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Sport Fishing

More on the Lake Nipissing Fishery - Winter Walleye Fishing OK'd

Updated November 30, 2016
Paul Cormier was the UFRCA representative on the Fishery Advisory Council in 2013. Paul has written this response to the recent media articles shown below regarding the Lake Nipissing Fishery. 

Posted November 20, 2016
See previous reports below in September News.
See http://www.nugget.ca/2016/11/19/we-didnt-create-this-mess-responds-a-disappointed-chief-scott-mcleod

and https://www.baytoday.ca/local-news/mnrf-wont-close-nipissing-ice-fishing-season-this-winter-467922
and
https://www.baytoday.ca/local-news/lake-nipissing-fisheries-review-completed-466176  

 

Walleye Population Remains Stressed but Improving

Posted May 26, 2015
According to a North Bay Nugget article today, "the walleye population in Lake Nipissing remains stressed, but recent legislative changes are helping the young fish mature and reproduce, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry." For the complete North Bay Nugget article, click here. 
 

Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan Approved

Posted April 16, 2015
We recently received the following e-mail with several attachments from MNRF in North Bay .
 
Dear client,
 
I have the opportunity today to write to advise you that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), North Bay District is pleased to announce that the approved Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan is available for the public to view. The approved plan can be viewed through the Environmental Registry at www.ontario.ca/ebrby searching for registry number 012-1353.  You can also review the plan by making an appointment at the local MNRF office. If you have any questions, concerns or would like to make an appointment to review the plan, please feel free to contact me by replying to this email or by phone at 705-475-5530.
 
Thank you,
 
Valerie Vaillancourt
 
Management Biologist
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
North Bay
705-475-5530

See related attachments:  
Letter from Mitch Baldwin - District Manager 
Status of the Walleye Population in Lake Nipissing (PDF)

 

More Fishing News

Posted April 2, 2015
Two media reports will be of interest to anglers on Nipissing and the French. It was reported in the Nugget in January that two fishermen had been fined for possession infractions. Recently, the Almaguin News reported that the new slot size regulations do not appear to be having the negative impact that some predicted, and that it was quite a good ice fishing season for area outfitters and tourist operators. 


2015 Dates and Regulations 

For details on fishing in the Upper French River and Lake Nipissing (Fishing Management Zone 11) click here 

The region which includes the French River and Lake Nipissing is Zone 11, but the regulations differ for Lake Nipissing. MNR CO Richard Nadeau has provided a useful comparison of Zone 11 and Lake Nipissing regulations.   

Outdoor Cards and Licences Available On-line

Posted June 2, 2014
Outdoor cards and fishing licences are available on-line from the MNR here

Valarie Viau advises that Riverview no longer sells fishing licences, but besides the MNR web site, you can also pick them up at the French River Trading Post, any Canadian Tire Store, Trucheon Fuels in Sturgeon Falls, or at Chaudiere Lodge.

 

Fishing News

 

Posted August 15, 2014
The MNR has produced a study paper "5 Critical Facts about Walleye in Lake Nipissing". It can be seen here.  

Recently, abandoned nets have been found on Lake Nipissing. An article from the Sturgeon Falls Tribune on this controversy may be seen here.  The MNR is urging anyone with information about the nets to contact the MNR TIPS line at 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free any time. Near North Crime Stoppers will be doubling the reward amount (up to a maximum of $2000) for information that will assist the MNR in identifying the owner(s) of unattended gill nets in Lake Nipissing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Near North Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or submit a tip online at  www.nearnorthcrimestoppers.com or by texting ‘Nipper’ and TIP info to CRIMES (274637).

Lastly, the July, 2014, issue of Ontario Out of Doors includes an article on the MNR's proposal to eliminate the seniors' exemption from needing to purchase fishing licences and replacing the exemption, in 2016, with a "seniors discount" on conservation and sport fishing licences. See the related article from the May 29 issue of Ontario Out of Doors here.

Walleye - New regulations take effect May 17

Posted May 17, 2014
As the fishing season gets underway, please be aware of and follow the new regulations regarding Walleye and the new slot size . The new Walleye regulations take effect May 17, 2014. Note that the Bass season opens one week earlier this year on June 21 and the limit for Perch has been increased. Walleye aren't the only fish in the lake!
 

MNR: Catch limits remain at two walleye 

 By DAVE DALE, The Nugget
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 2:24:26 EDT PM

Anglers on Lake Nipissing will still be able to keep a maximum of two walleye next year if the Ministry of Natural Resources draft management plan is implemented as presented for public input today.

But only those walleye over 46 centimetres (18 inches) can be kept in a bid to save a fishery described as "stress and at high risk of significant decline."

There was speculation the province was going to reduce the limit to one walleye from the two allowed this year. The limit was cut in half from the previous limit of four Jan. 1, 2013.

A slot size restriction protecting spawning walleye 40 to 60 cm is being abandoned after this year.

MNR Minister David Orizietti told The Nugget today that studies indicate there are not enough walleye in the slot size restriction to protect and the province is putting its faith in the smaller year classes. "This would ensure juvenile walleye remain in the lake, reach spawning size and be given a chance to reproduce at least once before being harvested. Catch limits would remain the same: two walleye for sport fish licence holders and one walleye for conservation licence holders," states a media release today.
Orizietti said he has spoken to Nipissing First Nation Chief Marianna Couchie about the issue and the need to reduce the overall pressure on the walleye fishery.

The native commercial gill net and recreational harvest took an estimated 51,000 kilograms of walleye out of the lake in 2013, Orizietti said, adding that the MNR believes the sustainable combined harvest should be 20,000 kg less.

Just a decade ago, based on previous data, the MNR said the sustainable harvest for Lake Nipissing should be 90,000 kg but set a more conservative maximum combined harvest at 66,000 kg. Orizietti said Nipissing FN has a treaty and constitutional right to harvest commercially, so they hope to work with the native community in reducing the overall pressure.
nugget.ca will update this story


Click to view the Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan 

Fish on the French

Posted July 19, 2013
UFRCA member Paul Cormier represents the UFRCA on the MNR's Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan Council, and he has provided the following documents. One result of the Council's deliberations over the last several months has been the production of these new fact sheets on the significant fish species in Lake Nipissing. In addition, note the document on specific regulations for Walleye on Lake Nipissing. A comment sheet and questionnaire may be of interest to fishing lodges in the area. Paul will have copies of these documents available at the AGM. 

Yellow Perch Factsheet
Whitefish and Cisco Factsheet
Muskie Factsheet
Northern Pike Factsheet Bass Factsheet 
Lake Nipissing Walleye Data Review
Walleye Regulation Changes 
Comment Sheet and Questionnaire (for Lodges, interested groups)  

 

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Click photo to enlarge. 

