Niagara Power Project FERC No. 2216

 

A RECREATIONAL FISHING SURVEY OF THE LOWER NIAGARA RIVER IN 2002 AND 2003

 

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Prepared for: New York Power Authority 

Prepared by: Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.

 

August 2005

 

___________________________________________________

 

Copyright © 2005 New York Power Authority

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

A survey was conducted of anglers fishing from shore and from boats on the lower Niagara River during the period May 7, 2002 to June 19, 2003 and from boats on the Niagara Bar during the period October 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003.  The principal objectives were to: 1) determine when fishing occurred, the species of fish caught and harvested, the length of fish harvested, and the residence of anglers and 2) estimate fishing effort by month and season, catch per hour by species, and harvest by species.  Shore anglers were counted and interviewed at 10 sites, on three weekdays and both weekend days each week and on all Federal holidays.  Boat anglers were counted and interviewed at three public launches.  The number of boats with anglers actively fishing was counted using aerial surveys conducted once each week. 

Shore anglers spent an estimated 48,438 hours fishing on the lower Niagara River during the survey; most (39%) during the summer and principally in July.  During the spring (April 1- June 20), and summer (June 21 – September 2) most shore anglers fished for any species they could catch.  Shore anglers interested in fishing for specific species targeted yellow perch and rainbow trout during the spring, and smallmouth bass, white bass, rock bass, and yellow perch during the summer.  Most shore anglers fished for Chinook salmon during the fall (September 3 – October 31) and salmonids (primarily rainbow trout and lake trout) during the winter (November 1 – March 31).

Shore anglers caught more smallmouth bass than any other species.  The estimated number of smallmouth bass caught (100,424) was 28% of the estimated total catch (359,118 fish) by shore anglers.  The catch–per-unit-effort (CPUE, fish/angler hour) of smallmouth bass for the entire survey (1.23 fish/angler hour) was higher than for any other species based on anglers that targeted a species.  The total catch for all salmonids combined was 17,340 fish  (5% of the total catch).  Rainbow trout catch (9,681 fish) accounted for 56% of the salmonid catch by shore anglers.  Lake trout catch (4,621 fish) accounted for 27% of the total salmonid catch.  The targeted CPUE for rainbow trout (0.63 fish/angler hour in spring 2003 and 0.86 fish/angler hour in May 2003) was higher than the CPUE for any other salmonid.  The next highest CPUE for a salmonid was for lake trout in December (0.43 fish/angler hour).  Rock bass, yellow perch, white bass, freshwater drum, and round goby made up a large proportion of the total catch and accounted for 20%, 12%, 10%, 9%, and 8%, respectively, of the total catch.  The CPUE for smallmouth bass and for rainbow trout in the lower Niagara River were similar to the rates from a survey on the upper river during 1999 based on anglers that targeted a species. The CPUE for yellow perch was less in the lower Niagara River than in the upper Niagara River in 1999, but was generally ~1 fish/ angler hour in the months and seasons in which anglers fished for yellow perch. 

Boat anglers spent an estimated 138,154 hours fishing in the lower Niagara River from summer 2002 through spring 2003, and 79,779 hours fishing on the Niagara Bar (although the reliability of the estimate for the Niagara Bar is low due to the small number (1 interview) of Niagara Bar anglers that were interviewed in October coupled with a relatively large number of fishing boats counted on the Niagara Bar in October).  Most boat fishing effort occurred in summer (42%, 58,009 hours), followed by winter (24.5%, 33,782 hours), fall (20.5%, 28,326 hours), and spring (13.1%, 18,037 hours, spring 2003 only).  Most boat fishing effort in the summer was for smallmouth bass (67%, 45,384 hours), followed by walleye (16%, 10,718 hours) and “any species” (13%, 8,880 hours).  In the fall, boat anglers started to shift their effort towards salmonids, with 9,472 (36%) and 3,056 (12%) hours directed towards Chinook salmon and rainbow trout, respectively.  Boat anglers also targeted smallmouth bass (28%, 7,404 hours) and walleye (9%, 2,262 hours) in the fall.  In winter, boat anglers primarily targeted rainbow trout (26%, 12,224 hours), brown trout (11%, 5,311 hours), and lake trout (50%, 23,538 hours).  Salmonids were also targeted in spring, with boat anglers starting to fish for smallmouth bass and “any species” again. 

Boat anglers caught more smallmouth bass than any other species (58% of the total catch, 43,246 fish), and most were caught in summer.  The CPUE for the entire survey for smallmouth bass was 2.46 fish/angler hour, with a maximum CPUE in summer (3.7 fish/angler hour) and August (5.1 fish/angler hour), based on anglers that targeted a specific species.  The next most caught species were rainbow trout (12,589 fish), lake trout (6,556 fish) and brown trout (3,189 fish), with most of these salmonids being caught in winter 2002-2003 and in spring 2003.  From October 2002 to March 2003, anglers primarily fished for salmonids, and the CPUE for rainbow trout ranged from 0.18 – 0.84 fish/angler hour.  The CPUE for lake trout over the same period ranged from 0 – 0.96 fish/hour.  Boat anglers harvested a high proportion of Chinook salmon (78%) and rainbow trout (37%) relative to smallmouth bass (7%).  The CPUE values for smallmouth were much higher in the lower Niagara River in 2002-2003 than in the upper Niagara River in 1999, while targeted CPUE values for yellow perch were less for the lower Niagara River in 2002-2003 than for the upper Niagara River in 1999.

 

ABBREVIATIONS

Agencies

NYSDEC         New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Units of Measure

cfs                    cubic feet per second

TL                    Total Length

hr                     hour

m                     meter

mm                   millimeter

MW                 megawatt

Environmental

CPUE              Catch per unit effort

N                     Number of data points

SE                    Standard Error

Miscellaneous

QA/QC            Quality Assurance/Quality Control

NPP                 Niagara Power Project

 

1.0     INTRODUCTION

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is engaged in the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project (NPP) in Lewiston, Niagara County, New York.  The present operating license of the plant expires in August 2007.  As part of its preparation for the relicensing of the NPP, NYPA is developing information related to the ecological, engineering, recreational, cultural, and socioeconomic aspects of the Project.

The 1,880-MW (firm capacity) NPP is one of the largest non-federal hydroelectric facilities in North America.  The Project was licensed to the Power Authority of the State of New York (now the New York Power Authority) in 1957.  Construction of the Project began in 1958, with the first electricity produced in 1961.

The Project has several components.  Twin intakes are located approximately 2.6 miles above Niagara Falls.  Water entering these intakes is routed around the Falls via two large low-head conduits to a 1.8-billion-gallon forebay, lying on an east-west axis about 4 miles downstream of the Falls. The forebay is located on the east bank of the Niagara River.  At the west end of the forebay, between the forebay itself and the river, is the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant (RMNPP), NYPA’s main generating plant at Niagara.  This plant has 13 turbines that generate electricity from water stored in the forebay.  Head is approximately 300 feet.  At the east end of the forebay is the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant (LPGP).  Under non-peak-usage conditions (i.e., at night and on weekends), water is pumped from the forebay via the plant’s 12 pumps into the 22-billion-gallon Lewiston Reservoir, which lies east of the plant.  During peak usage conditions (i.e., daytime Monday through Friday), the pumps are reversed for use as generators, and water is allowed to flow back through the plant, producing electricity.  The forebay therefore serves as headwater for the RMNPP and tailwater from the LPGP.  South of the forebay is a switchyard, which serves as the electrical interface between the Project and its service area.

In 2002-2003, a shore angler and boat angler survey, was conducted on the lower Niagara River by NYPA.  The objectives of the survey were to:

·         Determine when fishing occurred;

·         Determine what fish species were caught and harvested;

·         Estimate fishing effort by month and season;

·         Estimate catch per unit effort by species;

·         Estimate harvest;

·         Determine angler residency;

·         Collect total length data of fish-catch; and

·         Compare the results to other studies as appropriate.

The 17-mile long Niagara River drains four of the five Great Lakes, a drainage area of 263,700 square miles at an average flow of approximately 212,300 cfs.  The river flows from south to north from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario and it forms part of the boundary between New York State and the Province of Ontario, Canada.  From its head at Lake Erie (Buffalo, New York, and Fort Erie, Ontario) to its terminus at Lake Ontario (Youngstown, New York and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario) the river falls approximately 326 feet.  The Niagara River is navigable from Lake Erie to the upper rapids above Niagara Falls (the Falls dividing the River into two sections known as the upper and lower Niagara River) and from the lower rapids to Lake Ontario below the Falls.

