2014 Lower salmon numbers

8/25/14 @ 11:40 PM
ORIGINAL POST
smokercraft427
smokercraft427
MEMBER since 4/16/06
I debated with myself to start this post or not. But the deciding factors were my love for GL fishing, my opinion that if there's something different or wrong with our fishery it needs to be discussed somewhere sometime and what better place to start or continue a discussion of this importance than on this forum. My hopes are, that this discussion will continue in a beneficial way, with mostly fact based information. Information found by searching any reports, articles or conversations with local authorities conversations from guides who give accurate reports and opinions of the king fishing status. Sure, we'll get the occasional opinion based comments and sometimes those types of comments are sort of fact based. For instance, when a professional guide says his king catch rate is averaging 0 - 3 per outing! The goal should be to help determine or at least come up with a general consensus that most of the level headed, die hard fisherman on this forum can agree on as the reason the salmon catch rates throughout lake Michigan is down to the unacceptable numbers we've all seen this year. I'm typing this on my phone and I'm sure I'll have some spelling/gramer issues to clean up once I'm in front a PC. But I hope this will get the ball rolling. Hopefully rolling with enough pertinent discussions that it will be passed along to those who are in a position to make changes....if necessary. I hope these folks will read and consider the future comments made here on LL or better yet join in on the conversation. I'll start this out with just one article I read this evening and intend on adding to it as I read and learn more as time goes on. I hope that others out there fishing will do the same. If changes in stocking are necessary, it must be made quickly. Years of these very low catch rates is not acceptable. It's not acceptable from a money/livelihood standpoint from our fishing Brothers that make a living at it or from a recreational fisherman standpoint for those of us who spend thousands of dollars each year to be blessed with the opportunity to catch an occupational limit of delicious, prized salmon. We're all in the same boat. It's almost September, it's time to rock the boat just a bit with facts. and information to devise a consensus opinion. Are the fish numbers still there? Are the bait fish numbers drastically down affecting balled up fish in turn making fishing more difficult? (The it's a big body of water theory, when the kings are spread out) Is Mother Nature still playing with us regarding thermal clines? Are the stocking rates actually lower than the advertised numbers? Help me do some research....then put in your "educated" .02¢ Maybe this will be the first step to better years to come in the very near future. http://www.nwherald.com/2014/08/06/sarley-lake-michigan-salmon-where-have-you-gone/awzdy3j/
Post Your Comment
Displaying 1 to 10 of 62 Posts
2/22/16 @ 10:13 AM
machoprogrammer
machoprogrammer
USER since 1/19/07
It's going to be a hot summer, so fish will be out very deep.

Going to be an awful summer of fishing for shore fishermen, unless we get a lot of west winds.

Post Your Comment
2/9/16 @ 5:46 PM
svitreum
svitreum
USER since 8/29/06
A friend and I caught 2 absolute pig lakers last year back to back. 25-30 lb fish. They are tough to land, taking 45 minutes apiece. I enjoy it, just not like the kings though. Barely caught any last year.

Post Your Comment
2/9/16 @ 7:29 AM
CCA
CCA
USER since 6/19/01
Typically El Nino creates a thermocline much quicker as we will be hot this summer. My guess is we will be offshore 100' or deeper for most of the year. Also, King fishing will be difficult to say the least. Hopefully, lots of lakers and rainbows offshore!

Post Your Comment
2/8/16 @ 7:47 AM
markrazzy
markrazzy
USER since 6/23/09
Well I hope you're right about the coho bite. I know it was hot and heavy south of the state line last year... I could only catch a handful out of the kayak last year, but I didn't go much further south than Oak Creek. Couldn't get out when they were around, and by the time I did, most were gone. Might have to join my buddies in Illinois to catch them before they get up here.

I'd be ok if the king bite was similar to last year - but I have a feeling it'll be a bit worse. The past couple years have been good to kayakers with kings relating to the cold water. This year will be the full effect of the stocking cuts, plus the past couple years have had miserable spawning conditions for the "natural" fish (if you believe those are actually natural fish). Combine that with the lack of ice this winter, signs are pointing to a more "normal" lake setup... let's hope the alewives do well!

Post Your Comment
2/6/16 @ 8:21 PM
svitreum
svitreum
USER since 8/29/06
So guys and gals, what are your predictions for big lake fishing this year? I predict a very hot and short-lived coho bite from early April to very early May. I predict a slightly longer window of getting into numbers of rainbows near shore (less than 5 miles out) starting in mid-May to mid-June. I then predict a tough king bite for the whole year with perhaps a shot at some staging fish in late August if west winds create that opportunity. I might just spend a lot more time on river and small lake fishing this year. Hoping I am wrong though.

Post Your Comment
11/6/15 @ 2:54 PM
uncle walter
uncle walter
USER since 6/1/13
Now that was the best explanation I have seen.instead of complaining about the poor SAlmon numbers.this actual explains what is going on and what is being done about it kuddos to you

Post Your Comment
11/5/15 @ 11:19 AM
Annes Regret
Annes Regret
USER since 7/7/11
Fishing sucked this year! Here's why.