 


The Lake Nipissing Fishery - A summary

Lake Nipissing is the fifth-largest lake in Ontario (excluding the Great Lakes) and covers 873 square km. It is located about 50 km northeast of Georgian Bay, and runs in an east-west direction to a length of 80 km. Lake Nipissing is classified as a warm-water fishery. It is relatively shallow with an average depth of 4.5 m and is consequently well aerated, which leads to an abundance of healthy plant and fish life. Due to its shallowness and warm water in summer, it does not support fish like trout that prefer deep, cold water with higher levels of oxygen. Dozens of rivers and streams drain into Lake Nipissing, most notably being the Sturgeon River, Wasi River and South River. Lake Nipissing has several pronounced bays and arms. One, the southwest arm, is known as the Upper French River. Lake Nipissing drains into Georgian Bay via the French River.

The prime game fish sought by anglers are: 

  • muskellunge (muskie)
  • northern pike
  • walleye
  • smallmouth bass
  • largemouth bass
  • yellow perch
  • whitefish
  • cisco

Lake Nipissing is also the ice-fishing capital of the north. With over 2,000 huts on the lake, anglers enjoy the best winter fishing in Ontario.

Important Note on Lake Sturgeon:  As of June 2008, recreational anglers must not keep Sturgeon that they catch.  For more details on Lake Sturgeon go to the UFRCA web page on Sturgeon.

2015 Dates and Regulations 

For details on fishing in the Upper French River and Lake Nipissing (Fishing Management Zone 11) click here 

The region which includes the French River and Lake Nipissing is Zone 11, but the regulations differ for Lake Nipissing. MNR CO Richard Nadeau has provided a useful comparison of Zone 11 and Lake Nipissing regulations.  

 

MNR Establishes New Lake Nipissing Fishery Management Plan Advisory Council

 
Posted Feb. 28, 2013
The North Bay District Ministry of Natural Resources recently established the Lake Nipissing Fishery Management Plan Advisory Council to look at the complex problems facing the Lake Nipissing fishery, especially the popular walleye. The goal of the council is to create a comprehensive fishery management plan for Lake Nipissing. The UFRCA Board of Directors was asked to participate on the LNFMPAC and appointed Paul Cormier as primary member with Peter Rooney as alternate. Note that this year there is a new catch and possession limit for walleye in Lake Nipissing. The daily catch and possession limit has been reduced from four to two. The terms of reference of the LNFMPAC may be viewed here .
 

New Walleye Catch Limit for 2013 - North Bay Nugget News Articles

Posted December 20, 2012

Restocking walleye 'won't work on its own'

By GORD YOUNG, The Nugget
Posted December 20, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 10:24:11 EST AM

NORTH BAY - It's going to take more than restocking to rebuild the Lake Nipissing walleye population, says the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The Lake Nipissing Stakeholders Association is calling for an aggressive walleye restocking program rather than the reduced catch limits announced last week by the MNR.

But ministry spokeswoman Jolanta Kowalski says restocking won't work on its own and that other management actions are required. “Science and history tell us that, on its own, stocking walleye is not enough to stimulate recovery of the walleye population in Lake Nipissing,” said Kowalski.

She acknowledged that the MNR recently received a submission from the stakeholders group outlining its plan to increase the number of eggs they are allowed to collect to try and repatriate some of the barren shoals along Lake Nipissing. And Kowalski said the ministry is reviewing that information to determine the viability of the project.

She said the MNR is also continuing to consider other advice and management actions following discussions with an advisory committee, which was formed during the summer consisting of local anglers, Nipissing First Nation and other stakeholders.
Kowalski said the ministry is considering community-based stocking options, exploring additional angling opportunities for other species such as yellow perch and continuing a dialogue with local First Nations regarding the commercial fishery.

The MNR announced last week that the daily catch limit on Lake Nipissing will be reduced to two walleye from four for sport fishing licence holders and to one fish from two for conservation licence holders beginning Jan. 1 when the ice fishing season kicks off.
The reduced catch limits are in response to a drop in the walleye population over the past two years. According to the MNR's latest data review, Lake Nipissing's walleye population is estimated at half of what it was during its peak in the 1980s.

“Reducing the catch limit is a positive first step towards population recovery, but other management actions will be required,” said Kowalski. “The reduction in daily catch limits is just one part of a broader long-term strategy for Lake Nipissing.”

Stakeholders association president Scott Nelson said last week the group will be circulating a petition seeking community support for the restocking plan and will be working with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to help convince the province restocking is a viable alternative. He said the group is also calling for measures to control the cormorant population, which has been implicated in the decline of the fishery.
gord.young@sunmedia.ca
  

Group pushes for walleye restocking
 

By GORD YOUNG, The Nugget
Friday, December 14, 2012 9:21:47 EST AM

The Lake Nipissing Stakeholders Association is lobbying for an aggressive walleye restocking program rather than reduced catch limits to help rebuild the fishery.

The association emerged Thursday from a meeting saying it will push for the province to support restocking and to reverse the decision to reduce daily catch limits for the sports fishery.

“We're focusing on restocking,” said association president Scott Nelson, who has raised concerns about the impact of reduced catch limits on the tourism industry and the local economy.

Nelson said the group will be circulating a petition seeking community support for the plan and will be working with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to help convince the province restocking is a viable alternative. He said the group is also calling for measures to control the cormorant population.

The Ministry of Natural Resources announced Wednesday the daily catch limit will be reduced to two walleye from four for sport fishing licence holders and to one fish from two for conservation licence holders beginning Jan. 1 when the ice fishing season kicks off.

In its release, the MNR indicated it would consider ways to support community-based stocking of the lake. But Nelson says the MNR has not been receptive to restocking throughout the process to address the health of the fishery which began in the summer.

The MNR's latest data review showed the lake's walleye population is estimated at half of what it was during its peak in the 1980s. And it formed an advisory committee, which included members of the stakeholders association, to assist in its recovery.

Nelson said a key reason the association is pushing for enhanced restocking is because an MNR biologist presented data during an advisory committee meeting indicating a reduction in the take limits would have no positive impact on the walleye fishery.

An MNR spokesperson was not available for comment Thursday. Although there are conflicting scientific views about the effectiveness of restocking, Nelson said it’s proven successful under the right conditions elsewhere, including Minnesota’s Upper Red Lake. And he said the association believes the conditions are also right in Lake Nipissing.

The restocking proposal already has the support of at least some local mayors and community leaders. North Bay Mayor Al McDonald pointed to an agreement signed between eight municipalities surrounding the lake, including the Dokis and Nipissing First Nations, saying they’re all working closely together and are in support of restocking.

“But that's going to take time,” he said, suggesting recovery of the fishery won't occur overnight. Although he is concerned about the impact of reduced catch limits, McDonald said he recognizes the MNR's role in managing the lake. McDonald said he isn't an expert and doesn't know if reducing walleye catch limits is the best solution. Callander Mayor Hec Lavigne also said he isn't a fisheries management expert. But Lavigne is questioning the decision to reduce catch limits. “I don't think this is the right direction,” said Lavigne, who also noted restocking has worked elsewhere.

