Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan Update 2020
Updated April 20th, 2016
By: Paul Cormier
I recently attended a Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan (LNFMP) meeting, scheduled in North Bay at Ministry of Natural resources office at on Feb. 6, 2020, as a representative of the Upper French River Cottagers Association. The meeting was held to review the progress of the LNFMP originally set in motion in the spring of 2015. The meeting focused on changing regulations based on historical evidence for Walleye, Pike and Muskellunge population, for the spring/summer of 2021.
As you may recall, the focus of the regulation’s changes in 2015 were slot size and catch limits designed to protect the immature Walleye biomass in Lake Nipissing. The slot size and catch limits were modified in 2015 to (Sportsman License) 2 fish only over 18.1”. The LNFMP objectives for walleye management were to rebuild the walleye biomass in Lake Nipissing to healthy levels (4.6 kg/ha) in 10 years, rebuild the age structure of the population to include healthy levels of spawning sized walleye and decrease juvenile (30-45 cm) mortality and increase recruitment into the spawning stock. In 2015, Ministry of Natural Resources and Fisheries (MNRF) committed to review the fishing regulations and the model used to manage the Walleye population (RAMJAM model) 5 years after implementation.
In attendance were key stakeholders, scientists and MNR staff. MNR presented an overview of historical biomass data for Lake Nipissing up to and including the fall of 2019 on the three fisheries, Pike, Walleye and Muskellunge. The data regarding walleye showed that, as a result of the Fisheries Management changes enacted in 2015, the walleye biomass has undergone a significant recovery. The data however also revealed the Walleye population appears to have stagnated in biomass and growth. This “stagnation” or “stockpiling” of walleye in a particular size category seemed to suggest that the walleye biomass had adapted to a more healthy population and slowed their growth rate down. Previously walleye had being growing more rapidly as a result of the biomass trying to respond to a population under stress. MNRF also advised the LNFMP committee that there is now enough data (continuous time series) to use a more sophisticated modelling procedure for management of the Walleye fishery, using the Bayesian Model.
After a lengthy discussion about the stock piling effect , (many different year classes staying in the 300 to 45 size group) and a review of all the data for the last 5 years on Lake Nipissing fishery for walleye, the LNFMP committee voted to recommend revisions to the fishing regulations for the spring of 2021. It is important to note that this vote is simply a recommendation which will be vetted by the MNRF over the coming months after consultation with the public and MNRF senior administration. The approved recommendation was to change the slot size for 2021 to a narrow fishable slot for walleye of 400 mm (15.748 inches) to 450 mm (17.165 inches”). The two fish limit has been maintained (sportsman license) in this recommendation. There are many fish in this class due to the stock piling effect. This change is seen as a means of protecting the larger spawning walleye that we have carefully been shepherding through the age-class structure over the past 5 years.
We also reviewed pike biomass data and noted that the pike population appears to be in decline on Lake Nipissing. After reviewing the data and through discussions by the Committee we voted to recommend altering the current slot size and fish limits for pike in Lake Nipissing to encourage growth of larger pike. Our recommendation was to proceed with a maximum limit of 4 fish (sportsman license) and a slot size of 700 mm (27.5519 inches) to 900 mm (35.4331 inches) , with only 1 allowed over 900mm.
We also reviewed data on Muskellunge in Lake Nipissing. It was determined that Lake Nipissing has a unique Muskellunge population that has potential to achieve the status of a destination Musky fishery. Lake Nipissing Muskellunge reach 1372mm (54 inches) in less than 20 years and they can reach the weight of 50 lbs. during that 20-year period. To protect this slow growing fishery the LNFMP committee recommended that we increase minimum size limit for one keeping fish of 54” (1372 mm).
These changes must go through a lengthy consulting period over the coming months and the final determination will be shared once the process is complete in late 2020.
You can download a copy of Paul's update here.
2020 Fishing Regulations
Updated March 20th, 2016
Fishing regulations for Zone 11 and Lake Nipissing are here.
For further information, contact MNR Conservation Officer Richard Nadeau at 705-475-5527 or 705-471-9881 (cell).
