Lake St. Clair Fishing Forum banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is a quote from the free prees:
Bob Haas, a state Department of Natural Resources research biologist at the Lake St. Clair laboratory, thinks the bass died because "bass fishing season opened on St. Clair this weekend, and there were a ton of bass tournaments. These fishermen think they're being careful with the bass, but when they bounce them around in a boat for hours before going to the weigh-in, you're going to see a lot of fish die after they are released."

But there are so many smallmouths in Lake St. Clair, Haas said, "I don't think it makes a difference from a biological standpoint."

Eric Sharpe wrote the article.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,206 Posts
Another tidbit from the same article:

Gerry Gostenik, another touring bass pro and Lake St. Clair guide, ...was disturbed by an unusual number of out-of-state boats filled with anglers "who are keeping every bass they catch," he said. "It's not the people in the bass boats but people in smaller aluminum boats from places like Kentucky and Indiana.

"They can't do that at home anymore because they ruined their own resources. So now they come to Michigan to do it here."
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
18,804 Posts
What Mr. Haas said seems to be an uniformed quote. We as tournament anglers are under the microscope with the general public and the DNR and due to our semi high profile we can and will get blamed for alot. Gerry probably was closer to the truth, BUT you have to remember that we are all supposed to be able to keep and kill 5 bass each everyday. I know most dont do it, but ALOT of people do keep and kill even more.

In my mind the live bait fisherman have alot to do with it. Smallmouth are very aggressive and when given the chance (a late hookset) they will swallow whatever they eat. When a live bait person tries to get their harness/hook back they usually have no regard for the fish and eventually a few get their stomachs riped out in exchange for a 2 cent hook or a dollar harness.

I am not saying that tournaments did not contribute, BUT if you look at the cross section of anglers that were fishing on the opener, I am sure you will find that more bass survived after being caught by bass anglers than the general fishing public.

Just my opinion.

Mini
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
927 Posts
well said.

i would like to say this also. no one on the water go to greater measure to ensure the well being and survival of a bass than a bass fisherman. some bass are going to die, thats gonna happen. but as a rule, a dead bass is no good to a tournament angler. this is why boat manufactuers are constanly upgrading livewell systems, it is why there are companies out there making formulas designed specifically to keep the fish healthy, it is why some ( i know not all ) tournament directors pay out of there own pockets to have tanks for the fishafter they are weighed in, and it is why the rest of us a picky about where our fish are released.

how many of you have made a long run out into cooler deeper water just to freshen up the livewell? i know i have. most of my time spent on st clair has been along the west shore between harley ensign and the mile roads. when i do have keepers in the box, i run way out to get them good water.

i know it is easy to point the finger at tournament fisherman.
there is a very large group of us to point at, but in my opinion we all go out of our way to keep out resources healthy and strong.

i seen some dead fish sunday on the lake, but considering how many tourneys there were on saturday and how many people were just out fishing, it wasnt even worth mentioning. it always bad when you see a floater, but it happens.

these people need to take into account the other fisherman.
the guys who are fishing for walleye dont like smallmouth. not all, but some. i talked to a few guys last year who were trolling for walleye and they said all they caught were garbage fish. i asked them what garbage fish was and they said smallmouth bass. i doubt these guys cared what happened to the fish. i can just see them trying to save a crawler harness from the back of a 4 lb smallies throat.

anyway, i have ranted long enough. i just dont understand how bass fisherman could get such a bad rep. who cares more about bass than us?

madman himself
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,206 Posts
Madman,
Now the tournament bass anglers are pointing the finger at walleye fishermen for the dead smallmouth floating in the lake.
That's to much of a stretch even for me to believe. I've been walleye fishing on Lake St. Clair for 26 years and everything I catch that I don't keep goes back into the lake as quickly and as safely as possible. That includes sheepshead, dogfish, mudpuppies and, yes, smallmouth bass.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
927 Posts
PWood,

go back and read it again. i am not talking about all walleye fishermen. i am talking about some. like the guys i talked to last season.