Lavigne also suggested stricter regulations for ice huts and a cull of the cormorant population, which has contributed to the decline in the walleye population along with fishing pressure from other ecosystem changes including the spiny water flea. He questioned how effective the new catch limits would be if there's inadequate enforcement given the limited resources at the MNR.

Nipissing First Nation Chief Marianna Couchie said her community support enhanced restocking and currently has a program of its own. She said Nipissing First Nation is not in favour of a program that would involve transplanting of walleye from elsewhere.
Nelson, however, said his association's proposal involves harvesting of nine million “Lake Nipissing” walleye eggs and releasing them back into the lake.

Nipissing First Nation manages its own commercial walleye fishery. And the use of gill nets has long been a divisive issue. Couchie said she's pleased to see that the MNR is serious about managing the lake. She said Nipissing First Nation has invested significant dollars into the management of the lake and has adjusted its quotas based on fall walleye index netting data which it has collected. And Couchie said those quotas have not been reached in recent years.

She also pointed to an annual moratorium on gill netting during the spring spawn, which has received 100% compliance.
Couchie said Nipissing First Nation will be reviewing its fishery management plan this year. But she does not anticipate any significant changes.

gord.young@nugget.ca
   

Walleye catch limits reduced
  

By GORD YOUNG, The Nugget
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 12:34:22 EST PM

Daily catch limits for walleye on Lake Nipissing have been reduced in an effort to help rebuild the troubled fishery. The Ministry of Natural Resources announced Wednesday the daily catch limit will be reduced to two walleye from four for sport fishing licence holders and to one fish from two for conservation licence holders.

The new catch limits will take effect when the winter season opens Jan. 1 and will remain in place until further notice. The slot size is unchanged for both licences.

The MNR said in a release that the reduced catch limits are in response to a drop in the walleye population over the past two years and build on the recommendations of an advisory committee created to assist in its recovery.

The MNR began eyeing potential changes to the fishing regulations on Lake Nipissing during the summer following a review of data from 1967 to 2011, which concluded mainly fishing pressure has placed the walleye population in a vulnerable state.

The Lake Nipissing Project Walleye Advisory Committee was formed in July, consisting of local anglers, Nipissing First Nation and other stakeholders, to develop recommendations to help address the problem.

Ministry spokeswoman Lindsay Munroe said reducing the catch limits is a first step and that the MNR is assessing other options, including a request from a community group to increase restocking efforts.

The MNR said consultation with the advisory group, as well as dialogue with local First Nations regarding the commercial fishery will continue as it develops a long-term management plan for Lake Nipissing.

According to the MNR's latest data review, Lake Nipissing's walleye population is estimated at half of what it was during its peak in the 1980s, when it was at about 400,000 kilograms.

The review acknowledges there have been other ecosystem changes, such as the colonization of Lake Nipissing by doublecrested cormorants and the spiny water flea. But it indicates that the human harvest target of 66,000 kg, which includes commercial and recreational fishing, is unsustainable based on the current estimated population.

The health of Lake Nipissing's walleye fishery has struggled for more than a decade, which has led to the introduction of a number of management regulations.

In 1999, the MNR introduced a slot size and catch limit of four instead of six – long before such rules were in place for most other lakes.

Then, in 2005, the MNR introduced a winter slot size on the lake, and Nipissing First Nation adopted its own fisheries management plan, including bylaws regulating harvest quotas and methods. Nipissing First Nation has also since imposed an annual moratorium on gill netting during the spring spawn, sanctioned members caught breaching it and funded fishery research and enforcement.

The MNR also introduced new regulations in 2007, extending the winter walleye fishing season to March 15 from March 7. The move was opposed by most tourist operators, who argued it was too soon for the ministry to begin allowing more pressure on the fishery. But the ministry said the changes were in response to public demand for more fishing opportunities and that data over the previous two years showed the fishery could handle the added pressure.
gord.young@sunmedia.ca


MNR eyes new walleye fishing regs

By GORD YOUNG, The Nugget
Saturday, September 29, 2012 5:15:44 EDT PM

 

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The Ministry of Natural Resources is continuing to look at potential changes to fishing regulations to help in the recovery of Lake Nipissing's depleted walleye population. But a ministry spokeswoman confirmed Friday there are no plans to close the fishery or make any changes to season openings or durations, including the upcoming winter season.

“There are no plans to cancel the ice fishing season,” said Jolanta Kowalski, unable to rule out the possibility regulation changes could be introduced as early as this winter.

The MNR is eying potential changes to the fishing regulations on Lake Nipissing following a recent review of data between 1967 and 2011, which concluded mainly fishing pressure has placed the walleye population in a vulnerable state.

In July, the MNR created the Lake Nipissing Project Walleye Advisory Committee, consisting of local anglers, Nipissing First Nation and other stakeholders, to develop recommendations to help address the problem.

And Kowalski said the MNR has since held a series of four meetings with the committee, which has provided advice on a number of potential management actions for consideration.
“The ministry is currently reviewing all options, some of which include potential regulation changes to the recreational fishery, and will finalize a decision in the near future,” she said.
According to the MNR's data review, Lake Nipissing's walleye population is estimated at half of what it was during its peak in the 1980s, when it was at about 400,000 kilograms.

The review acknowledges there have been other ecosystem changes, such as the colonization of Lake Nipissing by double-crested cormorants and the spiny water flea. But it indicates that the human harvest target of 66,000 kg, which includes commercial and recreational fishing, is unsustainable based on the current estimated population.

The health of Lake Nipissing's walleye fishery has struggled for more than a decade.
In 1998, research showed high mortality of adult walleye and the potential for a fishery collapse, mainly due to angling pressure. That led to the introduction in 1999 of new management regulations, including a slot size and catch limit of four instead of six – long before such rules were in place for most other lakes.

There were signs of recovery until 2004, when the MNR came out with a report indicating the fishery was again in a stressed condition and required management action. The ministry said a small number of native commercial fishers were responsible for dramatic and unexpected harvest increase the previous year.

As a result, the MNR introduced a winter slot size on the lake in 2005, and Nipissing First Nation adopted its own fisheries management plan, including bylaws regulating harvest quotas and methods. Nipissing First Nation has also since imposed an annual moratorium on gill netting during the spring spawn, sanctioned members caught breaching it and funded fishery research and enforcement.

Again, there were signs of recovery, and the MNR introduced new regulations in 2007, extending the winter walleye fishing season to March 15 from March 7.

The move was opposed by most tourist operators, who argued it was too soon for the ministry to begin allowing more pressure on the fishery. But the ministry said the changes were in response to public demand for more fishing opportunities and that data over the previous two years showed the fishery could handle the added pressure.

The current vulnerable state of the fishery was made public in August when the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) issued a news release, blaming commercial gill netting and calling on the MNR to impose a ban until it can properly regulate and enforce the non-recreational harvest.

