Why Does This Season Suk so Bad? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Why Does This Season Suk so Bad?


skip_scratch
11-21-2005, 02:56 PM
I was wondering what the forum resident (amateur and not) biologists think is the cause of the lack of fish caught.

I'm a fly angler that fishes only the Catt. This season has been the worst in the last 6 years since I started fishing the Catt. My best day this year has seen a total of 5 fish and its getting worse as we near Christmas this year, several zero fish days this fall already. Compared to well into double digits as a best day in previous years.

From what I can tell the run peaked last week in Oct, first week in Nov.
Would it be fair to say that most other rivers are slow too? Its slow all over right - Saugeen, Elk, Maitland, Oak Orchard, Salmon, Grand - right Peter? I would sure like to hear from someone that is not having a slow season on there home runs.

There is lots of chatter along the river about the causes. I've heard lots of things - "well the fish are here, they are just not active" - thats crap - if the fish are in the river resourcefull fisherman will key in on what they are eating (and they must eat to live) and catch representative numbers.

More stories - "well the run has not come in yet, its not going to come in big this year, perhaps some fish will not spawn this year because of the warm water and long summer" - sorry I don't buy it, if you were a steelhead and only lived to perhaps 5 years old, would you skip mating for one year when you only mate perhaps 3 times in your life time? highly unlikely I'd say.


I should'nt be so hard on people that start conjecture about what the causes of the slow season might be. As a matter of fact thats why I started this note - to try and understand why the things are so slow. Please comment on why you think this season is so slow. The problem solver fisherman in us needs to explain this - or at least try.

...

mike beliveau
11-21-2005, 07:41 PM
I ALL SO THINK YOU ARE RIGHT, i have had a number of on fish trips to .the fish are very slow entering the catt. this year. the guides are having off days too. I think they still have not come in from the lakeyet. Even 10 miles up stream , the fish just stared showing up 2 weeks ago. the best is yet to come

chromedome
11-21-2005, 11:22 PM
All opinions I've heard seem to echo lack of fish. I'll add this. Last summer while practise casting on the upper Niagara (downriver of Lake Erie) I noted a lot of dead fish. While just one of these was a steelie, off from Grand Island, the presence of these dead fish might say something about the general health of Lake Erie. I contacted the DEC but wasn't at all convinced I got their attention.

josko
11-22-2005, 06:13 AM
I think we're seeing the results of stocking many more fish than the ecosystem can support. Predator population is on it's way down, and (according to Volterra predator-prey thy) will stabilize at a number low enough to allow the prey to bounce back. I don't think the bottom-out and equilibrium points are known at this time.

Charlie
11-22-2005, 07:53 AM
I think a combination of factors is the root cause. Chromedome and Josko’s theories and observations both hold some water. In my experience the steelhead runs seem to go in cycles of roughly 5 or 6 years, probably influenced by such things as fish kills, stocking policies, invasive species and other factors. You will have 1 or 2 good years followed by a year or two of decline, then you will have 1 or 2 bad years. Keep in mind that I have only been fishing the great lakes tribs for about 25 years, and that’s not really a long time when considering such cycles. It seems to me that some of the cycles are worse than others. 1995 was a very bad year, on par with this year.

At this point in time I don’t think there is much we can do about this years run of fish. Lets just hope that next years runs are better and lets hope that more people get involved with conservation efforts to protect the resource.

Charlie

peter-s-c
11-22-2005, 10:26 AM
Don't have Charlie's breadth of experience but the experts say that these things run in cycles and I have no reason to doubt them. More worrying though is the rate of change of the ecology of the lakes and the warming trends in our local climate. This fall seemed to drag the warm, dry weather on and on so with the low, warm rivers, it may just be a case of the runs being very late. At least I hope so.

Dornblaser
11-22-2005, 11:12 AM
The Alewive population has crashed in Lake Michigan. At the stocking conference there were recommendations to reduce the stockings of Kings in 2006.

Adding to the problem, in WI, the rivers are very low as Northern Illinois and parts of WI are still in a drought.