madman himself
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,206 Posts
Madman, I just commented on what you posted. "these people need to take into account the other fisherman. the guys who are fishing for walleye dont like smallmouth. not all, but some." First you made a generalization, then you backed off. All serious anglers will do what they can to protect the fishery, and I mean all serious anglers. I'm sure there are even a few "tournament" anglers that could do more to protect their catch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Sometimes it seems that blame is more important than common sense. I am from Indiana, and don't understand why Kentucky and Indiana fishermen are harming the resource. I live on Lake Michigan and have one of the best Skamania Steelhead fisheries in the world in my back yard. We have hundreds of boats from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and many other states fish our area. But instead of complaining about it, I am thankful that I have a fishery that is good enough to draw fishermen from all over where I too can take advantage of it. I'm sure there are plenty of bass for everyone, without being disgusted with the number of out of state trailer plates are in the parking lot. And by the way, we are not fortunate enough to ever had had a smallmouth fishery like you lucky guys around St. Clair have. We didn't ruin our fishery, we never were as lucky as you guys are when it comes to smallies.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
927 Posts
PWood,

i was not backing off and the generalization i made was to enforce my point. when i said not all, just some, its because i know a ton of walleye anglers who are careful with all of the fish they catch. and i know that they are never bummed out when they reel in a smallmouth.

and i am sure you are one of the guys who takes care in releasing whatever fish it is you catch. but i have seen first hand the neglect others inflict on our game fish. and that was the point i was making.

also, im not saying that every bass angler is an angel. but for the most part, we do go out of our way to ensure the survival of the fish we catch, without the fish, we would just be sitting at home twiddling thumbs.

anyway, i didnt mean offense, perhaps i should have worded things differently. but i think you know what i am trying to say. i just think other anglers should be looked at more carefully as contributing to this problem.

madman himself
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,206 Posts
Amen, Madman. Anyone who isn't part of the solution (doing their part to protect the fishery), is part of the problem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
Whoever made the original comment in the article, needs to get his booty in a sled for a tournament and see just how well the fish get treated. Then he should climb aboard a charter boat on a meat hunt and experience that. Anyone that's been to Pelee to see the charters in action see them pull all kinds of stunts. NOT all of them but you'll see more blood in a charter than a tourney boat. That's a fact.

Now for Mr. Goestinik, what the.... If they are licensed, follow the laws etc. he has absolutely no beef. None. They can legally catch and kill the limit if the so desire. Off the cuff remarks such as this don't do anyone any good. If they turn them loose, they turn them loose. The problem I see with this is that when you start complaining about tourist fishermen, you cut your own throat. Suddenly things get unfriendly, an things go to pot. Look at what happend to Mitchell's bay this spring. Unfriendly conditions can nearly wipe out businesses , and in short order. Maybe Mr. Gosestinik should keep his complaints in mind the next time he travels in one of his tour events? I'm certain folks in other states are tired of seeing northern boats.


This complaint shows we've arrived at a cross roads. Folks are involved in promotion of tournaments, seasons, regions and the fish that can be had. Areas are promoted in magazines, guides pump up the enthusiasm. Then, Things get a bit crowded, and suddenly those in the "promotion" game, (some) get a bit touchy.

Careful what you complain against. States that promote to the extreme, then find over crowding ....seem to over compensate. States like SD, ND limit hunting permits. Is this what you want it to come to for the StClair/Erie corridor?

It wasn't the same people mentioned on this site, but some folks who thought it would be great to have BASS events and FLW events and PWT/RCL events in our region, now find that it's getting a lot of pressure. Maybe we ought to rethink the entire thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Folks, instead of pointing fingers at one another I might suggest you look at the very well documented "Mother Nature Factor" of temperature inversion!.....I believe the time frame you refer to was preceded by about 36 hrs. of North wind that brought large amounts of Smally killing cold water down from Lake Huron.....the effects of which you are seeing after the hot sun has expanded the gases and caused the carcasses to float in the current rips, directed by the prevailing winds!.....Ontario MNR has documented these Smallmouth kills by temperature inversion, some of which can be huge, in sanctuaries!.....A strong North blow vs. critical bedding timing will kill far more Smally's than any multiple groups of men!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,480 Posts
1. Every year during the bass spawn, lot's of bass die. This has been happening for decades. Long before tournaments even existed. Just ask an unbiased fisheries biologist.

2. Every bass I saw dead out in the lake, and it wasn't a ton, was on the small side - most undersized. I did not do autopsies (anymore than the MDNR did), but I'm betting some died from non-fishing causes and some died after being deeply hooked. The more natural the bait or lure, the more likely the bass will be deeply hooked. Small bass are harder to remove from deep hooks, so are probably more likely to be killed. They are more likely to swallow live bait and there are a lot of live bait anglers out there. There's been dead smallies floating around the lake for weeks. There's been anglers out there fishing for other species with live bait for weeks. Bass don't know they aren't supposed to bite. I didn't see any more noticeable number of dead bass this weekend than last.