The federation, which was asked to join the walleye advisory committee, said it did not participate because the meetings were to focus only on management options for the recreational fishery.

gord.young@sunmedia.ca

 

The region which includes the French River and Lake Nipissing is Zone 11. MNR CO Richard Nadeau has provided a useful comparison of Zone 11 and Lake Nipissing regulations.


 

See http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/LetsFish/2ColumnSubPage/STEL02_164832.html for information specific to fishing licences. There are different requirements for Ontario citizens, Canadian citizens but from out side Ontario, and for non-Canadians (tourists, visitors, cottagers.)


Winter ice fishing on Lake Nipissing starts on Jan 1st and is open until March 3rd. According to the Ministry’s General Fishing Regulations, all fishing huts on Lake Nipissing must be registered with the local MNR branch.

Ice Fishing Limits:
Winter quantity limits are the same as the summer quantity limits. Slot sizes apply in both summer and winter. You can find the detailed fishing limits in the General Fishing Regulations , the Division/Species Tables , and the Exceptions to the General Regulations which all apply to ice fishing.

Please note the following additional information:

  • in most other circumstances, two lines may be used for ice fishing (see Exceptions to the General Regulations ); (Note: Lake Nipissing and the French River is Fishing Zone 11.)

  • you may use a tip-up for ice fishing, but must remain within 60 m (197 ft.) of any line with which you are fishing. At all times, you must have a clear unobstructed view of the lines being used.

Co-management of lake a priority, summit hears

By DAVE DALE The Nugget Wednesday April 4, 2012
Posted Thursday April 5, 2012


More research is needed as Lake Nipissing deals with environmental changes. And the lake should be co-managed by native and provincial governments.
 
Those are among the key points of consensus at the Lake Nipissing Summit this week. The event, organized by Nipissing First Nation and held at Nipissing University, drew representatives from municipalities surrounding the lake, tourism operators, groups involved in watershed protection, native fishermen and non-native stakeholders.
 
Treaty rights, native commercial management efforts and a 100-year history of fishery pressure were reviewed, along with water quality and the impact of invasive species.
 
“We're not going anywhere,” said Nipissing Chief Marianna Couchie during her concluding remarks. “We've been here since time immemorial and we plan to be here just as long.” Couchie said the summit was born out of a meeting between area municipalities and they'll be called together soon to suggest an action plan.
 
Most discussions at the summit focused on a recent steep decline in spawning-size walleye, which was first noticed in 2009 and backed up by subsequent fall index netting studies. Meriza George, manager of Nipissing FN's natural resources, said it has reduced its quota twice since 2009 and fishermen couldn't net half of what was considered a sustainable yield last year.
George noted Supreme Court decisions regarding treaty rights have set fishery priorities to begin with species conservation, followed by sustenance harvesting for First Nations people and then First Nations commercial activities. Sport fishing (non-native angling or ice fishing) is legally considered the last priority, she said.
 
It was noted the North Bay Ministry of Natural Resources declined an invitation to speak about fisheries management issues, although a specialist spoke about how water level management decisions are made. Corrine Nelson, acting district manager for North Bay working out of Kirkland Lake, told The Nugget late Wednesday a review of fisheries data from 1998 to 2011 is underway and will be made public when completed.
 
No reason was given when asked why the MNR didn't participate more fully. Jean-Marc Filion, who presented on spiny water flea invasion, said the MNR is working on a fisheries management plan in isolation.
 
Several ideas were floated during wrap-up discussions Wednesday to protect the relatively larger numbers of small walleye in the lake so they can replenish spawning stocks. Reducing angler limits, banning live bait and limiting ice huts for day use only might help keep the younger walleye safe, some participants said.
 
And the pros and cons of declaring the lake or walleye fishery to be in a “crisis” stage were also debated, with several participants saying such strong words would cause havoc on the tourism industry.
  


 

MNR can do more - Nipissing FN - Lake Nipissing Summit continues today
 

Posted Thursday April 12, 2012

By Dave Dale, The Nugget Wednesday April 4, 2012

The North Bay Ministry of Natural Resources declined to speak about Lake Nipissing fisheries management at a summit involving all municipal stakeholders Tuesday and today. Provincial officials did address water level and water quality topics, however.

Nipissing First Nation, which organized the two-day Lake Nipissing Summit being held at Nipissing University's Chancellor's House, outlined what it has been doing over the past decade.

Meriza George, manager of natural resources at Nipissing FN, said Tuesday afternoon they've put an average of $300,000 a year into fisheries management. George said they have reviewed and revised quotas and its regulations based on annual harvest data, reducing it's commercial targets twice since a sharp decline in spawning age fish was noticed in 2009.
A moratorium on gill netting during the spawn has been implemented every year since 2004, George said, with a biologist and other staff hired in 2006. Nipissing also established a certified catch program to reflect the value of the commercial management, although George said some restaurants and markets still purchase walleye harvested outside the approved commercial regime.

She said the province needs to put more of its resources into the effort to continue monitoring angling pressure, and suggested that the MNR creel surveys need to be reconsidered. George cited a 1999 “complete trip” study the province conducted on two creel sections that showed the system of asking anglers how long they spent on the lake and their resulting catch underestimated pressure by more than half.

She said the province should also work “more collaboratively with Nipissing First Nation.”
More coverage of the summit to follow today's sessions.

Nipissing Summit
Posted Thursday April 5, 2012


By DAVE DALE The Nugget  Wednesday April 4, 2012
 

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The table is being set for developing a plan to better protect Lake Nipissing and its fishery from natural and human threats. Presentations at the Lake Nipissing Summit Tuesday morning focused on fishing pressure over the past century, climate change science and water quality data.

Options for strategic studies and improved fishery management will be discussed today as the two-day event wraps up at Nipissing University's Chancellor's House.

Richard Rowe, a biologist with FRI Consulting, said negative trends in spawning-size walleye noticed first in 2009 only make sense if there was an unexpected harvest. Rowe used a digital slide show to demonstrate how data from fall walleye index netting correlated with fishing pressure over the past 10 years. He said spawning-size walleye increased in 2004 as slot regulations for anglers and Nipissing First Nation's commercial fishing management systems, including nets that allow larger walleye to escape, were introduced. But the line graphs showed drastic changes recently.

“Extra harvest had to occur in 2009 and 2010,” he said, noting the data makes the most sense when non-compliant commercial activity (including commercial spearing during the spawn moratorium), more anglers taking slot fish and possible Dokis First Nation commercial activity.

Rowe, formerly a biologist with Nipissing First Nation and the Ministry of Natural Resources, said there's an abundance of young walleye, but they seem to be skinny and maturing slowly.
He said the challenge is ensuring a greater amount of young walleye survive the double gauntlet of commercial and angler pressure to reach spawning age.

