Fred Snyder of Ohio Sea Grant Chat 9/24/03

Chatman - Ladies and Gentlemen, a warm Walleye Central welcome for Fred Snyder of Ohio Sea Grant!!!!
bigfish1965 - Applause!
Lundman - Clap, clap, clap!
BGunn - Clap, clap, clap!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Ok, and thanks!! 
Lundman - Welcome Fred!
Chatman - Clap, clap, clap!!!
Chatman - Well Fred where do you want to go tonight?
bigfish1965 - Fred, has the incidence of botulism peaked or is it expected to continue?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Anywhere about the lake and the fish Chatman. The botulism is usually associated with warm temps, so it should diminish.
perchjerker - Might as well get this out of the way. Fred, do you have any opinion on the proposed limits?
Chatman - We last had you here in 2001, early in the summer. What has changed with the exotics in Lake Erie? Are there new ones, new population levels etc.?
Lundman - Fred, last time I was perching, some of the fish puked up the nastiest foulest looking stuff I've ever seen. What can you tell me about that?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - No new regulations will ever satisfy everyone, but the ODNR has based the proposal on good statistics. And I say give them a chance. They did very well in bringing the perch back, but folks complained about the regulations that did it.
JAM - Never been to Erie, but I may go yet this fall. So I am gonna just read along for now...
Chatman - Feel free to join in when you're ready.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Lundman, did you put that one on my discussion board? That's partly digested food, possibly spiny water fleas mixed with digestive juices.
bigfish1965 - How do they base these statistics, on returns or creel census?
Lundman - No Fred, it wasn't me.
BGunn - Fred, when I am trolling and hitting bottom, I am bringing up a stringy looking things that almost looks like some kind of eggs, do you know what these are?
Lundman - I've seen partially digested minnow goo, but this stuff was orange - ish and smelled horrible!
perchjerker - I have no problem with whatever they decide on limits, as long as its the best for the fishery, whatever it entails.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - I'm afraid I'd have to see a sample. It's too late in the season for eggs. Is it a type of vegetation? Maybe an algae??
Lundman - It almost looked like it had maggots in it!!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Lundman, the orange part is digestive juices. You see it frequently in empty walleye stomachs.
bigfish1965 - Fred, did the 'dead zone' appear again this year? Or was that all overblown?
Lundman - Thanks Fred.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - I'd be glad to look at a sample, at the end of the chat I'll give my address.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Yes, the dead zone has re-appeared and has been expanding in recent years. It's a sign of increasing phosphorus.
Lundman - Wasn't that one of the pollutants that was controlled years ago?
bigfish1965 - Is this naturally occurring phosphorus?
Lundman - Is it from soaps?
ezmarc - Fred I got the black stringy stuff last week off Huron, I'll bring some to PA with me.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Remember that fish will suspend over the anoxic layer, you won't lose fishing territory.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Black stringy stuff sounds like a benthic (bottom) form of algae.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Most of the phosphorus is from Agricultural runoff, and a portion from sewage.
Chatman - There is a brown stringy type of algae on the bottom of Lake Pepin all the time in the fall. Same stuff?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Also, Quagga mussels may be releasing phosphorus from digested algae.
JAM - What is the dead zone?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - That may be the same algae, it will blacken as it decomposes.
Chatman - It is usually somewhat black later in the fall, and more brittle than late summer.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The dead zone is an area under the thermocline in which the oxygen becomes depleted.
bigfish1965 - The blackout may have caused a huge sewer flowage into the lake, then it may be worse?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Yes, it sounds like decomposing algae Chatman.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - I'm sure we got an extra shot of raw sewage during the blackout from many cities.
JAM - Thanks Fred.
Lundman - It seems odd that you hear on the news that the mayflies are a sign of a clean lake, yet the dead zone is getting larger.
Chatman - I thought in deeper lakes, depleted oxygen was common below the thermocline. I take it on a Lake as Shallow as Erie, that was not always the case in the past?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The dead zone only covers a limited part of the central basin. The near-shore waters and the West end have recovering mayfly populations.
Lundman - Fred, does Ohio still test the fish for pollutants as far as food safety?
hawkeyemik - What is the latest recommendation on eating walleye from Lake Erie?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The West end of Lake Erie is too shallow for a thermocline. The east end is so deep that the oxygen supply lasts through the summer. The central basin is just the right depth for a narrow later under the thermocline, hence limited oxygen supply.
Chatman - I got it, thanks.
timweidner - Hi Fred! So, there really is no danger that the dead zone will spread?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Ohio has reduced its testing program, but for walleye its one meal per week for fish under 23" and once per month for larger eyes.
Lundman - And how about perch?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The dead zone may get somewhat larger in the central basin, but will not move into the east or west ends.
timweidner - Ok, Thanks Fred!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Perch are very clean. No advisory for PCBs, but one meal a week for ANY Ohio fish due to the presence of mercury in the fish.