3. Bob Haas doesn't like tournaments. I know this for fact. Him pointing the fingers at tournaments is very sad. He knows as well as I do that live bait mortality is higher than artificial lures. He has no idea that dead bass out in the lake are related to tournament anglers verses very numerous non-tournament anglers of all kinds who also catch a lot of bass. For him to say so is irresponsible. Some of the dead bass back in the Metro park bay where probably related to the large BFL tournament. I saw a few dying before I left. You catch a lot of bass and keep them to bring to a weigh in, some will die. We could all keep 5 bass if we wanted to, but we choose to put them back and with our moderate temperatures of 75 or less, most will live. Bob is right that the number that die is insignificant. His general statement that we don't take as good a care of the bass is the result of his bias. Since he doesn't directly participate, he really doesn't know what he is talking about. He is assuming that because some bass die, that we don't do all we can. He feels this is because tournaments attract anglers who don't care about the resource - which is ridiculous. Tournaments attract anglers who like to catch bass and who like to compete. Some will be real conscientious and careful and some will be less. We have rules, penalties and peer pressure to get everyone to do all they can for the bass, but still, some will die. If we only lose a few percent of the tiny percentage of the overall population we are bringing in - along with a few out in the lake - we are doing a great job. Considering that most tournament anglers release most of their bass most of the time, we aren't impacting the bass much at all, especially compared to all the other anglers out there. THIS IS supported by studies by other fisheries biologists although you won't hear about it from the MDNR probably.

Some of us could do a little more probably and Bob could probably make helpful suggestions, IF he would work with tournaments groups instead of just making public, derogatory statements about them. Why his statement bothers me so much is that he is using a repeatedly occuring event - bass dying out in the lake from natural causes and all kinds of anglers - and using it as a negative against tournaments when he knows his issues with us revolve around delayed mortality of the released bass at the actual weigh in sites. In other words, he had a weak excuse to make tournaments look bad and he took it. Maybe he was taken out of context, but what he was quoted matches his statements to me in the past.

I think it would be great if the MDNR would be present and work with major tournaments ahead of the time and during. We already have booklets and information available to take good care of the bass on individual and organizational levels, but there are sometimes local considerations. We probably shouldn't be releasing a lot of bass later in the summer back in Metro Beach or the Clinton River for example. Changing this would probably be more PR value than value to the bass population, but with people out there willing to target us like this every chance they get, we should consider it important. It can only be a benefit to us.

3. Maybe Gerry's quote was taken out of context. I don't know. Regardless, if you read the report Mike Thomas recently posted about Lake St. Clair smallmouth information, than you would have seen that the number of smallmouths kept verses the population as a whole is very small. If some anglers want to keep a few bass to eat, they have every right to do so whether they are from Michigan or from somewhere else. Studies show up to 60% of the bass die every year from all causes. The smallies kept by some anglers probably do as much good as harm in keeping the population balanced. There are lakes where catch-and-release may have gone too far even. As long as St. Clair has great forage, the bass will probably be fine, but it is okay to keep some. I don't purely because I don't like to eat fish. I eat walleye, perch or other panfish just a few times a year. I don't begrudge anglers keeping any legally caught and kept fish to eat fresh. It will take something much more catastrophic than just fishing to seriously harm bass on St. Clair. Charters were keeping coolers full of bass before I started fishing St. Clair and some still do keep a lot of small ones, yet fishing on St. Clair is awesome. If one area is heavily targeted, it may appear to be less productive over time, but appearances are often deceiving, and the bass population on St. Clair is still huge with some of the best fishing anywhere. A few anglers from other states OR from Michigan won't change that on their own just by keeping bass they are legally allowed to keep. They can only legally possess 10 keepers last I knew. Most anglers still don't catch their limit of keepers, even on a lake like St. Clair.

4. The Lake Erie Ohio smallmouth situation is an excellent example social management verses biological. The Ohio fisheries biologists told this spring that it would be 4 to 5 YEARS before they had meaningful results of their study on spawning smallmouths and gobies with fishing allowed during the spawn. So why are they already proposing now to close the season during the spawn? Because a number of anglers - charter boats, non-tournament anglers, and even a few tournament anglers - are pressuring the Ohio fisheries people to do something about these rumors they've heard about gobies eventually destroying the bass even though there are zero studies showing this and tournaments catches are still excellent on Ohio Lake Erie waters; despites gobies having been in Erie for years along with wide open fishing. Charters and anglers have heavily targeted certain areas of Erie like Rattlesnake Island and apparently reduced the fishing success in those particular areas, yet overall results are still excellent, and quality areas sometimes come back when they become less popular for a while. Even with years of targeted pressure, some of the popular reefs still produce excellent fishing anyway.

