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Completion Report: Fisheries surveys of Canadarago Lake, NY 1972-2014

Tom Brooking, Randy Jackson, Lars Rudstam, Tony VanDeValk (Funded by New York State DEC) 

The fisheries of Canadarago Lake have undergone centuries of change, from herring and American Shad in early Native American times to Walleye, Yellow Perch, and Alewife in recent times. Nutrient reduction and sewage treatment in the mid-1970s, combined with top-down control from a Walleye population established through stocking, resulted in balanced predator and prey populations and improvements in water quality. Stocked Walleye established an abundant naturally-reproducing population, resulting in improvements in Yellow Perch growth and size structure which persisted for several decades. Long-term monitoring data indicated cascading trophic impacts on fisheries and limnology from Walleye establishment, and then from introductions of non-native Alewife in 1999 and zebra mussels in 2001. Water clarity increased after the zebra mussel colonization. Alewife became abundant around 2006-2007 and have persisted for at least 16 years. Zooplankton declined, water clarity decreased, Walleye growth and condition increased, and Walleye natural recruitment was reduced to very low levels after Alewife became abundant. Walleye stocking was re-initiated from 2011-2015 to boost recruitment and maintain this important fishery. Yellow Perch growth and size structure were reduced almost to levels seen in the 1970s, as a result of high recruitment, a decline in predation, and declines in zooplankton. Long-term sampling has allowed fisheries managers to enact changes in regulations, implement or remove stocking strategies as needed, and better advise the angling public about changes in Canadarago Lake. A list of 138 reports and publications from Canadarago Lake was included as an Appendix to the final report: Brooking, T. E., J. R. Jackson, L. G. Rudstam, and A. J. VanDeValk. 2016. Fisheries surveys of Canadarago Lake, NY 1972-2014. New York Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Grants F-56-R, Job 1-2 and F-61-R, Study 2, Job 2-6. Cornell University Warmwater Fisheries Program. Bridgeport, NY. 101 pp.