Second Milestone Reached in the Buffalo
River Walleye Restoration Project
By Tom Marks
The Wall-I-Guys, a group of sportsmen from the Southtowns Walleye
Association, Bison City Rod and Gun Club, East Aurora Fish & Game Club,
Alden Rod and Gun Club, Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs,
Erie County Fish Advisory Board, Erie County Department of Environment
and Planning and the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC), today stocked young walleye in the Buffalo River as
part of the Buffalo River Walleye Restoration Project. The stocking took
place at the Seneca Street Bridge in South Buffalo.
The first milestone was in the first week of May when the first walleye
eggs were collected to start the stocking phase of this project. The
walleye restoration project was started in 2002 when the Wall-I-Guys was
DEC Region 9 Director Gerald Mikol, who was on hand for this initial
stocking in the seven-year project, said, "Walleye are one of the most
popular sportfish in Western New York. This stocking marks the beginning
of a journey to establish a self-sustaining population of walleye in
this urban river."
Spencer Schofield who, along with the DEC was instrumental in getting
this project off the ground remarked with excitement what a great day
itwas for our local fishery and sportsmen. The weather was perfect and
the river conditions could not have been better.
The eggs for this first stocking were collected from adult walleye
caught in Cattaraugus Creek this past spring. The DEC's Chautauqua
Hatchery provided the use of one pond to raise the fingerlings for the
Buffalo River stocking. The Cattaraugus Creek walleye, a river spawning
fish, which spend most of their lives in the lake were selected as the
egg source because they return to the creek each spring to spawn.
The 28,000 fingerlings about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long, were
transported to the Buffalo River and released. It is hoped that these
walleye will imprint on the Buffalo River and return to spawn as their
parents do on the Cattaraugus Creek. The Wall-I-Guys and the DEC would
like to establish a Buffalo River walleye population that lives in Lake
Erie and spawns in the river each spring. It is believed that the
Buffalo River once supported such a river spawning population of
Approximately 105,000 walleye fry the excess from the initial egg
collection were stocked in the river in May. The first adult walleye
from this initial stocking are not expected to return until 2008. The
stocking of the river is planned for the next six years. It is hoped by
the year 2010 to achieve 5000 adult walleye returning. It is a goal of
the group to restore a naturally reproducing, selfsustaining walleye
population in the Buffalo River. If the project is successful we should
see a more stable abundant walleye population in the in the Buffalo
River and adjacent areas of Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River.
Historically the Buffalo River had a river spawning population of
walleye. However, by the early 1900's, the river had become too polluted
to support any viable fishery. Heavy industry along and dredging of the
lower river destroyed much of the suitable spawning habitat. In recent
years, the pollution has been abated and the water quality is much
improved. It is believed that fish can reach the suitable spawning
habitat further upstream. The Restoration Project includes construction
of a walleye-rearing pond on Erie County property adjacent to the river.
Walleye will be raised in this pond by volunteer labor and with DEC
supervision. When ready the fmgerlings will be released directly in to
the river, this will reduce transport injury to the fish. Water from the
river will be used in the pond to increase the potential for imprinting.
Success is not guaranteed for this project there will be a lot of work
in the future. However the team and all involved are very optimistic.
Reprinted, courtesy of Southtowns Walleye Association