Survey shows angler effort, economic impact
New York’s anglers love their bass fishing, spend millions annually in pursuit of their pursuit of many species of fish, and flock to waters like Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Oneida Lake and the St. Lawrence River.
But they’d also like to see more fishing access sites across the state, a better chance at catching big fish and wild fish, and would like to see a ban on the sale of angler-caught panfish.
Those were some of the highlights of a 2007 angler survey conducted for the DEC by Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources.
The survey, funded by a federal Sport Fish Restoration grant, provides DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries with piles of data ultimately used to guide future management efforts.
“In general, it looks like we’re meeting the needs of anglers in the state,”_DEC_Fisheries Bureau Chief Steve Hurst said. “The access issues stand out. We’re fortunate that we have a lot of fishing access in this state, but anglers want more. Personally, I’d like to see us focus more on warmwater streams and river access.”
About 20,000 license anglers completed survey questionnaires through a random sampling. It was the first such survey since 1996; DEC has conducted the angler surveys since 1973, generally about every 10 years.
DEC_Commissioner Pete Grannis called the survey “an important tool that will help build on our success in managing fisheries and create new fishing opportunities.”
The survey showed New York anglers spent about 18.7 million days on the water in 2007, up slightly from 18.6 million in 1996 but below the peak of about 21 million in 1988. Oneida Lake, a popular walleye water, and the Hudson_River, known for its striped bass fishing, saw major increases in fishing traffic – about 20,000 days more than the 1996 survey. Several other waters, such as Lake Erie, Cayuga Lake and Lake Champlain, also saw increased angling attention.
Lake Ontario remained the top fishing water in the state in terms of angler numbers, with an estimated 1.3 million angler days in 2007. Oneida Lake was a distant second with 786,000, followed by lake Erie (658,000), the St. Lawrence River (651,000), the Hudson_River (471,000), Chautauqua Lake (414,000), Niagara River (367,000), Seneca Lake (340,000), Salmon_River (333,000) and Cayuga Lake (296,000).
Bass – both smallmouth and largemouth – continued to be the most popular species, followed by trout (brook, brown and rainbow), walleye, yellow perch, lake trout, bluegill/sunfish, northern pike, steelhead, chinook/coho salmon, crappie and catfish.
“From a species standpoint, walleye and pike (angler effort) has picked up a bit,”_Hurst said. “There’s no question bass are still No. 1, and we can’t dismiss the effort that goes into trout.”
About one-third of the surveyed anglers ranked bass as their favorite species, and 75 percent placed them in their top five.
While there were several popular and well-known waters across the state that see heavy angler traffic, survey respondents indicated most anglers prefer to fish inland lakes for warmwater species like bass, pike, walleye and panfish. Inland trout streams were the second choice.
The survey also pointed to the massive economic impact from fishing in New York. Resident and nonresident anglers collectively spent an estimated $331 million at the fishing sites and another $202 million en route to their favorite waters, according to the survey. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of those expenditures came from nonresident anglers.
The Great Lakes fishery generated an estimated $98 million in at-location expenditures, with another $231 coming from inland water anglers.
The five counties with the highest angler expenditures were Oswego ($42.6 million); Jefferson ($35.3 million); St. Lawrence ($17.9 million); Chautauqua ($15.3 million) and Warren ($13.8 million).
Oswego County’s main draw is the Salmon River and the eastern basin of Lake Ontario, while Jefferson County also offers a portion of Lake Ontario; St. Lawrence both Black Lake and the St. Lawrence River; Chautauqua has Chautauqua Lake and Lake Erie; and Warren County features Lake George.
Hurst noted the survey came prior to the economic downturn and at a time when gas prices were relatively high.
The survey also showed New York’s anglers:
� would like to see more fishing access sites across the state, as well as improved facilities at those sites.
� opportunities to catch larger fish, as well as wild fish.
� are generally satisfied with DEC’s stocking practices and want to see the current mix of one- and two-year-old stocked brown trout continued.
� more simplified fishing regulations, favored by about two-thirds of respondents.
� a ban on the sale of angler-caught fish. The survey showed many anglers weren’t even aware of the practice, but 77 percent support a ban on “market fishing.” The survey also noted that while the practice is popular in DEC regions 5 and 6 (particularly among ice anglers), support for a ban on selling panfish remained about two to one.
New York Outdoors
By Steve Piatt
Entry filed under: Get Wet, Natural Waterfront, Region. Tags: angler, bass fishing, bluegill/sunfish, brook trout, brown trout, Bureau of Fisheries, catfish, chinook/coho salmon, Cornell University, crappie, DEC, fishing, fishing access, fishing license, Hudson River, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, lake trout, New York, northern pike, outdoors, rainbow trout, Sport Fish Restoration, St. Lawrence River, steelhead, top fishing water, trout, walleye, yellow perch.