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Author Topic: Whitefish etc.IFW "Volume I Managing Maine’s Inland Fisheries into the Future"  (Read 3665 times)

Offline clamfarmer

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Here's the Whitefish PartLAKE WHITEFISH
Coregonus clupeaformis
        Significant declines in the range and abundance of native lake whitefish have impacted locally popular winter sport fisheries and are threatening the species’ long-term sustainability. Viable populations are con- centrated in headwater lakes and ponds of the Allagash and Penobscot River drainages in north-central Maine. Waters in the St. Croix drainage in Washington County are also noted for whitefish populations. Distribution in southern and western Maine is limited to only a few lakes where limited available information indicates little to no recruitment. Lake whitefish are identified in Maine’s State Wildlife Action Plan as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need.
One unusual trait that is rarely found in other species but frequently seen among whitefish is the tendency to form dwarfed populations. Though still considered the same species, the dwarf ecotype of lake whitefish grows to a much smaller size, matures earlier (at age one or two), and has a much shorter lifespan.
Lakes and ponds containing Lake Whitefish (53 waterbodies)
The modern lake whitefish sport fishery grew in popularity in the early 1970s, coinciding with a decline in whitefish populations not thought to be directly related to fishing pressure. During the last planning period, concerted efforts to reverse whitefish popula- tion declines were undertaken, including promulgation of restrictive fishing regulations and implementing
a lake whitefish hatchery stocking program. Neither conservation measure proved successful. Available information suggests that negative interactions from populations of rainbow smelt introduced as prey/ forage for other popular sportfish (i.e., landlocked Atlantic salmon, togue, etc.) are likely responsible for recruitment failure in most lake whitefish populations. Other factors may also influence recruitment; for example, togue introduced into Sebago Lake appear
to have contributed to an observed decline in lake whitefish.
      INLAND FISHERIES AND HATCHERIES STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN 2021–2035 . VOLUME I 32
FEATURED SPORT FISH GOALS – LAKE WHITEFISH
Goals, Objectives & Conservation/Management Strategies
GOAL Conserve native populations of lake whitefish Assess the status and health of all known populations of lake whitefish
in Maine (High Priority)
• Develop an assessment plan to characterize population age structure and relative
abundance to establish a baseline for this planning period
Identify and implement strategies to reduce threats and protect lake whitefish (High Priority)
• Examine Department stocking and management programs to reduce potential impacts to lake whitefish populations, considerate of inter-specific competition, regulations, lake whitefish population abundance, angler use, and risk for new competing introductions
• Explore the merit of additional restrictive regulatory measures and other strategies to maintain existing remnant populations
• Identify populations that could be positively or negatively affected by climate change and develop strategies to mitigate effects, particularly among most at-risk populations
• Identify waters that may be candidates for chemical reclamation
• Investigate options to reduce smelt populations and their interactions with lake whitefish, including mechanical harvest, predation (sterile & nonsterile), and liberalized smelt harvest opportunities
• Monitor key environmental and land management practices that can influence habitat suitability
Increase public awareness and stewardship (High Priority)
• Develop outreach regarding threats (e.g., influence of illegal introductions of smelt)
• Increase angling use opportunity by creating fisheries that will also serve as “gene banks” • Use various outreach tools to highlight one of Maine’s less known native sportfish
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Offline woodchip

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The acidity of the water is directly related and no one wats to agree because it will take to long and bigger expense ,,Admit it!!

Offline clamfarmer

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The acidity of the water is directly related and no one wats to agree because it will take to long and bigger expense ,,Admit it!!
It is definitely part of it, in some waters and to varying degrees. There are other impinging factors as noted.
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Offline woodchip

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Sebago lake they the local towns have allowed big Landfills within a short distance on lake. water runs from Landfills into lake is one of the biggest reasons PH is dropping, shortly after these landfills were in place the White fish and all other fish started their downhill growth rate. The easiest and most common complaint was blame Togue introduction, even though they all live together in other bodies of water, Great lakes etc.

Offline Bourbon and Bass

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The whitefish section is just as piss poor as the rest of that report.
There is a LOT of things they need to do better, like actually surveying lakes again. If you look through the lake survey maps, you see that most have only been recently done in the late 90's and some not since the 50's. If they aren't actually taking the time to study the waters and are instead relying on anecdotal info and 70 year old surveys, how can they effectively manage a watershed?

Offline nbourque

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There is a LOT of things they need to do better, like actually surveying lakes again. If you look through the lake survey maps, you see that most have only been recently done in the late 90's and some not since the 50's. If they aren't actually taking the time to study the waters and are instead relying on anecdotal info and 70 year old surveys, how can they effectively manage a watershed?
Lmao this is one of my biggest pet peevs I always bring up with my buddies. Those surveys are a complete joke. The newest ones are 20 years old.
How am I supposed to take any of that report seriously when the lake survey maps are as old as my grandma? And no mention of pike at all in that report. Complete JOKE.