Stocking Conference Thread (http://www.uppermidwestflyfishing.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=419)

David

dmas
11-22-2005, 02:03 PM
I’m not too up on Lake Erie or the Catt but I believe that the DEC stopped stocking Domestic bows in the Catt several years ago. Historically, many of the Fall fish in the Catt (especially the early returning fish) are the domestics. Again somebody correct me if I am wrong on this one but that may have something to do with it.

On a somewhat related side note…I know that there have been some discussions in the past about building a fish ladder at the Springville dam on the Catt…or possibly breaching it. This would open up a mind-boggling amount of new nursery water for spawning Steelhead. I know that there are concerns such as landowner rights, lamprey control, and impacts on established wild rainbow and brown trout fisheries upstream of the dam. There are no doubt politics that I am not aware of also. I’m not really surprised that there has never been a fish ladder installed just that I never really hear Steelhead anglers push for it. In my mind if you want to improve the returns of fish on the Catt then this might be a good start. Wild fish generally recruit better than stocked fish.

Tight lines

Jamey McLeod
11-22-2005, 03:10 PM
Everybody is all doom and gloom here also (west MI). Where I fish has only really gotten going in the past two weeks, about 2 weeks later than usual. Other than the late start, things have been going very well for me. I would agree that limiting the numbers of stocked kings, and maybe the Lakers all together would help the Alewife populations

Dornblaser
11-22-2005, 03:43 PM
Everybody is all doom and gloom here also (west MI). Where I fish has only really gotten going in the past two weeks, about 2 weeks later than usual. Other than the late start, things have been going very well for me. I would agree that limiting the numbers of stocked kings, and maybe the Lakers all together would help the Alewife populations

Jamey,

The Lakers are Natives. Does MI stock Lakers? IL, IN don't and I don't believe WI does.

David

PEte A
11-22-2005, 04:19 PM
Jamey,

The Lakers are Natives. Does MI stock Lakers? IL, IN don't and I don't believe WI does.

David

Dornblaser,
I just checked the GLFC website for every year since 1990. Lake trout have been stocked in large numbers each year, predominantly by MI and WI although IN and IL have also thrown some into the mix.

The following is a great resource for finding stocking records. http://www.glfc.org/fishstocking/

All the online info I could find suggests that the vast majority of lake trout in Michigan are stocked fish, as is the case with three lakes downhill from Michigan.

PEte

PS, our season in Ontario was also sucking on the majority of our rivers until recently. For the last couple of weeks there have been enough fresh fish in most of our rivers to keep me quite confused as to where to go :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

Dornblaser
11-22-2005, 05:08 PM
PEte A,

Thanks. I know about steelhead stockings; however, I should have checked before I spoke off the top of my head about the Lakers. :frown: :roll: Even though they are stocked now, they are the natives.

However, it is interesting that Chinooks are the "eating machines" and, at least, in Lake Michigan are the species sought after by the charter Captains who are very vocal with the WI, IL, IN & MI DNR's.

I would like to also point out the water temps of some of the tribs have been very warm this fall. This may be due to the drought. WI, because of the nature of her rivers, is more effected than the MI tribs. (I have no familarity with none of the other GL's).

No conclusions here, just something to thing about over the winter.

David

Dornblaser,
I just checked the GLFC website for every year since 1990. Lake trout have been stocked in large numbers each year, predominantly by MI and WI although IN and IL have also thrown some into the mix.

The following is a great resource for finding stocking records. http://www.glfc.org/fishstocking/

All the online info I could find suggests that the vast majority of lake trout in Michigan are stocked fish, as is the case with three lakes downhill from Michigan.

PEte

PS, our season in Ontario was also sucking on the majority of our rivers until recently. For the last couple of weeks there have been enough fresh fish in most of our rivers to keep me quite confused as to where to go :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

Jamey McLeod
11-22-2005, 08:38 PM
I believe the feds do the laker stocking here in MI. The strain they plant now don't run the rivers, atleast the vast majority don't. They spawn on the deep shoals. The majority of the charter guys go for kings and coho, meaning a good chunk of the tourist dollars coming into west MI, and the town I live in, are for salmon. I never hear about anybody targeting lakers, period. I know they are native, but since the MIDNR (as well as the Indiana, Illinois and Wisconson equivalents) has turned Lake MI into a tourist trap trout pond, whats the point. If the state(s) is/are looking for the most bang for the buck, why plant a species that competes for the same food as the $almon, but don't bring in the revenues?

