Canal water will supplement streams, boosting fishing in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 October 2020 at 3:00 pm

Johnson, Oak Orchard and Sandy creeks will get additional water

File photos by Tom Rivers: Anglers try to catch Chinook salmon and brown trout in the Oak Orchard River in Carlton.

The state is doing a pilot program using water from the Erie Canal to enhance popular fishing tributaries in Western New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative today. It is part of the “Reimagine the Canals” initiative, where the state is using the canal to expand tourism and assist small businesses in the region.

This fall, the Canal Corporation increased regulated water releases into Orleans and Monroe County’s premium streams—Oak Orchard Creek and Sandy Creek.

In early November and early December, other Lake Ontario tributaries – Eighteenmile, Johnson, Oak Orchard, Sandy and Salmon Creeks – will see higher flows.

This will entice more brown trout, steelhead, and Atlantic and Pacific salmon populations to run up these streams, improving conditions for the fish and expanding opportunities for local and visiting anglers, Cuomo said in a news release this afternoon.

“This fall, New York is enhancing some of our world-class fisheries and expanding opportunities for anglers into December by creatively using water from the Erie Canal to bolster fishing conditions and to extend the season,” Cuomo said. “As a fisherman, I’m pleased to see our incredible Lake Ontario tributaries will be host to even better experiences for anglers. This innovative use of iconic infrastructure continues our strong tradition of ecotourism while supporting our small businesses.”

The Oak Orchard River is one of several tributaries that will have its water levels boosted to improve the local fall fishery.

The New York State Canal Corporation is methodically releasing water from the Erie Canal into Lake Ontario tributaries, increasing the water levels and flows in streams and encouraging fish to travel farther upstream, which expands areas for ideal fishing conditions. In addition, the Canal Corporation will extend the annual draining of the canal in Western NY to create a longer season for anglers.

“Fishing on the Lake Ontario tributaries was already world-class and well known to experienced anglers,” said Brian U. Stratton, NYS Canal Corporation director. “We’re proud that our Canal’s infrastructure can be used to enhance the fishing experience for New Yorkers and be a catalyst for restarting the economy in Western New York.”

Throughout the length of the program, the Canal and tributary waters will be monitored for quantity and quality to document the success of the pilot program.

“The Reimagine the Canals pilot project will encourage even more New Yorkers to get outside and enjoy our state’s natural resources,” said Basil Seggos, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. “Water releases will benefit both the fish in these waters and the angling public by providing quality fishing opportunities, bolstering tourism, and supporting local economies.”

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