 

2.0     METHODS

2.1         Investigation Area

On the U.S. side of the lower Niagara River, shore anglers can reach the water from the City of Niagara Falls to Lake Ontario (Figure 2.1-1).  However, from the City of Niagara Falls to just below the RMNPP tailrace, access is limited and it is relatively difficult to reach the shore on trails down the cliffs of the Niagara Gorge.  NYPA provides angler access to the RMNPP tailrace pier and the shoreline immediately upstream of the RMNPP tailrace.  Shore anglers were interviewed at the Whirlpool State Park, Devil’s Hole State Park, the shore area just above the RMNPP tailrace and tailrace pier (Tailrace shore), on the tailrace pier, at several areas along the shore at Artpark, the areas adjacent to the Youngstown launch, Constitution Park, Joseph Davis State Park, Lewiston Landing, and at Fort Niagara State Park.  Boat angler interviews were obtained at the three public boat launches on the lower Niagara River located at Youngstown, Lewiston Landing, and Fort Niagara State Park.  Boat anglers generally do not venture to or upstream of Devil’s Hole (adjacent to Devil’s Hole State Park) due to the rapids and the need for specialized boats.  Therefore, most boat angling on the lower Niagara River occurs between Devil’s Hole State Park and Lake Ontario.  In the winter, the survey included interviewing anglers fishing on the Niagara Bar out to the red navigation buoy, a distance of approximately one mile (Figure 2.1-1).

2.2         Field Data Collection Schedule and Effort

Interviews of and collection of data from shore and boat anglers fishing on the lower Niagara River were performed from May 7, 2002 through June 19, 2003.  Ancillary interviews of boat anglers fishing on the Niagara Bar were conducted from October 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003.  One technician collected data five days a week during a specified time of day (shift).  The survey was carried out on three randomly selected weekdays and on both weekend days each week during the investigation period.  Angler data were also collected on all Federal holidays during the period.  Angler interviews were conducted during one of two periods of the day, designated as a morning shift or afternoon shift.  Random selection methods were used to determine the weekdays to sample each week, and the shift for each weekend day and weekday to be sampled.  When Eastern Standard Time was in effect, all morning shifts began at 7:30 AM and ended at approximately 1:00 PM.  During Daylight Savings Time, morning shifts ended at 2:30 PM.  Accordingly, afternoon shifts began at either 1:00 PM or 2:30 PM, and for safety reasons, ended no later than one hour after sunset.

Three technicians worked independently each shift.  One conducted boat angler interviews following a “bus route” to each of the boat launches, the other two followed routes around to each one of their sites to collect instantaneous shore angler counts and interview shore anglers.  Each boat launch and shore site was scheduled to be visited once/shift.  The first site visited on a shift was randomly selected, the remaining sites were visited in a time efficient manner following the bus route.  A technician was scheduled to spend a total of one hour at each shore site, and two hours at each boat launch.

2.2.1        General Field Data Collection Procedures

When arriving at a site, and again when leaving, all technicians recorded “instantaneous” data on the number of vehicles in parking lots in proximity to the site.  When possible, the types of non-fishing related recreational activities occurring were also recorded.  This data collection effort was conducted in conjunction with a Recreational Facility Use and Capacity Investigation for the lower Niagara River.  An angler survey on the Lewiston Reservoir (April through November 2002) was also conducted in parallel.  The results of those surveys will be included in separate reports.

Except for the Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole State Park sites, instantaneous angler counts followed collection of vehicle counts.  The shoreline at all but these two sites were surveyed as rapidly as possible, with the technician moving among vantage points as necessary so he/she could record the number of anglers.  This provided instantaneous angler count data.  The technicians then began to collect trip interviews from anglers and collect data from harvested fish where possible.  At the Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole sites, technicians remained near the top of the Niagara Gorge on a park trail for one hour and collected complete trip interviews from anglers as anglers reached to top of the park trails.

The shore angler technician typically interviewed all accessible anglers and avoided interviewing individual anglers more than once per day.  However, the technicians did update interview data (e.g., catch and time fishing) if an angler was encountered a second time that day.  If an angler arrived on site and had not begun fishing before the technician departed the angler was polled only to determine their target species for the day, and his/her place of residence.  An interview consisted of asking the angler several questions, designed to determine:

·         Whether the angler had fished only at the lower Niagara River on that day;

·         Whether the angler was finished fishing on the lower Niagara River that day;

·         How long the angler had fished the lower Niagara River that day;

·         What species the angler was targeting that day;

·         How many individuals of each species the angler had caught, released, or harvested on the River that day; and

·         Length of the fish that were caught, any observed fin clips or tags, and note any diseased fish. 

The shore angler technician’s primary objective was to interview shore anglers individually while the angler was still actively fishing (known as a roving survey, or an incomplete trip interview survey).  However, shore anglers who had finished fishing were also interviewed as they were encountered (a complete trip interview).  Interviews from shore anglers were categorized as complete or incomplete and handled as appropriate in the analysis.

Shore anglers often fished in pairs or small groups, and in some cases used the same container to collectively hold fish they caught.  When there was uncertainty as to whom in the group caught a given fish, they were interviewed as a group.  This approach allowed the anglers to achieve consensus on the number of fish the group caught, released, and time spent fishing.  These group data were identified as having been collected as such, so that the information could be properly used in the data analysis. 

Anglers were also asked to provide their state of residence and, in the case of anglers living in New York State, they were also asked for the county of residence.  Weather information was recorded upon arrival at each site.

The boat angler interviews were similar except that the anglers were interviewed as a boat party, with one person on the boat generally speaking for all anglers on board.  The number of anglers in each party was recorded.  The objective was to collect complete trip interview data from boat parties.  Only data from complete trip interviews were used in the analyses.  From October 2002 through March 2003 the boat party was also asked if they had fished on the Niagara Bar.  If so, data from their fishing trip on the Niagara Bar were also collected.

Aerial surveys via helicopters were completed once per week during a shift.  The day of the flight was randomly selected each week with equal weight given for selection of a weekday or weekend/holiday.  During each flight, the number of active fishing and recreational boats (non-fishing boats) were recorded.  Aerial counts were done using binoculars.  Two categories of fishing boat were recognized:  (1) boats actively engaged in fishing, and (2) boats underway.  A vessel was considered a fishing boat actively engaged in fishing if any of its occupants were observed holding a fishing rod, landing net, or a fish.  A vessel was considered a fishing boat underway if none of its occupants were observed holding a fishing rod, landing net, or fish, but if the boat was observed to have downriggers or fishing rods on board and is producing a wake.  All other vessels were considered non-fishing boats.  Records were obtained for the lower Niagara River from two defined reaches: from Whirlpool to Artpark, and from Artpark to Lake Ontario.  In October and winter (November 1 – March 31), the flight and data collection on boats also included the U.S. side of the Niagara Bar.

Common and scientific names of fish species referred to in this report are provided in Appendix A.

2.3         Calculation of Effort, Catch, Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE), and Harvest Results

Summary data for individual fish species are discussed in terms of strata, monthly, or seasonal estimates.  The field sampling effort extended from May 7, 2002 through June 19, 2003.  Holiday data were considered as weekend day data within the week in which it fell.  Only part of the Spring 2002 season was sampled because the survey began on May 7, 2002.  The entire Spring 2003 season was sampled.  The seasons, which were of unequal length and were developed to reflect New York State fishing regulations, were defined as follows:

·         Spring 2002       May 1, 2002 – June 14, 2002

·         Summer 2002          June 15 – September 2

·         Fall 2002                September 3 – October 31

·         Winter 2002-2003    November 1 - March 31

·         Spring 2003       April 1- June 20

The formulae and methods of Pollock et al. (1994) were used for analysis of the shore angling results.  Examples of the calculations used for shore angler estimates are presented in Appendix B.  Lockwood et al. (2001) was the basis for the majority of the boat angling analysis.  Throughout this report, several statistical terms are used. “Mean” is the arithmetic average of several values. “Standard error” (SE) is the estimated standard deviation of a statistic. It is a measure of the amount of variation present in the data (large SE values indicate more variability). One other term, “Catch per unit effort” and (CPUE) is used. CPUE is the number of fish caught per angler hour. For example, if an angler fished for one hour and caught two fish, the CPUE would be 2 fish/hour.

2.3.1        Shore angling Calculations

Two instantaneous shore angler counts (i.e., the count-value of anglers present when a creel technician arrived and departed a site) were taken each sample day and site.  To provide a single count value for the entire lower Niagara River summary calculations, the means of the arrival and departure counts at each site were summed for each day.  This gave an estimate of the total number of anglers fishing from shore on the lower Niagara River for each sample day.  Equation numbers from Pollock et al (1994) are in parentheses.

The period effort (Pêi,) was calculated as:

(Pêi) = Ii x T          (15.4)

where Ii is the sum of the mean daily instantaneous counts and T is the technician’s shift length on that day.   