Lundman - Ok, thanks Fred!
BGunn - Are the perch eating the zebra mussels?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - I've never met anyone yet who eats more that 52 meals per year of sport caught fish, so advisories don't have to change your practices very much.
timweidner - Has anyone done studies comparing contaminants in fish that were properly filleted, removal of the lateral line, etc., with those not properly filleted?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Yes, perch eat lots of young-of-year zebra mussels.
BGunn - Thanks.
hawkeyemik - Fred, do you know if the Huron River will continue to get steelhead stockings. It's great to have them as a summer fishing choice.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Some older work by New York Sea Grant on salmon showed substantial reductions in PCBs by removing fat, skinning fish, removing red meat, trimming the belly flab.
timweidner - Thanks Fred, I suspected that would have to help.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The Huron River in Ohio does not get stocked with steelhead. Maybe in the future?
eyebanger(oh) - Then Vermilion River is closest to Huron and it is being stocked.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Yes, the Vermilion gats an annual steelhead stocking, and the fish wander into other streams.
BGunn - Why is it that the Walleyes in New York waters are so big? Don't the smaller fish migrate like the larger ones?
BGunn - (Migrate from Ohio)
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Back on contaminants, trimming does not reduce mercury levels, it's equally in all tissues.
Lundman - Wow. I didn't realize that, thanks Fred.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - When you see a large average size, it's the effect of limited harvest and good survival.
timweidner - Have mercury levels remained relatively constant over the last 10 years?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Mercury is increasing somewhat from coal burning and landfill leakage.
ezmarc - I caught some small walleye in New York this summer 12" were those resident fish?
JAM - I have a question about the zebra mussels.
Lundman - Fred, how far away can a landfill affect Lake Erie?
BGunn - In the 70's I worked at a plant where they SHOVELED the mercury out of the ground it was so bad!!
hawkeyemik - Fred, is there some biological/genetic reason that big Lake Erie walleyes top out generally at 30 inches and ten pounds or so? What keeps them from growing to 35-36 inches and 15-18 lbs like in the Columbia River? Is it competition for food? 
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Ezmarc, they probably were hatched in local spawning areas and were likely in there second summer.
JAM - I read the zebra mussels were dying by the ton in the Mississippi River. No one seems to know why. Have you heard about this Fred?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Good question Hawkeyemik, we have good growth rates but a high harvest level. I think it's a question of more fish making it to old age. We have lots of production here and hence harvest large numbers.
BGunn - Will there ever be Blue Pike again?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The dead zones happened before in the Illinois River, it was due to oxygen depletion. (a dead zone!!)
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - No, the blue pike's genetic makeup has been lost. They are gone...
BGunn - That shows how important it is to protect what we have.
Lundman - Are the reduced bag limits also going to apply to the netters?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Yes, when blue pike numbers got real low they interbred with yellow walleye and were diluted until they couldn't be discerned.
JAM - I have always thought if the zebra mussels can live in the Illinois River and the Chicago River, the only way to kill them was to boil them!!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Yes, the netters are facing quota reductions much more stringent that the sport fishery. They're really going to feel it.
timweidner - Will that apply to the Canadians too?
JAM - What about all the recent claims of guys catching blue walleye?
hawkeyemik - Do you think that Lake Erie could ever again sustain 100 million + walleyes again like in the 1986-1989 range, or was that a once in a lifetime phenomenon?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - On the zebra mussels, likewise, the ones caught in the dead zone croak too.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The recent claims of blue pike are never backed up with specimens, so no one can say.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The 100 Million+ walleye population exceeded the lakes carrying capacity and reduced growth rates in walleye by the late '80s. Since there were lots of fish and little food, fishing was great, but the situation was unstable.
Lundman - I've been hearing reports of illegal nets out there, has this been a problem?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - It seems every year there are problems with gill nets on our side. This is inexcusable with GPS. If you see them, get the coordinates and contact ODNR.
Lundman - Fred, how would I recognize them?
Hawkeyemik - Thanks for answering my questions. One last fishing one, do you have a theory as to why the night fishing out of Huron and other ports has been tougher the last several years? The bait has been there, but not the 'eyes. This used to be a great bite.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - A gill net has a single flag on each end, hundreds of yards apart. Legal trap nets have floats in addition to flags. Most gill nets will be fairly close to the border for a quick escape.
Lundman - Thanks.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - No answer is guaranteed, but you may be seeing the effect of a lower walleye population and less competition for food. I've sure seen less action in my rock pile fishing.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Marc, you've been quiet.
ezmarc - That's cause you're doing such a good job!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - *blush*
Lundman - Fred, are there any plans for new launch facilities in our state?
