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> New bait rules worry dealers
NorthernAngler
Posted: Dec 30, 2011 - 08:41 am


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Local bait dealers are scrambling to stock up on emerald shiners before the end of the year.

Because once Jan. 1 rolls around, the bait fish will be almost unobtainable in this area.

Most of the emerald shiners are netted in Lake Simcoe, but fears about VHS viral hemorrhagic septicemia mean any bait fish netted there will not be able to be transported north of Gravenhurst starting in 2012.

"That's going to have a big impact on Northern Ontario," says Bob Esch, owner of Trout Lake Outdoor Centre in North Bay. "And it means a lot is going to be parlayed in prior to the Jan. 1 deadline."

And while the sudden cutoff of shiners is cause enough for concern, the lack of advance notice has him livid.

"It doesn't make any sense. The timing stinks," he says. "Ice fishing season starts Sunday."

But most of the bait dealers were given only a few weeks warning at most, he says.

He believes part of the reason for the sudden curtailment of the supply is that the province wants to impose a ban on live bait in the province, but "doesn't have the balls . . . to say 'no live bait in Ontario,'" he says.

Instead, he says, the ban on moving bait out of the Lake Simcoe area was implemented with little input or warning.

"Even police used to have to fire a warning shot," he says.

Bait from the Great Lakes and the connecting waterways has been banned for use in most areas of the province for several years, according to Billy Bob Richards of Billy Bob's Bait and Tackle.

And in the last few years, some local dealers have stocked up on the shiners to avoid their own shortages later in the season.

"Almost overnight, they closed down" two major bait suppliers on the Niagara River, Richards says.

Several suppliers on Lake Simcoe, he says, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment, and while they will be able to continue to supply dealers on that water body, bait dealers in Northern Ontario will have to make some major changes.

Richards says he has a licence to collect bait fish in the area, but it is an expensive, time-consuming and time-sensitive process.

He was waiting for a shipment of emerald shiners from Lake Simcoe this week, about 5,000 pounds to see him through the 10 weeks of ice-fishing season.

After that, he doesn't want to speculate what is going to happen to the sport fishery in this area.

"Do you know how much we're going to lose?" Richards asks. "There are 50 guys who own (ice-fishing) bungalows on the lake. They'll be OK this year, but next year, what are we going to do?"

The vast majority of ice fishermen Esch figures from 90% to 95% use emerald shiners. Both he and Richards say they will probably have to resort to chub in the future, but neither seems very impressed with the idea.

"Emerald shiners that's the only bait, most fishermen say," Richards says. "Chub's only half the size, and you can use it, but you have to sit there and jig it for hours.

"A lot of guys, they say no shiners, no fishing."

He doesn't think there is enough chub or emerald shiners locally to support area bait dealers

Esch agrees.

"If you go back to the idea of going out on the lake for a couple of hours, with no huts," you might be able to do it, he said.

But he's already laid off a few people, and if the situation doesn't improve, he isn't sure what kind of future his business has.

"It's a long problem," he says. "This policy is going to have long-reaching effects."

A representative from the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources was not available for comment.

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Fisherman
Posted: Dec 30, 2011 - 09:16 am


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So it looks like they're willing to chance using infected bait to keep their business going, but when everything goes for a dump, then they'll blame someone or something else. Really bright, what's the lack of advanced warning got to do with it. It's common knowledge VHS has been around for a while. A couple years ago they wouldn't allow minnows from south of Simcoe to be brought north, what did they think all would be well.

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dickie
Posted: Dec 30, 2011 - 06:09 pm


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I really think the ministry is just trying to justify their job sometimes. They think they can control mother nature. Look at the fiasco they created with both the zebra mussels and the round goby's. They thought that it was going to cause a disaster. As it turned out some of these things have been beneficial. Mother nature has it's own ways of dealing with invasive species or diseases and she has always come out a winner. It's when we think that we are smarter than mother nature is when the problems start. It's time that the ministry works more for us than themselves . Look at Lake simcoe for example; that fishery has started to come back naturally by itself, inspite of all the warnings by the ministry. They should stick to only enforcing the number of fish that are allowed to be caught, and let mother nature look after itself. She is a whole lot wiser and more resilient than all of us put together.

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Foxfish
Posted: Jan 02, 2012 - 07:09 pm


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Bet the fishing in Simcoe will dramatically improve just like the eastern end of lake erie has since the bait dealerso stopped the devastating overharvest of minnows
There.


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krae
Posted: Jan 03, 2012 - 12:11 pm


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One dealer, 5,000 lbs of bait for 10 weeks operation... multiply that by the amount of dealers and that's a s-Load of bait getting pulled out of Simcoe... I think you are right Foxfish... I bet the fishing will improve...

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sandybay
Posted: Jan 04, 2012 - 09:44 am


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If there is more natural food source for the fish, why would the fish want a lure?

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Longshank
Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 10:35 am


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Am I the only one that thinks there is a freakin hidden agenda here?

VHS isn't just in the southern great lakes. it also found in the original "free' zones establsihed years ago. Testing just came into vogue fairly recently

I bet the plastic comapanies are salivating at the mouth waiting for the "Ban"

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dickie
Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 03:15 pm


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There will be a lot of minnows used illegally if they put up the live minnow ban.

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sandybay
Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 03:35 pm


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QUOTE (dickie @ January 05, 2012 - 04:15 pm)
There will be a lot of minnows used illegally if they put up the live minnow ban.

I can see it now. Minnow houses popping up beside the Crack houses. "Psst hey buddy want buy minnows"

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