The daily effort estimates (êi) were calculated as:

êi = (Pêi / πi)            (15.5)

where πi is the proportion of possible daylight angling hours (0730 hours to one hour after sunset) surveyed each day.  The possible daylight angling hours varied by month, and was set to 14 hours for May, 15 hours for June, July, and August, 12.5 hours for September, 12 hours for October, 10 hours for November and December, 10.5 hours for January, 11 hours for February, 12 hours in March, and 13 hours for April.

The total effort for a stratum (Êstratum) was calculated as:

Êstratum =(êistratum)        (15.5)

where êi is the daily effort, πi is the proportion of days sampled in the stratum.  The strata were month, season, and entire survey (May 7, 2002 through June 19, 2003).

Table 15.23 in Pollock et al. (1994) was the example followed for the effort calculations in this survey (see also Appendix B).

The total effort standard errors were determined according to Table 15.21 in Pollock et al. 1994.  These were the calculated as the: 

SÊ(Ê) = Ö ((Var(Ê1) + Var(Ê2))

Where the effort variance for each day type is:

Var(Êi)= N2i * (s2i / ni))

And the sample variance for each day type is:

s2i = 1/(ni-1)*∑(êi-ēi)2

For each day type, Ni is the number of days in the stratum, ni is the total number of days sampled, êi is the daily effort, ēi is the mean daily effort.  Weekdays [Var(Ê1)] and weekend days [Var(Ê2)] variance values were calculated separately because the number of each day type differs.

The species-specific angler effort estimates, as discussed in Section 3 (Tables 3.2-2 and 3.2-3) use the total daily angler effort that is then modified using the proportion of anglers targeting a species surveyed that day  (see Appendix B).  For example, on a given day there may have been an estimated 100 angler hours expended and four interviews conducted.  If three of the four (0.75) anglers interviewed were seeking yellow perch and assuming all four anglers expended equal effort, the daily effort for yellow perch would be 0.75(100) = 75 angler hours.  The remaining effort calculations (daily mean, monthly and seasonal values) were calculated in the same way as the total hour parameters. 

Catch (C) was estimated using,

                                                                                                                                               

where R (catch per unit effort, CPUE) was calculated differently depending on the interview type, complete or incomplete.  For completed angler trips, (R) was calculated as the sum of the catches (ci) divided by the sum of the trip lengths (Li) for each species on each day,

                                                                                         

With incomplete trip interviews, the CPUE per species was calculated as,

                                         

where (n) is the number of anglers targeting or capturing a species.  The value was the mean of the individual angler catch rates by species on a given date.

In some cases anglers in groups could not be interviewed as individuals, such as when anglers pooled their catch into a common container and could not recall who caught which fish. They were then interviewed as a group if they could provide their cumulative time spent fishing.  In the analysis, this was treated as a single interview and the time spent acquiring the collective catch of fish was adjusted appropriately.  As an example, if there were three anglers who caught 75 of species X in one hour, their CPUE for this species was calculated by dividing 75 by 3 hours.  However, the anglers in the group were considered as individual interviewees relative to the number of interviews obtained during the survey.

The calculations of CPUE used in the total catch and harvest estimates were done using the data from all anglers within the stratum, regardless of the species of fish targeted.  That is, the CPUE is that for all anglers, not for only those anglers that indicated they targeted the species in question.  The daily species-specific catch is the product of the species-specific CPUE and the estimated total angler effort for that date, using the C = E * R equation described above.  The harvest estimates were generated similarly, except that the number of fish kept was substituted for the number caught.  The CPUE was also calculated for each species using only data from those anglers targeting each of those species; this CPUE value is defined in this report as the “targeted CPUE”. The targeted CPUE estimates were calculated to provide CPUE information comparable to other angler surveys and as a measure of fishing quality.  The targeted CPUE values are also presented by month and season.  The standard errors for catch and harvest were generated as:

SÊ(Ĉ) = Ö ((Var(Ĉ 1) + Var(Ĉ 2))

Where the catch variance for each day type is:

Var(Ĉ i)= N2i *Var(c bar1)

And the sample catch variance for each day type is:

Var(c bar1) = (s2i)/n1

s2i = 1/(ni-1)*∑(cii-c bar1)2

For each day type, Ni is the number of days in the stratum, ni is the total number of days sampled, cii is the daily catch, ēi is the mean daily catch.  Weekday [Var(Ĉ 1)] and weekend day [Var(Ĉ 2)] variance values were calculated separately to follow the methods in Pollock et al. (1994).

The complete trip interview (136 anglers) and incomplete trip interview (395 anglers) data were pooled to obtain the mean daily CPUE.  The mean CPUE values for each species for each month or season were calculated as follows:

Mean CPUE = (S Ri / ni)

The standard error (SE) value for each mean value was also calculated as an indication of sample variance.  The calculation was completed as follows:

SE = (Ö  (S (xi - xmean)2 / n-1)) /  (Ö n)

The seasonal and monthly catch and harvest estimates were obtained by multiplying the mean daily catch (C) and harvest (species-specific) by the total number of days in the sampling period as appropriate.  

The number of instantaneous angler counts (weekday and weekend/holiday), the total number of angler-interviews, and the number of anglers seeking specific species were calculated as the sums of the respective parameters.

2.3.2        Boat Angling Calculations

The methods used in the calculations of the boat angler results generally followed those presented in Lockwood et al. (2001), and equation numbers from that manuscript are included in this report in parentheses before each equation.  Only information from complete trip interviews was used in the analysis.  Information of anglers fishing on the Niagara Bar was collected between October 1, 2002 and March 31, 2003.

Aerial flights over the lower Niagara River and Niagara Bar occurred once weekly to provide an instantaneous count of the number of fishing boats.  The days were selected randomly with weekdays and weekend days being weighted so that they had an equal probability of being sampled.  The flight days were sampled with replacement; therefore while over the whole survey the ratio of weekday to weekend days was near 50:50, on a finer time scale the ratio was often not equal.  The flight time was based on the shift that was selected for the interview portion of the survey on that day.  The flight was scheduled at the most convenient time for the pilot within the AM or PM shift as appropriate.

Boat angling effort calculations began by creating a seasonal angler use profile for the lower Niagara River and Niagara Bar based on interview information.  Each day when an interview was taken was broken up into hourly segments and the number of boats that were present on the lower Niagara River or Niagara Bar was calculated based on the interview time and their trip length (Lockwood et al. 2001). 

To obtain an estimate of the seasonal boat effort, a seasonal daily angler use profile was generated from the interview data (Appendix C).  This was done based on season and day-type.  Using this information the proportion of boats that were present at a given hour (ept) was calculated (Lockwood et al. 2001).  The formula for estimating ept is (Equation 1):

 

where bpt is the number of boats present in a given hour period.

Each individual flight had a seasonal boat effort estimate generated from it.  The seasonal boat effort for each flight was calculated as follows (Equation 2):

 

where Bpt is the number of fishing boats counted during a given flight, Dp is the number of days in the season/day-type strata.  The appropriate ept term is the proportion of boats that were present at the hour the flight took place. 

There were occasions where the daily angler use profile indicated that there were no boats present at the flight time.  When this occurred the mean of the proportions on either side of the hour containing the mean flight time was used (personal communication, Roger N. Lockwood, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, to John A. Magee, Gomez and Sullivan Engineers, December 17, 2003).

Basing the effort calculations solely on seasonal strata (and not monthly) was necessary to increase the sample sizes and precision of the estimates.  Within a given day-type, some months had a single or no flights on which to base the estimates because the sampling for flights was done with replacement.  Therefore, no monthly boat angler effort calculations were performed.

The mean boating effort was then calculated using all the flights within a season/day-type stratum.  This equation is (Equation 4):

 

The variance for Ēp was calculated as (Equation 5):

 

The second part of Equation 5 from Lockwood et al. (2001) was not used as it is the calculation of within day variance in boat angling effort (number of boat hours), and within day variance is typically minute compared to between day variance (personal communication, Roger N. Lockwood, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, to John A. Magee, Gomez and Sullivan Engineers, December 17, 2003).  Because flights occurred once weekly, we did not have data to determine within day variance.

The mean number of anglers (Ap) per boat was calculated as:

Ap = (S ap / kp)    

where ap is the number of anglers on a given boat and kp is the number of boats interviewed within a stratum.

The total boat angler effort in hours was calculated as (Equation 10):

 

The variance of the total boat angling effort was calculated as (Equation 11):

 

The standard error of the boat angler estimates was calculated as the square root of the variance.

The species-specific boat angler effort estimates and variance were calculated using the total boat angler effort within a stratum (as calculated in Equation 10 above), the variance of total boat angler effort within a stratum (as calculated in Equation 11 above), and the total hours for a given species (TEsp) and the total hours for all species (TEas) from the interview dataset (personal communication, Roger N. Lockwood, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, to John A. Magee, Gomez and Sullivan Engineers, December 17, 2003).  The TEsp and TEas were used to calculate the species specific effort ratio (SSER), SSER = (TEsp/TEas).

