young.
That could also happen to Nipissing as well. Pickerel will imprint when they are in the "eyed egg" state. The fish are stocked when they are fry, so they are beyond being an eyed egg.
At this point the stocking program is too small to really have a negative impact, but it might be different if the stocking numbers were to increase drastically.
If the lake is intended to be a "put and take" lake, then this isn't a problem, but if you want to maintain a healthy reproducible population it is best to use caution.

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Getin
Posted: Oct 02, 2017 - 08:51 am


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Thanks, always good to have a healthy discussion.

As for Oneida, yes they harvest 300 million eggs and put back 150 million fry. This is far more productive than if the eggs were to produce fry naturally (we know the yield of egg to fry in the natural environment is typically way less than 50%) so overall it is a gain for the lake.

I agree that each lake has to be treated differently but my point was that the US's view on fishery is different than ours here in Canada. Here we try to maintain the natural cycle whereas they have accepted the put and take (and consequently a huge & healthy recreational fishing industry) and we have not. So the effect is what we see: anywhere within 3-4 hours of major cities we have severe depletion of fisheries whereas in the US, nope, rarely an issue.

Again, some remote lakes or those with low fishing pressure could maintain their natural reproduction but Nippising with thousands of commercial and sport fishermen visiting it every month, not a chance, we will be just spinning our heads and come up with different regulations every couple of years until the fishery is dead. then, invade the next lake, like this wave has been going furthur north from GTA each year.

Armchair biologists good one - but being in science myself not too far from biology, I know that common sense never gets old and beats expensive research any day, unless politicians or so called pros want us to believe so.

Cheers

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ldub
Posted: Oct 02, 2017 - 12:12 pm


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I agree getin you make a lot of sense. In a world driven by money, keeping the recreational and commercial fisheries in good shape year in and year out, makes tons of sense and dollars.

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Grumpa
Posted: Oct 02, 2017 - 12:19 pm


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Armchair biologists....I love that term.
buddy, there's two important walleye research projects that were undertaken in Lake Erie (recognized as holding the largest walleye population in North America)....one a tracking study which I believe is ongoing until 2019
http://www.bcsn.tv/news_article/show/630063
the other a walleye spawning study
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/22...Spawning_Groups
Chemical signature studies are indicating 'walleye may use chemical cues to distinguish their natal origins, spawning grounds and possibly identifying members of their spawning groups'. It's hypothesized that imprinting occurs during the early life history, as walleye have a highly developed olfactory system used to detect their natal spawning sites and discern the pheromones of kin. The limited stocking efforts undertaken on the lake use existing lake spawning stock only and the lake's natural water supply for incubation.
I've long been a proponent of an extensive multi-year tracking study on L. Nipissing as well. I think it would be a huge help in understanding the lake's walleye population going forward.
The OMNRF has had a doctrine of 'not' stocking on top of a successfully reproducing population of fish since the 1990's....unless extraordinary factors or conditions exist.
Most US states currently involved in extensive stocking programs around the Great Lakes use different criteria to determine the need for stocking programs....which is often influenced by the commercial impact of the sports fishing industry.
Personally, I've been a strong advocate of increased stocking in Nipissing over the years but the OMNRF has indicated they will not allow collection of more then the 2 million eggs they currently permit.
So right or wrong, it's basically a dead issue.......until the Ministry reviews or changes it's current doctrine.
The NFN (under current chief McLeod) is making concerted efforts to work collaboratively with the OMNRF to address harvest and population issues. That's a 'huge' step forward from the last 20 years. We can only hope all parties will continue those cooperative efforts.
So....it really comes down to ultimately relying on the OMNRF's efforts now to rebuild the walleye population from the foundation of the 2011/12 (and subsequent) spawns.....through sports fishing regulatory changes.
Will this be the final (correct) solution? Time and population monitoring will tell. As buddy noted, the 'pros' will be making the decisions....and the OMNRF is the organization that monitors, collects and analyzes the data for the lake....consequently, they are best positioned to implement the decisions.
So far the results are very encouraging as the junevile population has definitely recovered in the 3 short years since the current sports fishing regs were implemented. The question going forward is whether the walleye population will again assume the dynamics of a self sustaining, healthy stock of fish (through the entire spectrum of age, sex and size distributions).
I'm quite certain further sports fishing regulatory changes are in the offing. So as anglers we're all basically along for the ride.....with the OMNRF driving the bus.

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