Silver Lake (2009-2010)
In early spring of 2009 and 2010 just after ice-out, Region 9 fisheries staff conducted electrofishing surveys on Silver Lake to monitor the status of the rejuvenated walleye population. Another electrofishing survey was conducted in late May of 2009 to assess the bass and panfish populations.
Walleye captured during Silver Lake
A total of 514 walleye (257 per hour) were collected in the 2009 early spring survey. In 2010, a total of 463 walleye (240 per hour) were collected. The electrofishing catch rates for walleye in 2009-10 are extremely high, suggesting a very abundant population. The walleye stocking program on Silver Lake was terminated in 1996 when it was determined that natural reproduction was adequate to sustain the walleye population. Even though no young walleye were collected during these surveys, the presence of 14 year classes since the termination of stocking suggests that natural reproduction is sustaining the population and creating strong year class structure.
Yellow Perch and Largemouth Bass
Late spring night electrofishing results indicate a very abundant and fairly balanced fishery. The yellow perch electrofishing catch rate (681 per hour) is extremely high, and is actually more than ten fold higher than what is considered high abundance (>50 per hour) in New York State waters. The largemouth bass electrofishing catch rate of 60/hour was the highest catch rate for Silver Lake in the last 20 years, and is also much higher than the NYS average (16 per hour). Largemouth bass in Silver Lake have slow to moderate growth rates reaching legal size (12") at age 5. Despite the slow growth rates, a decent number of 16"+ bass were collected during the 2009 survey.
Bluegill and pumpkinseed populations have been steadily increasing since 1997. In the 1970's these panfish were almost non-existent, but now make up a substantial part of electrofishing surveys and the ice fishing creel. Rock bass and brown bullhead are two more panfish in Silver Lake that have moderate to abundant populations based on the 2009 electrofishing survey. Low numbers of black crappie, smallmouth bass, and northern pike were collected. However, this is most likely a misrepresentation of population size due to the time and conditions during sampling and gear type. Angler reports indicate that fishable populations of these species exist in Silver Lake.
The 2009 and 2010 Silver Lake electrofishing results indicate an overall balanced fishery. When compared to other lakes in Western New York, Silver Lake is extremely productive in terms of pounds of fish per acre, likely due to abundant forage and dense aquatic vegetation. Although angler catches often lack in walleye numbers, sampling confirms that an abundant population does exist in Silver Lake. The exceptional yellow perch population coupled with abundant largemouth bass and panfish should provide excellent recreational angling opportunities in the coming years, especially during the ice fishing season. Region 9 fisheries staff plans to repeat this survey in 2014.