Oneida Lake was billed as the "walleye lake" of New York for a number of years. But a continuing decrease in the sport fish's population prompted the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to reduce the daily catch limit to three in 2000. Now some 20 years later, the numbers are at record highs and the decision may be reversed.

The state has monitored Oneida Lake’s walleye numbers since the 1950’s. Annual surveys show the population was over a million in the 80’s, but by the 90's, walleye numbers were under 300-thousand. The decline is when officials stepped in and reduced daily catch limits from the state norm of five per day to three. Size restrictions were also put in place, as well as a plan to manage the cormorant population which was blamed for consuming large numbers of fish.

The plan and large restocking classes have worked well at increasing the number of walleye, an estimated one million fish in 2019 and a record 1.2 million this past year. The abundance of walleye isn't the only reason the DEC is proposing returning the daily catch limit to 5. The population boom in walleye may become a detriment to the yellow perch. More fish means less forage for all others.

The proposed moderate increase in walleye harvest is necessary for the health of both the walleye and yellow perch fisheries.

The DEC proposal is up for review and public comment through October 17. If you would like to cast a yea or nay vote or share other comments on the plan, e-mail use "Oneida Lake Walleye Regulations" in the subject line. You can also mail thoughts to the Inland Fisheries Section, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753. You can read the entire proposal at the DEC's website.

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