Bharat Pokharel, of Nipissing University's faculty of arts and science biology, explained how the green house effect is increasing temperatures around the globe. While the cause can be debated, Pokharel said thousands of natural thermometers prove overall warming trends are happening. He urged more studies based on predicted impacts in this region, referring to the potential for more heavy rain events in this watershed, which has a tributary collection system many times the actual size of Lake Nipissing.

“Are we ready for these things?” Pokharel asked, suggesting that lake level fluctuations, decline in ice quality during winter and fish habitat changes could threaten economies. He said communities can assess the risks, coordinate long-term data management and integrate safeguards in planning.

Ministry of Environment representative Andrew Patterson talked about chemical water quality studies on Lake Nipissing over the past four decades. While phosphorous readings in the 1970s and the last studies in 2003-04 are hard to compare due to different analysis and gathering techniques, Patterson said spikes in nitrate levels in Callander Bay in early spring and August raises questions. “It's definitely worth going back to study this,” he said, adding “chloride concentrations are certainly something that should be tracked.”

The summit is organized by Nipissing First Nation and involves officials from each community on its shores.

On the web: www.lakenipissingsummit.ca 


 

 

Walleye catch OK, despite dark data

MNR review ongoing with results expected this year

By DAVE DALE The Nugget Posted February 8, 2012

Trent Cowey of Belwood, Ont., was smiling Saturday after pulling up a 27-inch walleye during his stay in an Idle Tyme Fish Camp ice hut on Lake Nipissing. (Dave Dale The Nugget) 



Ice fishing success on Lake Nipissing appears to be the best it's been in recent years despite netting studies indicating a big drop in adult walleye. More commonly called pickerel, many locals and visitors have been complaining for several winters about not catching their limit. The fish they do pull up are too small, they say, or they're only catching perch, ling, herring and whitefish — species “pickerel lovers” consider a nuisance.

But this year, a slightly different story is being told by ice hut inhabitants are still hauling out keepers six weeks into the winter season. Usually the fishing is tougher in February when the deep chill sets in and the walleye migrate or bite less.

A random visit to Deepwater Point on the south shore this weekend found plenty of fish laying on the ice waiting for the skillet — including a freshly caught 27-inch walleye and a few smaller cousins mixed in with a nice mess of perch.

Shawn Degagne of Idle Tyme Fishing Camp said his customers are happy with their success and already booking for next year. Along with the approximate six-pounder caught by Trent Cowey, of Belwood, Ont., he said another person caught a near-record ling weighing almost 15 pounds.
An online invite at Nugget.ca for more comments was answered by Jeff Chalkley's Sandy Bay Resort, reporting that five customers caught 29 pickerel on the weekend — including a 25-inch keeper brought up by Mike Currie.

Lake Nipissing's walleye fishery is officially considered stressed by biologists, although the numbers of small walleye are somehow increasing exponentially. But the North Bay Ministry of Natural Resources isn't ready to comment on the issue, other than to say a comprehensive review is ongoing and results will be released later this year.

Nipissing First Nation, which operates a commercial fishery including gill netting after the spring spawn, is also keeping quiet on the issue. Calls from The Nugget concerning a report on a summit held last fall involving Lake Nipissing stakeholders were not returned. Nipissing First Nation reduced its quota by 10% two years ago when the initial FWIN data showed a sharp drop in adults.

Commercial netters, however, haven't caught their quota for the past two years, The Nugget has been told, although it's not clear why. Some summer anglers, on the other hand, say it has more to do with knowing where to fish and when.

Tom Broz, of Flamborough, Ont., and Jason Radjija, of Kitchener, said they've been fishing Nipissing summer, fall and winter for decades. They were each jigging two holes in one of Idle Tyme huts Saturday morning, with two walleye and a couple big perch already on the ice outside. “It's slower than yesterday,” Broz said, with 47 perch kept from Friday's haul, with eight small pickerel thrown back.

Radjija said he brought up a “gigantic” herring as well, although both of them prefer the sweet meat walleye offers. Degagne said business is brisk this year. He may be benefiting from thin ice on Lake Simcoe forcing people to venture further north. Degagne also said there's walleye to be caught if you're in the right spot at the right time of year. Radjija and Broz agreed, describing how they were catching them steady this fall after targeting a “cabbage patch” of weeds with a specific strategy. And Broz said he knows a good summer spot near the Manitou Islands, recalling how he caught and released 20 slot-size pickerel there in the fall.

Lake Nipissing regulations, based on the fishery being stressed, requires anglers to return walleye between 15.7 inches and 23.6 inches. But they both agreed a long snowmobile excursion wasn't what they came up north to do in the winter, preferring to go with “luck” in a 35-foot bowl near Deepwater Point. Degagne said it is usually harder to catch walleye in February, although it's usually colder than it has been this year. Cowey, of Belwood, Ont., near Orangeville was happy Saturday morning after pulling up his 27-inch walleye. “I come up every year,” Cowey said, adding he usually releases big walleye but his friends convinced him to keep this one for dinner.


 

Lake Nipissing summit April 3-4

By DAVE DALE The Nugget
Posted February 8,2012

Nipissing First Nation is organizing a conference-style summit April 3-4 to discuss issues surrounding Lake Nipissing.

“The health of our lake is critical and we know the economic impact is great,” said Chief Marianna Couchie Wednesday.

The event is a followup to an initial gathering of community leaders, experts and government agencies held last fall.

“There's something not right about the lake,” Couchie said, adding the ecosystem appears to be out of balance.

She said blue-green algae blooms have become a regular occurrence in the West Arm area and Callander Bay, where shallow bays have little water circulating to flush out phosphorous overloading.

The spiny water flea has become an entrenched invader sparking studies about how its altering the food chain, with thousands of cormorants taking over the Goose Island and Gull Rock nesting sites.

And Couchie said there's never been so many smelts in the lake with expanding spawn runs growing each spring in several north shore creeks. As a child, she said everybody who wanted smelts had to go to rivers south of Lake Nipissing.

Nipissing First Nation has had a moratorium restricting gill netting by its commercial harvesters during the spring walleye spawn for about five years.

But fall walleye index netting data, which Nipissing First Nation's resource department has collected with North Bay Ministry of Natural Resources and the Anishinabek-Ontario Fisheries Resource Centre staff, has shown a bad trend developing.

Meriza George, natural resource manager, said they're still “finalizing” the 2011 data this week and will be announcing the results soon.

George, however, could confirm the general result was similar to the past two studies with a sharp drop in adult spawners and a big jump in very young walleye.

She also confirmed their commercial gill netters did not reach the quota they set for a second year in a row, although several of the regular harvesters found other employment and were not on the lake as much.

“It was a slow start in the beginning of the year, and a lot of fishermen did stop because the numbers were not there,” George said.

Dwayne Nashkawa, band manager, said organizers are still working on the details for the summit to be held at Nipissing University.

