The Fishing Line - October 21st Issue

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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The Fishing Line - October 21st Issue

Freshwater Fishing, Fisheries Management, and Fishing Access News

In This Issue:

  • First Evidence of Lake Trout Natural Production in Lake Erie
  • Boat Launch Construction Underway on Oneida Lake
  • Wading Safety - Cold Water Guidance
  • Lake Erie Open Lake Angler Survey Update - September 2022
  • Fisheries Staff Spotlight - Geof Eckerlin, Aquatic Biologist

First Evidence of Lake Trout Natural Reproduction in Lake Erie

Wild lake trout fry

We wanted to share a rare, unique opportunity for our subscribers to check out a recently published article, "Evidence of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) natural reproduction in Lake Erie" from the Journal of Great Lakes Research. Between now and November 26, 2022, the article will be available to read and download without any sign-up requirements. Among the co-authors are five DEC Fisheries staff whose work lead to this major milestone in Lake Erie lake trout restoration. Readers are also treated to underwater footage of spawning lake trout and their spawning habitat.

Read the article.

Boat Launch Construction Underway on Oneida Lake

Cove Road boat launch construction

Construction at the long-anticipated Cove Road boat launch site on the Barge Canal is officially underway. Located in the Town of Verona (Central NY), the new site will provide anglers and boaters with direct access to the Barge Canal and eastern end of Oneida Lake. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant site will feature a two-lane concrete launch ramp with floating docks, canoe/kayak launch, fishing pier, ample parking, and Port-a-Johns. As New York’s #1 fished inland water, Oneida Lake offers outstanding opportunities for walleye, yellow perch, bass, and panfish.

The anticipated completion date for the new launch site is early Summer 2023.

Wading Safety - Cold Water Guidance

Cold weather anglers

With water temperatures cooling down taking a “dip” while wading in a river cannot only ruin your day but can also be a potentially life-threatening situation. Rapidly rising water levels, slippery rocks, deep drop-offs, and strong currents are all things anglers should be mindful of.

For a safe, enjoyable outing always follow these precautions:

  • Wear spiked footwear to insure firm footing.
  • Carry a wading staff. (can make a quick one from an old ski pole).
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to detect wading hazards and spot fish.
  • Wear a wader belt or flotation vest.
  • Be cautious and don't cross the river if you are unsure of depth or speed of the current.

Photo by Flylords Media, Courtesy of Oswego County Tourism

Lake Erie Open Lake Angler Survey Update - September 2022

Lake Erie walleye

Angler effort in September 2022 was below the 20-year average but more than 13,000 angler hours over the effort seen last September, with the majority of anglers (59%) targeting walleye.

Walleye: Daytime walleye angling effort in September was the 5th highest in the last 20 years, with 21,823 angler hours spent (average = 18,571 angler hours). Cattaraugus Creek and Barcelona accounted for the majority of the September walleye angling effort. Anglers targeting walleye harvested 5 fish per boat trip on average, with a catch rate of 0.52 fish per hour, the 4th highest September catch rate for walleye in the last 20 years, behind only 2017, 2018, and 2019. About 15% of daytime walleye anglers achieved a 6-fish limit this September with an average size of 20.6 inches.

Smallmouth Bass: Effort in September (7,978 angler hours) was below the 20-year average (9,139 angler hours) but was higher than each of the past four years. Most (91%) of the bass fishing effort in September occurred out of Buffalo. Bass fishing quality was below average in September 2022, with anglers targeting bass catching an average of 6.6 bass per boat trip with a catch rate of 0.59 fish per hour, the 8th lowest catch rate for smallmouth bass in the last 20 years (September average = 0.62 fish per hour).

Yellow Perch: Yellow perch fishing effort was very low in September 2022, with only 11 perch angler interviews for the entire month.

Fisheries Staff Spotlight - Geof Eckerlin, Aquatic Biologist

Geof Eckerlin, Fish Culturist

Working as a biologist in the Fish Disease Control Unit (FDCU) for the NYS Hatchery System has been an enriching challenge, allowing me to draw from disparate corners of my work, life, and educational experience. The FDCU is the health clinic and medicine chest for all the hatcheries, while we also support two vital brood stock lines of “Rome Strain” Brook and Brown Trout. Every day is a new adventure. Diagnosing fish maladies requires a working knowledge of diverse aquatic biology, hydrology, plumbing, and human nature. For some, it’s a stretch to realize our hatcheries are farms, and in a tangible way, the waters of NYS (and beyond) are our pastures.

There is no one path that brings someone to a career in this field and I went with several of them. My first jobs were working with family, in a veterinary hospital, building houses, whatever paid. For a while, I was sure I’d play the drums or work in the recording industry. Water and fish pulled me back over and over. After touring and completing a handful of the NYS fish-related degree programs (Morrisville, Cornell, then ESF) and working on the Hudson River, from the Battery to Troy for 5 years, I was canvassed for a job that sounded like it was tailored for me. Funny how that works. Be patient.

Since 2011, I’ve been helping to keep the NYS Hatchery System delivering happy, healthy fish into the waters of NYS, so the people of NYS can get outside and realize the magic that happens when you engage with the natural world. If you’re reading this, you know that’s more vital now than ever. Working with the DEC has allowed me the work-life balance to raise two outdoorsy, inquisitive kids with my incredible wife, Jes. Together we keep busy, raise bees, chickens, fish, and more, usually with a dog in-tow. If you’re looking for any of us, we’re likely outside.

Update: Since Geof wrote this spotlight he has accepted a promotion as a Fish Culturist in DEC's Central Office and will lead the charge on infrastructure improvements at DEC's fish hatcheries.