Author: Shane Thombs

Coho Head Collection for OMNRF and NY DEC



NYSDEC and OMNRF Request for Assistance with Coho Salmon Head Collection

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) requests your help with recovering heads from Coho Salmon caught in Lake Ontario beginning in 2018. Each year, NYSDEC stocks Coho Salmon as fall fingerlings at six sites along the New York shoreline and as spring yearlings at the Salmon River; and Metro East Anglers in cooperation with OMNRF, stock Coho fall fingerlings at the Credit River. As part of a continuing effort to evaluate the effectiveness of stocking programs, we are comparing Coho Salmon stocking strategies by mass marking and/or tagging all stocked Coho Salmon in 2016-2018. Tags are 1 mm long pieces of coded wire inserted into the snouts of fish prior to stocking. Tags are invisible to the naked eye, and undetectable without specialized equipment; therefore we need to collect the heads to retrieve the tags. Some portion of the Coho Salmon caught in Lake Ontario may also come from natural reproduction instead of hatcheries. Although some streams are known to produce wild Coho smolts, the relative contribution of wild and hatchery Coho Salmon to the Lake Ontario fishery is unknown. This information is important for fisheries managers to understand trends in Coho Salmon catch rates. To determine the proportion of wild Coho Salmon in the Lake Ontario fishery, the adipose fin of all Coho Salmon stocked by NYSDEC and OMNRF will be clipped in 2016-2018, including the fall fingerlings stocked by Metro East Anglers at the Credit River. Anglers can help by noting whether their Coho is clipped or not and include that data with the head along with noting collection date, location, and fish length on a label. See attached instructions. Recovery of mark and tag data is ongoing until 2021. To supplement NYSDEC and OMNRF sampling by the Fishing Boat survey and at fishing tournaments, we are asking volunteers to collect Coho Salmon heads from fish harvested in the Lake and tributaries. Instructions for collections are provided below. We would like your help. Please be on the lookout for Coho Salmon when fishing. For all harvested Coho Salmon, please cut off its head, toss it in a bag, label, and put it in a freezer. If you are willing to collect Coho Salmon heads and store them in your personal freezer, we will happily come pick them up. Arrangements can be made by emailing Each year, NYSDEC and OMNRF relies on the cooperation of anglers like you for collecting valuable data used to inform fisheries management and science in Lake Ontario. If you have any questions regarding collection instructions or the mass marking program, please contact Michael Connerton at 315-654-2147 or by email. Thank you very much for your assistance.