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Great Lakes Steelhead & Salmon Amazing "Inland ocean" fisheries

 
 
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Old 01-08-2005, 11:54 AM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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Location: Grand River, Ontario
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Great Lakes Steelhead Forage Fish

Bill, (h20) has asked me to post this up. The info should be quite useful for anyone wanting to "match the hatch' with forage fish.

Thanks Bill.



Lake Erie And It's New York Tributary's Most Common Baitfish For Steelhead
Composed and gathered for the purpose of flyfishing patterns and interest by Bill Ingersoll
Updated January 2005
Credits and thanks to the New York State DEC Dunkirk NY

Lake Erie Open Waters
Listed in descending order of assumed importance along with availability to Steelhead (data on current studies is not in as of 1-7-05)

Emerald Shiner

http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/d...eraldshine.gif

Different from many other species of minnows, emerald shiners are open water (pelagic) fish. They are only found in large rivers and lakes, such as the Hudson, Niagara, and lower Mohawk Rivers, and in the Great Lakes, Oneida Lake, and Lake Champlain.

Emerald shiners average three to four inches in length and have very short snouts with large eyes. They are generally silver in color with green iridescence on the top fading to silver/white on the belly. Young emerald shiners are semi-transparent in appearance.

Emerald shiners travel in large schools. Unlike most other minnows, they do not spawn over gravel or vegetation, but release their eggs in mid-water.

Plankton feeders, emerald shiners will approach the surface at dark to feed, but retreat to deeper water in the day. Their population levels widely fluctuate, with one year their numbers being low and the next year their numbers being high. In years when emerald shiners are abundant, they are important forage fish for predators, as well as important bait fish for anglers. Many anglers know these fish as "buckeyes

Composer's Note : Considered the # 1baitfish for Lake Erie Steelhead

Rainbow Smelt

http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/d.../rainsmelt.gif

The rainbow smelt is a slender, elongated, pale fish that averages seven to eight inches in length. A distant relative of trout, salmon and whitefish, it has a greenish back and silvery sides with a bright silver stripe and brown or black spots. The large teeth and distinctive curved canines found in the mouth help distinguish this fish from the whitefish.

The rainbow smelt inhabits large, cool lakes and rivers. It is an important food item for a number of popular sportfish, including walleye, landlocked Atlantic salmon, lake trout and other trout, and salmon species. In New York, rainbow smelt are found in Lake Champlain, most of the Finger Lakes, Canadarago Lake, Neversink Reservoir, Lake George, some smaller Adirondack Lakes, the Great Lakes, the Lower Hudson River, and on Long Island.

Spawning takes place in the spring from March to May. Adult smelt migrate into tributary streams or onto shoals and scatter their adhesive eggs. The eggs sink and stick to the gravel bottom. After hatching, young smelt feed on zooplankton. Adult smelt eat crustaceans, insects, and other fish. In addition to their importance as a prey fish, rainbow smelt provide excellent fishing opportunities. Anglers catch smelt by ice fishing in the winter and dipnetting in the spring. In Canadian waters of Lake Erie, rainbow smelt are an important commercial fish species. As with alewives, a diet rich in smelt may result in a thiamine deficiency in pre

Composer's Note: Gizzard Shad and Alewife's are considered of much lesser importance to Steelhead.

Inland Tributaries
Listed in descending order of abundance and assumed importance to Steelhead. Based on electro shocking studies of Lake Erie tributaries of New York state.
It is not known which "species" Steelhead may prefer to feed on.

Blacknose Dace

http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/d...lknosedace.gif

A small minnow, blacknose dace rarely grow larger than three inches long. They live in clear streams where current is present and are often the only fish found at a stream's source (beginning).

Blacknose dace can be distinguished from other minnows by the numerous speckles on their dark upper bodies. The lower part of the body is cream colored with few speckles. A dark line runs from the nose to the tail and during breeding, males develop a green tint and red fins.

Relatively short lived, blacknose dace mature at age two and rarely live past age four. They are spring spawners, with males establishing territories over gravel in shallow riffles. Males perform a spawning ritual but must then immediately defend the eggs from other dace who attempt to eat them.

