Archives for May 2014

Lake Erie walleye fishing report Monroe Michigan 5/26/2014

Monroe Michigan walleye fishing charter trip aboard the Stray Cat

Lake Erie Michigan walleye fishing fishing charter trip

The water temp is starting to warm a little and getting the walleye in a biting mood. Fishing has need good from Toledo Beach Marina north to Bolles Harbor in 12 to 16 feet of water. Most of us are pulling body baits very slow 50 to 60 feet back. The fish never really picked out any color. High divers set at 3/12 23 feet back took fish on a cat / dog Silver Streak spoon. Look for water breaks, the walleye are hanging on the edges.  We are catching white perch and silver bass  on a ten to one ratio to walleye. Have lots of  planer board clips on hand cause you will use them all.

Michigan betting on Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon

Jerry Romanowski watched thousands of 6-inch Atlantic salmon dance across the water Tuesday, minutes after they dove into Lexington State Harbor.

Romanowski, a director of the Flint River Valley Steelheaders, drove from Lapeer to set off small fireworks to scare cormorants hoping to make an easy meal of the young fish.

“It’s important for the fishermen,” he said. “Fishing brings a lot of money into Michigan, a ton of money.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources hopes Tuesday’s deposit of about 19,500 Atlantic salmon at the Lexington State Harbor will increase salmon stocks in Lake Huron.

The salmon will join about 60,000 stocked in the Thunder Bay and AuSable rivers.

Jim Baker, manager of the southern Lake Huron fisheries management unit, said this is the second year the state has stocked Atlantic salmon in the harbor.

Lexington State Harbor received about 5,000 more Atlantic salmon than it did last year from the DNR’s Platte River State Fish Hatchery in Beulah.

“All of our sites along Lake Huron got a little bit of a bump this year because the hatchery is slowly tooling up, and they found they’re able to raise a little more fish,” Baker said.

Lake Superior State University has successfully stocked salmon in the St. Mary’s River for years, Baker said. The DNR hopes to replicate the university’s success in lower Lake Huron.

He said the plantings are experimental — a replacement for dwindling Chinook salmon populations.

“Atlantic salmon seem to feed all the way from the top to the bottom of the food chain,” Baker said.

“They are a better fit for the lake than we have out there now, for the food web that we have out there now.”

Baker said the Chinook population began to dwindle when the alewife populations crashed thanks to the zebra and quagga mussels’ entry into the Great Lakes.

“We’re having to try many new things in Lake Huron in order to maintain our cold-water fishery because the food web has changed so dramatically,” Baker said.

“We’re having to look at new species to help fill the void left by the Chinook.”
Baker said only time will tell whether the plantings are a success. He said none of last year’s plant — identified by a clipped adipose fin on the fish’s back behind the dorsal fin — have been reported by anglers to the DNR.

“We’ve been looking diligently for those fish, and we haven’t seen any yet,” Baker said. “We’re concerned. Hopefully, they’ll show up come this fall.”

Fish planted last year had an adipose fin clip to distinguish them from Atlantic salmon planted in the St. Mary’s River by Lake Superior State University. The LSSU fish have a left pectoral fin clip, Baker said.

This year’s fish in Lexington Harbor, the AuSable River and Thunder Bay River also have an adipose fin clip and a coated wire tag in their snouts.

Baker said anyone who catches a fish with an adipose fin clip should save the head or snout and give it to the DNR.

The DNR can tell from the tag where and when the fish was stocked.

“The Lexington plant is unique in that it’s the one place we’ve ever had where we didn’t have a river for them to return to,” he said.

“We will have to see if they’re going to return to the harbor where they were planted.”

The plant in Lexington is a put and take fishery, meaning any fish put in the harbor will be harvested by anglers and likely will not spawn.

“This is a way to enhance fishing in the Great Lakes when there are bottlenecks that keep fish from reproducing on their own,” Baker said.

“If things go as planned, they should start catching them next spring, assuming that this experiment works.”

Santa Maria Found off Haiti?

Underwater explorer Barry Clifford said he found sunken off Haiti what he thinks is the wreck of Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus’ long lost flagship from his first journey to the Americas.