 The equation for species specific effort (SSE) calculations was:

SSE = (total boat angler effort) * (SSER).

The variance of the SSE was calculated as:

 VarSSE = [(TE)2 (pq/n) + p2(VarTE)] – [(VarTE)(pq/n)]

Where TE = Total boat angler hours, VarTE = the variance calculated earlier for the TE, pq/n is the variance of the proportion; p = SSER, q = (1-SSER), and n = total number of angler hours from the interview dataset (i.e., the actual hours, not an estimate).  The standard error of the SSE was calculated as the square root of the VarSSE.

The CPUE and total catch and harvest calculations (for all species and for each species) followed the procedures outlined in Lockwood et al. (2001).  CPUE was calculated as (Equation 12):

 

Mean catch by stratum was calculated as (Equation 13):

 

where cp is the catch of the individual boat parties and kp is the number of interviews within the stratum.

Mean angling party trip length by stratum was estimated as (Equation 14):

 

where hp is the individual boat parties trip lengths and kp is the total number of interviews.

The variance of the catch rate (VCPUE) was calculated as (personal communication, Roger N. Lockwood, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, to John A. Magee, Gomez and Sullivan Engineers, December 17, 2003):

VCPUE = (CPUE)2 * (Vcp)/ (Scp)2 + (Vhp)/ (Shp)2)

Where Vcp = S (ci-cmean)2 /( n-1),  and Vhp = S (hi-hmean)2 /( n-1).  The standard error of the catch rate was calculated as the square root of the VCPUE.

The CPUE for anglers targeting specific species was also calculated.  This calculation differed slightly from the method described above in that only those anglers who indicated they targeted a given species were used in the calculation of the CPUE for that given species. 

The total catch and harvest for a stratum are estimated as the product of the CPUE and the estimated effort (Equation 16):

 

The variances for the total catch and total harvest were calculated using (Equation 17):

 

Standard error for the catch and harvest estimates were calculated as the square root of the variance.

2.4         Database Management

Quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) measures began in the field to ensure that the information gathered was accurate.  Experienced creel technicians were routinely used, and as necessary, they trained and supervised new technicians for at least two full shifts prior to a new technician completing one independently.  As an additional quality assurance measure, Stantec senior staff who had thorough knowledge of the Standard Operating Procedures completed 25 unannounced onsite visits.  The onsite visits were to ensure that creel technicians were following the standard procedures.  Additionally, each technician was provided with a cell phone so they could call senior staff at any time to ask for guidance if an unusual situation arose in the field.

Prior to leaving a site, technicians examined datasheets for completeness.  Datasheets were double-counted and signed-in at the office to ensure that all were accounted for.  The appropriate technician clarified any questionable data values prior to database entry.  Any corrections that needed to be made to the original datasheet were dated and initialed by the person responsible.

Microsoft Access was used as the database program for this project.  A relational database was constructed with user friendly and efficient data input forms.  As part of the QA/QC program, two individuals entered the same data from each data sheet (double-entry).  After the second entry, the two tables were exported into an Excel spreadsheet and electronically compared.  Any discrepancies were highlighted, the data in question compared to the original datasheet, and the database corrected as necessary.  The date of the initial data entry and the second QA/QC were recorded on the datasheet.

 

Figure 2.1-1

Investigation Area

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

3.0     RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

3.1         Shore Angler Instantaneous Counts and Interview Data   

During the survey, May 7, 2002 through June 19, 2003, the total number of instantaneous angler counts completed was 1786 (1062 were completed on weekdays and 724 on weekend/holidays).  The relative number of counts obtained within a time interval (strata) and/or for a site was affected by several factors.  These were the relative difference in length of each strata, the date the survey started or stopped, and ice conditions at the sites.  Additionally, the Tailrace pier was temporarily closed, beginning in December, due to weather or for security reasons, and the tailrace shore area was temporarily closed starting in April 2003 for security reasons.  Access at the Lewiston site was the least impacted relative to ice conditions because the boat launch and nearby area were maintained all year.  When the tailrace pier or tailrace shore sites were closed, the interview period allotted to these sites was added to the time conducting interviews at the Whirlpool and/or Devil’s Hole sites. Complete trip interviews were obtained at the top of the Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole trails.  However, instantaneous angler counts were not obtained since the long hikes down to the lower Niagara River shore were not made.  The number of instantaneous shore angler counts and the sum of the mean number of anglers counted in the instantaneous counts for each interval are presented in Tables 3.1-1 and 3.1-2.  The majority of anglers counted over the entire survey were at the tailrace site (~39% of the total) even though the pier was closed to the public for about half the survey (December 4, 2002 through the end of the survey).  The tailrace pier anglers accounted for an even greater proportion of the total (~49%) during the interval when all survey sites were simultaneously available to anglers (i.e., May 2002 to December 3, 2002).  Following the tailrace pier in mean number of anglers counted was the Artpark site (~25% of the total), Lewiston (~21%), tailrace shore (~7%, closed to the public in May-June 2003), Joseph Davis State Park (~5%), Constitution Park (~2%), and Fort Niagara (~1% of the total).

The number of anglers interviewed is presented by location and day type within the months and seasons (Tables 3.1-3 and 3.1-4).  Considering all ten shore angler interview locations (including Youngstown, Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole State Park), a total of 3,433 anglers were interviewed during the 2002-2003 survey (872 of these were complete trip interviews).  Of the 3,433 shore angler interviews,  1,927 (or ~56% of the interviews) were obtained on weekend-holidays, and 1,506 (~44%),on weekdays.  This ratio was observed despite the fact that there were fewer weekend days sampled (~42% of all sampled days) relative to weekdays (~58% of all sampled days). 

It might be expected that the relative number of interviews obtained at a location (Tables 3.1-3 and 3.1-4) and the relative number of anglers counted (Tables 3.1-1 and 3.1-2) would have a similar relationship (e.g., the tailrace pier had the highest count of anglers and also the most interviews of all locations).  This expectation held for the tailrace pier, which as noted had the most angler interviews (1,089, ~32% of the survey total).  However, the relationship did not hold for Artpark and Lewiston.  They were ranked second and third relative to anglers counted, but ranking was reversed relative to anglers interviewed.  Artpark accounted for only ~15% of the total interviews, Lewiston ~28%.  The primary reason for this is probably related to the number of interviews that could be completed in an hour and the size of the area where anglers are counted and confined while fishing (the pier and Lewiston are relatively small areas compared to Artpark).

The number of anglers targeting specific species by month and season are presented in Tables 3.1-5 and 3.1-6, respectively.  Some anglers targeted more than one species of fish.  Twenty-three species were targeted, one family and an “anything” category (i.e., any species an angler could catch).  For the entire survey, the “anything” category was targeted (~30% of the total) more than any individual species.  This category was followed by rainbow trout (~16%) and smallmouth bass (~11%).

3.2         Shore Angling Effort

The estimated mean daily shore angler effort for the entire survey and all species combined was 121 hours/day and the total estimated effort was 48,438 hours (Table 3.2-1). 

The peak in mean daily angler effort by month for all species combined was in July (319 hours/day), followed by September (223 hours/day).  The remaining mean daily efforts ranged between 168 hours/day (both June, 2002 and August) and 11 hours/day (January).  The highest estimated total effort for a month was 9,258 hours in July 2002 and the least was in January (293 total hours). 

Seasonally, the estimated mean daily shore angling effort for all species combined was highest in Summer 2002 at 251 hours/day with an estimated total effort of 18,814 (Table 3.2-2).  The least angling effort by season was observed in the Winter season, with an estimated mean of 61 hours/day and a season total of 8,062 hours.  The estimated mean daily effort for fall was 185 hours/day with a seasonal total of 10,502 hours.  The total seasonal effort and mean daily effort in Spring 2002 were 2,748 hours and 75 hours/day, respectively; and in 2003, 5,663 hours and 79 hours/day. 

Estimated monthly angling efforts, by species, are presented in Table 3.2-3.  Approximately 37% (12,467 hours) of the total species-specific shore angling effort was expended on the any species category.  Most of the effort for the any species category (85%) was in the period from June through September 2002, though the effort was about equally split between June and July, these two months alone accounted for ~63% of the effort for the any species category.  The lowest mean daily effort over these four months for the any species category was in August (62 hours/day).  The highest mean daily effort for the entire survey, and compared to all species, was in July for the any species category (177 hours/day).  Following the any species category relative to total hours of effort was the rainbow trout, though it accounted for only ~14% of the total species-specific effort (4,726 hours) but the species was targeted in every month of the survey.  However, relative to ranking by mean daily effort for this salmonid, it was second for specific species effort at ~74 hours/day (November) after the maximum mean daily effort for smallmouth bass (~81 hours/day in July 2002).  Relative to the maximum total hours of effort for a given species the effort for smallmouth bass (4,518 hours, ~14% of the total hours) was a close third to total effort for the rainbow trout.  Following the smallmouth were the efforts for Chinook salmon and lake trout (2,370 and 2,344 hours, respectively) each accounting for about 7% of the total effort.  Most of the effort for Chinook salmon (1,201 hours and a mean daily effort of 55 hours/day) was in September.  The greatest monthly effort for lake trout was in November (849 hours), though effort was expended for lake trout in all months of the survey.  Effort did not exceed 4% of the total for any of the remaining species. 