Offline clamfarmer

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Lmao this is one of my biggest pet peevs I always bring up with my buddies. Those surveys are a complete joke. The newest ones are 20 years old.
How am I supposed to take any of that report seriously when the lake survey maps are as old as my grandma? And no mention of pike at all in that report. Complete JOKE.
Actually, not that I have intimate knowledge on it all, I fish with a couple bios. Las year they did a bunch of aging studies on whitefish. I supplied a few heads. They ARE looking into how to boost populations. Money and staff are issues. They haven't had a lot of success spawning whitefish and I'm told they are very hard to live trap. I was told that when enquiring why they didn't  transplant adults into likely viable waters. Another bio told me to make noise, ie start contacting the commissioner on a regular basis. I DO know a lake that was illegally stocked in the seventies with them and DID have a self perpetuating population until recently. NOW there are clouds of smelt everywhere and the belief is the smelt a simple eating all the spawn and fry.... No small fish, anymore. Maybe one way is a similar program of catching adults and transplanting a couple hundred of them into waters with promising habitat. I dunno, but it has been done.
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Offline nbourque

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Actually, not that I have intimate knowledge on it all, I fish with a couple bios. Las year they did a bunch of aging studies on whitefish. I supplied a few heads. They ARE looking into how to boost populations. Money and staff are issues. They haven't had a lot of success spawning whitefish and I'm told they are very hard to live trap. I was told that when enquiring why they didn't  transplant adults into likely viable waters. Another bio told me to make noise, ie start contacting the commissioner on a regular basis. I DO know a lake that was illegally stocked in the seventies with them and DID have a self perpetuating population until recently. NOW there are clouds of smelt everywhere and the belief is the smelt a simple eating all the spawn and fry.... No small fish, anymore. Maybe one way is a similar program of catching adults and transplanting a couple hundred of them into waters with promising habitat. I dunno, but it has been done.
I know nothing about whitefish so I can’t comment on that.

Offline clamfarmer

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I know nothing about whitefish so I can’t comment on that.
I've just been focusing on them the past few years. They seem the most cahllngeing quarry, though I understand browns are a tough catch. I really don't like eating trout that much. I focus on food staples. Whitefish fit the challenge and table faire niche very well. Friggin t catchogue keep bothering though. They are toooo easy to catch but my dogs like em.  :whistle: :icefish:
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Offline woodchip

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What is the water quality in the Whitefish area?
What is the ideal pH of water for fish?
While ideal pH levels for fish are 7-8 (fish blood has a pH of 7.4) ²⁰, most fish can adapt to the pH level of their environment (6.0-9.0) as long as there are no dramatic fluctuations. A dramatic fluctuation is considered a shift in pH of 1.4 (up or down) ²². For saltwater fish, the pH of water should remain between 7.5 and 8.5 ⁹.
pH of Water - Environmental Measurement Systems

www.fondriest.com/environmental-measurements/param

Offline Fish Wayniac

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Lmao this is one of my biggest pet peevs I always bring up with my buddies. Those surveys are a complete joke. The newest ones are 20 years old.
How am I supposed to take any of that report seriously when the lake survey maps are as old as my grandma? And no mention of pike at all in that report. Complete JOKE.
The survey maps are a joke ! There is many body of waters that now have Rainbows, Splake,  Etc. that don’t even list them as species. The stocking reports don’t match up with the same body of water.
As far as the Whitefish they are a ghost to me. I have never traveled to Grand lake to catch them. It is a shame they are not in Sebago Lake anymore.

Offline nbourque

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The survey maps are a joke ! There is many body of waters that now have Rainbows, Splake,  Etc. that don’t even list them as species. The stocking reports don’t match up with the same body of water.
As far as the Whitefish they are a ghost to me. I have never traveled to Grand lake to catch them. It is a shame they are not in Sebago Lake anymore.
Its a damn shame really. I wish the state would spend more time and money on USEFUL tools for us anglers and taxpayers.

Offline jacksmelt71

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in the late 90's they stripped eggs from a few lakes that had great whitefish populations. grew them out in the hatcheries and stocked them into st. froid up here for several years. none grew to the min. length limit of 16in. and the lake they took the eggs from now has no whitefish anymore. Teampar and i fished it 2 years ago and caught a ton of stunted togue and 1 trout. this same spot 20 yrs ago had huge togue. brookies and whitefish in abundance. i dont have much faith in I.F.W. too many politicians calling the shots and tying their hands. its a damned shame! seeing how government is so out of control it doesnt suprise me.

