ontario

HIGHLIGHTS OF '96 OMNR REPORT FOR LAKE ONTARIO

Although some natural reproduction occurs for chinook, lake trout, and especially for rainbow trout, OMNR data suggests that abundance of naturally produced rainbows has decreased since 1991. This could affect the sport fishery, in which 25% to 30% of the rainbow harvest is of naturally produced fish. Lake trout natural reproduction appears to be on the rise. During 1995, 89 naturally produced juvenile lakers were captured, compared to 11 in 1994.

Chinook salmon: During 1995, more than 460,000 chinook salmon fingerlings were stocked in the western basin in Canadian waters of Lake Ontario, representing a 3% increase over the target ceiling of 450,000. The stocking for 1996 was 400,000. Harvest rates declined 30% during 1995 compared to 1994. The harvest rate, 0.039 fish per rod hour, was the second lowest on record since 1985. Previously, harvest rates peaked in 1986 due to high stocking levels during the early 1980s despite continued high stocking numbers.

Rainbow trout: The OMNR stocked a total of 240,000 rainbow trout (180,000 fingerlings and 60,000 yearlings) during 1995 in several western basin sites, to reduce impacts on wild rainbow populations east of Toronto. After harvest rate declines of rainbows in 1992, harvest rates have remained stable between 1993 and 1995. The contribu-tion of wild rainbows to the fishery revealed that 24% to 32% of rainbows caught in the sport fishery were of natural origin, with the highest proportions observed in 1994 and 1995. Assessment of young rainbow recruit-ment conducted in 33 of 40 tributaries, suggested that natural production was 435,822 fish in 1995, down 31% from 1994 and 52% from 1993.

Lake trout: During the spring of 1995, 526,000 yearling lakers (roughly 50% of the pre-1993 stocking level) was stocked by OMNR. Gill net catches of juvenile fish declined by 63% between 1994 and 1995, reflecting the stocking reductions, while catches of adult fish continued to increase. The effects of stocking cuts on adult laker abundance are not likely to be felt until 1997 or 1998. Survival of adult lakers is high, indicating the effectiveness of sea lamprey control. Lamprey wounding rates remain low at 0.01 to 0.02 wounds per fish in 1995 compared to the rates of up to 0.08 wounds per fish during the 1980s.

Western Lake Ontario Boat Fishery: During 1995, angling effort from the daily launch fishery was estimated at 365,000 rod hours, of which 92% was targeted at salmonines. This accounted for an 18% decline from 1994 and the lowest observed in 10 years. The 1995 launch fishery harvests declined 37% compared to those of 1994, to the second lowest since 1983. Chinook salmon dominated the launch fishery harvests at 59% followed by rainbow trout at 19%, lake trout at 14%, brown trout at 3%, coho at 2% and walleye at 3%. Harvest rates in the launch fishery decreased by 25% from 1994 to 1995. Previously, the harvest rates had been stable. The decline in harvest rates was attributed to reduced angler effort and not reduced fishing quality. The 1995 marina-based fisheries expended 177,809 rod-hours of fishing effort, 99% of which targeted at salmonines. Salmonine harvests were 14,692 fish at a harvest rate of 0.083 fish/rod hr. for the marina-based, boat fishery. In the marina-based fishery, chinook domi-nated the fishery at 50%, followed by rainbow trout at 42%, lake trout at 5%, brown trout at 2% and coho at 1%.

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