Author Topic: Salmon Spoons  (Read 3460 times)

Online Canuck

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2020, 02:52:02 pm »
It would be nice if you could consistently predict the depths to troll for salmon based on the time of year. However, on Georgian Bay, water temps vary based on a number of factors. I look for temps in the high 40's for salmon and low to mid 50's for rainbows. Winds can create pronounced changes in water temps. Early season salmon trolling demands a lot of patience. For example I have had significant success at Owen Sound just after ice-out trolling with the cannonballs very close to bottom over 160 feet of water. So there goes the general belief that the fish will be high in the water column. The very next day after west winds, we've done well running lead-core off the planer boards quite close to shore in 35 to 40 feet of water. The following week we can be off Collingwood in the little tinny very early in the morning flatlining AC Shiners off the planer boards well inside 20 feet of water and taking some very nice rainbows. Point is that change is constant on Georgian Bay and you should be prepared to adjust your set-ups in order to take fish.
Ideally, it would be nice to have a two rod limit per angler so you could experiment with the riggers, divers and copper and lead-core rigs but I wouldn't hold my breath on the MNR changing the one rod per angler regulation. My boat was launched Friday at Hindson's but, like Canuck I'll not get too excited until late June for trolling for Salmon.


Jim, I keep my boat at Hindson too.  I have seen your boat around.  I generally go out with a guy that is also at Hindson, but his boat is not set up for trolling, so we use mine.  I am at slip A7 if you are around later in the summer. Not in the water yet.  I was out early last fall, so will be in late. 

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Offline Homelands101

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2020, 04:56:33 pm »
Really would be nice if there was a two rod limit and a greater focus on Chinook stocking in Georgian

Offline MarkD

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2020, 05:13:37 pm »
As I heard MNR stopped chinook stoking several years ago due to there beliefs that it's still reproduces poorly in GB. Instead, they switched to laker stocking as it is native to GB.
Not sure if it is true...

Offline Grandpa Jim

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #33 on: May 25, 2020, 08:44:14 pm »
Mark D,
            Not true!! The MNR's position was that creel census findings indicated that the large majority of salmon caught were wild fish, not stocked. There was concern that the drop-off on alewives in Georgian Bay would result in an imbalance in the predator/prey situation in these waters. Both sportfish anglers and the commercial concerns expressed their dislike of the ministry's decision to increase the stocking of lakers.  Anglers were never impressed with the fighting qualities of lakers and the commercial netters found the profit margin for lake trout was very thin. Most  commercial boats now concentrate their efforts on whitefish. As a member of the Lake Huron Fisheries Stewardship Council from 2002 to 2004 it became readily evident that both the MNR and our American counterparts managing the U.S. portion of Lake Huron were definitely on the same page in regards to limiting or eliminating salmon stocking and promoting the Lake Trout on the basis that it was a natural species in these waters. Regardless of the efforts of many experienced anglers and fishing clubs to continue the stocking of chinook salmon, the top decision makers were in agreement that the Lake Trout would be designated as the apex predator in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.
"... better to burn out, than to fade away ..." Neil Young

Online Canuck

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #34 on: May 26, 2020, 06:10:11 am »
They should restock alewife! Other than stinky beaches in the post spawn die off, I don't see the downside.  They were a good forage for all forms of big water fish and still are in lake Ontario.

Offline Grandpa Jim

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #35 on: May 26, 2020, 11:21:03 am »
Stocking alewife prey fish seems to be a logical step in providing our off-shore game fish with an improved diet. However, Georgian Bay studies indicate that the food web is a very complicated situation. Prey fish such as smelt, shiners, ciscoes, alewife and other species are dependent on phytoplankton, zooplankton and bottom dwelling invertebrates such as diporeia. Along come zebra and quagga mussels! The organisms on which the prey fish are dependent are filtered very effectively and quickly. The numbers of prey fish are reduced dramatically. Studies showed a 90% depletion of diporeia by 2007. The alewife population had collapsed by 2003. Many of us can recall catching salmon that had large heads and tails with an emaciated body section that was unusually thin and narrow. Unfortunately the salmon seemed to be unable to switch to other food sources. Salmon were "hooked" on alewife with this dependency further stressing the population of this prey species. I found it very frustrating to catch lakers at this time that were healthy and seemed not to be affected by the reduction of prey fish. I rarely keep lakers but the few stomach content inspections I did showed the presence of smelt and sticklebacks. The salmon seemed incapable of changing their diet preference.
Back to the feasibility of stocking alewife. It ain't going to happen for two reasons. Firstly the presence of salmon in the first place was due to stocking programmes designed to eliminate alewife. As I was once told smugly by the head honcho of the Michigan DNR "salmon were stocked to eliminate the alewife presence in Lake Huron and they've finished their job!!". The second reason is that studies indicate that lakers feeding on alewife develop a problem that seriously interferes with natural reproduction.
I'm trying to find something positive here but really can't find much for the anglers who target salmon. Way back in 1992 studies showed that stocked salmon were reproducing very successfully in Georgian Bay and North Channel tributaries. This is still the case but a lot of these salmon end up travelling to Lake Michigan where the alewife population is far better than that of Georgian Bay or Lake Huron. On the Laker front - our MNR is very proud of their success with Parry Sound restoration and, I think, McGregor Bay still holds a natural population of fat and healthy lake trout.
It's damned complicated to return to the salmon situation we enjoyed so fully back in the late eighties when the prey fish were at their peak number wise.
"... better to burn out, than to fade away ..." Neil Young

Online Canuck

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #36 on: May 26, 2020, 12:17:43 pm »
Yeah, I knew the history of the alewife being invasive etc.  I live in Oakville and I remember the incredible stink along the lake after the spawn when the adults died off and washed up before they started stocking salmon to control them.


