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PostPosted: March 28th, 2010, 4:15 pm 
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I've been getting some spam for Ontario's Kwagama Lake Lodge for a while, so I finally checked it out. It was a little surprising to see picture after picture of happy anglers with dead brookies, that seems so out of fashion nowadays. However, as I perused the site, I read this - "ur photo gallery shows recent pictures of our beautiful trout. The fishing is as good (some say better) than it ever has been. Our current pictures are a testament to the effectiveness of our resource management.

Kwagama Lake Lodge is fortunate to have a unique resource. We cherish our Brook (speckled) Trout almost as much as we cherish our guests. Because of the large population of Brook Trout in the lake, the Ontario Ministry of Wildlife has actually suggested that more fish should be harvested from Kwagama Lake. To accomplish this goal, our guests enjoy freshly caught Brook Trout while in camp and are welcome to take a few fish home. Of course, our guest must adhere to the Ontario fishing regulations.".

Imagine that - biologists outside of Maine that actually think a brook trout fishery can benefit from harvest! And to think that all these years I've been reading that it's strictly a Maine thing, like we've got our own science (or lack thereof) going around here. Now, they also say this -"Our guests love to catch trophy sized Brook Trout. We find that guests are most likely to keep and eat the Brook Trout in the 15-18 inch size range. When bigger fish are caught, many of our guests choose to take a picture and then gently release the fish, especially those over 20 inches. Many of the larger fish never leave the water when caught. Our fly fishermen are as gentle with these big fish as they were with their first born child. They cherish the resource as much as we do.".

So, it seems as though a "de facto" slot limit is sustaining an excellent fishery complete with fresh brook trout on the menu. Maybe this model work work well on some of our larger brookie lakes.

Check out the site for yourself - http://www.kwagamalakelodge.com/


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PostPosted: March 28th, 2010, 4:33 pm 
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one point: they have created a culture, it seems, that values the trophy, and keeps the eaters.....

any ideas what the lake is like? depth, feed, spawning habitat, etc? as our own biologists tell us, nearly every ecosystem is different, so generalities don't hold much water, so to speak, regardless of philosophy....

they, themselves, call their fishery unique......what is sustainable there may not be sustainable elsewhere......i must admit, the lodge looks interesting, i'll have to check it out a little more in depth......prices look reasonable


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PostPosted: March 28th, 2010, 8:00 pm 
Sounds like a very fertile ecosystem. No doubt Ontario waters are a bit different water chemistry wise.

FWIW...I've been advocating a harvest slot here for years...and I do think there is some potential for such a thing here.

Would be nice to see 20" fish released here...instead of in freezers or on walls.


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PostPosted: March 28th, 2010, 8:47 pm 
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I have always believed that if you want to eat you eat the little ones and release the big fish. It only makes sense, if you are a farmer and want big pigs you let the big pigs breed.

Some ponds in Maine could benefit from a small harvest and some would not. every water has its own thing that is right for it. There is no one rule for all that is good.......Just my opinion

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PostPosted: March 28th, 2010, 9:17 pm 
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"let the big pigs breed."

That explains the obesity running rampant in the country today

Ron

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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 7:34 am 
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Rory,

Which Maine brook trout lakes do you think might benefit from such a management approach?


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 8:22 am 
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Good question, and how much of the equation can be replicated to produce how much of the result is a bigger one. Let's take Sourdnahunk Lake for example. Long nicknamed "the trout factory" by biologists, it's blessed with abundant natural reproduction, a good forage base of insects and crustaceans, and lacks competing species. It has been FFO since God was a child, yet the average trout size remains around 10-12", and specimens like the ones pictured at Kwagamala would be considered trophies, not the ones "in need of culling". When I fished it back in the seventies, it fished much like it sounds it does today (I haven't been there in years, but the old timers claimed 14 to 16" fish were much more common in "the good old days". They were probably referring to the 40's through the 60s or so. So, why can't we increase the average size of those fish, are the potential growth rates at Soudy simply vastly inferior, or is there a regulatory parameter or two that could allow for a dramatic increase in the average size? It seems like it's high time for an experiment of some sort at one of the more productive lakes in the stae.


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 8:36 am 
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I casn think of a few from past experience

Mooslookmeguntic
Kennebago
little kennebago
soudnahunk
little soudnahunk
bal mountain pond
seboomook
Brassua
Attean

anyone of these waters could benefit from a 12" MAXIMUM limit for varying quantity on the limit ...the kennebagos IF you so choose you could keep 3-5 per day MAX 12" ....same with soudnahunks ...Mooslook 1 fish MAX 14" why does every protective/conservative law have to end with "only one may be bigger than......"

