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Cuba Lake (2011)

In the late spring of 2011, DEC Region 9 fisheries staff conducted a fisheries survey of Cuba Lake. The last fisheries survey conducted before this was in 2003. The purpose of this survey was primarily to assess the status of largemouth and smallmouth bass, but also to monitor the walleye, northern pike, and panfish populations.

Walleye and Smallmouth Bass

Technician holding large Cuba Lake smallmouth bass.
A quality Cuba Lake smallmouth bass.

Results indicate that walleye and smallmouth bass are still the co-dominant predators in the lake. Since the discontinuation of stocking in 1999, the walleye population has been supported by natural reproduction and seems to be very abundant, indicated by an electrofishing catch rate of 43 walleye/hour. However, very few adult walleye were collected. The majority of walleye captured were yearlings from the 2009 year class. The absence of adult fish was likely the result of those fish being less vulnerable to electrofishing gear at the time of sampling, which was more suitable to capturing bass than walleye. Walleye growth rates in Cuba Lake are slow as they have been for the last 60 years.

Seventy-seven smallmouth bass were collected, resulting in an electrofishing catch rate of 26 fish/hour. This is somewhat lower than in 2003 (39/hr), but still represents an exceptional fishery when compared to the NYS average. Smallmouth bass growth has declined slightly since the last survey, taking fish almost 5 years to reach the minimum legal size limit of 12 inches. The largemouth bass population has been on a steady decline for the last decade and showed no difference in 2011. This is may be due to competition with northern pike, which were illegally introduced to the lake in the early 1990s. Angler reports indicate that a fishable population of both species does exist in the lake.

Panfish

Yellow perch are the most abundant panfish in Cuba Lake, indicated by an electrofishing catch rate of 355 fish/hour. In 2003, rock bass were incredibly abundant, but very few were caught in the 2011 survey. However, angler reports again indicate that rock bass numbers are higher than this survey suggests. The catch rates for sunfish populations were low and the growth rate of yellow perch was fast, most likely indicating generally low panfish populations in Cuba Lake. When compared to other large lakes in western New York, Cuba Lake is generally less productive in terms of lbs of fish/acre. However, sampling indicates that Cuba Lake should provide quality recreational angling opportunities throughout the 2013 season and into the coming years. NYSDEC Region 9 fisheries staff plans on repeating this fisheries survey in 2016.