Clifford, working for an operation funded by the History Channel, claims he led a team that found and investigated the wreck in the exact area where Columbus said the Santa Maria ran aground more than 500 years ago on a reef off Haiti’s northern coast, 10 to 15 feet beneath the water’s surface

Clifford and his team used high tech sonar scanning and metal detection devices to examine the ship’s remains. Most of the ship is intact and excavation will be possible with assistance from the Haitian government, Clifford said.

In what could be one of the most important historical discoveries in history, Clifford said he is confident the wreck is the Santa Maria. It is now up to archeologists to study the wreck to determine if it is the Santa Maria.

Clifford’s crew photographed the wreck in 2003, and those pictures, along with data gathered by computer and other recent dives, have assured Clifford that the wreck is Columbus’.

The ship is the correct size (117 feet long), Clifford said, and stones found at the wreck site that match the type in Spain where the Santa Maria was built were found at the site, CNN reported.

The Santa Maria was the largest of Columbus’ small fleet that set sail from Spain in August 1492 under the sponsorship of King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I. The expedition sought a westward route from Europe to the resource-rich Far East, but instead landed in the Caribbean in October.

The Santa Maria ran aground in December off the coast of Haiti, and some of the wreck’s planks and provisions were used by fort. Columbus left much of the crew behind and sailed back to Spain in January 1493 with the two remaining ships, the Nina and the Pinta.

Clifford, who is well known for many sea discoveries, including salvaging historic pirate ships around the world, said he plans to go back to Haiti next month with santa mariaauthorities in hopes of determining the next steps.

Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass fishing improving

While walleyes and yellow perch fill the needs of Lake Erie anglers most interested in the culinary aspect of the activity, those seeking smallmouth bass tend to be concerned with the sport end of things. Few fish possess the fighting ability of the smallmouth bass; few places offer bronzebacks in the numbers and size as does Lake Erie.

During the early 2000s there was a change in the dynamics of Erie’s smallmouth bass fishery. Though adult fish were still present in good numbers, anglers were seeing fewer and fewer young fish. The introduction of the round goby, and exotic species, was blamed, at least in part. The bottom-dwelling round goby is a nest robber. Research shows that gobies prey on smallmouth nests.

Several years ago, the Ohio Division of Wildlife, instituted a closed season during the spring spawning period. This move led to a reduction of fishing pressure, one that might be having a positive impact on the smallmouth population. With fewer anglers catching bass, there are fewer nests left unguarded. While it’s not known how much an impact this regulation change has made, smallmouth bass numbers are on the increase.

“Smallmouth bass are one place where we’re seeing the catch rates improve,” said Jeff Tyson of the Ohio Division of Wildife’s Lake Erie Research Unit. “They have been bumping up steadily for the past four or five years. They’re still not at the level back in the mid-1990s. But we’re still looking at a catch rate of 0.8 fish per hour, which is a phenomenal catch rate for smallmouth bass.”

As one might expect from this, the outlook for Erie smallmouth, not only in Ohio waters but Pennsylvania, is a good one. While perhaps not quite the same as it was in the glory days of 15 to 20 years ago, it’s still quite good.  The Michigan shoreline from Brest Bay to Luna Pier has seen an uptick in catch rates over the past couple of years. The dumping grounds have also seen much higher catch rates in the past two perch seasons to.

“I’d expect more of the same for smallmouth bass,” Tyson said. “We’re seeing more consistent hatches for smallmouth in recent years. Not every year are we getting a good hatch, but if we see fish in our bottom trawler, it generally means that they’ve had a decent hatch. And we’re seeing that more frequently. We’re seeing an improvement not only in the hatches, but in the age distribution. We have a fair number of younger fish moving into the fishery, which is different from what we saw back in the early 2000s.”

Lake Erie Walleye Fishing Report Monroe Michigan 5-04-2014

Super windy conditions have shut Lake Erie Western Basin down this past week around Monroe, Brest Bay and the Toledo Light due to high winds mainly from the North East. As of yesterday the lake was a mud pit as far as I could see from shore at Toledo Beach Marina where the wind was blowing 20 out of the South West. The water in the marina was also low!