Estimated seasonal angling effort by species is presented in Table 3.2-4.  It is most appropriate to use mean daily effort to make direct comparisons of species-specific effort by season because the length of each season varies considerably.  The maximum mean daily effort was in summer for the any species category (124 hours/day and the corresponding total hours for the season of 6,921 hours).  The mean daily effort for the any species category was also relatively high in Spring and Fall, 2002 (43 and 42 hours/day, respectively).  By magnitude, the mean daily effort for smallmouth bass was second at 65 hours/day (3,644 hours total) in summer.  Following in order was the Chinook salmon with a mean daily effort of 45 hours/day (1,881 hours total) in fall and for rainbow trout, 29 hours/day (3,089 hours) in winter. For all other species the mean daily effort was generally 16 hours/day or less.

Within each season, warmwater species, especially smallmouth bass but also including white bass and rock bass, dominated the shore angler fishing effort in the summer.  Salmonids dominated the shore angler fishing effort in the fall and winter seasons.  Yellow perch was the next most targeted species with 629 shore angler hours in Spring 2003, 431 hours in Summer, and 278 hours in Fall (the month of April was not sampled in the Spring of 2002).

3.3         Shore Angler Catch, Harvest and Catch per Unit Effort

This section presents the estimates of catch, harvest, and catch per unit effort (CPUE) as estimated for the entire lower Niagara River survey area, by month, and by season.  For all strata, these values were calculated using data from all anglers (i.e., the CPUE values were calculated as an average CPUE for all anglers regardless of the species they targeted or caught) within the stratum.  Therefore, the sum of the monthly catch or harvest for the entire survey may not be equal to the estimated catch or harvest as calculated for the entire survey.  This is due to the method used for estimating catch and harvest, which were arrived at by calculating the mean daily catch and harvest within the respective time stratum, then multiplying that value by the total number of days within the time stratum. The CPUE for all species for each month and season was also calculated using data only from those anglers that specifically targeted these two species, defined as “targeted CPUE”. The targeted CPUE estimates were calculated to provide CPUE information comparable to angler surveys of the upper Niagara River conducted by NYSDEC in 1999.  CPUE information is used to determine the quality of a fishery.

Anglers caught 30 distinct species including unidentified species from three families, Centrarchidae (temperate bass), Cyprinidae (minnows), and Catostomidae (suckers).  The estimated total catch and harvest for each species for the entire survey is presented in Table 3.3-1.  The smallmouth bass, rock bass, yellow perch, and white bass as individual species were the only ones to account for 10% or more of the total estimated catch or harvest.  Smallmouth bass was the most caught species accounting for ~28% (100,424 fish) of the total estimated catch and ~17% (12,511 fish) of the total estimated harvest.  The mean daily CPUE for the smallmouth was 0.65 fish/hour.  Rock bass followed with ~20% of the total catch, though this species accounted for ~25% of the total harvest.  The mean daily CPUE for rock bass was 0.41 fish/hour.  To place the estimated catches of the smallmouth bass and rock bass in perspective, their combined catch equaled almost half of the total catch for all species combined.  The yellow perch catch was third relative to total catch (~12%), and it accounted for ~10% of the estimated harvest, although only ~17% of the yellow perch caught were harvested.  The CPUE for the species was 0.29 fish/hour.  Although the estimated white bass catch was only about 10% of the total for all species and approximately a third of the smallmouth bass catch, more white bass were harvested (23,513 fish) than any other.  About 66% of the white bass caught were harvested and they accounted for ~32% of the harvest for all species.  The mean daily CPUE for the white bass was 0.22 fish/hour.  The estimated catch of the freshwater drum and round goby were, ~9% and 8%, respectively of the total freshwater drum and round goby catch.  Round goby harvest included throwing this non-indigenous, nuisance species on the river bank (many anglers were aware of the ecological damage caused by round gobies) and also possibly consumption by the angler.  However, the round goby harvest (~5% of the total harvest) was slightly greater than for the freshwater drum (~3%).  The CPUE for these two fish was 0.18 fish/hour.  The catch, harvest, and CPUE of these fish exceeded all others, except for the smallmouth bass, rock bass, yellow perch, and white bass previously mentioned.

A general comparison of estimated total catch for all species combined within a month indicates most of the catch occurred between June and September 2003 (Table 3.3-2).  The peak estimated catch was in July (136,299 fish) and was more than twice that estimated for June 2002, (52,986 fish).  The fewest fish were caught in January (149 fish). The catches in May 2002 and 2003 were far from the maximum catch, but these are the only two months in which there are catch estimates for all days in a month for both 2002 and 2003.  The catch in May 2003 was about half that of May 2002.  The reason for the difference is unknown, though it may have been weather related.  Considering individual species, the smallmouth bass accounted for the greatest single catch in a month 50,479 fish (July), which was ~37% of the July catch.  Rock bass was also caught in high numbers in June and July.  In the months of May through October, six species (smallmouth bass, rock bass, yellow perch, freshwater drum, round goby, and white bass) dominated the catch.  Salmonids were the primary fish species caught during the cooler months of November through March.

Relative to monthly analysis, the white bass had the highest estimated harvest (8,432 fish in July), though the estimated harvests for rock bass in June (8,334) and smallmouth bass in July (7,985) were similar (Table 3.3-2).   The greatest estimated harvest for all species combined on a monthly basis was 28,254 fish in July.

The smallmouth bass mean daily CPUE in July (3.63 fish/hour) was the highest CPUE in all months for all species (Table 3.3-2).  The CPUE for the smallmouth bass was 2.13 in June 2002 and 1.10 in August.  The CPUE for rock bass was 2.39 fish/hr in June, 1.37 in July and 1.10 fish/hr in May.  The only other species with a mean daily CPUE ≥1 was for freshwater drum (May, 1.20 fish/hr) and white bass (October, 1.01 fish/hr).

In the five seasons studied in 2002-2003, the highest estimated total catch by shore anglers was in the summer of 2002 (234,474 fish), and the lowest estimated catch was in winter (4,646 fish).  The estimated catches in Spring 2002 and 2003 were similar to each other (29,808 and 22,283 fish, respectively) though relative catch and CPUEs for each species varied.  The estimated fall catch was 46,490 fish (Table 3.3-3).  Smallmouth bass and rock bass dominated the estimated catches in summer [70,378 fish (~30% of the summer total) and 54,630 fish (~23%), respectively].  Rock bass also dominated in Spring 2002 with ~28% of the season total, with smallmouth bass accounting for ~24%.  The mean daily CPUE for these two species were the highest for all species by season (rock bass, 1.74 fish/hour in Spring 2002 and 1.00 fish/hour in summer, and for the smallmouth bass the CPUE were 1.70 fish/hour in spring and 1.60 fish/hour in summer).  In Spring 2002, the CPUE for the freshwater drum was just below 1.0.  Disregarding the freshwater drum, smallmouth bass, and rock bass, the CPUE was less than 0.7 fish/hour for all other fish in all other seasons.  The maximum seasonal harvest was for rock bass in the summer (15,273 fish or 34% of the total summer harvest).

Salmonid catch and harvest dominated the winter season.  Lake and rainbow trout, accounted for the majority of the catch in winter (~55% or 2,572 fish, and ~28% or 1,279 fish, respectively).  Chinook salmon accounted for about 5% of the total catch, as did brown trout.  Coho salmon accounted for slightly more than 1%.  Rainbow trout accounted for ~63% of the total winter harvest.  Coho salmon, Chinook salmon, and brown trout each accounted for ~11% of the total winter harvest.   Very few lake trout were harvested in winter.

