CORMORANTS! Today!

Share info on fishing Champlain.
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Wallyandre (Andre)
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CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby Wallyandre (Andre) » Mon May 06, 2019 8:32 pm

Today just around Westport I saw a flock of cormorants like I never seen before!! 2 miles long at least! Imagine all the fish that are eating by those "rat birds"

What are they waiting to do Something!
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Reelax
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby Reelax » Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:00 pm

This is th biggest threat to our fishery we have and nothing is being done about it for years and years. I think the missing year classes of salmon we we are seeing (none over 8lbs any more :( ) is due to these things... they are coming back to the lake earlier in the year cause they know there are easy pickings....

If Lake Champlain plain did not have a cormorant problem it would be a world class land locked saloon fishery.....

But I guess there is no way to fix this?
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby The River Rat » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:24 am

I'm seeing them every day here in southern Vermont in stronger numbers every year. I beleive if the State of Vermont was to actual do some studies or even just roughly crunch some numbers, they would find that all their stocking programs are done in vein to these black devils and they may as well be just hand feeding them.
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby bagman » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:47 am

There have been a number of studies done on cormorant feeding habits on Champlain. Their primary food sources (from stomach contents) are alewives, smelt and perch. Yes freshly stocked smolts are also preyed upon. The state has tried very hard to stock fish before the cormorants arrive in spring with some going in under the ice. Would I love to see the cormorants wiped out. Yes! BUT make no bones about it the number one enemy of our cold water fishery is LAMPREYS. Hits have been on the rise in 2017 and 2018 and are at unacceptable levels hindering the potential this fishery has despite the hard working efforts of the lamprey control teams. The data is out there. It is a game of wack a mole- you get them here and they pop up there - even in places where they weren't before. A single lamprey can kill up to 40lbs of fish in its life cycle. Lake Champlain has an exceptional amount of lamprey breeding habitat compared to the great lakes.Until we get this problem under control the fishery will continue to be what it is. I continue to have confidence that Brad Young and his crew will defeat this problem through their renewed efforts and techniques they are developing
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the_doctor
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby the_doctor » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:52 am

bagman wrote:BUT make no bones about it the number one enemy of our cold water fishery is LAMPREYS.

Good point, bagman. It is easier to direct your rage at the cormorants because they are easier to spot than a lamprey!

I thought I had a picture saved of the big flock I saw in the Outer Bay on Saturday but can't find it. Here's a different, not as impressive pic of the treeline full of cormorants in Keeler Bay last week.

What we can LCU members can do to help the battle against lampreys, cormorants, and other invaders? Thoughts?

cormorants.jpg
cormorants.jpg (157.06 KiB) Viewed 237 times
bagman
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby bagman » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:13 am

Unfortunately everyones hands are tied concerning cormorants until it is resolved in the courts. They are a problem on the great lakes as well. The F&W folks are requesting as many diary cooperators as they can get. The info they get is very useful. So sign up if you haven't already. They only had 19 cooperators last year and it is difficult to cull any reliable info from such a small sample. There are some encouraging signs on the lake as well. Lake trout natural reproduction is now a reality. Ellen Marsden expects 4 to 5 year olds in the mix this year. Also there seems to be an uptick in salmon 16" to 20" this year which is encouraging and signifies better survival and some larger class fish to come. And last but not least kill every lamprey you get your hands on!
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby popster » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:29 pm

As Bagman said, the Champlain Angler Diary Cooperator program is such a valuable source of data for the management of OUR fisheries. Please sign up if you have not already done. It is very easy to fill out, even a cave man can do it!
Here is 1 page of our diary from the Rotary Derby this past weekend
Image
As we wanted to release the fish immediately, no weights are taken, just lengths & most importantly, fin clips, if any.
Of note.... 2 of the Lakers on the page, (20” & 26”) did not have any fin clips, which means they are probably naturally produced.

