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Recreational Fishery Survey of Lake Ontario Bays (2012-2013)

Abstract

Creel Surveys on Lake Ontario Bays

A one year roving-roving recreational fishery survey was conducted on the Lake Ontario embayments of Port, East, and Blind Sodus Bays from April 2, 2012 to March 29, 2013. The survey permitted the examination of the current levels of angling effort and success on these Wayne County, New York bays. During a total of 232 survey days, creel survey agents conducted 776 interviews comprised of 1,453 individual anglers who fished 3,828 hours. The average party size was 1.9 anglers. Anglers interviewed from complete trips on average fished for 3.2 hours.

It was estimated that anglers fished Port Bay for approximately 14,198 hours from 3,419 boat trips, and 14,811 hours from 5,737 shore trips; East Bay for approximately 4,459 hours from 1,634 boat trips, and 2,484 hours from 1,346 shore trips; and Blind Sodus Bay for approximately 5,175 hours from 2,472 boat trips, and 862 hours from 655 shore trips. An estimated 82,038 panfish were caught from Port Bay for a catch rate of 2.83 fish per angler hour. Most of the estimated panfish catch was bluegill sunfish. An estimated 15,119 warm water gamefish were caught from Port Bay for a catch rate of 0.52 fish per angler hour. Ninety-five percent of the estimated warm water gamefish catch was largemouth bass. An estimated 45,700 panfish were caught from East Bay for a catch rate of 6.58 fish per angler hour. Most of the estimated panfish catch was bluegill sunfish. An estimated 8,803 warm water gamefish were caught from East Bay for a catch rate of 1.27 fish per angler hour. Ninety-one percent of the estimated warm water gamefish catch was largemouth bass. An estimated 6,497 panfish were caught from Blind Sodus Bay for a catch rate of 1.08 fish per angler hour. About one half of the estimated panfish catch was comprised of pumpkinseed and bluegill sunfish. An estimated 2,436 warm water gamefish were caught from Blind Sodus Bay for a catch rate of 0.40 fish per angler hour. Eighty-five percent of the estimated warm water gamefish catch was largemouth bass.

Port, East, and Blind Sodus Bays provide excellent year-round panfish and bass, and good northern pike, fishing opportunities for those anglers who prefer to fish smaller, less heavily fished water bodies in Wayne County. Panfish catch rates were above those observed on other nearby Lake Ontario bays. Largemouth bass was the favorite open water gamefish target on the bays, consistent with the preferences of anglers surveyed during a recent statewide survey. The directed effort catch rates for largemouth bass in the bays greatly exceeded the average directed effort catch rate of all size largemouth bass from selected waters in New York State of 0.24 bass per hour. The high release rate of bass, particularly legal sized bass, observed on these bays is consistent with the "catch and release" ideology practiced by most bass anglers today. Similarly high release rates of legal sized bass were observed on other nearby Lake Ontario bays. No bass were harvested from the bays during the catch and release season from December through May. The Port and Blind Sodus Bay walleye catch rates are well below the statewide objective of 0.2 walleye per hour. Based on this measure, it appears that when compared to other New York waters, walleye in Port and Blind Sodus Bays may be difficult to catch, not highly targeted, or abundance is low, despite modest walleye CPUEs from assessment surveys.

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