Offline woodchip

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jacksmelt71  You are right on about  what has been going on over the years. They state is only concerned about income not maintaining proper health of woods and waters in our state, 

Offline swnoel

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in the late 90's they stripped eggs from a few lakes that had great whitefish populations. grew them out in the hatcheries and stocked them into st. froid up here for several years. none grew to the min. length limit of 16in. and the lake they took the eggs from now has no whitefish anymore. Teampar and i fished it 2 years ago and caught a ton of stunted togue and 1 trout. this same spot 20 yrs ago had huge togue. brookies and whitefish in abundance. i dont have much faith in I.F.W. too many politicians calling the shots and tying their hands. its a damned shame! seeing how government is so out of control it doesnt suprise me.

NH did something similar with smelt in the 50-70's on Winnisquam with smelt eggs to stock Winni. They destroyed the whitefish populations on Winni  and also destroyed Black Brook smelt spawning sites on Winnisquam! I'm sure they'll still maintain what they did was successful. one border lake I fish has been losing it's fisheries for the past 20 years. I haven't caught a white perch there and most lake trout look like pickerel. One thing that has blossomed over the past decade is flocks of loons... go figure another success story they'll gloat about.

Offline blacktrap

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Whitefish are hard to raise in a hatchery, at least that is what IFW will tell you.  Ontario has a very successful hatchery program for whitefish.  It can be done.  The problem is IFW is centered on brook trout and landlocked salmon.  Period.  Whitefish are a low interest, winter time fishery that is not going to compete with brook trout and salmon.  Its not water quality, that is the issue.  Lake trout, smelts and water levels over spawning shoals are where the issue lies. 

Offline clamfarmer

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Whitefish are hard to raise in a hatchery, at least that is what IFW will tell you.  Ontario has a very successful hatchery program for whitefish.  It can be done.  The problem is IFW is centered on brook trout and landlocked salmon.  Period.  Whitefish are a low interest, winter time fishery that is not going to compete with brook trout and salmon.  Its not water quality, that is the issue.  Lake trout, smelts and water levels over spawning shoals are where the issue lies.
  "Survival and Growth of Lake Whitefish from Two Stocking Strategies in Lake Simcoe, Ontario"  "Abstract
To determine the more efficient stocking strategy for lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis in Lake Simcoe, Ontario, we compared growth and survival of fish stocked as fall fingerlings and as spring yearlings. Paired lots were stocked in April and October from the 1986 to 1991 year-classes. Survival and growth of fish from the two rearing practices were indexed as the relative abundance and length of 6-year-old lake whitefish captured with trap nets during fall spawning runs from 1992 to 1997. No difference in relative abundance or length between lake whitefish stocked at 6 months of age and those stocked at 12 months of age was detected. This contradicts results reported for many other fish species, which have exhibited greater survival rates when stocked as yearlings rather than fingerlings. As a result of these findings, all lake whitefish stocked into Lake Simcoe are stocked in the fall when the fish are 6 months of age, thus freeing up limited hatchery space for other purposes.  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1577/M03-047.1?journalCode=ujfm20
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Offline nbourque

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Whitefish are hard to raise in a hatchery, at least that is what IFW will tell you.  Ontario has a very successful hatchery program for whitefish.  It can be done.  The problem is IFW is centered on brook trout and landlocked salmon.  Period.  Whitefish are a low interest, winter time fishery that is not going to compete with brook trout and salmon.  Its not water quality, that is the issue.  Lake trout, smelts and water levels over spawning shoals are where the issue lies.
100% agree. Until the state stops focusing their management goals on stocked brook trout, you won’t see any focus on whitefish etc.

Offline clamfarmer

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Just conjecturing... Maybe stocking when the fish are too big for smelt to eat en masse is a good strategy. fry are the most vulnerable for sure... Not to mention smelt feasting on spawn, like bees on blueberry blossoms. I'm going to start squeaking a bit to IFW. It'll be fun anyway..
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Offline clamfarmer

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100% agree. Until the state stops focusing their management goals on stocked brook trout, you won’t see any focus on whitefish etc.
It would be interesting to see the state focus more on self-sustaining fish populations. They seem to be doing this to a degree with brook trout, BUT stocking "put-and-take" brook trout in warm water species waterbodies always seems, to me, foolish at best...
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Offline Bourbon and Bass

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It would be interesting to see the state focus more on self-sustaining fish populations. They seem to be doing this to a degree with brook trout, BUT stocking "put-and-take" brook trout in warm water species waterbodies always seems, to me, foolish at best...
Should they focus their resources on other things? Absolutely. However, one could say that they are supporting bass growth rates by feeding them well, and as a bass angler I'm ok with that.  ;D There's a reason why the largest bass/state records have come from oligotrophic lakes - Trout/salmon and Smelt are fattier and more nutrient dense than shiners (although they are close at larger sizes), perch, and panfish (not to factor out that bass most important food, crayfish, thrive in the colder and cleaner oligotrophic lakes).

