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> Spiny Water Fleas
Sterling
Posted: Jul 16, 2018 - 07:36 am


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One thing I didn't mention in my report from yesterday was the amount of fleas encountered. Nothing unmanageable but I've never seen them this bad. I wonder if they have anything to do with the perch population being so healthy. From what I've seen perch seem to love gorging themselves with fleas.

Anyone else notice this?

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Grumpa
Posted: Jul 16, 2018 - 01:09 pm


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Absolutely Sterling....great observation.
Every jumbo perch we've caught and cleaned that came from the deeper waters of main lake basin in July are absolutely packed with spiny water fleas. The perch schools are gorging on these invasive planktonic crustaceans. Which has been the case for many years now. The OMNRF noted this in their comprehensive lake study 6 years ago. It seems once we get into late June through into September and the water temperatures are right...the spiny water flea population is exploding.
And Sterling is bang on...they've become a main food source for the growing perch population in the lake.
Perch fishing and particularly the size of the perch being caught is nothing short of outstanding. We're now regularly and consistently catching perch in the range of 12-13" with the odd jumbo often even exceeding those lengths. Several south shore charter guides are raving about the same thing. Huge hauls of enormous fat jumbo perch...all packed to the gills with spiny water fleas.
Spiny water fleas have a very rapid life cycle and reproductive strategy. They emerge from resting eggs in lake sediment in early spring. When the water temps are warm enough and food is abundant for them they will exhibit 'parthenogenesis'.
It's an asexually mode of reproduction that allows female spiny water fleas to produce up to 10 eggs independent of fertilization...which develop into genetic replicas of the mother.
At optimum water temps, parthenogenesis can produce a new generation of females in less than two weeks. And current lake water temperatures are at their optimum.
Female 'clones' propagate throughout the summer or until water temps and food availability is unfavourable. The fleas are also a good food source for small walleye, lake herring(cisco), whitefish, smelt and both shiner and spot tail minnows.
But their over abundance isn't all good news for the lakes ecosystem.
Spiny water fleas are voracious predators of small zooplankton (like daphnia) that's the necessary building block and important food source for almost all young native fish species and other native aquatic organisms.
Consequently, large zooplankton population shifts due to over predation and monopolization of the food supply by spiny water fleas can have an enormous negative effect on the entire lake's food chain.

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Longshank
Posted: Jul 16, 2018 - 01:48 pm


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Great response as always Grumpa. When thee first shwed up in the Great Lakes there was a concern the would damage the baitfish population, but it does not seem to be the case. Having said that they are invasive and are now in most lakes/waterbodies.

Am trying to figure out when they are done, meaning what water temps do they dislike in order for them to disappear for remaining season.

spiny water fleas are easy enough to get off your fishing equipment, but the fish hook flea is another matter. I pray that these do not male it up to your area as they are the nastiest critter to encounter while fishing as is the case this year with the heat we have encountered to date. Even flea flicker line is no match for them this year and they build up on hooks as well., Easy to brush off when fully dry, but I have no skin on my fingers from taking them off lines. ergo, a vacation is in order

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Sterling
Posted: Jul 16, 2018 - 02:00 pm


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QUOTE (Grumpa @ Jul 16, 2018 - 01:09 pm)
Absolutely Sterling....great observation.
Every jumbo perch we've caught and cleaned that came from the deeper waters of main lake basin in July are absolutely packed with spiny water fleas. The perch schools are gorging on these invasive planktonic crustaceans. Which has been the case for many years now. The OMNRF noted this in their comprehensive lake study 6 years ago. It seems once we get into late June through into September and the water temperatures are right...the spiny water flea population is exploding.
And Sterling is bang on...they've become a main food source for the growing perch population in the lake.
Perch fishing and particularly the size of the perch being caught is nothing short of outstanding. We're now regularly and consistently catching perch in the range of 12-13" with the odd jumbo often even exceeding those lengths. Several south shore charter guides are raving about the same thing. Huge hauls of enormous fat jumbo perch...all packed to the gills with spiny water fleas.
Spiny water fleas have a very rapid life cycle and reproductive strategy. They emerge from resting eggs in lake sediment in early spring. When the water temps are warm enough and food is abundant for them they will exhibit 'parthenogenesis'.
It's an asexually mode of reproduction that allows female spiny water fleas to produce up to 10 eggs independent of fertilization...which develop into genetic replicas of the mother.
At optimum water temps, parthenogenesis can produce a new generation of females in less than two weeks. And current lake water temperatures are at their optimum.
Female 'clones' propagate throughout the summer or until water temps and food availability is unfavourable. The fleas are also a good food source for small walleye, lake herring(cisco), whitefish, smelt and both shiner and spot tail minnows.