Lake Michigan Fishery Update Answering the most Frequently-Asked-Questions about Lake Michigan’s fishery 1. What is going on with salmon in Lake Michigan? The current status of salmon is that the population is down approximately about 75% from the peak in 2012. The decline can be attributed to two factors: (1) the DNR has reduced stocking rates since 1999 while maintaining higher possession limits since 2005, and (2) natural reproduction and recruitment of salmon has declined substantially since 2013 because there is less prey in the lake. 2. Why is the DNR managing for less salmon in Lake Michigan? DNR recognizes that salmon populations are highly stressed because alewives, their primary prey, have been declining since the mid-1990s and have never stabilized since the start of the decline. Alewives are declining because they are being out-competed by zebra and quagga mussels for the same nutrients in the lake (zebra and quagga mussels invaded the Great Lakes in the mid-1990s). Also, high stocking rates by state agencies responsible for managing Lake Michigan in the early 1990s led to very high predation on an already unstable alewife population. The combination of increased salmon predation and the competition from zebra and quagga mussels squeezed the alewife population from the top and bottom and was likely the reason we saw salmon crash in Lake Huron in the mid-2000s. 3. Will Lake Michigan follow Lake Huron? DNR biologists do not want Lake Michigan to follow the same path as Lake Huron. That is why DNR fisheries staff worked with Lake Michigan anglers to reduce annual stocking levels from 7 million to 2.5 million Chinook salmon through coordinated lakewide stocking cuts in 1999, 2006 and 2013. These reduced stocking levels have helped to decrease the predation pressure on alewife by salmon. Additionally, the DNR has maintained higher possession limits in an attempt to use angling as another method to relieve even more predation pressure on alewives. 4. Will the stocking cuts and possession limits be enough? In theory, populations are most stable when there is enough prey to feed all the predators. If predators become too abundant and prey too scarce, then predators will eat all the prey, starve and not survive. Stocking cuts and possession limits only work if they reduce predators in the lake to levels that prey can sustain. But what if prey continues to decrease no matter how few predators are out there? This is the question DNR biologists are focusing on right now. Fisheries management agencies do not have ability to directly influence the number of alewives in Lake Michigan but can only indirectly affect pressure by reducing predation. DNR can, however, apply new approaches for assessing the salmon and alewife balance through population modeling. The modeling allows us to utilize all of the available data on fish populations, produce estimates of absoluteabundance of salmon and alewives, and ultimately determine the exact ratio of predator to prey. DNR biologists believe the only way to keep Lake Michigan from following Lake Huron is to manage the fisheries by balancing predator (salmon) and prey (alewife) so neither collapse. 5. What about the other predators? In addition to Chinook salmon, the Lake Michigan fishery is supplemented by stockings of brown trout, coho salmon, steelhead, and lake trout. Although the primary prey for Chinook salmon is alewives, the other predators have a much more diverse diet. Since the introduction of zebra and quagga mussels, the round goby has established abundant populations in the Great Lakes. Round gobies are able to consume mussels and can spawn multiple times in a single season. In Lake Michigan specifically, the abundance of round gobies has skyrocketed, and they are now being eaten by almost every predator, except Chinook salmon. Therefore, reductions in stocking levels for other predators may not be as effective for reducing alewife consumption if the prey consumed is mostly gobies. In addition, we manage for a diversity of both prey and predators in the Lake Michigan fishery. 6. How abundant are the gobies in Lake Michigan? It has been suggested that they are the top prey species in Lake Michigan today and may have reached levels comparable to alewives when they were at their peak levels in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the absolute abundance of gobies is hard to estimate because of their patchy distribution (they prefer rocky habitats), their reproductive strategy (they spawn multiple times in a year), and because their mortality rates are very high (the population of gobies changes substantially throughout the year). What we do know is that they are being consumed at a high rate by most of the other predators. 7. Why won’t Chinook salmon eat gobies? Chinook salmon are biologically designed to feed on open-water prey such as alewives. They are not, however, designed to feed on the bottom. In the 20+ years of dissecting the stomach contents of Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan, the DNR has only found two instances where gobies were consumed by Chinook salmon and it was less than 1% of the diet composition. 8. What will the 2015 Lake Michigan fishery look like? There will be lower Chinook salmon catch rates but more diverse fisheries represented. Brown trout, steelhead, and lake trout catch rates should increase. Nearshore predators, such as bass, walleye, and pike will increase. Even nearshore species such as rock bass and yellow perch will benefit from the goby buffet. Produced by R. Claramunt and T. Kolb and presented at Harrietta State Fish Hatchery on July 17, 2015.

Post Your Comment
11/1/15 @ 10:11 PM
Mike Nitro
Mike Nitro
USER since 4/3/14
First we lose the perch fishery on the bay and now the DNR says that "there may be no future for Chinook salmon" in the Great Lakes? Disappointing to say the least.

Post Your Comment
10/30/15 @ 9:48 AM
markrazzy
markrazzy
USER since 6/23/09
Just stumbled upon this article from Michigan... again, not looking good.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2015/10/chinook_salmon_lake_michigan.html

Post Your Comment
10/30/15 @ 6:28 AM
markrazzy
markrazzy
USER since 6/23/09
Heck yeah, how about everybody is down to 2 rods per boat! 55 kings caught in my kayak this year from Racine up to Manitowoc, and I was only pulling 2 rods. But that's the benefit of a kayak - I can drive wherever the bite was and dump in my kayak. Lots of cold water in close north of Sheboygan this year, so lots of bait in close, which meant lots of kings in close. The vast majority of my kings this year were unclipped (natural) kings, at least until August, then it was 50/50. Then once September rolled around, almost all stocked kings. In all reality, the lower salmon numbers are due to a multitude of reasons, most importantly the cut in stocking. But the harsh winters of the past couple years probably hurt the survival of the young salmon. At least last year, I caught (and released!) a bunch of shaker kings. This year, only 1. I think it'll definitely get worse before it gets better. Hopefully (for salmon people) the alewives bounce back with less salmon in the system. Unfortunately, lakers still are getting stocked in ridiculous numbers, and they don't die after 3-4 years.

Post Your Comment
Displaying 1 to 10 of 62 Posts