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Muir Lake


Don Andersen
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Hey Don,

 

Now that people are measuring fish, there are a lot less 18 inchers than last year. The 03 stocking (that started as 4" fishg) have got to 17- 18" although there have been reports of slightly bigger ones. The 04 fish are 14-16" and are pretty fiesty.

 

I have only landed a few of the 03's in the past few weeks, they seem to like hanging out in the weeds and it is quite a challenge fighting them out of the foliage. I have been using an 8 weight with 3x or 4x and think it is an appropriate tool for the job.

 

There should be some 20" fish next year; heck there are probably some this year, but most of the fish that I have been catching lately are either 04's or 05's. But then again, I prefer to sight fish and they are there ones that have been available. Some people are fishing deep with catatonic leeches and/or chironomids and say they have been picking up more of the large fish. I only fish that way if there is nothing to cast to and for the past few times I have been there there has been lots to cast to except for the bruisers in the deep foliage.

 

Its funny with the swimmers and pmd's that have been around. I catch about 10 fish casting to visible targets for every one that I get casting around while waiting for a target or dragging the fly behind moving to an active spot.

 

Regards,

 

Tim

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Don, I managed to get one to the tube last week that measured as close to the magic 20" as you can get. I caught it very near the happy salad bed edge on a scud pattern, as I was slowly trolling to a new place on the lake to fish the drys. It was rather lucky I think that I managed to get him out of the weeds, he put up quite a scrap!

I thinK they are there but don't count on pulling too many out of that cabage patch hidey hole!

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WIth that much happy salad in the water how do you think it will effect the oxygen levens vover the winter. Do you think the aerator can produce enough O2 to compensate for the happy salad die off? also, Do you think having the aerators in there are helping the weeds grow that much faster?

 

 

darn gotta go eat.... later...

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ABH raises a good point... Has the biologist reviewed the lake since last stocking?

 

It seems the lake is very different this year from last - and I'm curious if the current state will or should impact the stocking in the spring...

 

There are a lot of fish in the lake this year - and the first year growth rates are good - but the 2nd / 3rds are still not quite there..

 

Does the 3rd and 4th year growth slow down - or are these guys starting to get stunted?

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Scratch,

 

If Beaver Lake is any kind of example, the water clarity improved for the years 1999>2005 mid-June. Then the rains began and the nutrient levels increased from land run-off. It appears as there is now some algea where none has existed in the past 4 years.

Aeration will cause some changes. As Muir doesn't have a flow through , they should take place fairly quickly. The happy salad growth may slow.

 

All that is just a guess based on personal obervations of Beaver.

 

 

And a question - the fish were stocked into Muir in 2003?

 

catch ya'

 

 

Don

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Scratch,

 

There are a number of effects going on at Muir, some of them just have to be accepted and others may call for changes.

 

This is the 3rd year of fish being stocked in the lake. When a lake is newly stocked the founder's effect is quite evident and the initial stockings experience pretty rapid growth. After a couple of years the excess biomass gets grazed down and the growth rates level off. I think there may be an argument for reducing next year's stocking to 3000 instead of 5400; but we have to remember that more people will be keeping fish and this angler predation may increase the biomass per fish ratio.

 

Another thing going on at Muir is what I would call the veteran's effect. The average fish has been in the water for quite some time and they have a pretty good idea what looks like food and what doesn't. A number of methods that people found successful last year, would be less productive this year because fish are looking for food in more specific places instead of being all over the place.

 

I think the veterans effect is normal as a new lake becomes a more mature one and it is contingent on anglers to adjust to it. Back in May, during an evening's fish, I switched from midging, to backswimmers, to catatonic leeches and back to midges in order to keep catching trout. In late May I have switched from sinking damsels to floating ones to caddis to mayfly nymphs because the fish were not taking what I was offering - until I switched to what they wanted, this was all within 4 hours. Just the other week I went from swimmers (3 patterns) to pmds, to catatonic leeches, to pmds, and back to swimmers. For a number of anglers it is more satisfying to catch challenging trout and I for one know that I have be observant and flexible in order to consistenly catch fish.