In Lake Erie (which I fish every so often) fleas are present but kept in check by the flourishing population of walleye, bass and perch. In Lake Ontario the situation is dire, in some areas the fleas are so bad that people just give up for the day. I'm not exaggerating one bit either. They pack on lines THICK and jam eyelets, reels and spools. Real nasty bugs they can be, so I'm grateful Nipissing has been able to find a balance... as it seems. I certainly hope there isn't some upcoming collapse due to ecological imbalance. They were observed in Nipissing almost a decade ago now, so I'm guessing they fit right in. And it's not like there's a proven solution to keep them at bay like we did for Lampreys (Lampricide). If they spiral out of control, it's game over until a concrete solution is found!

Seconding your comments on the quality and quantity of perch fishing on Nipissing. This is WORLD CLASS perch fishing, possibly second only to Erie. I don't think most people realize how good this fishery is. I fished both Nipissing and Erie extensively for perch recently and while Erie offers better numbers, Nipissing wins on fish size, hands down. Every 4th fish is a keeper on Erie, but the opposite applies on Nip, where every 4th fish is a throwback. We got several 14 inch perch this winter and two 15 inchers which is just unheard of. 15in is a Master Angler size. World Class folks... and 99% of people are out there chasing undersized walleye!

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Longshank
Posted: Jul 16, 2018 - 02:18 pm


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Sterling. I tried to mention that on Lake Ontario, it is not the spiny water fleas that are the problem....it is the fish hook flea. different critter altogether and the one causing all the grief

they only explode with heat waves such as this year......other years they are tolerable and around for maybe 3-5 weeks

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Grumpa
Posted: Jul 16, 2018 - 02:26 pm


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I'd have to agree entirely Sterling.
I was raised and worked in a fishing community on Erie and fished perch and bass there for 50+ years. Still longingly remember catching pails of jumbos that came in from the main lake into Long Point bay to winter over in October each season.
The numbers still may favour Erie but size comparisons are starting to shift to Nipissing, no doubt about it.
There's still much concern on Nipissing as to the final outcome of the spiny flea invasion.
Some evidence is indicating that smaller, young of the year, bait fish are moving away from areas (later in the summer) that are becoming over saturated with fleas...the smaller bait fish are looking for areas with more zooplankton to feed on....and correspondingly the predatory fish species that feed on them are migrating and moving as well.
The OMNRF is keeping an eye on the invader and gathering more samples yearly to get a handle on the negative effects of the spiny flea population numbers.

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Sterling
Posted: Jul 16, 2018 - 02:26 pm


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QUOTE (Longshank @ Jul 16, 2018 - 02:18 pm)
Sterling. I tried to mention that on Lake Ontario, it is not the spiny water fleas that are the problem....it is the fish hook flea. different critter altogether and the one causing all the grief

they only explode with heat waves such as this year......other years they are tolerable and around for maybe 3-5 weeks

Good to know! Never knew the difference. But I've seen spiny fleas pack on line like an inch thick! Do the fishhook fleas hurt to remove?

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Longshank
Posted: Jul 16, 2018 - 06:15 pm


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QUOTE (Sterling @ Jul 16, 2018 - 02:26 pm)
QUOTE (Longshank @ Jul 16, 2018 - 02:18 pm)
Sterling. I tried to mention that on Lake Ontario, it is not the spiny water fleas that are the problem....it is the fish hook flea.  different critter altogether and the one causing all the grief

they only explode with heat waves such as this year......other years they are tolerable and around for maybe 3-5 weeks

Good to know! Never knew the difference. But I've seen spiny fleas pack on line like an inch thick! Do the fishhook fleas hurt to remove?

Only day after day....50 times more difficult to remove than the spiny flea

as mentioned , even flea flicker line is no match for them this year..just brutal

I have no kin left on my thumb and first finger....so taking time off

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