Resource Management Technician
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Aurora District- 905-713-7730
May 20, 2016
Week Five Update:
A very rainy day one began early Saturday May 14, when MNRF staff Kate, Brent and Wil checked the nets to fish the by-catch. Not wanting to lose the opportunity to catch muskie during the unsettled weather of the weekend when muskie often roam, the decision was made to maintain 48 hour net sets, so nets were not closed off Thursday as is usually the case.
As the day went on the winds picked up, the water temperatures dropped and it turned out to be a cold and nasty day on the water. However the hopes of the crew rose quickly at their 2nd net set when they encountered their 2nd muskie of 2016. This one came from G Pool itself instead of adjoining Little Lake where last week’s muskie came from. Unlike that ripe, previously tagged male however, this 48 inch female was still hard (green) and was a newbie- never having been sampled or tagged before by the crew. It was therefore sampled, tagged with her own uniquely numbered Floy tag, and live released in great shape.
If a ripe female was captured, the crew was prepared to carefully asses her condition in order to possibly hold her over until Monday when an egg collection could be carried out – as the hatcheries and Health Lab are not prepared to accept eggs on Fridays or weekends.
Kate Gee and Brent Shirley with the first female muskie of 2016
As they were preparing their gear for the day, on Monday May 16, the crew pictured below had guardedly high hopes that the rotten weather over the weekend would have spurred some muskie activity – and encouraged a couple (in every sense of the word) to enter their nets. However, water temperature at the dock (where their boat is moored) however read just under 11 C. Although muskie spawn (and G Pool egg collections have been made)in water temps ranging from 9.4-15C, optimum temps for spawning appear to be just under 13 C. So that first morning of week 5 saw high hopes somewhat dashed. The snowfall and cold temps of Sunday had lasting undesirable affects possibly holding muskie out in deeper water away from the nets.
Not unlike hard core muskie anglers who may have ½ a dozen ‘hot-spots’ they like to visit and fish during the day … the MNRF muskie crew traveled from one trap net to another and every time they approached one of their 6 nets (all of which have caught plenty of muskie before), their excitement levels would rise in the hopes that a muskie or two would be waiting. As has been the case however for the duration of the 2016 program to date – disappointment was replicated with more disappointment … not just at the beginning of Week 5, but also mid-week and end-of week. No additional muskie were captured and overall with cool temperatures still dominating until Thursday when they hit a high of 13.7, overall catches of all species continued to be way down from previous years.
The following photos of Week 5 demonstrate however that despite not capturing their target species, the crew still managed to catch some remarkable fish, that contributed well to their ongoing data-set for G Pool and Little Lake.
Brent in background with our 3rd and largest walleye this season, with Wil (left) and Jason Cologna (MNRF Peterborough office) each with nice smallmouth on Day 1/Week 5
Over the years, the trapnetting crew has caught many large bragging sized channel cats but thousands of brown bullheads (right) of the size shown above. However, to the best of their recollection, this real small channel catfish (left) may be the first they have captured. Note the key identifying characteristic in the forked caudal (tail) fin of the channel catfish and the square tail of the brown bullhead catfish.
Here one of Canada’s longest serving and most dedicated Muskies Canada members Jim Kelly holds a nice, but not overly large channel cat along with Kate Gee from MNRF. Jim is former MC president, is a member of the Muskies Canada Hall of Fame (inducted 2003)and represents the organization on the Lake Simcoe Fisheries Stakeholder Committee.
Here Wil Wegman (left) and Kate Gee proudly display 5 remarkable stinkpot turtles captured from one net set. This Species of Special Concern was highlighted in last week’s update
Kate and Wil with one very fat egg-laden female largemouth bass on a wet, cold day on the water.
Here, during a warmer Wednesday on the Pool, MNRF’s Melanie Shapiera holds another good Largemouth – with Wil and Brent look on.
A male bowfin approaching full spawning color’s … indicated by the iridescent green of the underbelly
After dismal catches Monday, nets were left open and fished for 48 hours until Wednesday; then fished Thursday with some encouraging signs of warming temps bringing in more fish as the day went on. Another eagle flew overhead and was recognized as a good omen for things to come.
With the long weekend approaching, the muskie egg collection program would have typically long been completed by now, but as these weekly reports have clearly indicated, this has certainly not been a typical spring. Therefore after joint discussions among field crews, MNRF supervisors, Muskies Canada reps, hatchery staff and the health lab … a joint decision has been made to continue on to an unprecedented 6th week of trap netting in order to hopefully capture enough ripe muskie to reach our target goal of 3 families for the hatcheries.
So … nets were closed off on Thursday May 19 (a zip tie is fastened around the funnel of the trap net, prohibiting any fish from swimming thru and being captured) and will be reopened during the long weekend on Sunday May 22nd by Brent and Wil. This allows for another 48 hour net set during an anticipated heat wave until nets will be fished again on Tuesday May 24th. From there 24 hour sets will prevail until at least Thursday … and then we’ll have to re-evaluate our options.
Stay tuned … and hope everyone has a wonderful long weekend with plenty of tight lines for all who will wet one.