 

The weeds present another challenge for anglers - especiall ones who want to troll for trout. It is way too soon to draw conclusions and there may be a case that the aeration helps weeds survive the winter. I would think that this could be because the open water and thin ice allows light penetration for year-round plant growth. We can't shut the aerators off because the lake will winter kill, however we can adjust and find ways to catch fish on the edges of the weeds and ways of duking it out with fish so they can't rely on the weeds to escape. I have seen a lot of big fish feeding in that shallow water between the shore and the weeds and I get no small amount of satisfaction when I drop a fly in there and navigate the mine field in order to land one of those guys.

 

All in all, I think that making the adjustments really pay off and I have had a number of memorable fishing trips to Muir this year. Most of them occured when the parking lot was almost empty. I remember talking to people in May and June and August while taking the boat out of the water, about those 'pinch me' experiences when you catch way more than your share of big trout and almost everyone I talked to had one of those 'holy freak' looks on their faces. I remember a night in June when we ended up fishing until almost midnight and just had to guess that the fish took our flies because it was getting so dark. I can also remember seeing people in tubes casting flies on the surface during the heat of the day with not a fish to be found working on top. They seemed pretty frustrated, but they should have been fishing on the bottom instead.

 

I can hardly wait until tomorrow night's trip.

 

Cheers,

 

Tim

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Great explanation Tim.... and I agree - you can really scratch your head a bit if you base fishing behaviour on last year - instead of the empirical 'now'.

 

We had one of those nights the other night - 2 hours of NOTHING - then a foam backswimmer was getting me 2 fish at a time mashing the fly... bad for catching - but Holy Fark fun!

 

I guess we'll have to watch in the spring for signs of what is to come!

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I was out ther tonight and only had 8 fish, the weird thing was that the fishing got slower as the sun went down. I left about 8 and it may be that things got busy at 8:01. such is life.

 

The lake looks to be down almost 12", this could be an explanation for more weeds on the surface. We will have to wait and see. I had a real nice fish take just inside the weeds and I broke off on the set - one of those nights.

 

Cheers,

 

Tim

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Tim, you think there was more happy salad growth this year than last. I believe less growth. Although I can't really say that about the happy salad growth running the length through the middle of the northwest section (pretty much the same in my eyes), I can certainly say it about the happy salad growth through the narrow section south of the island on the way to the deep hole. First two years had so many weeds and lily pads growing right to the surface it was hard to maneuver through it in a tube. This year I find it's not as bad there and a lot of happy salad growth hasn't quite reached the surface. Just my observation though.

 

As far as stocking is concerned, since very few fish have left the lake and we've seen how slowly the trout are growing in respect to Beaver Lake and Bullshead Res. I think a year off from stocking would be a good idea. There just doesn't seem to be enough food available for the trout to grow to the sizes we all expected to see by this time. I can honestly say that I've fished Muir just as much if not more than anyone and the biggest I've caught to date is 18 inches. I know size isn't as much as an issue to you as it is to a lot of us but the idea of big trout is something many of us have been really looking forward to. One can say that by next year we'll see more trout leaving the lake by way of legal size limits. I think that's exactly what we need. Thinning the trout out will definitely help growth rates.

 

Cheers :cheers:

Doc

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Rick and I did only so-so last night at Muir.

Rick had one early on an Eevil Weevil

Then we drew blanks, or at least only short strikes

until the sun went down, at which point backswimmers seemed to work.

I landed two and had two long releases as did Rick.

Had a number of refusals, one where I could see the fish's dorsal fin

approach the fly then turn away at the last second.

Some strikes were the result of casting to a rise,

but the two landed were slow trolled.

As far as catch rates go, I suspect the Veteren effect as Tim says.

The fish have been in the wild long enough now

to start to differentiate between food and not food.

I think they also are now more in tune with activity patterns of natural food,

which is why they will turn on and off patterns over time

as the natural food activity changes.

I also agree that stocking numbers should be reviewed.

Too many small stockers may inhibit growth rates.