This all happens while New York still has an early opener on Erie and Pennsylvania doesn't have a closed season on Erie. Some will say that gobies are more numerous in the Ohio waters. Maybe they are. It doesn't change that the fishing is still great and that no one has demonstrated that gobies are able to harm the overall bass population of any water. Yet, some anglers have heard that individual beds are harmed at times and took that to mean more than it means because they don't have good knowledge of bass biology. They are pressuring for change 'before it's too late' even though no one has any indication that something will actually happen because of bass fishing during the spawn with gobies around.

Gobies have been there for years. Anglers have fished and kept bass during the spawn for years. Charters have hammered the bass for years. And, wind - the real main culprit - has blown on Erie and damaged beds for years. The fishing is still some of the best there is. Why? Because bass are prolific spawners among other factors. Smallmouth fishing will always cycle up and down based on recruitment which is mainly effected by weather. But in my lifetime, Great Lakes smallmouth fishing has become the best it has ever been anyway. That's what I see. We've cleaned up the water. The water has gotten clearer, mayflies are coming back big and the bass explode despite charters, despite zebra mussels, despite wind, despite tournaments AND despite gobies. The justification for such a change in Ohio's Lake Erie bass season does NOT exist, but they are getting pressure, so they entertain a change. That is social management. Something the Ohio Fish and Wildlife normally avoid. My guess is that tournament anglers and other knowledgeable anglers aren't voicing their opinions enough to counter the people who are buying into the unproven goby situation.

If they prove anything eventually, that is another story, but closing fishing isn't always the only answer either, especially if it is still legal to fish the same waters for other fish that all eat the same things.

What's happening in Ohio is bass management by opinion poll. My goal has always been to put out real information so that we may possibly, eventually manage our resources with science, not bias and misguided opinions.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
18,804 Posts
Well said Dan, but the study that stated the wind is the greater factor of smallie spawning sucsess and the goby predation studies were done aboiut 5 years agow erent they?

I agree with you on this, but the fact remains that they are looking at closing their season on Erie and it will not help the situation to open catch and release here in Michigan.

Mini
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,480 Posts
Mini,
I talked to the Ohio fisheries people at Sandusky Research last fall and the study on smallmouth spawning and management was only in it's first year. The biologist told me it would be 4 to 5 more years (from last fall) before they had any meaningful data on any actual impact on the Ohio Lake Erie smallmouth population from fishing spawning bass around gobies.

He told me the only way they can determine smallmouth impact - since it is near impossible to count young-of-year smallies on Erie - was to survey anglers and see what those surveys show estimated numbers of smallmouths caught to be - to see if anglers report poorer catches than they did last year (I'm assuming they did surveys last year as a baseline - if they didn't...what exactly would they compare to for change? They will also have to take into consideration the weather conditions during these years and how they might have affected the spawn and fishing pressure both if they have any hope to make some kind of meaningful conclusion).

The smallmouths hatched last year while the study was looking at the beds being fished won't impact the overall population for 4 to 5 years - it takes them that long to be a large part of the catchable, keeper smallmouths on the lake, they believe. They might have a baseline right now, but they don't have the years under their belt to attempt to show a change during the structured part of their study. The bass spawned during the study baseline years have to be allowed to be counted and they can't be counted until they begin being catched by anglers a few years later.

In other words, there are not results other than what we already know - some beds have some eggs eaten by gobies after the male is removed. We already know that many beds fail on Lake Erie. As stated, the wind is the number one culprit estimated at destroying up to 70% of the beds some years, yet because of bass' biology, there are still plenty of bass in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie. They do NOT know how many beds it takes to have enough recruitment on Erie, but apparently, whatever is surviving the spawn has been enough despite wind damage and despite years of gobies.

I think it's interesting to do these kinds of studies because there are so many other factors, like wind, temperatures, water levels, fishing pressure, population size, angler creel, etc., that have to be taken into consideration, and in the end, on a water as large and varied as Erie, they really will NOT know what factor appears to have damaged more than just a tiny number of beds they directly observe for a short time. The bass population will cycle up and down as it always has and they won't really know in just a few years if we are in a regular cycle because of bad conditions one or two springs (like they mention for the walleyes) or because of some new factor like gobies. They won't really know that until the population stays down through a number of season where other conditions should have allowed a good spawn.

