106k Chinook, 21k steelhead delivered to Oak Orchard
Photos by Tom Rivers
POINT BREEZE – The fishing community at Point Breeze welcomed more than 100,000 fish today. The Department of Environmental Conservation delivered Steelhead and Chinook salmon from the Altmar Hatchery.
The top photo shows volunteers working with the DEC to release 106,500 Chinook salmon into pens by Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina.
There also were 21,000 steelhead released into the Oak Orchard River at the Bridges near Captain’s Cove and Narby’s Superette and Tackle.
The 106,500 Chinook salmon were released into pens, where they will spend the next 3 to 3 ½ weeks. The extra time in the pens will allow the fish to double in size and also imprint on the Oak Orchard, making it far more likely they will return to the Oak Orchard when they are mature in about 3 to 4 years.
Right now the fish are only about 2 inches long. When they are mature, they should be 25 to 30 pounds – or bigger.
The team of charter boat captains and other Point Breeze stakeholders started the pen-rearing project in 1998. Bob Songin, center, led the effort. He passed the leaderships reins about three years ago but continues to help with the pen rearing.
Since the pen rearing, charter boat captains say they noticed a big change with more fish in the Oak Orchard and in Lake Ontario near Orleans County.
“It’s made a huge difference,” said Mike Lavender, a charter boat captain locally for 25 years. “The return rate has definitely increased.”
Daniel Wik, left, and Mike Lavander, owner of Intimidator Sportfishing, move one of the pens to a different dock. The fish will be fed often while in the pens. The pens keep the fish safe from predators while the Chinook grow in the next month.
Volunteers assist the DEC in releasing the fish this afternoon.
Mary Duckworth offered to help with the fish stocking today. She and her husband enjoy fishing and they wanted to provide some assistance.