For more than 30 years, anglers from around the country have flocked to upstate New York for an annual walleye fishing derby. But warming waters spell trouble for this local tradition.

Oneida Lake, the largest lake within New York’s borders, is also very shallow. That’s a problem for fish sensitive to changing temperatures.

Finger Lakes map and Oneida Lake

Rudstam: “In deeper lakes, there will always be colder water so we will not see large changes in the fish populations like we expect to see in Oneida Lake, because fish can find colder waters.”

That’s Lars Rudstam of Cornell University. He says the water in Oneida Lake has warmed by about three degrees Fahrenheit in the last 40 years.

Rudstam: “We’re seeing changes towards more warm water species, like largemouth and smallmouth bass. And we see a decline with cold water fish that were here in the past. There’s one called burbot, which is a fresh water cod . . . that is declining.”

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By the end of the century, Rudstam says the lake will warm by as much as six degrees. Not only will the burbot be gone, there will also be fewer of the prize-winning walleye that draw anglers to the lake every year for the annual fishing derby.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo source: Michael J at the English language Wikipedia

More Resources
Climate change likely to alter NY’s Oneida Lake by 2099
The Fisheries and Limnology of Oneida Lake 2000-2009
Study: Warming of Oneida Lake could cause more toxic algae blooms, wipe out one fish species
Oneida Lake and Its Watershed

Bridgett Ennis is co-founder of ChavoBart Digital Media, an audio and video production firm with a focus on scientific and environmental media. ChavoBart Digital Media contributes original reporting, audio...