Cazenovia Lake Fisheries Survey (2012)
Cazenovia Lake is a 1,165 acres lake located in the Town of Cazenovia, Madison County. Two fisheries surveys were conducted on the lake during the summer of 2012. The first was a two-night electrofishing survey in May (survey number 712007), and second was a two-day gill netting survey in July (survey number 712009). These were the first DEC fisheries surveys on the lake since the 1950's. Surveys had not been done because of lack of public access to the lake. However, access has improved in recent years prompting the Department to again consider active fishery management of the lake. One of the prime objectives for the surveys was to address the issue of restarting a DEC walleye stocking program in the lake, which last occurred in 1977. Additionally, another objective was to develop a picture of the overall fish community of the lake. In total 1,281 fish were caught, representing 17 species. Largemouth bass were the most numerous with 484 caught, 38% of catch, followed by 190 yellow perch, 155 bluegill, 151 pumpkinseed sunfish, 52 walleye, and 50 smallmouth bass. The number of walleye caught during the gill netting survey was surprising, as Cazenovia Lake has not been legally stocked with walleye since 1989. Catch per unit effort (CPUE) ranged from zero to 18 fish/net with a mean of 6.25 fish/net. The bulk of the catch was comprised of two year old walleye in the 290-329 mm range (70% of catch).
Due to the high density of largemouth bass and the moderately high gill net catch rate of walleye, the department is not prepared to stock walleye at this time. Additional sampling is planned to determine whether walleye are naturally reproducing. Walleye stocking in the future is still an option but will not be considered until more is known about the current walleye population of the lake.
One of the objectives for doing the survey was to determine if walleye stocking should be undertaken on Cazenovia Lake. The lake was stocked periodically with walleye by the DEC between 1961 to 1978; stocking was discontinued because of access problems. However, after 1978 some walleye were stocked by the Nelson Sportsman's Club, with the last stocking taking place in 1989. The gill net catch of 6.25 walleye per net was very unexpected, as a gill net catch rate of 5 walleye per net generally indicates high abundance (Forney et al 1994). Walleye ages ranged from two to eleven years. Given the time frame since the last known stocking, these walleye were either wild (hatched in the lake) or from multiple illegal stockings. A few anglers we spoke with during the gill netting survey did mention that they had heard another angler "bragging" about stocking walleye that he had caught while fishing Oneida Lake into Cazenovia Lake. However, given the number captured during our sampling efforts, it is highly unlikely that one individual angler could be responsible for all these walleye.
Cazenovia Lake also has a large abundance of potential walleye predators. Research conducted by Cornell University indicated that low survival of stocked walleye was observed in lakes with electrofishing catch rates of >5 fish/h of largemouth bass and esocids >381mm (15 inches, Jackson et. al. 2003). The average combined electrofishing catch rate for largemouth bass and chain pickerel >381mm was 5.5 fish/h, indicating that we would expect survival of stocked fingerling walleye to be low.
Due to the high gill net catch rate of walleye and, to a lesser extent, the high density of other predators, the Department is not prepared to stock walleye in Cazenovia Lake at this time. Additional sampling in the near future is recommended to determine whether walleye are naturally reproducing. A fall of 2013 night time electrofishing survey looking for young of the year walleye and a spring trawling survey in 2014 looking for recently hatched walleye fry are recommended. The relatively high abundance of Age 2 walleye in this survey, whether from an unauthorized stocking or natural reproduction, provides hope that a walleye stocking program could be successful if undertaken in the future.
Based on the abundance and other population characteristic of the species sampled, there appears to be no need to change any sportfish regulations at this time.
Read the full report (PDF) (630 KB)
|Species||Scientific name||Electrofishing||Gill netting||Sum||Sum Percent|
|Chain Pickerel||Esox niger||18||6||24||2%|
|Golden Shiner||Notemignus crysoleucas||5||0||5||0%|
|Spottail Shiner||Notropis hudsnius||4||0||4||0%|
|Spotfin Shiner||Notrpois spilopterus||13||0||13||1%|
|White Sucker||Catostomus commersoni||6||13||19||1%|
|Yellow Bullhead||Ameirus natalis||2||2||4||0%|
|Brown Bullhead||Ameirus nebulosis||6||2||8||1%|
|Banded Killifish||Fundulus diaphanus||11||0||11||1%|
|Rock Bass||Ambloplities rupestris||23||21||44||3%|
|Smallmouth Bass||Micrpterus dolomieui||39||11||50||4%|
|Largemouth Bass||Micrpterus salmoides||415||69||484||38%|
|Black Crappie||Pomoxis nigromaculatus||1||62||63||5%|
|Tessellated Darter||Etheostoma olmstedi||4||0||4||0%|
|Yellow Perch||Perco flavescens||52||138||190||15%|
Forney, J.L., L.G. Rudstam, D.M. Green, and D.L. Stang. 1994. Percid sampling manual. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.
Jackson, J.R., T.E. Brooking, A.J.VanDeValk, and L.G. Rudstam. 2003. Factors Affecting Walleye in New York Lakes. Cornell Warmwater Fisheries Unit. Cornell University Biological Field Station. Bridgeport, NY.