Prior to last weeks wind event walleye are being caught around Brest Bay and out in front of Sterling State park in 12 feet of water using blade baits and purple jigs tipped with a shiner minnow. The North end of the dumping grounds is producing walleye, smallmouth, and white bass

The surface temperature is still around the mid to low 40’s

Tracking Lake Erie Walleye

As Chris Vandergoot lowered a portable receiver into the water above one of western Lake Erie’s many reefs, he listened intently through his headphones as the sophisticated electronics searched the depths for that reassuring tone.

It comes quickly. That distinct “ping, ping, ping” is the sound of success.

“It’s wow, they’re back,” Vandergoot said this week, repeating his reaction when some of the walleyes he had surgically implanted acoustic transmitters in months or years earlier, had returned to the reef.

What we know about the greatest treasure trove of walleyes in the world that make Lake Erie home, is that we actually don’t know a whole lot about them. But Vandergoot, and a multinational lineup of biologists from Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario are working to change that, armed with some clever pieces of technology.

Fish are captured at various sites, usually through electrofishing, and anesthetized while a quick surgical procedure inserts an acoustic transmitter into their belly area. A few sutures close the opening, some Betadine is applied to the area to ward off infection, and after a short recovery period the fish is back in the water and ready to transmit data and start shedding some light on its travels, its habitat preferences, its favorite water temperatures, and much, much more.

The program is called GLATOS, and that is not a Greek god you forgot about from mythology class. GLATOS is in that pea soup of acronyms that are part and parcel of the intensive study of the lakes, and it stands for Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System.

There is a network of receivers spread throughout the Great Lakes, and each time one of the several hundred walleyes carrying a transmitter is within range, the receiver picks up a ping that is distinct to that particular fish.

The receivers form a picket line across the western end of the lake, in a single strand from Point Pelee to the north end of Pelee Island, and in multiple strands from the south end of Pelee Island to Kelleys Island, and from Kelleys to the mainland. There are also receivers in the Central Basin, and at Rondeau Bay on the Ontario shoreline, and in the Maumee River.

The fixed receivers are anchored to the lake bottom, where they store information on when a ping from a certain fish was received, and what conditions were present at the time. The study is in its very early stages, but when those receivers are retrieved and brought back to the Ohio Division of Wildlife Sandusky Fisheries Research Station where he works, Vandergoot is bouncing off the walls to get at the data.

Earlier studies that involved just external tags could only tell biologists that a fish had traveled from point A to point B, but the mysteries and the mother lode of information involve what takes place throughout the walleyes’ movement.

The GLATOS study should give biologists a much better grasp of migration rates and routes, which particular stocks of fish contribute the most to the Lake Erie harvest, and provide a better understanding of the spawning patterns and preferences of the lake’s walleyes.

“We’re taking the needle out of the haystack,” Vandergoot said.

The first snippets of data have been eye-opening. About five percent of the walleyes that took on transmitters in the Maumee River or out on Lake Erie ended up migrating up the Detroit River, with some moving all the way across Lake St. Clair, up the St. Clair River, and into Lake Huron.

One walleye showed up near Conneaut, some 140 miles from where it had been tagged, while another walleye that was given a transmitter during the spawning run in the Maumee River in 2011 was later detected near Port Colborne in Ontario, in the extreme eastern end of Lake Erie.

“It’s a little surprising,” Vandergoot said. “There’s a lot more mid-lake movement than we thought, and certain fish are moving significant distances. This program is giving us insight into the behavior of these fish that we never would have had otherwise.”

The fish that carry the transmitters, which have a battery life of five years, are also marked with a bright orange fin tag that alerts an angler that catches the fish to a $100 reward for returning the transmitter.

“Anytime we do something like this, it’s a bit of a gamble,” Vandergoot said about the walleye tracking program.

“There are some reservations when we put new technology in place, but the fact that this is actually working, and we get the receivers back and download the data — it’s holy cow, this is working.”

Vandergoot stressed that the tip of the iceberg is all that has been seen to this point, but as more receivers are collected and their data used to broaden our understanding of this precious resource, we will know more about Lake Erie walleyes that we ever have before.

“Just tagging fish is cool and it makes for some great pictures, but getting the data back … for scientists, that’s incredibly exciting. That’s what gets us up in the morning,” he said.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.