Predation by anglers and birds may affect that though.

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Hmmmm. Big fish eating natural food sources. That reminded me of an interesting thing I noticed on my last trip to the lake. As I paddled to the dock area to leave I noticed a very large school of small minnows had congregated under the dock platform. They seemd to be just the ticket for a potential meal for an 18 plus incher. I noted the size and colors as best as I could, with the intention of trying to duplicate one with bucktail hair, but never got around to tying or trying them. It would be interesting to know if anyone has used minnow immitations with any success at Muir?

Any reports?

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The 03 fish went in at 10 cm and are now at 45-50 cm.

The 04 fish went in at 20 cm and are now at 35-40 cm.

The 05 fish went in at 17 cm and are now at 25-30 cm.

 

The growth rates aren't stellar but I think a lot of it has to do wit the 03 fish going in at such a small size. If they would have went in at 20 they would be well over 50 now. But that's a shoulda, woulda, coulda kind of thing.

 

Last night was the hardest fishing I had but mostly because I was just targeting fish surface feeding on swimmers and there were not as many as I would have liked to see. Emmerson was there earlier in the afternoon fishing below the surface with swimmers and probably got over 20 fish. He said the fishing was steady but not as good as it usually was. He also said that it slowed down around 5 (I got there about 4) and I would have to agree. 3 out of the last 4 trips I have had there have been very good trips and I am still way ahead of last year.

 

We will have a fesa meeting in the next little while and discuss things.

 

Cheers,

 

Tim

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You guys are finding it harder to catch fish right now.... GIve it 2 weeks... Mid to late Sept and the fishing will pick up... I've always found this time of year to be slow.... August and early Sept.

 

I dont even bother with local lakes untill mid Sept... but good luck anyway

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Richard,

(the first paragraph is for you the rest is for the thread)

 

I actually said 3 out of the last 4 trips have been very good (Saturdays and Wednesdays since Aug 20). Please note the very in very good. I would say that on a number of fish per hour and weight of fish per hour fishing basis I am way ahead of last year at Muir (close to double).

 

The key is observing what is going on and making the appropriate adjustments.

 

It only makes sense that anglers would be more challenged by fish which are habituated to what their normal food is. That is why we put the education centre in. Last year one could put a wooly bugger on a floating line and strip it back at light speed to catch fish, thankfully it is not like that any more - although a well fished leech pattern will get fish after fish. Big fish should be a reward for fishing in the right place, with the right offering and being able to bring it in; not just the result of dropping any old fly in the water. Who wants to catch dumb trout anyways? It is kind of like bragging about scoring an empty-net goal.

 

As for the size of the fish, I think a fish that was 4" in May of 2003 and is now over 18" is exhibiting good growth. I was at Dolberg yesterday and would say that, on average, their 05 fish would be the same or a little smaller than Muir's 05 fish. We have to weigh all the evidence carefully before coming to conclusions.

 

Regards,

 

Tim

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I got in 4 hours today and had a pretty good time.

 

There was a backswimmer fall, along with some midges and flying ants. I caught a few right out of the starting gate and then it slowed down a bit. So looking around I saw Peter Little and went over for a visit. He was fishing a Chironomid pupae, about 4' below the Bob and doing quite well. I fished that way for a while, but then the swimmers started to fall again so I switched to chasing swirls.

 

It was interesting because fish that rose out in the open over deeper water seemed to vacate the premises right after rising. So unless I got the fly there while they were still looking for food, I never hooked up. However, the fish that were deep in the weeds or very close to shore seemed to hang around after taking a swimmer and really took the fly well. As an added bonus they were pretty large fish and I have to say that I got lucky because I only lost one of them in the weeds. Most of them I coerced into staying near the surface until they got to the boat.

 

When the fish seemed to slow down on the surface I pulled out the bobber rig and managed to catch them on a pupae imitation as well. It is a great way to kill time in between swimmer falls.

 

The peak period seemed to be noon to 5 - trout with bankers' hours - what comes next?

