Most fishing forays on western Finger Lakes are on ice right now, but fisheries experts from the Department of Environmental Conservation Region 8 presented some interesting facts and features of two popular Western New York lakes during a state of the lakes meeting at Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua on Tuesday evening.
Biologist Peter Austerman began stressing the many changes all of the Finger Lakes are experiencing. Austerman said, “All Finger Lakes have zebra mussels and some now have quagga mussels.” Quagga mussels are much larger than zebra mussels.
Austerman focused mainly on Canandaigua Lake, a diverse lake with a good variety of both cold-water and warm-water fish species. Salmonid species have been stocked in Canandaigua since the late 1800s.
Rainbow trout were the first fish stocks, followed with lake trout in the early 1900s.
A brown trout stocking program began in 1970; anglers today have an abundance of lake trout and brown trout as a main-lake fishery. Rainbow trout are more abundant in Naples Creek, a feeder stream at the south end of the lake.
DEC personnel will conduct a Naples Creek stream stocking study March 20 to check on rainbow trout stocks in this creek. An annual Naples Derby held on the April 1 trout-season opener also confirms the productivity of this stream.
Biologist Brad Hammers discussed Seneca Lake, another major salmonid source that also holds a respectably warm-water fishery, especially jumbo-sized perch.
Seneca is the second largest of the Finger Lakes, measuring 34 miles long and three miles wide, with depths of more than 1,000 feet well below sea level.
A landlocked salmon stocking program began in 1988 and that species now appears in many anglers’ creels, but lake trout dominate targeted fish at 90 percent of catches followed with yellow perch.