Bio's... Smio's :P :wink: when you Kill BIG fish ...by default ther is that many fewer BIG fish ...period.

it is obvious to me that changes are in order and needed when you fish a particular lake in the Rangeley area for a week and catch 120 trout and 100 of them are 5-9" long and the balance are 10-16 (most 10-12" ) and 4 or 5 fish out of the week are a true 15-16"

cdc


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 9:06 am 
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Rory wrote:
Good question, and how much of the equation can be replicated to produce how much of the result is a bigger one. Let's take Sourdnahunk Lake for example. Long nicknamed "the trout factory" by biologists, it's blessed with abundant natural reproduction, a good forage base of insects and crustaceans, and lacks competing species. It has been FFO since God was a child, yet the average trout size remains around 10-12", and specimens like the ones pictured at Kwagamala would be considered trophies, not the ones "in need of culling". When I fished it back in the seventies, it fished much like it sounds it does today (I haven't been there in years, but the old timers claimed 14 to 16" fish were much more common in "the good old days". They were probably referring to the 40's through the 60s or so. So, why can't we increase the average size of those fish, are the potential growth rates at Soudy simply vastly inferior, or is there a regulatory parameter or two that could allow for a dramatic increase in the average size? It seems like it's high time for an experiment of some sort at one of the more productive lakes in the stae.


Rory

sounds like you have an excellent question shaping up for the "Ask IF&W" section......obviously this type of thing isn't for maine's ogliotrophic lakes, as they just don't have the feed for this to be viable......but under the conditions you are describing, it sounds possible/plausible

this then brings the age old question.....do fisherman want numbers of fish to catch, or the chance for a big fish? the lodge you showed seems to have conditions that allow for both......if there is a maine pond that is prolific enough to replicate something of this nature, i say go for it......new ideas and new ways of thinking are never a bad thing


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 9:15 am 
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Rory,
I agree with you. Sourdnahunk Lake would be ideal for trying a true slot.

I fished the Lake a lot in the eighties and caught many fish 14 to 16 inches. The overall trout size has been smaller over the past 10 or 12 years (as has been noted by IFW). For years the Lake was a 5 fish, 10 inch min.…with an increase in fishing pressure, the result was “croppingâ€


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 9:19 am 
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rory and izaak jointly pushing for a reg. change that they both agree on?

is it april 1 already?


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 10:22 am 
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Quote:
I fished the Lake a lot in the eighties and caught many fish 14 to 16 inches.


I guess this is part of where the differences of opinion originate. I fished it a small number of times in the late seventies, early eighties and saw maybe 1 14 inch fish, which is larger than I ever caught. If you did that well, you were either exceptionally skilled, lucky, or both, or the fishing there was a heck of a lot better than most of us realized. None of the veterans like Lefty Doe that spent summers there were reporting that kind of fishing, though they claimed such fish were caught in the past.


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 11:01 am 
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Well Rory, I didn't fish it in the seventies, but I did fish it often about 1984 and for the next 10 years. I fished it early to mid June with large nymphs on bottom. Also the drake hatch around the 4th of July using size 6 yellow hornbergs. I, and those I fished with, had very good success catching 14 to 16 inch fish.

Regardless, Soudy still has the potential to produce larger fish through management with that focus... IMHO.


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 11:09 am 
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I agree that Sourdnahunk Lake is a good candidate for the the experiment. (I'm not so sure about Little Sourdnahunk, where my experience was limited, but where I saw a lot fewer fish than on the bigger lake, some of them nice sized. But I've only fished it a half dozen times.)

It would be nice if we had some DATA on the size distribution of trout in the lake at various times, rather than our often-failing memories.

One thing I have noticed after many years of talking to fishermen is that if someone has been fishing a long time, they can always remember some time in the past when the fishing was better.

In part this reflects reality--it often really was better in the good old days. But it also reflects the fact that what we remember best are those exceptional days or seasons when we caught more/bigger fish.

Ask me about how the striper fishing used to be, and I'll talk a lot about the mid to late 90's and early 00's, and how much better it was then. You won't hear me talk about the 1980's, when I fished the beaches in Cumberland and York County hard every summer, and none of us ever thought about catching striped bass because we were too busy unhooking bluefish.

Finally, it seems to me that to make the Kwagaama experiment work, we'd need to adopt both the allowed harvest of small fish AND the release of large ones. We might also have to have a limited access fishery where we could carefully keep the number of anglers low enough to not overharvest the resource. (This is common in Canada, but, with the exception of Kennebago and a few other waters, not in Maine.)

Finally, as another recipient of the constant Kwagaama spam, I have to wonder if the fishing can possibly be as good as they suggest. They sure seem to market it awful hard, and in my experience, brook trout fishing like that relatively close to the population centers in the Midwest wouldn't need heavy marketing to fill the beds.


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2010, 11:26 am 
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I've fished Soudy now for about 20 years and can agree on the prevalent fish size being in the 10-12 inch range now. There are a some that will push 14-16 but they are few and far between. Now I must say I primarily fish it during the Hex hatch for about a week in July but even when fishing it in early season (May/June) I don't see anyone getting big fish.

I know that the group I fish with does cull their catch for the shorter fish, we'll always try to put the larger fish back. Despite a very heavy haul of fish ( I know people who do 5 day every day they fish) the lake does seem to sustain an abundant population.

I've often wondered what a smaller limit might do for over all size. I also figured it might start a revolution up there in the north woods if someone suggest that. Too many old-timers who want 5 a day.

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