An example is 1998 on St. Clair where we had a huge year class of bass despite very high spawn-fishing pressure with the presence of gobies (which had already been in St. Clair since 1990). If gobies and fishing pressure alone could strongly adversely impact smallmouth spawn success, than why did we have such a huge year class? Well, as one genius on another board pointed out, we had a long, warm, stable spring which meant early spawn, lots of spawn and good growth so that young-of-year (YOY) could reach better size to survive the winter. In other words again, give the bass excellent weather conditions, and fishing with gobies around is not a factor that can impact the bass spawn.

Despite having less spring fishing pressure, we had a less successful spawn anyway in some following years because we had unfavorable spring conditions and/or poor weather throughout the summer for adequate growth. Did what spring fishing the occurred along with gobies make things worse, or still have no real measurable impact? I'm confident saying no one know the answer to that. How could they? Lower fishing pressure, so lower goby predation did not equate to more YOY smallies.

I could just as easily, with as much or more likelihood of being correct, say that because the spawn was up in good weather and down in poor weather despite fishing and gobies remaining the same OR DECREASING, that fishing and gobies are apparently a factor with no measurable impact on the smallmouth spawn.

You can do a graph of the correlation of weather to the spawn success and see a general pattern of spawn success matching better or worse weather conditions, but if you try to do the same graph using just fishing and gobies, you will see upswings and downswings in bass spawn success that move when there is no change or movement in fishing and gobies, or that move opposite of fishing and gobies, such as occurred in 1998.

If you understand graphing, how related do you think 2 things can be if there changes do not match up? If one changes, you expect the other to change in a related direction at the same time (year), not in opposite directions...UNLESS they aren't very well related.

Spawn-fishing pressure was high in 1998, yet YOY numbers went high. Spawn-fishing pressure declined a couple years later, yet YOY went down from 1998. That would make me believe that the two weren't very well related. It must be related to something else...like weather?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
If ODNR repsonded to public pressure, they would have done something about Cormorants long ago....such as 10years ago when folks complained. The DNR said the buzzards didn't eat smallies, yet they were mistaken, and Lake Ontario studies have proven that. But what have they done about cormorants since it's been determined that they are bass gobling machines? Not one thing. They've sat on real information and reply only with "we are studying it"? Excuse me, what more do you need to know? Now they point the finger at spring fishing, which is BS. Spring fishing has gone on for years in Ohio, and pressure grew to an all time high, while the fishing continued to get better. They've sold us on the idea that management should be by professionals and not by majority. That was the arguement, and a good one when we pushed for a dove season. Let management principles guide the seasons, not votes or voters. Now, someone has the bright idea that cutting off a month or two will help because it's a social thing. All the while, they've had evidence that the birds were eating pounds of bass per day per bird...and they've done nothing. Sit around, take no action, raise fees. That's the ODNR way. Maybe cormorants aren't the entire problem, but they are a huge problem. Obviously, they could appease a lot of people getting rid of them, or a lot of them. Property owners, fishermen, charter fishermen.....who would complain if a lot of cormorants bit the dust???
Somebody tell me how this is rocket science.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
117 Posts
Why is it so many anglers think the only thing that affects fish populations is other anglers? You know if you start resrticting access you could start something that could restrict your access. There are more people who don't fish than those who do, what would happen if they decided you shouldn't fish? What about peta, in some countries catch and release is not considered ethical. The real support we can get from all communities comes from those out of state anglers and the money they contribute to the local economy, if the entire comunity wants action I'm sure we would see a different DNR. Look at what happened with the salmon fishery. We should not be so possesive of a shared resource.

Maybe we should look at the habitat changes is the lake. The lake it's levels, it's vegitation(how many remember the weeds to the surface out to 10 feet at the mile roads and the south shore), the forage base, the lake has changed all the way down to intrductions of exotic plankton. All these changes are huge. They can all totally reshape and change a fishery. Maybe we have too many smallmouth in the lake and they are stunted, maybe the forage for large fish has been depleted. The little fish I catch are fat and the larger fish are long and lean. The changes in the lakes ecosystem are having a profound impact.

It's not good to take such a narrow minded focus and sad our biologist seem to want to feed on angler impact and not admit their short comings in understanding the changes taking place on the lake. If everyone is truly concerned about the health of the lake they should be working hard to stop the introduction of exotic species. We can always change fishing pressure through seasons and bag limits, once an exotic specie is introduced we can only wait to see what happens.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top