In addition to falling prey to other fish species and birds, blacknose dace are used as bait by anglers in some areas. They are easily captured in minnow traps or by seines, where allowed.

Composer's Note : The Black Nose Dace population is prevalent in the Lake Erie Tribs Of New York State

Longnose Dace

http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/d...longnodace.gif

Unusual in appearance, longnose dace look like miniature sharks. They have a prominent snout with an underslung (lower jaw shorter than top) mouth. They range in color from olive to brown on back shading to cream on the belly. They are medium-sized minnows, reaching three to five inches in length.

Longnose dace are found in streams across New York State, except for Long Island. They have specific habitat requirements, living only in riffle areas where there is fast water current.

Spawning takes place in late spring in shallow riffles over gravel bottoms. Male longnose dace guard territories and mate with females as they enter this territory. Following hatching, the young float downstream to live in quiet water areas. After several months, longnose dace change to their adult lifestyle and move to areas of high water velocity.

Bottom dwelling fish, longnose dace use their underslung mouths to feed on fish eggs and insects, especially black fly larvae. Except for occasional use as bait by anglers, this fish has little interaction with man.

Composer's Note : Good populations of Longnose Dace in Chautauqua & Canadaway Creeks. However still second to Blacknose Dace

Rainbow Darter

(couldn't get the picture)

What's In a Name?

Common Name:
Rainbow darter -- named from the range of colors displayed by males during the spawning season.

Scientific Name:
Etheostoma (ee-thee-ah´-stoe-mah) taken from the word etheo meaning to filter, and stoma meaning mouth in Greek
caeruleum (sair-rule´-ee-um) means blue in Latin

Composer's Notes : The Rainbow Darter is more common than the Sculpin and nearly as common as the Dace. They average 2" - 2 1/2". Males as pictured above range in color depending on spawning season or not. As a whole they are orange with green vertical barring and some red on fins. Females are less colorful and are olive green with brown vertical barring.

Slimy Sculpin

http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/d...slimysculp.gif

Rather unusual in appearance, the slimy sculpin is a small fish (three to five inches long) with an enlarged, flattened head; a smooth, scaleless, brown colored body; and large, winglike pectoral (front side) fins. Small prickles or spines are located behind the pectoral fin and its eyes are positioned high on the head and close together.

Especially common in Lake Ontario and in waters in the Catskills and the Adirondacks, this fish is found in areas scattered across New York State. It is a bottom dweller and prefers cold, rocky streams and lakes with some shelter.

Spawning occurs in stony creeks or lake shallows during the spring. The eggs are laid in nests built in rock crevices. Male sculpins remain with the nest to protect the eggs and young. Adult slimy sculpin eat a variety of organisms, including insect larvae, large bottom dwelling invertebrates, and some small fish.

Slimy sculpins are an important prey fish for lake trout, brook trout, and northern pike.

Emerald Shiner

http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/d...eraldshine.gif

Different from many other species of minnows, emerald shiners are open water (pelagic) fish. They are only found in large rivers and lakes, such as the Hudson, Niagara, and lower Mohawk Rivers, and in the Great Lakes, Oneida Lake, and Lake Champlain.

Emerald shiners average three to four inches in length and have very short snouts with large eyes. They are generally silver in color with green iridescence on the top fading to silver/white on the belly. Young emerald shiners are semi-transparent in appearance.

Emerald shiners travel in large schools. Unlike most other minnows, they do not spawn over gravel or vegetation, but release their eggs in mid-water.

Plankton feeders, emerald shiners will approach the surface at dark to feed, but retreat to deeper water in the day. Their population levels widely fluctuate, with one year their numbers being low and the next year their numbers being high. In years when emerald shiners are abundant, they are important forage fish for predators, as well as important bait fish for anglers. Many anglers know these fish as "buckeyes"

Composer's Note : The Emerald Shiner is also listed under "inland tributaries" because it will move close to shore and run the lower trib sections during spawning. This depends on water temperature usually late winter - spring depending on the year.

Last edited by peter-s-c; 01-08-2005 at 12:48 PM.
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