The goal, Nashkawa said, is to bring together a “broad spectrum of perspectives” and share knowledge before setting out priority objectives working in a common direction.
“We also want to raise awareness at the citizen level,” Nashkawa said, as well as hammer out a regional strategy.

It's not about “pointing fingers,” he said. “It's about shared responsibility . . . hopefully it's the start of something,” he said, adding that they don't expect another group or entity to be created.
The preference, he said, is for everybody with an interest in improving things to figure out what they can do to drive change forward.

A website, www.lakenipissingsummit.ca, is being created to generate interest in the event and provide information about registrations, but it's not set up yet.
Couchie said she feels this is the right thing to do.

“I'm really looking forward to those discussions and I'm hoping the communities around Lake Nipissing are going to come together . . . and we hope the various ministries will take part and there's buy-in (from the province),” she said. “We need more studies about what's happening with the lake.”

Ice unpredictable this year

By BRANDI CRAMER The Nugget
January 26, 2012

 

 

Tim Sheppard said ice on area lakes is the most unpredictable he has seen in a decade. In a lot of places, the thickness will not support a vehicle, said Sheppard, a sergeant with North Bay detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police.

“Even for large 4X4s, although the ice is strong enough to support them, the slush makes it difficult to travel,” he said Wednesday. At least three vehicles have broken through the ice of Lake Nipissing — one off Sunset Point, one in the south end of Callander Bay and one off Deepwater Point on the south shore. And at least six snowmobiles and one snowshoer have broken through the ice of area lakes, swamps and ponds.

Sheppard, who is also an avid fisherman, said this is an unusual year for ice conditions.
He said in past years, people have been able to drive vehicles on Lake Nipissing without difficulty, except after a heavy storm.

But this year “I certainly wouldn’t take my vehicle on it,” he said. “The slush is unbelievable.
“Trout Lake and Nosbonsing are also covered in slush. People are having difficulty moving shacks out to the far points on the lakes even with snow machines and four wheelers.”

Larry Bartlett, a certified ice recovery specialist and owner of Bartlett’s Towing, has recovered about 50 vehicles from lakes and swamps across Northern Ontario. He said the most common reason people break through is “they just don’t check the ice quality or thickness before they travel on it.” Bartlett said with a good quality ice — no air, no contamination or foreign substances such as dirt, reeds or cattails which all cause weakness — drivers need at least 10 inches of ice to support a half-ton truck.

Those brave enough to venture onto the ice in a vehicle should be sure they have proper insurance coverage. “You want to make sure you have comprehensive coverage for sure,” said David Blahey, a broker with All-Risks Insurance. In the case of a vehicle breaking through the ice, comprehensive insurance will generally cover the cost of recovery, as well as the vehicle. Owners of new vehicles generally have full coverage (comprehensive and collision) because financing companies and banks require it, but comprehensive coverage is not mandatory.

Sheppard said people should use common sense when it comes to venturing out onto the ice.
“If you don’t see vehicle anywhere, you might err on the side of caution instead of being the first one out to test it. It’s really not worth it,” Sheppard said.
bcramer@nugget.ca

 

MNR Reminding Anglers About Slot Sizes

 
 

Season opens Saturday (May 21, 2011)
By DAVE DALE The Nugget
 
Anglers are being reminded by the North Bay Ministry of Natural Resources to brush up on the knowledge of Zone 11 fishing regulations — specifically the slot sizes for walleye — before heading out when the season opens Saturday.
 
The general rule is to release walleye 43 to 60 centimetres long and while the limit for a regular licence is four walleye, anglers can keep only one over the slot size per day. But Lake Nipissing and Lake Temagami have special slot sizes designated specifically for those lakes to help mature female spawners survive and reproduce longer.
 
Chuck McCrudden, the MNR's Temagami area biologist, said the Lake Nipissing slot size begins at 40 cm, partly because Nipissing walleye grow slower and the fishery is considered stressed. Anglers, however, are not limited to one walleye over 60 cm based on the slot regulation adopted in 1998.
 
Temagami's slot size begins at 46 cm because walleye grow faster there, McCrudden said, although anglers are limited to one fish per day larger than 60 cm. McCrudden said the MNR created the slot size to reflect research indicating that 50% of female walleye are mature at 43 cm and at 47 cm about 90% were mature.
 
"So we are protecting the spawners for a number of years," he said, adding that the Zone 11 advisory council has met eight times since forming last fall to look at the future of the fisheries.

Lake Nipissing biologist Scott Kaufman said his five-year review of data regarding the Nipissing fishery is being peer-reviewed and may be ready by mid-June.
ddale@nugget.ca
Posted: 5/27/2011 

Slot Size Rules Help Preserve Walleye Supply —

 
 

John R. Hunt is a veteran newspaper columnist with the North Bay Nugget. He was honoured on May 25, 2011, as Senior Citizen of the Year in his home town of Cobalt, Ontario.
http://www.nugget.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=3141448
John R. Hunt now writes a weekly opinion piece for The Nugget, and the following was published May 25, 2011.
 
POINT OF VIEW
By JOHN R. HUNT The Nugget
May 25 2011
 
Few things are more delightful than the quiet sizzle of a frying pan filled with walleye fillets over a wood fire. The only thing that might be better is eating the walleye which has a taste and aroma all its own.
 
Walleye has a special place in North Bay's history. For centuries First Nations relied on Lake Nipissing's seemingly inexhaustible supply as a major food source.
 
The Dionne quintuplets triggered the tourist explosion. The thousands who travelled north to see the quintuplets also discovered Lake Nipissing. They took back the news that in North Bay there was a wonderful lake full of delicious walleye. Out of this came the tourist industry which still means so much to this city today.
 
Walleye bring dollars and jobs to motels, hotels, restaurants and garages. It helps the most humble of bait shops. The species' ever-increasing popularity has inevitably put the walleye population under considerable stress. This is a polite way of saying that if too many people continue catching too many fish, the results could be disastrous for Lake Nipissing in general and the North Bay economy in particular.
 
This means that everyone who uses Lake Nipissing in any way has a considerable responsibility to conserve. Conserving and enhancing fish stocks in Lake Nipissing and every other lake in Northern Ontario is terribly important. Mineral riches can be dug out of the ground and create jobs and wealth, but minerals are finite.
 
If Ontarians conserve their lakes and forests, fish and wildlife will be here to benefit their children and many generations beyond. Few enjoy being told what to do by interfering bureaucrats. But let's be honest. If it were not for all those interfering bureaucrats, and the biologists and assorted wildlife experts, plus the efforts of all kinds of sporting associations and conservation activists, there might not be any walleye left.
 
So when you go fishing check the regulations. There are differences in slot sizes between Lake Nipissing and Lake Temagami. Fish grow faster in some lakes than in others. The regulators want to preserve as many mature female fish as possible so they can produce more walleye for future anglers to enjoy.
 
So go fishing and have a truly great time. But do not forget those slot sizes. If observed, they will help create walleye for your grandchildren.