 

Cheers,

 

Tim

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The peak period seemed to be noon to 5 - trout with bankers' hours - what comes next?

 

Just my luck, noon - five. I'm heading out in the morning to Muir at 6am and was hoping for a boatman fall. I guess it's the Redd October and X-mas Chronie for me again. Then again the Water Docman on a sinking line should get some interest. Either way it'll just be nice to get on the water.

 

Cheers :cheers:

Doc

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Guys,

 

The "normal" stocking rates for the "average" Alberta trout lake is 250/surface acre.

That assumes the normal carnage of ice fishing, power baits and the rest. Predation is factored in as it exists everywhere.

Expect that 50>80% of all fish stocked are removed/year in an average lake.

Where does Muir fit in here? What is the surface acrage?

 

 

catch ya'

 

 

Don

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Guys,

 

The "normal" stocking rates for the "average" Alberta trout lake is 250/surface acre.

That assumes the normal carnage of ice fishing, power baits and the rest. Predation is factored in as it exists everywhere.

Expect that 50>80% of all fish stocked are removed/year in an average lake.

Where does Muir fit in here? What is the surface acrage?

 

 

catch ya'

 

 

Don

To answer your question here Don:

 

"Muir Lake has a surface area of 32 hectares (78 acres) and depths that range to 6m (20 ft). Most of the lake is less than 3.5m, (12 ft) deep, which is excellent for growing trout but makes the lake prone to winterkills."

 

http://www.fishalberta.com/muir/muirlake.htm

 

Punching the numbers into the abacus reveals the anwser of:

 

19,500 Trout can be supported by Muir (based on your 250/acre estimate).

 

Oh yeah, Doc also has this PDF on this website:

post-25-1126312569_thumb.jpg

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Predation is factored in as it exists everywhere.

Expect that 50>80% of all fish stocked are removed/year in an average lake.

 

Don, do you have numbers on what percentage is taken out due to predation? With predation and the low amount of poaching that goes on as well as the percentage of stocked trout that just plain don't make it will give you what the true numbers are for Muir.

 

Cheers :cheers:

Doc

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Doc,

 

I don't think there is a set number. I do recall never seeing a pelican except for the Bow and never there till about 15 years ago. Suspect that they take fish. Cormorants are also very effective in trout munching. Fished one lake this June where about 1/3 of all fish caught had been munched by cormorants. And if you recall the mercury thing, with it's demise as an agricultural chemical, the ospreys are back in force. And that doesn't say anything about loons. So, in a short answer, it depends on the lake and the bird life. Oh, I forgot the herons.

Doc, the predation I was talking about is the people kind. You know - whack 'em and stack 'em - 20 to an ice cream pail.

 

To give you an idea. Ironside's Pond got stocked with 500 trout and it is 8 acres. The fish are now 14>16" and getting close to 1.5 lbs. They went in this spring. Expect next summer to catch +20" fish. Ironside's presently supports a nest of Loons + regular visits by an osprey + the odd poacher or 2. As Ironside's is total C&R, other than normal mortality + angler induced mortality, there should never be much over 1200>1500 fish in there @ any one time. The rainbows stocked now last about 4.5 years and die of old age.

 

catch ya'

 

 

Don

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Predation is factored in as it exists everywhere.

Expect that 50>80% of all fish stocked are removed/year in an average lake.

 

Don, do you have numbers on what percentage is taken out due to predation? With predation and the low amount of poaching that goes on as well as the percentage of stocked trout that just plain don't make it will give you what the true numbers are for Muir.

 

Cheers :cheers:

Doc

"And pelicans could eat many more small fish: Ward learned from a game warden that a pelican had been collected with 235 young fish in its stomach; another dissection revealed 45 fish from three to six inches in length. If there were 500 pelicans in the colony eating 12 fish a day, that take of 6,000 fish per day would add up to 300,000 fish over the 50 days of the trout spawning season."

