Star Lake Handbook

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FISHING ON STAR LAKE

Star Lake, in recent years, has enjoyed a resurgence of fishing, thanks in main part to the NYSDEC stocking program.  Much of the following is extracted from a 1990 NYSDEC lake survey (file OW-P281 10/91):

Star Lake is an oligotropic lake. That is, it is lacking in plant nutrients and has a high level of dissolved oxygen.  Summer surface water temperatures generally range in the low 70’s F and the thermocline (the layer at which the temperature rather abruptly turns colder, to about 45 F) occurs at about 25 to 45 feet.

Historically, Star Lake has supported self-sustaining lake trout and brook trout populations and was first stocked with brook trout in 1889 (see the historical marker by Todd’s Supply). Yellow perch and sunfish became established between 1931 and 1955 but in recent years have become scarce, as have bullheads and suckers. In the 1980’s, rainbow smelt, smallmouth and largemouth bass were unofficially introduced.

Brook trout were stocked prior to 1962 and in 1988. Lake trout were stocked, as fingerlings, from the 1940’s through 1979 but routine stocking was terminated due to poor survival. However, in 1989, 2500 surplus lake trout yearlings were stocked (and again in 1993). Splake (a cross between lake trout and brook trout) were stocked in 1956 and 1965 through 1973. About 1200 to 2500 rainbow trout were stocked each year, from 1965 through 1990. Brown trout were stocked from 1980 through 1986 but were discontinued due to a poor record of catches. (See below for an update of stocking from 1991-2004)

The netting of game fish in the 1990 survey, yielded no brook trout or splake, few lake trout, and, in increasing order of predominance, largemouth bass, rainbows, and smallmouth bass. A few large (26”) brown trout were also netted. Smelt by far out numbered all other species.  The establishment of smelt and bass has dramatically changed the balance of the lake.  Smelt netted in the survey, ranged in size from 6.4 to 8.1”. The smelt appear to compete with young game fish causing slow growth in early years, but fast growth in older gamefish as they, in turn, prey on the smelt. The DEC has recently stocked Atlantic salmon to take advantage of the smelt in deep water. 

Casual observation would indicate that fishing has increased significantly and with much improved results in the early 1990’s. Unfortunately, whirling disease was introduced with the 1994 stocking. In 1994 the DEC conducted a quick, informal survey to study the impact of this disease.  Rodger Klindt, Aquatic Biologist with DEC, indicated (3/04) that there was no long-term effect on the lake system’s fish population.

Common Name

Count

Avg. Length

Rock Bass

236

5.68”

Yellow Perch

28

9.10”

Smallmouth Bass

23

8.57”

Rainbow Trout

18

14.51”

Atlantic Salmon

9

13.60”

White Sucker

7

18.73”

Pumpkinseed

5

5.22”

Common Name

Count

Avg. Length

Rock Bass

236

5.68”

Yellow Perch

28

9.10”

Smallmouth Bass

23

8.57”

Rainbow Trout

18

14.51”

Atlantic Salmon

9

13.60”

White Sucker

7

18.73”

Pumpkinseed

5

5.22”

The most recent DEC survey of the lake occurred in June of 2003.  Six sites around the lake were sampled using gill nets at a water depth of 15-36 feet.  The chart indicates the summary of fish netted.  The study noted several observations.  Prey species such as pike are possibly present; however, the 2003 sampling methods used may not have been able to detect them.  Second, rainbow smelt have apparently disappeared from the lake system, or they are at such low levels that they are undetectable.  Yellow perch seem to be reappearing after a long period of decline.  Judging from the numbers, rainbow trout and smallmouth bass seem to be in a close race.  Rock bass are by far the most prevalent and easy for youngsters to catch.

 At present, there is no closed season for trout fishing in Star Lake.  Lake trout must be a minimum length of 21” with a daily limit of three.  All other trout must be at least 9” with a limit of 5 per day.  Largemouth and smallmouth bass season starts the 3rd Saturday in June through November 30.  Minimum size is 12” with a daily limit of five.  Current regulations should be consulted each year.

During the summer, most trout appear to be caught with a “Christmas tree” rig and a worm close to the thermocline.  When the lake surface waters are colder in the spring and fall, they may be caught with a variety of lures close to the surface.  Bass are fished in a traditional manner.  In 1994, Jack Leffert reported catching a 26” northern pike; since then, others have caught them also.  The appearance of pike in our lake is less an anomaly and more an example of what happens when  species foreign to the lake are intentionally introduced out of ignorance, to harm the lake.

 

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