Jamey McLeod
11-22-2005, 08:50 PM
On a somewhat related side note…I know that there have been some discussions in the past about building a fish ladder at the Springville dam on the Catt…or possibly breaching it. This would open up a mind-boggling amount of new nursery water for spawning Steelhead. I know that there are concerns such as landowner rights, lamprey control, and impacts on established wild rainbow and brown trout fisheries upstream of the dam. There are no doubt politics that I am not aware of also. I’m not really surprised that there has never been a fish ladder installed just that I never really hear Steelhead anglers push for it. In my mind if you want to improve the returns of fish on the Catt then this might be a good start. Wild fish generally recruit better than stocked fish.

Tight lines

There has been chatter here about taking out the dam in Lansing on the Grand. The Army Corp of Engineers said it would run about $150,000.00. I thought that sounded pretty cheap for such a project. I thought about standing on the corner in my waders and asking passers by to fill them with change to raise the money. There have also been less vocal rumblings about taking out the 6th street dam in GR, to bring back the rapids that gave the city its name. Such an action would show a whole lot of people how difficult it can be to catch steelhead when they don't have them pinned in a little trout pond like pool looking for the ladder up. All that water sitting behind the 5 dams on the Grand gets mighty warm in the summer. I have to think if it was moving it may stay a bit cooler,and clearer.

I also had a conversation with a local shop owner one day about removing the dam in Rockford MI on the Rogue (Grand trib). Or the possibilty of installing a fish ladder that remains closed until say the first weekend in November to keep the kings out, then open it to let the steelhead in. Maybe flies only, C&R above the dam. That would also create some great new spawning/nursery waters.

Too much politics involved, no matter what is proposed, somebody will complain.

wirefly
11-23-2005, 07:35 AM
Charlie is so right with the cycles, I've seen the Catt change the same ways. Another thing we need to think about is the amount of fish the centrepin drift fishers are killing either by keeping or by deep hooking. There are many who seem to think that hooking several dozen fish in a day is normal, think how many survive. I would like to see the Catt become a no-bait artificial lure only water and maybe limit fish kept to one a day (can we even mention no-kill?)

Also, I may sound like a broken record to people around here (to younger people there used to be music playing material made of plastic before CDs which were prone to skipping) but there may be coming a BassPro shop to Buffalo, imagine the impact that will have on the Catt and other tribs. If there can be sensible limits and rules in place before that becomes reality maybe the impact will be minimal. The steelhead sites have had their impact also, touting the tribs, I have encountered many fishers trying the Catt this year who had seen the internet postings and decided to come long distances. This is all not certainly meant to be negative, I dearly love the local waters and many of the people who fish them. If overfishing and overtaking can be minimalized we can have a place to continue to treasure.

Shaq
11-23-2005, 08:39 AM
On my side, the Salmon River is supposedly chock full of fish, the guides I talk to and the reports are good. I just came off the best salmon year I have ever had with the spey rod and I have made limited trips for steelies and hooked 2 to 4 fish every time, so I don't know about the catt but I have had a good, if not high water year....maybe that's why it's so good

Jamey McLeod
11-23-2005, 08:56 AM
I would like to see the Catt become a no-bait artificial lure only water and maybe limit fish kept to one a day (can we even mention no-kill?)


I agree with that statement. I don't fish the Catt, nor do I have any imediate plans to do so. I think every river, especially smaller streams, need the safe haven of a no kill, flies only stretch.

I also agree with the steelhead related site comment. There are alot of places that don't need to be advertised, that get it on aft mentioned sites. I just read a post on one of them where somebody was asking the legality of milking fish for roe, give me a break.

sva01
11-23-2005, 04:47 PM
The majority of the charter guys go for kings and coho, meaning a good chunk of the tourist dollars coming into west MI, and the town I live in, are for salmon. I never hear about anybody targeting lakers, period.