Tables 3.3-4, 3.3-5, and 3.3-6 present the targeted CPUE for all species for the entire survey, by month, and by season.  For the entire survey (Table 3.3-4), smallmouth bass had the highest targeted CPUE of all species at 1.23 fish/hour and rock bass had a targeted CPUE of 1.19 fish/hour.  Five species, smallmouth bass, rock bass, yellow perch, white bass and freshwater drum, had the highest targeted CPUE values and were all ≥ 0.78 fish/hour.  White sucker (0.67 fish/hour) and pumpkinseed sunfish (0.63 fish/hour) had the next highest targeted CPUE values.  All other species had targeted CPUE values of ≤ 0.5 fish/hour.  By month, rock bass had the highest targeted CPUE (May 2002, 2.43 fish/hour) followed by white bass in October (2.12 fish/hour).  Rock bass also had a high targeted CPUE in June 2002 (2.02 fish/hour).  In May through October 2002, smallmouth bass, rock bass, white bass, yellow perch and freshwater drum had relatively high targeted CPUE values, generally ranging from ~0.5 – 2 fish/hour.  From May through August 2002, the smallmouth bass targeted CPUE was always > 1 fish/hour.  The targeted CPUE for salmonids was highest in the cooler months (October through May), with rainbow trout being caught at an estimated rate of 0.86 fish/hour in May 2003.  The targeted CPUE for Chinook salmon was low (< 0.07 fish/hour) and many interviewed anglers indicated the fishing for Chinook salmon was very low in fall 2002 compared to previous years.  Unseasonably warm weather in September and early October 2002, after which there was an abrupt change to cold conditions, may have contributed to the low targeted CPUE for Chinook salmon.  Seasonal trends in targeted CPUE were similar to those observed on a monthly basis, with warmwater species generally being caught at higher catch rates in the spring, summer and fall, and salmonids being caught at higher rates in the winter and spring.

3.4         Instantaneous Aerial Boat Counts Boat Party Interviews and Species Targeted

The random selection of days to conduct aerial surveys resulted in a total of 31 weekend flights and 28 flights on weekdays.  The number of flights by day-type, month, and season are presented in Tables 3.4-1 and 3.4-2.  A total of 1,193 boats were counted in the lower Niagara River during aerial surveys, including 739 fishing boats (Tables 3.4-3 and 3.4-4).

A total of 1,395 complete trip interviews were obtained and used in the analysis (incomplete trip data were also obtained from an additional 200 boats).  The number of boat party interviews by day type, within months and seasons are presented in Tables 3.4-5 and 3.4-6.  Over the entire survey, the mean number of anglers/boat party was ~2.  Interviews were obtained in every month of the survey, and exhibited relatively limited differences in the number of boat party interviews between months.  The number of boat interviews by month, ranged from ~2% to ~13% of the total interviews (December 2002 and September 2002, respectively).  There was also little difference in total numbers between day types.  Seasonally, there was little difference in the number of parties interviewed among four of the five seasons.  Interview rates ranged from ~19 % of the total in fall to 29% in summer (it is not appropriate to compare Spring 2002 to the others since the survey did not start until May 2002).  Approximately 50% of the parties were interviewed at the Fort Niagara launch area, ~46% at Lewiston, and ~3% at the Youngstown launch.  Most of the interviews at Fort Niagara occurred in the summer, and in the winter at Lewiston.  Lewiston is probably the most important boat ramp in winter because the ramp is maintained to keep it open to boat anglers.

The number of boat anglers targeting a specific species is presented in Tables 3.4-7 and 3.4-8.  For the entire survey, boat anglers targeted rainbow trout more than any other species (~22% of the total) followed by lake trout and smallmouth bass (each ~17%).  However, a total of six salmonid species were targeted and as a group they accounted for ~68% of the total.  Smallmouth bass was targeted by more anglers than any other species in the summer.

3.5         Boat Angling Effort

The total estimated boat angler effort for the one-year period of summer 2002 through spring 2003 for the lower Niagara River was 138,154 hours (Table 3.5-1).  The greatest boat angler effort by season was in summer (~42% of the total estimated boat angler effort.  Winter accounted for the next greatest seasonal effort although the winter season is much longer than the summer.  There was clearly less boat angler effort in the spring 2003 (only part of the spring of 2002 was sampled) than the other seasons. Compared to the lower Niagara River, there was relatively less boat angler effort in winter applied to the Niagara Bar.  Only one interview of Niagara Bar anglers was conducted in October; therefore, no estimate and standard error of boat angling effort on the Niagara Bar could be calculated for Fall. The total weekend boat angler effort estimate for the Niagara Bar (i.e., October and Winter months) is relatively high  (77,110 boat angler hours) compared to the Winter season estimate.  This is due to the small number (1) of boat angler interviews conducted in October, combined with a relatively high number of fishing boats counted on the Niagara Bar in October.  The high standard error for the total weekend boat angler effort estimate indicates that the boat angler effort is highly variable from day to day (likely due to severe weather conditions that are common on the Niagara Bar).

Species-specific boat angler effort estimates were also generated for each season (Table 3.5-2).  In all seasons, boat anglers applied effort towards the “anything” category, although the least amount of effort applied to “anything” relative to all other species was in the winter.  In the summer, most of the boat angler effort was applied towards smallmouth bass (45,384 angler hours), with walleye (10,718 angler hours) being the next most targeted species. Interestingly, boat anglers directed effort toward Chinook salmon (1,398 angler hours) in the summer even though summer water temperatures in the lower Niagara River are generally not suitable for adult Chinook salmon.  In the fall, anglers applied more effort to Chinook salmon (9,472 angler hours) than any other species.  Smallmouth bass (7,404 angler hours) and walleye (2,262 angler hours) were still pursued by anglers in the fall, and anglers began to apply effort towards catching rainbow trout (3,056 angler hours).  In the winter in the lower Niagara River and the Niagara Bar, most of the boat angler effort was clearly directed towards salmonids, with more effort applied towards lake trout than any other species.  Anglers expended 2,871 angler hours on walleye in the winter.  In spring 2003, salmonids still received the most boat angler effort, but anglers also pursued smallmouth bass.  In spring 2002 (sampled from May – June only), anglers applied more effort towards lake trout (2,646 angler hours) than any other species.

3.6         Boat Angler Catch, Harvest and Catch per Unit Effort

This section presents the estimates of catch, harvest, and catch per unit effort (CPUE, fish per hour) for the entire survey.  For each stratum, values were calculated using data from all anglers (i.e., the CPUE were calculated as a CPUE for all anglers in the stratum, regardless of the species they targeted or caught within the stratum).  Since the CPUE values among strata can be different, and CPUE is used to calculate catch, and harvest values, the sum of the catch or harvest as calculated for each season of the survey, may not be equal to the estimated catch as calculated for the entire survey.  This is also the case for harvest values.  The estimated total catch and harvest for each species and their CPUE for all boat anglers over the entire survey is presented for the lower Niagara River and for the Niagara Bar.

The estimated total number of fish caught by boat anglers in the lower Niagara River during the entire survey from May 2002 to June 2003 was 74,493 (Table 3.6-1).  Approximately 58% of the total was smallmouth bass with a mean CPUE (calculated using data from all anglers) of 0.61 fish/hour, ~17% rainbow trout (mean CPUE of 0.18 fish/hour), ~9% lake trout (mean CPUE of 0.09 fish/hour), and ~4% brown trout (mean CPUE of 0.05 fish/hour).  No other species exceeded ~3% of the total catch.  The total estimated harvest for the River was 11,452 fish, with rainbow trout accounting for 41% of the total harvest.  Smallmouth bass and Chinook salmon accounted for ~27% and ~11% respectively.

An estimated total of 29,280 fish were caught (1,010 harvested) on the Niagara Bar based on boats returning to the public launches of the lower Niagara River (primarily to Fort Niagara State Park) from October, 2002 through March, 2003 (Table 3.6-1).  Lake trout dominated the catch on the Bar (84%, CPUE calculated from all anglers was 0.9 fish/angler hour), though none were harvested.  Brown trout had the next highest estimated total catch and had the highest harvest rate (~67%) on the Niagara Bar though the fish accounted for only 8% of the catch.  Rainbow trout were the third most caught fish (1,683).  Chinook salmon and white bass made up only a very small fraction of the catch on the Niagara Bar from October 2002 through March 2003. The overall harvest rate from the lower Niagara River was ~15% (11,452 fish harvested out of 74,493 fish caught), which is a much higher percent than the harvest rate for the Niagara Bar (~3%, 1,010 fish harvested out of 29,280 caught).

On a seasonal basis (Table 3.6-2), most fish caught by boat anglers (71% of the total) were caught in summer followed by the winter and fall catch (15% and 8%, respectively).  Smallmouth bass dominated the catch in spring 2002, summer and fall.   The estimated summer catch of smallmouth was ~94% of the total estimated catch for all species combined.    This large catch estimate is due to the high CPUE (calculated using data from all boat anglers) for smallmouth bass coupled with the fact that many boat anglers identified smallmouth bass as a target species.  Rock bass, freshwater drum, yellow perch, and white bass were also caught by boat anglers in relatively high numbers in summer, but even when the catch of these species is combined, they only account for ~5% of the summer catch.  Rainbow trout dominated the catch and harvest in the winter and spring of 2003, but other salmonid species were also caught in relatively high numbers except for Chinook and coho salmon.  Smallmouth bass were also caught in spring 2003 and made up ~16% of the spring 2003 catch.  Relative to season strata, the highest CPUE (calculated using data from all anglers) was for smallmouth bass in summer and in fall (2.12 and 0.60 fish/boat angler hour, respectively).  The next closest CPUE was for rainbow trout in winter, 0.35 fish/boat angler hour.

