I had a chance to talk with DEC Region 8 personnel. DEC has been working on updating the Fisheries Management Plans for the Region 8 lakes. The last time plans were formulated was back in 1980/1981, when Tom Chiotti wrote them up. I have copies of the old plans for Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneateles, Otisco and Canandaigua Lakes, and I’ve read the old Seneca Lake plan. They are a real treasury of information with past stocking history, regulations, angler effort, limnological info and numerous other items of note.
Once plans are completed, which should be in a couple months, they will be subject to public review. Brad Hammers mentioned in the latest diary summary that increasing landlocked salmon stocking on Seneca Lake is being considered. Brown trout stocking was virtually doubled in 2020 due to the zebra mussel infestation found at the Rome Hatchery. Browns will be discontinued in Seneca Lake in 2021. If for some reason we see tremendous returns of browns over the next couple years, maybe that policy will be reconsidered, but overall the brown stocking has not produced a fishery of note on Seneca Lake. You just don’t see the effort like you do on Cayuga Lake with guys flatlining them in the winter/spring – it just doesn’t happen. Brown trout do not fare well with high lamprey populations. Salmon do better, so hopefully we’ll see a stocking increase no later than 2022.
Lamprey numbers are still higher than desired on Seneca Lake. Catherine Creek and Keuka Outlet (at Dresden) are both being slated for treatment in 2021. Of course that doesn’t do anything to lower the numbers of lamprey currently out swimming around in Seneca Lake but hopefully it will keep their future numbers down.
Lake trout netted this summer looked very plump. Numbers (abundance) was about the same or slightly lower than the last netting 3 or 4 years ago. The main reason they are hard for anglers to catch is that they are very well fed. Alewife netting was done in September and their abundance is very high in Seneca Lake. They netted “a ton” of them and there were plenty of good year classes present. Lamprey wounding was down considerably on Seneca Lake’s lake trout. I have some good contacts that fish the lake and I hear differing stories – some guys were catching lakers that were pretty beat up, and other guys were impressed by how clean they were. Both can be true!
Keuka Lake was stocked with 200,000 ciscoes this past fall. They seem to be doing alright in Keuka. I actually had a client tell me that he caught one on a worm this past summer, which was neat. If anyone out there catches a cisco or finds one in a lake trout, please contact Region 8. They want to know about it. Overall numbers of lake trout on Keuka seems to have trended down a little bit since the heavy harvest through the ice back around 2015/2016, but Brad says the population appears to be increasing again.
Those of you that fish these lakes more than a couple times a year for trout should think about keeping a DEC Diary. I’ve been trumpeting this for many years now and I’m still disappointed in how few anglers bother with it. It’s very little effort and with these lakes continually changing, DEC needs as much information as they can get in order to formulate good stocking/management policy. Even if you don’t catch many or any fish for that matter, that information is important. Angler effort and catches or lack thereof is an important component of determining stocking numbers. So I hope to see an increase in cooperators when I receive my diary summaries next spring. I know some of you have signed up and kept a book this year and I appreciate it!