FISHERY: Walleye Eggs Collected At Wasi Falls

By DAVE DALE The Nugget
April 27, 2011
 
 

The walleye spawn at Wasi Falls was fast and furious this spring with mild weather allowing volunteers to collect two million eggs in three days. Dave Waye, of the Lake Nipissing Walleye Restocking Association, said there have been years when "nasty and miserable conditions" have turned their labour of love into a week or more of hard work.
 
"The spawn came very fast this year. We're kind of lucky we got out here when we did," Waye said, referring to the launch site at Wistiwasting Country Club dock where the eggs are mixed with male walleye sperm before being transported to the hatchery.
 
Trap nets are set near the Wasi Falls and they had no trouble catching 45 females and more males than they needed — including a 50-pound Muskie attracted by an easy spring buffet.
Usually, all the fish are returned live and unharmed to the lake, but the Ministry of Natural Resources took a dozen for a research project looking at walleye diet.
 
Scott Kaufman, MNR biologist for Lake Nipissing, said they're partnering with Laurentian University to find out if the invasion of spiny water flea has changed what walleye eat.
Kaufman said they'll be comparing the results with data taken in 2002 and 2003. Waye said collecting the eggs is one step in a process that will eventually lead to fingerlings and the fresh hatch being planted back at Wasi and rehabilitated spawning grounds at the Chapman's Chutes, La Vase River and Bear Creek.
 
While walleye restocking is no longer funded by the province and Lake Nipissing is considered capable of sustaining fishery reproduction on its own, Waye said the association feels it's worthwhile. "There are poor year classes," he said, when the natural spawn doesn't go well for a variety of reasons. "Our view is . . . this evens out the low points."
 
He said growing ponds in the West Arm of Lake Nipissing are also used to mature the young walleye and restocking there has returned a natural spawning population to an area that was depleted more than a decade ago. Waye said the restocking program has an 80% hatch rate compared to nature's 5% success, and the survival rate to the 2.5-inch size in ponds is about 50%, considerably better than in the wild. He said it would take as many as 1,000 female spawning walleye to do the work of the 45 females they used to gather the eggs. Kaufman said the river spawners are almost done for this year and the walleye that spawn in the lake on shoals will be busy for another week to 10 days. He said the walleye spawn is triggered by temperature and the warmer river water gets things started. John Gauthier, a first-time restocking program volunteer, said he thought it was time to give something back to the lake.

"This is a great thing, everybody in the community should get involved," said Gauthier, who's been fishing for decades. "I took a lot of fish out since I was 16 years old, a lot of big fish . . . so I'm back to help out."

ddale@nugget.ca

Something's Fishy On Nipissing

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Feb 11 2010

Lake Nipissing walleye may have become hooked on a fat-rich diet of smelts, a theory that explains a disappearing act this past fall, as well as ice fishing complaints and a recent explosion in the perch population.
 
Richard Rowe, Nipissing First Nation biologist, told The Nugget Thursday that "lower-than-expected catches of all size classes of walleye" were found in the annual netting survey.
Rowe said the fall walleye index netting results conflict with harvest success — the commercial quota was reached early — and the upward trend of spawning fish documented over the past five years despite similar pressure.
 
"The 2009 FWIN results are puzzling," he said, explaining how the results from the past 12 years made sense when compared to harvest data and estimates for both natives and non-natives. "This year is a bit of an anomaly," he said, suggesting it serves as a "wake-up" call for an expanded study. "It's not uncommon to have the odd 'off year' in a long term data set. Having said that, we cannot take that chance . . . The 2009 results cannot be ignored by managers."

Rowe recommends a detailed study involving a partnership of stakeholders to test his "ecosystem change" theory, combined with an independent trap netting exercise in the spring to validate or add to the FWIN results.
 
He said the annual FWIN study documents other species at the same time, "showing perch numbers trending way up, with herring trending down." Native harvesters, Rowe said, are reporting many more smelt in the lake and they are forming a significant part of the walleye diet.

"These trends in perch and herring, as well as what anglers are saying about walleye not biting, (combined with) a recent increase in walleye growth rate, are all consistent with an increase in smelt," he said. "Walleye on a smelt diet could potentially change their activity patterns making them much less active, which could partially explain low FWIN catches as well," he said.
 
"There also appear to be changes at the zooplankton level of the food web, which, if confirmed, may be the mechanism for an increase in smelt, among other things," Rowe said. "It's all circumstantial evidence, but it's really starting to pile up for some type of ecosystem change."

The Nugget's inquiry about the FWIN results came before Rowe finalized the results and held a data-sharing meeting with North Bay District Ministry of Natural Resources staff and other parties. Rowe said he intends to discuss the issue with the Lake Nipissing Stewardship Council later this month.
 
Phil Hall, acting district supervisor, confirmed the MNR biologist involved with Lake Nipissing is on parental leave and a replacement hasn't been named. Hall also said winter creel data is still being collected by staff during the week and a contract worker every weekend. But Hall, speaking as a private citizen who fishes every winter with an ice hut off Deepwater Point along the south shore of Lake Nipissing, said his experience coincides with what many people are saying. "We're not getting too many walleye and the perch are way, way up," he said, adding that everybody also says "the walleye fishing was great this summer."
 
Bill Richards of Billy Bob's Bait at Lakeshore and Pinewood Park drives said he thinks the lake is in "excellent shape" because walleye fishing is "great in the spring and great in the summer."

Those who fish successfully in winter, Richards said, are not sitting in their huts on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. He said many of his customers who fish early in the morning and early evening are pulling up one to three walleye and about a dozen perch each time out. If anything, Richards said, people are getting frustrated catching too many "slot-size" fish 40 to 60 centimetres long. Walleye this size are considered prime spawners and must be released back into the water.
 
His son called him from the lake recently via cellphone, Richards said, asking what to do with a 70-cm walleye. When told to release it, he said his son refused, saying, "I just threw the last six back."

Carl D'Amour, a retired MNR conservation officer and part owner of Grump and Grumpy's ice fishing bungalows, said Rowe's smelt theory isn't far fetched. D'Amour said smelts hang out in large schools suspended well above the floor of the lake. Lake Nipissing ice fishermen commonly bounce their jigs off the bottom. Josh Savoie, Ben Laplante and Patrick Corriveau were heading out to "Perch City" Thursday afternoon, a collection of ice huts east of the Manitou Islands. Savoie said they've been catching tasty perch steadily for weeks, but only caught two walleye. Laplante, however, caught an 11-pound ling, a species of freshwater cod that is making a comeback in Lake Nipissing.
Corriveau, a seasonal construction worker laid off for the winter, said he get as much fishing in as possible before he gets too busy in the summer. "I enjoy the outdoors, even if I don't catch anything all day," he said, with Laplante saying they caught 80 perch the other day, including 35 keepers for a fish-fry that night. "It was good eating." 

ddale@nugget.ca
Source: Dave Dale North Bay Nugget
Posted: 2/11/2010

 

Health Of Lake Is What's Important — LETTER


By Gaye Smith, Paisley
February, 2010
The article Shiner shortage doesn't auger well for anglers (Nugget, Feb. 20) suggest that anglers catching a lot of fish and bait dealers making a lot of money in 2010 is more important than the health and the future well being of the fishery in Lake Nipissing.