Offline nbourque

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It would be interesting to see the state focus more on self-sustaining fish populations. They seem to be doing this to a degree with brook trout, BUT stocking "put-and-take" brook trout in warm water species waterbodies always seems, to me, foolish at best...
Totally agree

Offline JDK

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Whitefish are hard to raise in a hatchery, at least that is what IFW will tell you.  Ontario has a very successful hatchery program for whitefish.  It can be done.  The problem is IFW is centered on brook trout and landlocked salmon.  Period.  Whitefish are a low interest, winter time fishery that is not going to compete with brook trout and salmon.  Its not water quality, that is the issue.  Lake trout, smelts and water levels over spawning shoals are where the issue lies.

SAM requested, through Senator King, a $5,000,000 earmark to go to IF&W to expand production of salmon hatcheries and to enhance lake whitefish, arctic charr, and other species.  It was not funded.

Also to say that IF&W doesn't survey lakes and ponds on an annual basis is blatantly false.  Just because they haven't updated the lake survey maps doesn't mean they don't do it. 

 
I'm just here to read what all the experts have to say.

Offline nbourque

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SAM requested, through Senator King, a $5,000,000 earmark to go to IF&W to expand production of salmon hatcheries and to enhance lake whitefish, arctic charr, and other species.  It was not funded.

Also to say that IF&W doesn't survey lakes and ponds on an annual basis is blatantly false.  Just because they haven't updated the lake survey maps doesn't mean they don't do it. 

 
Fair enough but why haven’t any of the online lake maps been updated? No excuse for that IMO. The general public should have that info.

Offline JDK

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I don't disagree but that is not what you and others said.

I'm just here to read what all the experts have to say.

Offline nbourque

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I don't disagree but that is not what you and others said.
I was referring strictly to what was available online.

Offline Bourbon and Bass

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I don't disagree but that is not what you and others said.
If we were wrong, so be it. Learning from and acknowledging your mistakes is part of being human. Somehow though that seems even worse, that they are doing the work but not being transparent about it and/or not getting that information out to the public (as DIFWs objective is to be stewards of Maine's natural floral and faunal resources for the people of Maine). Example: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/docs/lake-survey-maps/piscataquis/schoodic_lake.pdf
The fact that one of Maine's more prominent cold water fisheries is represented by a 69 (nice) year old revision to a 72 year old map, especially if they have surveyed it decennially at the very least, is absolutely batschitt insane.

Offline woodchip

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Another way to look at the proper way to take care of our woodlands.  Compare all land to Farmland, Farmers know it is necessary to fertilize and lime the soil to make it necessary for crops to grow over fertilize or under Lime to keep PH at proper level will create a poor crow. What do loggers do to keep land Healthy??  Allowing excessive tree cutting has damaged our lakes streams and the ocean.  Now everyone wants to blame wrong species of fish or over harvesting of fish.

Offline blacktrap

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No disrespect woodchip, but its not water quality.  The lakes that have or had whitefish in them still have either brook trout, togue or salmon in them.  They still have smelt populations that are self sustaining.  Moosehead has self sustaining brook trout, you think it has a water quality problem?  Sebago provides drinking water to half of southern maine, not water quality.

Offline eiderz

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https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/fishing/profiles/round-whitefish.html

http://www2.dnr.cornell.edu/cek7/round_whitefish.html

There's lots of info out there on whitefish. These links are for round, rather than lake, whitefish but they are very similar. I linked these because they're short, concise reads. More detailed studies are available.

The points raised are similar to what's being discussed in this thread...
-predation/competition by SM bass, perch, togue, cusk and smelt
-low ph water

I agree with woodchip that acidifying the lakes is a problem. Both from acid rain and logging. Many Maine lakes have close to neutral ph (around 7) but moderate-low alkalinity so they don't have the ability to buffer a heavy acid rain dump or low ph rain/snow runoff from the logged areas in their drainage basin. One of the most studied Maine lakes is Moosehead, data is available here:

https://www.lakesofmaine.org/lake-water-quality.html?m=0390

Note the ph and alkalinity values in the 2018 data pulldowns on the right side of the screen. ph is right around 7, alkalinity below 10. Alkalinity values below 20 are pretty much insignificant in terms of buffering an acid influx event. The water in the lake is otherwise pretty "clean", other than beaver fever or similar, the water might be considered potable, and treatable for public water supply. Anyway, low ph may not be the biggest problem to whitefish in Maine lakes, but it could be a contributing factor. I wish the state luck if they try again to reintroduce whitefish, they're a pretty neat fish which I'd like to catch.







 



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