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Recreational Fishery Survey of Irondequoit Bay (2007-2008)

Abstract

Irondequoit Bay Creel Survey

A one year recreational fishery survey was conducted on Irondequoit Bay from April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008. A roving-roving survey design was used to estimate angling effort, catch, and harvest for three time periods during the 2007-08 fishing season. During a total of 267 survey days (236 daytime, 31 May-September nighttime), creel survey agents conducted 2,169 interviews, which comprised 3,865 anglers who fished 12,144 hours. The average party size was 1.8 anglers. Anglers interviewed from complete trips on average fished for 4.6 hours.

It is estimated that anglers fished Irondequoit Bay for approximately 71,000 angler hours from 15,800 boat trips, and 93,000 angler hours from 20,200 shore angler trips, during the daytime. Anglers fished Irondequoit Bay at night for approximately 2,000 angler hours from 443 boat trips, and 1,400 angler hours from 314 shore angler trips. During the survey, ice fishing was recorded as shore fishing. The majority of the daytime shore fishing effort took place during 74 days of safe ice from December 22, 2007 to March 25, 2008. Boat fishing accounted for most of the open water (April through November) fishing season. Yellow perch fishing accounted for about 36% of the total estimated daytime boat fishing effort, 82% of the daytime shore fishing effort, and all of the effort in December through March. Twenty six percent of the estimated daytime boat fishing effort was directed at bass, followed by fishing for anything (25%). Fishing for anything made up approximately 10% of the daytime shore effort, followed by bullhead (5%). Fishing for bass accounted for 42% of the estimated nighttime boat fishing effort, followed by anything (16%), and walleye (11%). Seventy five percent of the nighttime shore fishing effort was for anything, followed by bullhead (15%), and yellow perch (11%).

An estimated 634,000 panfish were caught from Irondequoit Bay for a catch rate of 3.8 fish per angler hour. About one third or 246,000 panfish were harvested (1.5 per angler hour). The vast majority of the panfish catch was yellow perch, where an estimated 610,000 were caught (3.6 per angler hour) and 234,000 were harvested (1.4 per angler hour). More than half of the yellow perch caught and harvested came through the ice. An estimated 21,000 warm water gamefish were caught from Irondequoit Bay for a catch rate of 0.12 fish per angler hour. It is estimated that only 1,200 warm water gamefish were harvested (0.01 per angler hour). Eighty nine percent of the warm water gamefish catch was comprised of largemouth bass. An estimated 18,000 were caught at a rate of 0.11 per hour, only 1,000 were kept (0.01 per angler hour), and 42% of the largemouth bass released were legal sized. An estimated 229 walleye (<0.01 per angler hour) were caught, 140 (61%) were creeled and 88% of the walleye released were legal sized. No northern pike or walleye were caught through the ice. An estimated 5 chinook salmon, 5 rainbow trout, and 61 brown trout, were caught. All of the chinook salmon were legal sized and released, while all of the brown and rainbow trout were kept.

The directed effort open water boat fishing catch rate for yellow perch was an outstanding 8.8 perch per angler hour, while the directed effort open water shore fishing catch rate for yellow perch was a similarly outstanding 6.2 perch per angler hour. The ice fishing directed effort catch rate for yellow perch was an excellent 5.4 perch per angler hour. Excellent catch rates were also observed for anglers targeting panfish, anything, bass, gamefish, and northern pike. Bass anglers are taking advantage of, and generally complying with, a new offseason catch and release regulation. Angler effort targeting northern pike and walleye was comparatively low, and the directed effort catch rate of walleye was low, suggesting that despite relatively abundant populations, they are underutilized, and/or difficult to find and catch.

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