Chatman - Fred how have you seen the Gobies effect Lake Erie's ecosystem? Does anything besides Smallmouth prey on them?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Let me point out that you can get answers anytime on our Sea Grant message board -
ezmarc - Fred, Are the same types of trawls done in the Central and eastern basins as I witnessed a couple weeks ago?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - I've heard nothing on new Lake Erie launch ramps.
timweidner - Sheffield Lake has been working on state grants for a small boat launch.
ezmarc - There was a rumor about a new launch facility in Huron last year but I've heard no more about it.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The gobies are suspected of driving down smallmouth through egg predation. This is much of the reason for new smallmouth bass regulations next year. They also move PCBs up the food chain. And lots of species are now eating them.
BThomas - Fred, is there a way to stock 'eyes into Lake Erie to maybe jump start a rebound in numbers?
Lundman - If perch eat them also is it because the mussels are young that the pcb's aren't showing up in them?
terroreyes - I've heard that to expect larger than normal bass sizes in the coming years due to the existing ones eating all those gobies. Is this fact or fiction? I have seen a definite increase in size over the last two years.
hawkeyemik - One more fishing question, when I first started fishing Lake Erie in 1985-86; there was a fall bite right out of Toledo. Now it seems the walleye don't go much farther in large schools anyway, than Huron/Cedar Point. Is there now a fence underwater?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The adult walleye population provides billions of eggs. We need better spring weather, and an end to ecosystem disruptions by exotic species. This year's walleye and perch hatch was a whopper!!
BGunn - It's great to hear that!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Smallmouth have benefited from clear water, being sight feeders, and have an excellent growth rate. But we're worried about spawning success, especially due to goby problems.
BGunn - From what I've seen, almost nobody keeps the smallmouths, they just keep growing!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - There's no underwater fence, but we see an ecosystem that keeps changing, altering food production and distribution. Fish have two purposes, to eat and to reproduce. They respond to their environment in trying to do those things.
Chatman - But fishing for bedding males adversely effects the bass population. Gobies will pick a nest clean in under a minute or so. Please, leave bedding bass alone.
terroreyes - Can you be fined for returning a goby back to the water? I know lots of people who did until they knew what they were.
Chatman - Do you think the Goby population will reach a level and become part of the balance of Lake Erie, without wiping out any native species? Is there some population model worked up for this?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - No, throwing them back is fine, just don't get caught possessing or transporting live gobies.
Lundman - Would that include using them for bait?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - It's hard to say if goby numbers will decline. White perch filled the lake by 1988, but now have dropped way down in numbers. But gobies are a new species, we really can't predict the future.
terroreyes - I usually throw them in my bait-well until I get home and then dump them in the garbage. I bring home a dozen sometimes from a perch trip. Does that mean I am breaking the law?
timweidner - What do goby populations look like in their native waters?
BGunn - Hey, just tell everyone they (gobies) taste great smoked, they'll start disappearing!
BThomas - Any more news on those Asian Flying Carp getting into the Great Lakes? Will it be a Lake full of carp if they do make it in??(as the news reported)
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - To quote the law: it is illegal to possess a live goby for ANY purpose.
timweidner - Do the gobies reach infestation levels in their native habitat?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - You guys are getting ahead of me... 
terroreyes - If you catch one, what is the proper disposal method????
timweidner - Spike it against the side of the boat!
Chatman - Let's slow it down a bit. Let's give Fred a chance to catch up.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Most species "fit in" to their native areas and become problems when introduced to new areas lacking checks and balances.
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - Tim has it.
timweidner - :-)
terroreyes - I've cut their tails off a few times and sent them back as food.
Chatman - We are just about out of time tonight gang.
hawkeyemik - Thanks for all the work of the Ohio Sea Grant program. I've resisted moving away from Toledo, solely because of our great Lake Erie. If you were clairvoyant, what do you think Lake Erie's fishery will be like 10 years from now, or is that even impossible to hazard a guess?
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - The Asian carp have been seen twice in Canadian Lake Erie, but the Mississippi population hasn't gotten here yet.
Chatman - Lets let Fred wind up with any questions left to answer.
terroreyes - Thanks for the info!
timweidner - Thanks much for the great info, Fred!
BGunn - Thanks a lot Fred.
ezmarc - Thanks for the info and the time Fred!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - I'll certainly be wrong, but in 10 years I look toward a better walleye population and a sustaining perch population due to careful regulation. I hope the smallmouth hold up.
BThomas - Keep up the great work!
Lundman - Thanks for being so helpful Fred!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - My pleasure guys, give me a holler on the Sea Grant board.
Chatman - Ladies and Gentlemen, a hearty round of applause for Fred Snyder of the Ohio Sea Grant!!!
Lundman - Yeeeaaaaa, Fred!
eyebanger(oh) - Thanks for trying to explain a very complex issue. 
Chatman - Clap, clap, clap, clap!!!
eyebanger(oh) - Cheers!
Fred Snyder - Ohio Sea Grant - We're here to help, anytime.
Lundman - Thanks Chatman!
timweidner - Here, here!
Lundman - Another class act by the folks at Walleye Central!
eyebanger(oh) - It's hard to think where we would be without Sea Grant!