The targeted CPUE rates for the entire survey are shown in Table 3.6-3.  The targeted CPUE for smallmouth bass (2.46 fish/boat angler hour) was by far the highest targeted CPUE (as calculated for the entire survey) of all species.  The species with the next highest targeted CPUE values were yellow perch, white bass, rainbow trout, and lake trout  (0.72, 0.45, 0.33, and 0.23 fish/boat angler hour respectively).  The targeted CPUE for all other species was 0.02 – 0.15 fish/boat angler hour.

The monthly targeted CPUE for smallmouth bass was highest in August and was 5.1 fish/boat angler hour (Table 3.6-4).  Excluding August 2002, the monthly targeted CPUE for smallmouth bass was 0.7 – 2.21 fish/boat angler hour from May to October 2002.  Yellow perch generally had the next highest monthly targeted CPUE during warmer months, and ranged from 0 – 1.8 fish/boat angler hour.  From October 2002 to June 2003, the monthly targeted CPUE for rainbow trout ranged from 0.18 – 0.92 (December 2002) fish/boat angler hour.  The targeted CPUE was > 0.2 fish/boat angler hour for most of these months and was >~0.45 fish/boat angler hour for many.  In general, the monthly targeted CPUE for other salmonids was lower than that of rainbow trout, but Chinook salmon and lake trout targeted CPUE were 0.89 and 0.96 fish/boat angler hour respectively in January 2003.  For the Niagara Bar in January 2003, the targeted CPUE for lake trout (1.38 fish/boat angler hour) was higher than for any other salmonid in any month in both the Niagara Bar and lower Niagara River.  The targeted CPUE for brown trout in December 2002 (0.31 fish/boat angler hour) was similar to the targeted CPUE for that species in any month in the lower Niagara River.

Smallmouth bass had the highest seasonal targeted CPUE (3.71 fish/boat angler hour in summer) of any other species in any season, and smallmouth had the highest seasonal targeted CPUE for all seasons (Table 3.6-5).  Yellow perch targeted CPUE was relatively high in Spring 2002 (May and June only) and Fall 2002.  The targeted CPUE for salmonids was generally the next highest in all seasons.  Rainbow trout, lake trout, and Chinook salmon had the highest targeted CPUE of the salmonids.  The targeted CPUE of Chinook salmon in fall was relatively low (0.11 fish/boat angler hour) but was higher than that of the other salmonids in winter (0.69 fish/boat angler hour).  An interesting point is that lake trout were caught even in the summer (targeted CPUE of 0.33 fish/boat angler hour). 

3.7         Fish Total Length Data

Total length measurements were obtained from fish that shore and boat anglers were harvesting if the technician was given permission by the angler to measure a fish they caught and harvested.  Measurements for fish that were about to be released were also obtained when permitted.  Lengths were obtained from a total of 909 fish representing 20 species caught by boat and shore anglers during the almost 13 months of data collection.  There were three species of fish in which the number measured exceeded 100 individual fish and includes smallmouth bass (268 fish), rainbow trout (169 fish) and rock bass (130 fish).  These three species accounted for over 60% of the measurements.  Length frequency categories by species are presented in Table 3.7-1.

The smallmouth bass measurements were spread across nine length frequency categories ranging from 151-200 mm to 551-600 mm.  Most smallmouth bass (~50% of the species measured) were in the 301-350 mm range.  The rainbow trout lengths ranged across 11 length frequency ranges, beginning at 401-450 mm and ending at 901-950 mm.  Most of the rainbow trout measured (~27%) were in the mid-range (651-700 mm).  Rock bass measurements were contained in ten length frequency categories ranging from 51-100 mm to 501-550 mm.  Most measurements for this fish (~55%) were in the 151-200 mm range.  However, ~85% were contained in the 151-200 and the adjacent 201-250 mm range.

3.8         Angler Demographics

Shore anglers represented several States, Canada, and counties within New York.  Shore angler residence data are presented in Table 3.8-1.  Ninety-two percent of the shore anglers resided in New York State.  Anglers from Niagara County accounted for 55% of all anglers and Erie County 36%.

The majority of boat anglers also resided in New York State (55% of the total boat anglers).  The majority of anglers were from two counties in New York, 32 % of all anglers were from Niagara County and 12% from Erie County.  Anglers were also from many other states though anglers from New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania accounted for 35% of all anglers.  Anglers were also from Switzerland and Ireland (Table 3.8-2).

 

Table 3.1-1

Number of Instantaneous Shore Angler Counts, and Sum of the Mean Number of Anglers Counted Per Day by Month, Day-Type, and Location for the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

 

May 2002

June 2002

July 2002

Aug. 2002

Sept. 2002

Oct. 2002

Nov. 2002

Dec. 2002

 Jan. 2003

Feb. 2003

Mar. 2003

Apr. 2003

May 2003

June 2003

Site

wd*

we*

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

Artpark Counts

11

7

12

10

14

9

13

6

12

10

14

8

12

12

12

7

11

7

13

7

12

9

13

8

12

10

8

5

Mean Number of Anglers

2

1

1

3

8.5

11

4

5

16

27

38

23

91

208

31

27

3

12

6.5

13

18

47

8

19

6

14

1

15

Constitution Counts

11

7

12

10

14

9

13

6

12

10

14

8

12

12

13

6

12

7

9

8

12

10

14

7

12

10

8

5

Mean Number of Anglers

1

3

6

0

2

3

3

2

2.5

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

5

9

7.5

10

Joseph Davis Counts

11

7

12

10

14

9

13

6

12

10

13

8

12

12

13

7

11

7

12

6

11

9

12

8

12

10

8

5

Mean Number of Anglers

3.5

3.5

3

9

19

21

17

7

5

16

3.5

3

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

5

2

14

2.5

9.5

Fort Niagara Counts

11

5

12

10

14

9

13

6

11

9

14

8

12

12

12

6

11

7

12

8

11

8

13

8

12

10

8

5

Mean Number of Anglers

6

2.5

5

1

1

1.5

2

2

2

1.5

0

1

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1.5

6.5

Tailrace Pier Counts

11

7

12

10

14

9

13

5

12

10

14

8

12

11

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

Mean Number of Anglers

13

20

69

83

116

137

37

47

106

149

113

77

23

47

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

 

Table 3.1-1 (CONT.)

Number of Instantaneous Shore Angler Counts, and Sum of the Mean Number of Anglers Counted Per Day by Month, Day-Type, and Location for the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

 

May 2002

June 2002

July 2002

Aug. 2002

Sept. 2002

Oct. 2002

Nov. 2002

Dec. 2002

 Jan. 2003

Feb. 2003

Mar. 2003

Apr. 2003

May 2003

June 2003

Site

wd*

we*

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

Tailrace Shore Counts

11

7

12

9

14

9

13

7

12

10

13

7

12

11

13

7

13

8

13

8

12

10

***

***

***

***

***

***

Mean Number of Anglers

1

2

0

4

22

22

8

17

2

10

9.5

7

0

4.5

14

6

1

5

7.5

7

8

18

***

***

***

***

***

***

Lewiston Counts

11

7

12

10

14

9

13

6

12

11

14

8

12

10

12

7

11

8

12

7

11

10

13

8

12

10

8

5

Mean Number of Anglers

14

24

29

37

71

57

47

18

31

25

6.5

8

3

3.5

1

0

0

0

0

1

4

9

25

17

32

51

25

33

Instantaneous angler counts were not made at the Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole State Park sites.

*wd=weekday,  we=weekend.

**The Tailrace pier was temporarily closed, beginning in December, due to weather or for security. See Section 3.1

***The tailrace shore area was closed starting in April 2003 for security reasons, no data were collected after that. See Section 3.1

 

Table 3.1-2

Number of Instantaneous Shore Angler Counts, and Sum of Daily Means of the Number of Anglers Counted by Season, Day-Type, and Location for the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

 

Spring 2002

Summer 2002

Fall 2002

Winter 2002-2003

Spring 2003

 

wd*

we*

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

Artpark Counts

17

12

33

22

26

16

60

42

33

23

Mean Number of Anglers

2

1

13

24

54

44

148.5

306

14

47

Constitution Park Count

17

12

33

22

26

16

58

43

34

22

Mean Number of Anglers

1

3

11

5

2.5

1

0.5

0

13.5

19.5

Joseph Davis Count

17

12

33

22

25

16

59

41

32

23

Mean Number of Anglers

5

6

36

35.5

8.5

16.5

1.5

0

5

28

Fort Niagara Count

17

10

33

21

25

16

58

41

33

23

Mean Number of Anglers

9.5

2.5

4

4

2

2.5

1.5

1

1.5

6.5

Tailrace Pier Count**

17

12

33

21

26

16

12

11

**

**

Mean Number of Anglers**

22

37

212

283.5

218

191.5

22.5

46.5

**

**

Tailrace Shore Count***

17

12

33

22

25

15

63

44

***

***

 

Table 3.1-2 (CONT.)