Contact Richard if you are witness to any resource violation, or contact MNR TIPS at 1-877-847(TIPS)-7667.
More on the Lake Nipissing Fishery - Winter Walleye Fishing OK'd
Updated November 30, 2016
Paul Cormier was the UFRCA representative on the Fishery Advisory Council in 2013. Paul has written to the recent media articles shown below regarding the Lake Nipissing Fishery.
See previous reports below in September News.
See November media reports at Winter walleye fishing a go | North Bay Nugget and UPDATED: MNRF won't close Nipissing ice fishing season this winter - BayToday.ca
and Lake Nipissing Fisheries Review completed - BayToday.ca
Great fishing plus great scenery equals …
Posted May 8, 2016
For super French River scenery and some savvy fishing, check out this You Tube video created by John Fry. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2T83l0QeeA
More on the Lake Nipissing Fishery - Winter Walleye Fishing OK'd
Updated November 30, 2016
Paul Cormier was the UFRCA representative on the Fishery Advisory Council in 2013. Paul has written this response to the recent media articles shown below regarding the Lake Nipissing Fishery.
Walleye Population Remains Stressed but Improving
Posted May 26, 2015
According to a North Bay Nugget article today, "the walleye population in Lake Nipissing remains stressed, but recent legislative changes are helping the young fish mature and reproduce, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry." For the complete North Bay Nugget article, click here.
Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan Approved
Posted April 16, 2015
We recently received the following e-mail with several attachments from MNRF in North Bay .
I have the opportunity today to write to advise you that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), North Bay District is pleased to announce that the approved Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan is available for the public to view. The approved plan can be viewed through the Environmental Registry at www.ontario.ca/ebr by searching for registry number 012-1353. You can also review the plan by making an appointment at the local MNRF office. If you have any questions, concerns or would like to make an appointment to review the plan, please feel free to contact me by replying to this email or by phone at 705-475-5530.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
See related attachments:
Letter from Mitch Baldwin - District Manager
Status of the Walleye Population in Lake Nipissing (PDF)
More Fishing News
Posted April 2, 2015
Two media reports will be of interest to anglers on Nipissing and the French. It was reported in the Nugget in January that two fishermen had been fined for possession infractions. Recently, the Almaguin News reported that the new slot size regulations do not appear to be having the negative impact that some predicted, and that it was quite a good ice fishing season for area outfitters and tourist operators.
2015 Dates and Regulations
For details on fishing in the Upper French River and Lake Nipissing (Fishing Management Zone 11) 1 2015_English_Fishing_Regs_Zone_11.pdf
The region which includes the French River and Lake Nipissing is Zone 11, but the regulations differ for Lake Nipissing. MNR CO Richard Nadeau has provided Comparison Zone 11 and Nipissing.pdf of Zone 11 and Lake Nipissing regulations.
Outdoor Cards and Licences Available On-line
Posted June 2, 2014
Outdoor cards and fishing licences are available on-line from the MNR here.
Valarie Viau advises that Riverview no longer sells fishing licences, but besides the MNR web site, you can also pick them up at the French River Trading Post, any Canadian Tire Store, Trucheon Fuels in Sturgeon Falls, or at Chaudiere Lodge.
Posted August 15, 2014
The MNR has produced a study paper "5 Critical Facts about Walleye in Lake Nipissing". It can be seen here.
Recently, abandoned nets have been found on Lake Nipissing. An article from the Sturgeon Falls Tribune on this controversy may be seen here. The MNR is urging anyone with information about the nets to contact the MNR TIPS line at 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free any time. Near North Crime Stoppers will be doubling the reward amount (up to a maximum of $2000) for information that will assist the MNR in identifying the owner(s) of unattended gill nets in Lake Nipissing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Near North Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or submit a tip online at www.nearnorthcrimestoppers.com or by texting ‘Nipper’ and TIP info to CRIMES (274637).
Lastly, the July, 2014, issue of Ontario Out of Doors includes an article on the MNR's proposal to eliminate the seniors' exemption from needing to purchase fishing licences and replacing the exemption, in 2016, with a "seniors discount" on conservation and sport fishing licences. See the related article from the May 29 issue of Ontario Out of Doors here.
