Salmon and trout stocking in Lake Ontario is complete for 2022 with 900,000 Chinook salmon, 505,200 rainbow trout, 480,000 brown trout, 320,000 lake trout, 121,000 coho salmon, and 125,000 Atlantic salmon to provide exceptional angling opportunities.
Stocking included traditional shore stocking, as well as two specialized stocking methods: pen-rearing and offshore barge stocking. DEC also entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal, Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to haze and disperse Double Crested Cormorants at some stocking locations in 2022.
Pen-rearing is a cooperative program where Chinook salmon, steelhead, and Atlantic salmon are stocked into net pens located at the stocking site and cared for by volunteers for 3-4 weeks prior to release. This stocking method has been shown to improve post stocking survival and adult returns to the stocking site.
All Chinook salmon stocked in New York waters of Lake Ontario are either pen-reared or are Salmon River Hatchery broodstock (which are held in the hatchery longer and have similar survival to pen-reared fish), with smaller numbers of steelhead and Atlantic salmon stocked into pens. Approximately 600,000 Chinook salmon, 58,000 steelhead, and 15,000 Atlantic salmon were held in net pens in 2022. The pen-rearing program continues to be an outstanding, volunteer-based project that provides great benefits to the Lake Ontario fishery.
Offshore Barge Stocking
All lake trout stocked in Lake Ontario and all brown trout stocked in the eastern end of the lake (Stony Point to Fairhaven) are typically stocked offshore using a military landing craft that carries stocking trucks out to release fish over deeper water, reducing predation by fishing eating birds such as Double-crested cormorants.
In 2022, all barge stocking targets were met, except for lake trout stocked at Stony Point. These fish were shore stocked due to poor weather conditions on the day of stocking.
Double-Crested Cormorant Hazing
Cormorant hazing crews from APHIS were present for 18 days, covering 13 stocking events, and protecting 815,930 stocked fish at several locations on Lake Ontario this year. Cormorant populations have grown and expanded on Lake Ontario and pose a threat to newly stocked fish. To acclimate to their new environment, large groups of these fish stay close to their stocking site making them especially vulnerable to bird predation. Hazing and dispersing cormorants away from these areas gives newly stocked fish a better chance of survival.
Fishing in Lake Ontario has been outstanding in recent years and DEC’s fish culture and stocking programs should ensure continued fishing success in the future. For more information about fisheries management in Lake Ontario contact the Lake Ontario Fisheries Unit or visit the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River research webpage.
Photos, from above: stocking fish into net pens; and stocking truck on barge provided by DEC.