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NYDEC- Lake Ontario smallbass fishery


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New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Division of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources

Lake Ontario Unit, Cape Vincent Fisheries Station

541 E. Broadway, PO Box 292

Cape Vincent, NY 13618-0292

Phone: 315-654-2147 Fax: 315-654-4118

Website: http://www.dec.state.ny.us

Problem Statement regarding the smallmouth bass fishery along

the southern shore of Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario smallmouth bass anglers along the southern shore of Lake Ontario (particularly Irondequoit

Bay to Oswego) have experienced four consecutive years of the worst quality of bass angling, as measured

by catch per angler hour, since the Lake Ontario fishing boat survey began in 1985. Fishing quality was

relatively stable from 1985 through the early 1990s (1985-1994 average catch per angler hour [CPE] =

1.025), then increased to its highest level in 2002 (CPE = 2.024, and nearly 2 times higher than the 1985-

1994 average). Since then, CPE declined to the lowest recorded and the 2009 CPE (CPE=0.363) is an

82.1% decrease compared to the 2002 peak. This decline coincides with an exponential increase of round

goby in angler catches. Through the 2008 season, some anglers changed their fishing strategy to avoid

gobies and maintained acceptable bass catch rates. Beginning in 2009, however, these same anglers were

continuing to avoid catching gobies but were unable to catch or even find smallmouth bass. Currently, the

perception among the majority of bass anglers is that the bass population along the southern shore has

declined. Anglers attribute the decline to VHSv die offs and recruitment failure (a consequence of perceived

excessive goby predation on eggs). The current status of the southern shore bass populations is unknown.

Many factors that affect Lake Ontario’s southern shore fish populations are also present and are affecting

Lake Ontario’s Eastern Outlet Basin and Lake Erie, including, invasive species (round goby, VHSv,

Dreissenid mussels, etc.), nutrient changes, and water clarity changes. Unlike the southern shore, however,

both regions continue to provide quality bass angling. Reports to NYSDEC from anglers that target bass

in these regions indicate that Lake Ontario’s Eastern Outlet Basin and Lake Erie continue to provide good

quality bass fisheries and high quality bass. In recent years many anglers are reporting catches of the largest

bass ever caught in those regions, which agrees with growth and condition information collected during

gillnetting assessment.

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If the gobys are eatin the eggs ,then from what ive read on this site the bass got there work cut out for them ,, Maybe we will have to invent a way for the bass to have spawning grounds that the gobies cant reach,also the other thing to hope for is a goby dieoff or decline (heavy fishing pressure for them from MUSKY seemed to have helped) hmm Goby Chowder. Im shure someone is doing some research on the gob's for their "weakspot"

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The best thing we can do is not to target spawning bass. By doing this we help keep the nest protected. It only takes about 2 min. for gobies to ruin a nest. I saw a great tv show called hook n look that had a lot of great info and footage on this. The bass do quite well at protecting if left alone, but sight fishing spawners is very popular. But if there was a way to eradicate the gobies I'de donate money and time.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I dont know if this helps but the pike just devour the gobies. I fish an area with tons of pike of all sizes and i also caught a good amount of smallies, a few over 18". My best suggestion would be to fish where the pike are when the smallies are still shallow after the spawn

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My experience bass fishing lately and comparing the fishing to the 90's is .....

1). The fish are keying on gobies. I used to catch bass on rattlebaits fished at mid-levels, but now forget it....the fish have their nose to the ground. Find the gobies, and you find the bass. I will take a small piece of nightcrawler on a small circle hook and fish right on the bottom to see where the gobies are. If I am not getting bit....I pull the anchor and try again until I hit gobies. Once found, the gobies are "accidentally" sent back down to get eaten.....it does not take long. Note, a small piece of crawler on a hook, looks like a small goby and will get just as many hits.

2). The fish I am catching are all FAT and healthy on both erie and Ontario.

3). The fish are more concentrated.......just like the salmon. Long gone are the day where minnows are swimming everywhere. Find the bait, and you find the fish. The japanese gentleman who won the Erie Bassmasters a year ago was using his depth finder to find bait schools in 50 FOW, and fishing below them with soft plastics. He averaged 5lbs a fish to beat competitors averaging over 4lbs a fish!!!!! Sounds like world class fishing to me.

I guess just like salmon fishing has changed to more of a feast or famine situation, new tactics emerge. I think the bass are going to be just fine IMO.

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