Number of Instantaneous Shore Angler Counts, and Sum of Daily Means of the Number of Anglers Counted by Season, Day-Type, and Location For the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

 

Spring 20 02

Summer 2002

Fall 2002

Winter 2002-2003

Spring 2003

 

wd*

we*

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

Tailrace Shore Mean Number of Anglers***

1

3.5

29.5

40.5

11.5

16.5

30

40

***

***

Lewiston Count

17

12

33

24

26

15

58

42

33

23

Mean Number of Anglers

16.5

45

143

96

37.5

26

8

13

80.5

99.5

 

Instantaneous angler counts were not made at the Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole State Park sites.

*wd=weekday,  we=weekend.

**The Tailrace pier was temporarily closed, beginning in December, due to weather or for security. See Section 3.1

***The tailrace shore area was closed starting in April 2003 for security reasons, and no data were collected after that. See Section 3.1

 

Table 3.1-3

Number of Shore Anglers Interviewed by Month, Day-Type and Location for the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

Site

May 2002

June 2002

July 2002

August 2002

Sept. 2002

Oct. 2002

Nov. 2002

Dec. 2002

Jan. 2003

Feb. 2003

Mar. 2003

April 2003

May 2003

June 2003

wd*

we*

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

Artpark

5

1

0

11

8

13

1

5

14

27

27

33

67

141

22

19

4

3

6

20

11

39

6

14

7

10

1

14

Constitution Park

2

3

2

0

3

6

3

2

3

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

5

9

7

16

Devil’s Hole St. Park

0

7

0

8

2

4

0

2

0

4

7

9

7

6

5

10

1

4

1

2

1

3

5

7

18

29

12

10

Joseph Davis St. Park

9

4

5

17

14

23

18

16

5

21

7

7

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

6

1

15

5

10

Fort Niagara

1

6

4

2

2

10

5

3

2

6

2

2

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

0

0

3

7

Lewiston

48

32

56

74

114

87

85

53

32

39

8

14

3

6

1

0

0

3

0

2

6

17

18

22

51

60

55

59

Tailrace Pier**

18

27

72

89

116

98

52

72

121

134

120

92

26

52

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

**

 

Table 3.1-3 (CONT.)

number of shore anglers interviewed by month, day-type and location for the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

Site

May

June

July

August

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

Mar.

April

May

June

wd*

we*

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

Tailrace Shore**

1

7

0

7

18

19

8

8

3

14

9

15

0

5

13

12

1

6

7

8

2

3

**

**

**

**

**

**

Whirlpool St. Park

0

1

1

8

4

20

3

6

2

7

4

10

4

6

5

5

1

0

0

2

0

0

0

4

1

4

2

10

Youngstown***

2

4

10

0

17

9

26

4

3

30

2

8

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

"Anglers interviewed" include interviews of anglers who fished alone, and individual anglers who fished in a group and for which the group-interview data could be attributed to the individuals in the group.

*wd=weekday, we =weekend day.

**The Tailrace pier was temporarily closed, beginning in December, due to weather or for security. The tailrace shore area was closed starting in April 2003 for security reasons, and no data were collected after that. See Section 3.1

***Some shore anglers fished at the Youngstown Launch.  Shore anglers were interviewed opportunistically by technicians conducting interviews of boat anglers at the Youngstown Launch.

 

Table 3.1-4

Number of Shore Anglers Interviewed by Season, Day-Type and Location for the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

Site

Spring 2002

Summer 2002

Fall 2002

Winter 2002-2003

Spring 2003

wd*

we*

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

Interview Location

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artpark State Park

5

5

9

31

41

54

110

222

14

38

Constitution Park

2

3

9

8

3

1

0

0

13

27

Devils Hole St. Park

0

14

2

7

7

13

15

25

35

46

Joseph Davis St. Park

12

9

34

54

12

25

3

0

8

31

Fort Niagara St. Park

5

6

8

18

2

5

1

0

4

9

Lewiston

54

71

249

185

40

43

10

28

124

141

Tailrace Pier**

41

54

217

253

241

205

26

52

**

**

Tailrace Shore**

1

10

26

31

12

29

23

34

**

**

Whirlpool St. Park

0

8

8

27

6

17

10

13

3

18

Youngstown***

3

4

52

33

5

19

1

1

0

0

"Anglers interviewed" include interviews of anglers who fished alone, and individual anglers who fished in a group and for which the group-interview data could be attributed to the individuals in the group.

*wd=weekday, we =weekend day.

**The Tailrace pier was temporarily closed, beginning in December, due to weather or for security. The tailrace shore area was closed in starting in April 2003 for security reasons, and no data were collected after that. See Section 3.1

***Some shore anglers fished at the Youngstown Launch.  Shore anglers were interviewed opportunistically by technicians conducting interviews of boat anglers at the Youngstown Launch.

 

Table 3.1-5

Number of Shore Anglers Targeting a Species by Month and Day-Type for the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

 

2002

2003

 

May

June

July

August

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

Mar.

April

May

June

Common Name

wd*

we*

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

Anything

50

69

74

124

175

175

80

83

75

133

38

63

10

19

1

7

1

4

0

3

7

16

4

28

32

75

60

87

Atlantic salmon

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

0

28

16

68

14

14

0

3

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

Bluegill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Brown bullhead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown trout

 

1

 

2

 

1

 

 

 

16

55

41

19

36

22

5

3

3

4

10

3

16

4

6

0

3

 

 

Carp

2

0

2

3

2

8

4

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

0

Channel catfish

 

 

0

3

0

1

0

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinook salmon

0

5

 

 

 

 

2

5

64

81

97

90

32

48

3

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

2

 

 

1

0

Suckers

 

 

 

 

2

0

2

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coho salmon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

23

64

19

19

31

3

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

0

1

2

Freshwater drum

1

2

5

4

4

2

4

7

0

1

1

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Lake trout

1

4

7

19

8

7

4

0

12

14

70

30

54

100

12

10

3

5

2

6

3

21

7

6

3

10

1

3

Largemouth bass

0

2

1

3

9

3

9

1

 

 

1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

2

 

 

Muskellunge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

1

0

1

Northern pike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

2

0

9

Pumpkinseed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow smelt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

0

 

 

 

 

Rainbow trout

1

8

2

3

2

6

4

0

17

20

99

65

88

186

42

29

7

8

14

31

15

41

7

16

16

31

7

3

 

Table 3.1-5 (CONT.)

Number of Shore Anglers Targeting a Species by Month and Day-Type For the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

 

2002

2003

 

May

June

July

August

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

Mar.

April

May

June

Common Name

wd*

we*

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

wd

we

Rock bass

1

2

13

9

27

8

30

17

6

4

2

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

2

0

6

Smallmouth bass

15

3

38

48

102

93

88

63

30

51

13

9

0

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

8

3

4

Tiger muskellunge

 

 

0

3

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walleye

8

2

0

1

2

2

 

 

1

1

2

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

0

 

 

 

 

7

7

8

2

White bass

8

2

46

24

30

6

5

7

12

4

11

22

0

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

2

White sucker

0

1

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow perch

9

4

1

8

7

7

25

8

15

24

4

5

2

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

14

25

14

3

7

*wd=weekday, we=weekend day.

 

Table 3.1-6

Number of Shore Anglers Targeting a Species by Day-Type and Season for the Lower Niagara River in 2002-2003

 

Spring 02

Summer

Fall

Winter

Spring 03

Common Name

WD*

WE*

WD

WE

WD

WE

WD

WE

WD

WE

Anything

63

127

316

366

113

154

19

49

96

190

Atlantic salmon

 

 

1

 

96

30

17

 

2

 

Bluegill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Brown bullhead

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

Brown trout

 

2

 

4

55

33

51

92

4

9

Carp

4

 

6

15

 

 

 

 

5

 

Channel catfish

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinook salmon

 

5

2

8

161

168

35

50

1

2

Suckers

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coho salmon

 

 

 

 

80

42

22

33

2

2

Freshwater drum

1

5

13

11

1

3

 

 

 

2

Lake trout

3

17

17

13

82

44

74

142

11

19

Largemouth bass

 

3

19

6

1

 

 

 

 

2

Muskellunge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Northern pike