Ice fishermen have reported catching yellow perch that tipped the scale at over two pounds this season, and the record for lake trout has steadily increased.
I expect anglers will find similar affects with many other predatory species such as walleye, bass and brown trout.
Shortly after the first significant spring thaw, which is often the result of heavy rains, anglers can expect to find salmon returning to the rivers and streams that feed Lake Champlain.
The spring run of these silvery specimens is likely to produce some outstanding angling opportunities due to the combination of successful lamprey control and the burgeoning forage base.
Opportunities will be readily available on the Saranac, Ausable and Boquet Rivers, as well as on the smaller tributaries such as the Little Ausable. Last fall, reports indicate that many of the lake's rivers experienced record numbers of salmon.
I doubt populations will ever be as prolific as they were in the 1800's, when spearing or netting could bring in more than 100 fish per boat on a good night. However, I do believe there will be far more trophy quality fish, with fewer lamprey wounds than we've seen in the past few decades.
Despite the expected boon that alewives may provide, they also offer a huge potential for bust.
When cold water species, such as salmon, lake trout and browns begin to forage primarily on a diet of alewives, the self-sustaining populations of these game fish can become severely diminished.
This is due to a thiamine deficiency that affects the spawning success of both trout and salmon. Alewives also have a tendency to experience massive die-offs which can result from sudden temperature changes or other stress factors such as spawning. These boom and bust cycles can greatly reduce the forage base for prey fish.