 

http://www.nps.gov/yell/nature/pritchard/chap3a.htm

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Birds

 

We know or suspect that a minimum of 20 bird species in the Yellowstone Lake ecosystem (Table 1) have evolved using the cutthroat trout as a primary or significant source of food. The species diversity is as complex as it is fascinating. The stream-dwelling dipper (Cinclus mexicanus), for instance, is an efficient predator of trout fry as they emerge from the gravel and migrate lakeward. Based on this fact, we can speculate about the effect no cutthroat spawners, or greatly diminished spawning activity, might have on this species. What follows are short case histories of the bird species we have the most knowledge of, and the potential effects of the lake trout disruption.

 

The bald eagle (Haleaeetus leucocephalus) is widely thought of as a predominantly fish-eating species, but studies in Yellowstone show that only about 25% of its diet is fish (Davenport 1974, Swenson et al. 1986), and only about half of the fish it eats are trout (Davenport 1974). This does not mean that trout are unimportant to the bald eagle, of course; its status over the past several decades has often been precarious, and any change or reduction in its food base, especially protein- and fat-rich fish, could be critically significant. As well, some of its other prey, especially waterfowl, are themselves in part dependent upon fish, and so in effect the eagle's reliance on fish is higher than might appear from an examination only of its immediate prey. Davenport (1974) estimated that the daily consumption of fish per bald eagle was 0.09 lb. per day. Lake trout are not expected to be vulnerable to bald eagle predation.

 

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) lives almost entirely on fish, and most of the fish are trout (Fig. 2). Yellowstone Lake and River host numerous breeding pairs of ospreys. Swenson (1978) found that 93% of the fish bones identified near osprey nests were from trout, and the rest were from Longnose suckers. Longnose suckers may have been overrepresented in this sample because their bones are heavier and more likely to endure and be found. Swenson (1978) also determined these birds selectively preyed on cutthroat trout about 11 inches in length. Davenport (1974) estimated that ospreys averaged 0.88 lb. of fish per day on Yellowstone Lake. Because they live at a far greater depth than cutthroat trout, lake trout will hardly ever be available to ospreys. After several decades of struggle, osprey are doing relatively well in Yellowstone National Park (Fig. 3), but past experience indicates their susceptibility to stress.

 

White pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) are among the most-studied species of animals in Yellowstone National Park (Fig. 4, Diem and Condon 1967). The nesting colony in Yellowstone is the only known colony in an American national park, and is the highest elevation colony known anywhere (Fig. 5). In 1994, a record 739 white pelican nests were initiated on the Molly Islands, but nesting success was low (T. McEneaney, NPS, pers. commun., 1995). In 1922, Ward estimated that virtually all of the pelican diet in Yellowstone Lake was trout, but since then the introduction and proliferation of the longnose sucker has probably shifted the percentage of non-salmonids consumed to some extent. Pelicans fish in shallow water for trout and suckers between 6 and 16 inches, and it is unlikely lake trout will be vulnerable in this way to the birds in the future. Davenport (1974) summarized several recent studies that indicate that white pelicans consume 2 to 4 pounds of fish per day.

 

Davenport (1974) estimated that 72% of the diet of great blue herons (Ardea herodias) around Yellowstone Lake was trout, and that they consumed an estimated 1.93 lb. of food each per day. While the population of herons is relatively small (several dozen) the birds average about 1,000 "heron-use days" in the course of the summer season. Unlike many species of fish-eating animals, but like the pelicans, herons take fish of many sizes, from 2 to 16 inches in length. Lake trout are not expected to be vulnerable to herons.

 

The common merganser (Mergus merganser), though not as large or glamorous as the above-named species, may in some years actually consume more fish than any of them because the population is fairly large (400-800 birds, 62,000 use-days) and they spend a long season on the lake (Davenport 1974). Davenport (1974) estimated that mergansers averaged 1.0 lb. of trout eaten per day.