The 5 fins that are potentially clipped in the hatchery are diagramed below.
Image
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby TUnamas » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:42 pm

Popster - Thanks for sharing that Diary page. Now a question, and I ask this only because I respect you as one of the top and well connected anglers on the lake: With 3 anglers aboard (6 lines) fishing for 11 hours at would should be nearly the peak of the season (yet acknowledging things are late this year), do you believe the fishery is healthy with 10 fish (5 salmon) averaging about 20"?
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby fishy1 » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:55 pm

i agree the lamprey are a huge problem but so are the cormorants which eat lots of fish. the combination is deadly. here is some things i wonder about i catch lots of salmon lakers with old lamprey marks on them they can heal but when a cormorant eats fish and they eat alot the fish dont survive. i was fishing the bouquet river this morning and they were all over the river im sure diving for the stocked salmon and browns. they treat the streams for the lampreys which is great but nothing is done about the cormorants because of a political mess all started when the en con officers and wardens started shooting the immature ones. the browns were stocked here in port henry and the cormorants were there waiting.
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popster
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby popster » Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:08 pm

Guess you missed the “check box if continued on next page” in the section for Remarks!!!
Tight lines, Scott

I agree with you that we have a long way to go. We caught many fish, weighed in a 10.0 lb LT, but Salmon sizes were disappointing. Increasing Lamprey wounding rates, an uncertain handle on our forage/Smelt base and, yes, Cormorant predation are all factors involved in the mix that have to be addressed.
I would think that the winning fish in the Salmon category should have weighed well over the 6.75 lb Brown, that won the Rotary after 2 1/2 days of fishing in the prime time of Salmonid fishing.
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby TUnamas » Mon Jun 03, 2019 5:23 pm

Thanks for your candor Bill. I saw the checked box, but couldn't get to page 2! I fear that there are many factors impacting the salmon this year (including birds/lamprey and low fall water of years prior), and I hope/suspect they will rebound in the next few years if we can get a handle on it, but I fear that there will be shifted pressure to the lake trout this year, which don't survive release as well and have a slower growth cycle. LCI data will be telling, as it will be too late in the year to blame it on spring high water. Hopefully we will see some salmon north of 6 lbs and the laker population isn't compromised/decimated! (But it is nice to see bigger browns!!)
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby BottomDollar » Mon Jun 03, 2019 5:55 pm

I ran into a couple of USDA guys at the Converse access a couple of weeks ago who had a limited depredation permit for cormorants. They are well aware of the bird problem, but they have to operate under strict guidelines for moving the birds off of public land. They first use "pyrotechnics," i.e shotgun blanks, and if they come back they then use limited lethal measures (bird shot).

Until the federal restrictions are removed, everyone's hands are tied on the cormorant issue. The federal staff know that they're out of balance here on the lake, but they can't actually do much except try to scare them off of islands and kill an insignificant number of adults.
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keithm87
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Re: CORMORANTS! Today!

Postby keithm87 » Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:33 pm

bagman wrote:Unfortunately everyones hands are tied concerning cormorants until it is resolved in the courts. They are a problem on the great lakes as well. The F&W folks are requesting as many diary cooperators as they can get. The info they get is very useful. So sign up if you haven't already. They only had 19 cooperators last year and it is difficult to cull any reliable info from such a small sample. There are some encouraging signs on the lake as well. Lake trout natural reproduction is now a reality. Ellen Marsden expects 4 to 5 year olds in the mix this year. Also there seems to be an uptick in salmon 16" to 20" this year which is encouraging and signifies better survival and some larger class fish to come. And last but not least kill every lamprey you get your hands on!


I have wondered for a while what makes the cormorant special... it is a listed species on the migratory birds act treaty, but so are Ducks, Geese, and even crows. I feel like as much as I am not a fan of our current administrations environmental policies, now is the time where we have an actual chance by contacting the powers that be. On a federal level we have not had a group of people in control of environmental policy so hostile to the environment in history, and while it will be devastating to our water quality, there is the advantage that they may be more apt to be in favor of delisting the cormorant. If that were to happen, or its listing were to be adjusted it could be open season of the little bastards!

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