Walleye - New regulations take effect May 17
Posted May 17, 2014
As the fishing season gets underway, please be aware of and follow the new regulations regarding Walleye and the new slot size . The new Walleye regulations take effect May 17, 2014. Note that the Bass season opens one week earlier this year on June 21 and the limit for Perch has been increased. Walleye aren't the only fish in the lake!
MNR: Catch limits remain at two walleye
By DAVE DALE, The Nugget
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 2:24:26 EDT PM
Anglers on Lake Nipissing will still be able to keep a maximum of two walleye next year if the Ministry of Natural Resources draft management plan is implemented as presented for public input today.
But only those walleye over 46 centimetres (18 inches) can be kept in a bid to save a fishery described as "stress and at high risk of significant decline."
There was speculation the province was going to reduce the limit to one walleye from the two allowed this year. The limit was cut in half from the previous limit of four Jan. 1, 2013.
A slot size restriction protecting spawning walleye 40 to 60 cm is being abandoned after this year.
MNR Minister David Orizietti told The Nugget today that studies indicate there are not enough walleye in the slot size restriction to protect and the province is putting its faith in the smaller year classes. "This would ensure juvenile walleye remain in the lake, reach spawning size and be given a chance to reproduce at least once before being harvested. Catch limits would remain the same: two walleye for sport fish licence holders and one walleye for conservation licence holders," states a media release today.
Orizietti said he has spoken to Nipissing First Nation Chief Marianna Couchie about the issue and the need to reduce the overall pressure on the walleye fishery.
The native commercial gill net and recreational harvest took an estimated 51,000 kilograms of walleye out of the lake in 2013, Orizietti said, adding that the MNR believes the sustainable combined harvest should be 20,000 kg less.
Just a decade ago, based on previous data, the MNR said the sustainable harvest for Lake Nipissing should be 90,000 kg but set a more conservative maximum combined harvest at 66,000 kg. Orizietti said Nipissing FN has a treaty and constitutional right to harvest commercially, so they hope to work with the native community in reducing the overall pressure.
nugget.ca will update this story
Click to view the Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan
Fish on the French
Posted July 19, 2013
UFRCA member Paul Cormier represents the UFRCA on the MNR's Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan Council, and he has provided the following documents. One result of the Council's deliberations over the last several months has been the production of these new fact sheets on the significant fish species in Lake Nipissing. In addition, note the document on specific regulations for Walleye on Lake Nipissing. A comment sheet and questionnaire may be of interest to fishing lodges in the area. Paul will have copies of these documents available at the AGM.
Yellow Perch Factsheet
Whitefish and Cisco Factsheet
Northern Pike Factsheet Bass Factsheet
Lake Nipissing Walleye Data Review
Walleye Regulation Changes
Comment Sheet and Questionnaire (for Lodges, interested groups)
The Lake Nipissing Fishery - A summary
Lake Nipissing is the fifth-largest lake in Ontario (excluding the Great Lakes) and covers 873 square km. It is located about 50 km northeast of Georgian Bay, and runs in an east-west direction to a length of 80 km. Lake Nipissing is classified as a warm-water fishery. It is relatively shallow with an average depth of 4.5 m and is consequently well aerated, which leads to an abundance of healthy plant and fish life. Due to its shallowness and warm water in summer, it does not support fish like trout that prefer deep, cold water with higher levels of oxygen. Dozens of rivers and streams drain into Lake Nipissing, most notably being the Sturgeon River, Wasi River and South River. Lake Nipissing has several pronounced bays and arms. One, the southwest arm, is known as the Upper French River. Lake Nipissing drains into Georgian Bay via the French River.
The prime game fish sought by anglers are:
Lake Nipissing is also the ice-fishing capital of the north. With over 2,000 huts on the lake, anglers enjoy the best winter fishing in Ontario.
Important Note on Lake Sturgeon: As of June 2008, recreational anglers must not keep Sturgeon that they catch. For more details on Lake Sturgeon go to the UFRCA web page on Sturgeon.