 

According to Davenport's (1974) estimate of trout consumption in 1973 and 1974, the California gull (Larus californicus), whose population was estimated between 1,400 and 2,000 (160,000 bird-days use) and whose diet is 50% trout, consumed as much trout as did pelicans. The eared grebe (Podiceps caspicus), whose numbers ranged from 2,500 to 3,000 (100,000 bird-days use) depended entirely upon trout for its diet, and consumed 0.31 lb. per day. The common loon (Gavia immer) and the caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia), occur in smaller numbers (15 and 35, respectively) but both depend entirely upon trout for their food, and consume 1.91 and 0.7 lb. of food per day (Davenport 1974). Other bird species that eat trout include the Barrow's goldeneye (Bucephala islandica), bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), and belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). None of the above species are expected to utilize lake trout because of the fish's deep water habits.

 

Double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) are another prominent fish-eater on Yellowstone Lake (Fig. 6). Cormorants apparently consume few trout, and may not have inhabited the lake at all until after the introduction of longnose suckers (Davenport 1974). If cormorants are profundal predators, as a diet of suckers suggests, they may consume lake trout in Yellowstone Lake. It is not known if the presence of lake trout, who will themselves prey on longnose suckers, will enhance or decrease cormorant population size.

 

All of the above species of birds, with the possible exception of the cormorant, prey on fish within a few feet of the surface of Yellowstone Lake, along the lake shoreline, or in the shallower waters of the lake's tributaries and outlet stream. Cutthroat trout, who prefer these same habitats, are thus vulnerable to this predation. Lake trout spend almost all of their lives at depths too great to be reached by these predators. In the event of a collapse of the cutthroat trout population and an increase in the lake trout population, the lake trout are not expected to provide a replacement prey.

 

http://www.nps.gov/yell/planvisit/todo/fis...tweb/schul.html

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http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/issues/cormo...lakes_facts.htm

 

Issues

 

Because cormorants are conspicuous fish-eating birds, anglers in the Great Lakes basin may consider them a nuisance species and a threat to populations of recreational and commercial fish species. However, studies of the feeding habits of cormorants show the birds feed on many fish species, concentrating on the ones that are easiest to catch. Adult birds eat about one pound of fish per day. Because the ease with which a fish can be caught depends on such factors as distribution, relative abundance, and behavior, a cormorants’s diet can vary considerably from site to site and throughout the breeding and nesting seasons. All told, small (three to five inch) fish like alewife, yellow perch or gizzard shad provide most of their food. The birds find these fish in large schools, sometimes in shallow water.

 

Cormorants also feed on steelhead, lake and brown trout when available, especially when recently-stocked schools of small fish can be found in shallow near shore waters. Population level effects from cormorant predation on lake trout, salmon or steelhead are not apparent though, as diet studies indicate the birds consume very few of these fish in open waters. Can large colonies of cormorants reduce local populations of catchable-size pan fish like sunfish and rockbass, or sportfish like smallmouth bass, walleye pike, or yellow perch sufficiently to compete with anglers? Recreational and commercial anglers in some locations in the Great Lakes basin believe they can. Until biologists obtain additional information, the answer to this question remains unclear.

 

It is clear, though, that double-crested cormorants can feed heavily on small fish being raised commercially on minnow farms for bait, or for human consumption at fish farms or aquacultural sites. Also, in some locations within the Great Lakes basin, double-crested cormorants are competing with other colonial nesting water and wading birds for the same island nesting sites. A special concern exists when this competition jeopardizes the reproductive success of rare, threatened, or endangered plant and animal species.

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Posted Image

 

The average could be between 1-2 pound of fish per day. Closer to 2 me-thinks.

 

How long were they out there since being spotted on miratory path?

 

http://forum.nlft.org/index.php?showtopic=1280&hl=pelican (August 2nd - First Reported Sightings)

 

So, uhmm... abacaus out... fingers... toes... about 37 days... or 40 lbs of fish!?

 

Here's a new can of worms then.. growth rate!?

 

http://aqua.ucdavis.edu/dbweb/outreach/aqua/TROUTMAN.PDF

 

Growth model

 

One version of the model provides an equation for fish weight at the end of a given period of time at constant temperature:

 

Wt = [ W0b + bc ( T - TLIM ) t / {100 ( TM - TLIM )}] 1/b

 

{ This is Alberta afterall... wait five minutes! }

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