It has been another great year of fishing on our lakes. It is great to see the ongoing traditions of families going out to catch lake trout, bass or any of the smaller species that keep the kids smiling! Our lake trout continue to be healthy, so enjoy your catch!
Winter 2010-2011 Update:
This past winter seemed to have stumped many anglers, as we spoke with several people on the lakes and in town who recognized that the fish were not biting like they usually do. Although I have no explanation for this, should you have had a similar experience this past season know that you were not alone. If you had great success…congratulations!
Will the Lake Trout Slot Size be Changing?
There have been a lot of discussions over the past few years about the frustration anglers are having with the lake trout slot size. Any Lake Trout caught that measures 40-55 cm total length (“measured from tip of the mouth with the jaws closed to the tip of the tail with the tail fin lobes compressed to give the maximum possible length"-2011 Fishing Regulations), must be released. We also know from several years of MNR studies on Kawagama that a very significant proportion of the current lake trout are within that slot size. As a result, many people have indicated that they don’t bother fishing anymore. Usually because they end up releasing almost every fish they catch, or they are forced to keep fish that are typically smaller than they would normally keep (a lake trout 39 cm is probably just big enough to feed 2 people). This may explain why there has been significant decline in the number of people who are fishing for lake trout. “The lake trout population in Kawagama Lake is healthy” (Scholten, 2008). He recommended that the current regulation be liberalized in consideration of low fishing effort on Kawagama and the healthy lake trout population. A submission has been made to alter the current fishing regulation, however, this review has been deferred until there can be a zone-wide review of the regional lake trout strategy. During recent communication (May 2011) with Steve Scholten, MNR, he has indicated that he will raise this question again as there has been, “No movement on the regulation front.” It is possible that future regulations will alter either the open season dates for lake trout during the winter months, and/or allow for an alteration to the protected slot size length. We will keep you updated via the KLCA website should changes be announced.
Brook Trout Update:
As many of you are aware (announced at the 2010 AGM), Kawagama was stocked with 5000 Brook Trout on June 14, 2010. They were spread out between the main lake and Fletcher Bay. This was the result of the fish hatchery having a surplus of Brook Trout that needed a new home. Since Kawagama does have some natural Brook Trout in it and there are some areas in the lake which may provide ideal habitat for them, the MNR asked if we wanted these. This stocking option was a one-time arrangement for Kawagama UNLESS we hear from people who have been catching them. Ideally, if you catch a Brook Trout (in Kawagama or Bear Lakes) please let us know. If possible, we would like a photo and/or measurements of the length and width of the fish, but most importantly we need to know if these fish are surviving. If there is evidence that they are managing the bigger lake climate then there is greater potential for future stocking efforts from the MNR.
General information about Brook Trout (also known as Speckled Trout):
Sources: Ministry of Natural Resources “Fish Ontario” Brook Trout publication, and “2011 Fishing Ontario-Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary”.
Open Seasons: January 1 to September 30 (Same as Lake Trout)
Catch Limits*: Sport Fishing Licence = 5
Conservation Fishing Licence =2
What does this mean for anglers on Kawagama and Bear lakes?
Ministry of Natural Resources Summer Profundal Index Netting (SPIN) Studies:
For the past several years, the MNR has been monitoring the fish populations and specific attention to Lake Trout, through SPIN process. This is when they come out to Kawagama for a week and set nets out to catch fish at different sites and depths. The results have always been encouraging that the fish are healthy and self-sustaining. There is a plan to do another SPIN study on Kawagama Lake in August 2011.
New Project for 2011- Bathymetric Surveys/ Depth Mapping:
The MNR had identified that there were gaps in the existing lake survey map on Kawagama Lake, which could potentially skew some data. In June 2011, the MNR provided GPS Depth Sounding equipment to collect new data of the lakes (Bear Lake was also completed). The work was done on a volunteer basis over the course of about 50+ hours. The equipment applies depth sonar with GPS technology to create very accurate information about the lakes volume mean and maximum depths. This information has only been partially recorded by the MNR in the past. By completing the surveys-literally every shoreline within 2 metres depth and around every island and bay were traveled by boat. The MNR can use this new data for evaluating habitat suitability for various aquatic species, determining the sensitivity of that habitat to development (i.e.: cold water habitat for lake trout, etc.), locating potential spawning beds/shoals and selecting other sampling sites for other surveys. It will also provide more accurate data for other assessments by knowing the number of hectares of water in the lake when determining the number of lake trout/hectare and other water studies.
The project was possible through the efforts and equipment of the MNR Bracebridge with Steve Scholten Fisheries Biologist and two KLCA volunteers. The MNR has produced a colour coded map of Kawagama (Bear is pending) indicating depth changes. The availability of this new data/map for KLCA members is still pending further discussion with the MNR.
This was a very interesting initiative and further support the MNR in their mandate related to water and fisheries studies of our lake(s).
Conservation Officer Enforcement Strategies:
Is it a bird…is it a plane…is it the MNR?
The Ministry of Natural Resources has a number of investigative tools and advancements since inception in 1892. Some of these include GPS tracking, Canine Units and now Aerial Patrols, which allow officers to patrol remote areas and lakes more efficiently. As one officer stated to me,"…although it is much more expensive (to have a helicopter, 3 conservation officers, a pilot and a search dog), we can cover more territory in one day then it would take us individually to cover in three weeks…in the winter."
Some of the violations charged: Fishing without a license, failing to produce a license, fishing with too many lines, and failing to register an ice hut. Officers can also charge under the Motorized Snow Vehicle and Off-Roads Vehicle Acts, and Liquor License Act (for open liquor on the ice).
The regulations are in place to keep our lakes healthy and viable. Make sure you know the fishing and hunting regulations in our area. Your Outdoor Card is only valid if BOTH the expiry date on the front of the card AND the expiry date of the license (either a tag on the back or a paper copy of e-license) are currently valid. We have an amazing lake with healthy fish populations and we want to encourage you to enjoy “the thrill of the catch”.
2011 Fishing Regulations are available on-line at: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/LetsFish/index.html
All Ontarians can play a part in protecting our natural resources from waste, abuse and depletion. If you are a witness to a resource violation within Ontario, please call the Ministry of Natural Resources TIPS line at: 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667)
Before reporting please note the following:
· Nature of Violation (fishing, hunting, forestry, water, etc)
· Vehicle Information
· Location of violation (Address, County, Township, Lot, etc)
· Particulars of the violation, or other relevant information
Note: a picture is worth a thousand words! (www.mnr.gov.ca)
The following is a summary covering Kawagama, Bear, Livingstone Lakes*:• Only one line may be used when angling through the ice• Lake Trout-between 40-55 cm (15.7 - 21.7 inches) MUST be released
Kimball Lake continues to be closed during the winter months (Lake trout season is the 3rd Saturday in May until September 30.)
* Ensure you check the Regulations for any other important information