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Honeoye Lake Fish Stock Assessment - 1997-2000

Abstract

An evaluation of the Honeoye Lake fish community occurred from 1997 to 2000. The evaluation included modified Finger Lakes standard gang gill nets in fall 1997 and 1999, walleye (Sander vitreus vitreus) population density estimate using mark and recapture techniques in 1999 and 2000, and nighttime, shoreline electrofishing gear for both largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and smallmouth (Micropterus dolomieui) bass during fall 1997 and spring and fall 1998. Additionally, an Angler Diary Program, ongoing since 1989, was utilized to provide data on angler success. Also, an attempt to evaluate the population characteristics of the Honeoye Inlet walleye spawning run was attempted Spring 2000.

A total of 1,009 (84.1 fish/net night) and 764 (63.7 fish/net night) fish were collected in gill nets in 1997 and 1999, respectively. In both years, walleye, bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), and yellow perch (Perca flavescens) were the dominant species collected. Walleye catch per unit effort (CPUE) was 25.0 and 12.2 fish/net night in 1997 and 1999, respectively. Average length at age 3+ was 413 mm, indicating moderate to slow growth. Condition of walleye was generally poor with relative weights for fish <457 mm near 85. In 2000, the walleye population was estimated at 33,592 adults, or 47 walleye/ha. Although walleye were collected in Honeoye Inlet, the small sample size limited evaluation of the spawning stock.

Yellow perch CPUE was 9.6 fish/net night in both 1997 and 1999 and may be indicative of low population density. Growth was moderate to fast with yellow perch averaging 215 mm at age 3+. Over 60 percent of bluegill and pumpkinseed collected were >200 mm and were in excellent condition, indicating a quality sunfish fishery in Honeoye Lake, however, sampling gear and deployment location was biased toward larger fish.

Largemouth bass accounted for >90% of bass collected during electrofishing sampling. Electrofishing CPUE was much higher than statewide averages ranging from 53 bass/h in Fall 1997 to 123 bass/h in Spring 1998. Size distribution, condition, and growth rate indices suggest an excellent bass fishery exists in Honeoye Lake.

The high density, relatively slow growth rate, and poor condition, suggests the walleye population is overcrowded. Also, yellow perch population characteristics suggest that they may have been impacted by abundant predator populations. Therefore it is recommended that the walleye size limit be decreased from 457 mm (18 in) to 381 mm (15 in) beginning October 2000. Anticipated results include increased angler harvest and growth of walleye, and recovery of the yellow perch population. Additionally, a more comprehensive evaluation of the black bass and sunfish populations should be conducted. This evaluation should be based on procedures in the New York State Centrarchid Sampling Manual.

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