I'm going to disagree with you there because I know for a fact that tournament fishermen will deliberately target Lakers in order to maximize their weights. Charter captains also drop their stuff down low if the bite is tough or they've limited on salmon. The regs state, as I'm sure you know, that you may take five fish with no more than three of them being of the same species. After you get your limit of Kings it is much easier to drop white baits down to the bottom than to try to go out further for steelhead.

chromedome
11-23-2005, 10:52 PM
Another thing we need to think about is the amount of fish the centrepin drift fishers are killing either by keeping or by deep hooking. There are many who seem to think that hooking several dozen fish in a day is normal, think how many survive. I would like to see the Catt become a no-bait artificial lure only water and maybe limit fish kept to one a day (can we even mention no-kill?)


I totally agree with you. I'll soon reduce the fly rod use and start using my centrepin to fish with jigs. I find this to be a great application for the centrepin. Maybe what I like best is that, compared to fly fishing, not only do I get much surer hooking, but there is significantly less damage to the fish as well. About half the time the jig, while holding securely during the fight, will seem to pop out easily on the release. Rarely is a release difficult.

Something just doesn't seem right when a guy goes out and spends hundreds of dollars for a centrepin only to fish for steelies with a spawn bag, not to mention how he gets that spawn. I realize that in Britain where the pin was developed they use it with bait. But that's for rough fish, not a splendid creature like the steelhead. To me, all steelie fishing should be artificial lure only, and you bet we can and should push for no kill.

But there are obstacles. As the knowledgeable Black Francis has pointed out to me, the Senecas might be reluctant to go along fearing loss of revenue. An answer to that might be to increase the res licence fee once the new regs are in place. I really don't think that will scare off the fly guys.

While I'm on a roll here, I want to make another point. Prior to this year I fished the Catt very little each year. But last year, the few times I went down there I saw a lot of dead fish in the water, earlier in the fall of 2004, I believe. This year, fishing the Catt a lot, I recall seeing very few dead fish. While this observation is not backed up with a lot of observation time in 2004, it does provide some evidence for fewer fish in the river this year.

WayneV
11-24-2005, 05:05 PM
The last time the Catt was stocked was three years ago (2002), so that should have an effect in reduced numbers, maybe not so much this year; but certainly in the next years coming up.

Jamey McLeod
11-25-2005, 05:33 AM
I'm going to disagree with you there because I know for a fact that tournament fishermen will deliberately target Lakers in order to maximize their weights. Charter captains also drop their stuff down low if the bite is tough or they've limited on salmon. The regs state, as I'm sure you know, that you may take five fish with no more than three of them being of the same species. After you get your limit of Kings it is much easier to drop white baits down to the bottom than to try to go out further for steelhead.

And I'm going to disagree with that. The majority of salmon contests are just that, SALMON contests. Beyond all that, the majority of the tourism dollars come in from charters, not the contests.

DPG
12-16-2005, 09:01 AM
I also beleive that the slow season is a rusult of the long dry Summer! I live 5 minutes from the Catt, and I have been fishing it since I was a kid, and I am now 35 years old. First let me tell you that during a so called normal year, where we have seasonable temps, along with consistant precipitation, by the end of November, normally the lower Catt fishes poor compared to the mid to upper sections of the Reservation through Gowanda up to Springville dam. However, this year, as we reached the last few fish-able days for the Fall on the Catt, we were still catching fresh chrome in the lower most sections of wade-able water on the stream. Also, like the Catt the medium/small Erie streams had the same type of results when fishing the lower sections of stream late in the season. Think about it, the shore line temps were in the 70's for so long, that the majority of the fish are going to stage further out in the lake, where deeper water gives the fish colder temperatures, it wasn't until almost November, before the shoreline temps came down below 70 degrees! I can also tell you that before the freeze the fishing was awesome on the smaller streams, the Catt was high and muddy, but I'm sure if it was fish-able, the fishing would have been better there too. It seemed as though we went directly from Summer to Winter, with not much of a Fall to speak of. The weather is always changing, and it has the greatest effect on the fishing, there is no legitimate reason for a decline in the Steelhead populations in lake Erie, it is most likely the weather!!!! Just an educated guess from someone who fishes just about every fish-able day of the season here in Western NY.