Maybe with the gobie invasion they will bring the zebra and quaga mussel population down and the balance will return.


I remember those skinny fish from a few years ago.  I caught one that weighed about 15 lbs and had the head of a 30lber on Lake Ontario. Seems like the fish we get now are fatter so hopefully something is improving. 

Offline MarkD

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #37 on: May 26, 2020, 02:51:29 pm »
Jim, thanks for a quite comprehensive observation.
It seems to me that MNR on both sides do not have logical and profound plan regarding stocking and fishing GB and Huron. They rather follow common social hype that all native species are good and all invasive/introduced are bad by default.
However, humans are living and fishing around, and if salmon is more attractive and much faster growing species it should be considered as well.
I am personally (due to our traditional eating habits) always more happy to catch laker than salmon, but I still don't think this is right approach what MNR is doing.
And you are definitely right that there is very little hope that it will be changed.
Come back to the question about allowing two lines per boat, do you think it is possible to convince Ontario MNR to change regulation in uniform with all other Great Lakes? After all, if there is predator/prey disbalance and salmon is unwanted species one line restriction does not have much sense.

Offline MarkD

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #38 on: May 26, 2020, 02:58:17 pm »
Also, I have a question with regards to compering LO and GB. All invasive species are same in both waters, including zebra and goby. However Ontario salmon is flourishing while GB salmon is declining. I see only two reason for that: LO is stocked much more heavily and at the same time there is no commercial fishing.
Any other reason are seen here?

Offline Grandpa Jim

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #39 on: May 26, 2020, 04:18:18 pm »
Mark,
          Georgian Bay and most of Lake Huron are viewed as being the northerly limits for alewife as regards to successful reproduction. U.S. studies (which neighbourly included Georgian Bay) involved trawl netting each year and the results were shared cooperatively with our MNR biologists. Numbers remained level and even increased following mild winters. Conversely when cold winter conditions were experienced there was always a significant drop in the number of alewife present the following summer. Lake Ontario seems to benefit from less frigid extremes and enjoys a far more stable alewife population.
           Not all studies are entirely accurate however. I clearly recall a year when the MNR issued alarming reductions in their early season trawl results for alewife in Lake Ontario. Sounded like the summer fishing would be very poor. As it turned out, we had one of the most successful summers in years. The alewife were so thick along our north shore that downrigger rods shook continuously from the lines cutting through massive schools of this prey fish. The Great Salmon hunt showed consistentl high weights each week. If a king didn't top 34 pounds there was no point in entering the fish for the top ten weekly prizes. The winning king that year topped 42 pounds.
"... better to burn out, than to fade away ..." Neil Young

Offline MarkD

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #40 on: May 26, 2020, 05:33:16 pm »
Thanks, Jim.
What about Superior? Do you have any knowledge about salmon/trout fishing/population over there?
What actually were forage fish for predator in Great Lakes before alewife and smelt were introduced? I mean, I know there are few native bait fish, but seems like native were not so abundant if alewife and smelt were introduced?
As for the fact that many biological studies are not accurate you don't need to warn me. I know it very well and wanted to mention about it but just hesitate.

Online Canuck

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2020, 09:09:27 am »
Superior has salmon, including atlantic salmon and pink salmon.  The St. Mary's river right at Sault Ste. Marie is popular for summer Atlantic fishing.

Offline Homelands101

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #42 on: May 27, 2020, 11:27:45 am »
Itís wild how the majority of recreational anglers would like to have a 2 rod limit and thereís no way to get the MNRís attention..I will sign a petition at any time

Offline cheezypoof

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #43 on: May 27, 2020, 02:16:23 pm »
2 rods per angler? Yes please!

Jim, thanks for the great info - reminded me of 'Death and Life of the Great Lakes' - I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the lakes' more recent ecological history, there's a good amount of info on the fishery. As you say, some species like lakers and whitefish appear to be adapting to what's on offer, the chinooks aren't.

I'm wondering about Atlantics as a potential GB sport fish. I've read they have a more diverse diet (gobies?), but it appears no stocking programs in GB?

Offline Grandpa Jim

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Re: Salmon Spoons
« Reply #44 on: May 27, 2020, 02:38:38 pm »
There has been a significant push to reestablish Atlantic Salmon in the Great Lakes. The result of these efforts has been quite unsuccesful in most areas. There is a program from the American University in Sault Ste. Marie which results in some success, especially in the St.Mary's River region as previously mentioned by Canuck. They raise Atlantic Salmon but do not release the fish until they are a decent size. The survival rate exceeds that of organizations that release salmon close to the fingerling size. I was quite surprised to catch an Atlantic a few years back just south of Christian Island. It was a good sized fish and showed no indication that it had been suffering in any way from lack of forage fish. My good wife demanded that I not release Atlantics under any circumstances due to the excellent tablefare it provided. I was at a loss as to where the Atlantic had originated until someone dropped a note concerning the hatchery at the American University in the Sault.
"... better to burn out, than to fade away ..." Neil Young