The ban on the transportation of minnows from water bodies south of Highway 401 to Northern Ontario was a measure introduced by the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2006. The regulation was put in place to stop the spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) from the Great Lakes to inland lakes in Northern Ontario. The VHS virus is particularly lethal to species of fish like the walleye. It is entirely possible that infected minnows could cause an outbreak of VHS in Lake Nipissing's walleye, decimating the fishery and destroying the years of work put into rehabilitating the fishery.

Bait dealers have had four years to find an alternate source of minnows. It is ludicrous to suggest that the regulation is still responsible for the shortage.

It is absurd to allow anglers from southern Ontario to bring minnows with them. One five-gallon pail of minnows could be just as lethal to the Lake Nipissing fishery as 500.

Eating Northern Pike

There are many cottagers who do not like to eat pike because they are "full of bones". This is unfortunate because there are many anglers who enjoy the delicious taste of pike. The UFRCA discovered the website How to eat a northern pike  that shows how to clean a northern pike without getting bones. We thought this would be interesting for our members. 

Lake Nipissing In Decline
Nipissing Interim Fisheries Management Plan 2007-2010

 
MNR Meeting at Dokis FN September 7, 2006
A public meeting was held Thursday Sept 7, 2006 at Dokis First Nation to present a draft for Jan 1, 2007 implementation. Another meeting was held Tuesday Sept 12, 2006 in Sturgeon Falls. Walleye represent 90% of all fishing interest and appear to be stressed in the larger spawning fish. This is largely attributable to high winter angling and a sharp increase in Nipissing First Nation’s commercial harvest. Reports can be obtained from North Bay District Office of Ministry of Natural Resources (705-475-2400). There is a deadline of Oct 6, 2006 for public comment. A final report will be published Nov 1, 2006 with a 30-day period for public comment.
Source: Harold Meyer Jr.
Posted: 9/18/2006 

Group Replenishing Walleye Stock; Lake Nipissing Fishery In Decline, Association Says 

Printed from www.nugget.ca web site Thursday, August 10, 2006 - © 2006 Nugget-Osprey Media Jordan Ercit Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - 08:00

Deep in the woods, a few kilometres from the town of North Monetville, lies a man-made pond that stretches 150 metres long and two metres deep. It's a pond teeming with walleye fingerlings that its owners hope holds the key to the fish's future survival in Lake Nipissing.
"When you open those gates to collect the fry and fingerlings, you realize that there is a God," Vacationland 64 Walleye Hatchery Association president Heinz Loewenberg said as he overlooked the collection pen on the walleye stocking pond's north face.

"It is a wonderful thing to see all that work come to fruition."

A group of concerned local business people on the West Arm of Lake Nipissing have been running the hatchery for more than 15 years, enriching the waters of the Monetville area with yellow walleye they say is in decline.

The association of local volunteers works in conjunction with the South Shore Group of Callander Bay, raising 1.7 million fry (walleye hatchlings) and almost 80,000 fingerlings (older hatchlings that are two to four inches in length) this year alone.

Using money mainly out of their own pockets and from the donations of concerned citizens, Callander Bay milks the eggs and milt (sperm) from adult walleye, while Vacationland raises the fry and fingerlings in its pond farm, that runs from April to October.

Teeming with amphibian life - an indicator of a healthy marine ecosystem - the pond is supplemented with natural nutrients that walleye feed upon. This cuts down on the walleye fingerlings cannibalizing each other.

Loewenberg, who added that volunteers contribute between 1,100 and 1,200 hours of their time, estimated the cost to run the hatchery is $1,000 a year just for feed.

He said there is another $2,000 to $8,000 per year spent on equipment improvements or facility expansions, little or none of which is funded by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Loewenberg said local businesses sell fishing licences on behalf of the ministry, totalling $500,000.

He would like to see some of that cash find its way back to his group's effort.

"There are other individuals who are just as keen, just as interested and just as genuine as what we in turn do," Loewenberg said. "And they are being told that they are not going to receive any money? I am saying that is wrong and it's not right."

MNR said it grants $500 per year to separate stocking programs around the North Bay area.
The Vacationland 64 Walleye Hatchery Association would like to be able to approach the size of a similar program run by the state of New York in Constantia on Lake Oneida.

Highlighted by an article in the Oswego Post-Standard, the Oneida Fish Cultural Station is run by the state and milks 32,000 adult walleye. The result of the delicate milking process is 320 million fertilized eggs.

Kevin Cameron, Vacationland volunteer and owner of Lakair Lodge, said the MNR does not believe in the association's stocking program.

Difficult getting volunteers. "It makes it very difficult for us to get volunteers to even continue to get funding," he said. "People are saying, 'biologists and the MNR are saying that stocking doesn't work, so why do we want to waste our time and give you money for something that doesn't work?'"

Richard Rowe, a management biologist with the MNR North Bay District office, said in an e-mail stocking works in certain cases. However, that is not the case with the group from West Arm. "This project has many ancillary benefits, one being that it keeps people involved with and in touch with the resource," he stated. "Biologically, however, fingerling stocking on Lake Nipissing has very little, or no value, in increasing the number of catchable walleye on the lake."

He added supplemental stocking has shown no positive effects in the level of walleye populations. Currently, walleye are spawning successfully in Lake Nipissing and current stocking efforts are classified as supplemental.

Loewenberg said one of the main sources of revenue in the West Arm area is the business created from recreational sport fishing. Cabins, hotels and resorts reap the benefits of tourists who travel here to cast a line in Lake Nipissing.

But the walleye population cannot sustain itself, he added, and the Vacationland 64 group is just as interested in creating or rehabilitating spawning beds as it is in supplementing the current population.

As a result, the group is planning a conference within a year to bring together native groups, experts and government biologists to provide knowledge on the subject of fish stocking.
Loewenberg said the conference will be a first.

"These are the people that are extremely knowledgeable and have a good feeling for how these programs truly work," he said. "And in turn we will be able to project certain thoughts and ideas on how we can make improvements here or maintain a viable fishery.

"That is the only way we can continue with a program that is going to be functional and something that will be important for future generations."

For over 18 years the Lake Nipissing South Shore Association supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources has been running a Walleye Restocking Program to help maintain a healthy fish population in our beautiful lake. Each year volunteers put in hundreds of work hours to make sure future generations will be able to enjoy fishing Lake Nipissing.

For more information on the Lake Nipissing Walleye Restocking program, please visit the websites below.
Lake Nipissing Walleye Restocking Program
2004 MNR Fish Stocking Report