Diverse fish and wildlife populations provide residents and visitors with tremendous opportunities for nature study, hunting, fishing and trapping. The Canandaigua Lake watershed encompasses a wide variety of habitats which support diverse wildlife communities. Habitats range from wetlands to large blocks of unbroken forests to successional lands. Game species found in the watershed include deer, turkey, goose, pheasant, grouse, squirrel, rabbit, coyote and fox. Many non-game species such as song birds, hawks, falcons, owls and occasionally ospreys and eagles visit and are now residing in the watershed. Wetlands in the watershed are important habitats that support waterfowl, mink, muskrats, beaver and amphibian production.
The lake’s fisheries are important for ecosystem balance and recreational opportunities. The lake trout is the primary coldwater game fish in Canandaigua Lake and is supported almost entirely by stocking. Rainbow trout provide an excellent tributary fishery in Naples Creek and a fair to good lake fishery. Rainbow trout were introduced from the western US. Today, a naturally reproducing population is being maintained in the lake, with Naples Creek as the single significant spawning tributary for the fishery. Naples Creek has become a very popular and productive fishing site. Stocked domestic brown trout also provide a significant contribution to the fishery and add species diversity. The historic lake trout-cisco association has been replaced by the association between lake trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout with alewife and rainbow smelt. The alewife and rainbow smelt populations have declined, due in part to the impact of invasive Zebra and now Quagga Mussels.
The lake also supports many warm water fish species. The smallmouth bass fishery is excellent and the rocky-gravelly substrate, an essential element for spawning success of smallmouths, is moderately abundant. Largemouth bass and chain pickerel are found in good numbers at both the north and south ends of Canandaigua Lake. Rooted aquatic plants there provide excellent habitat for these fish. Yellow perch, bluegills, sunfish, and rock bass are available along shoreline weedbeds throughout the summer. The West River, at the lake’s south end, provides an excellent fishery for largemouth bass, black crappies, and brown bullheads. Yellow perch continue to provide a popular fishery throughout the entire year.
Source: A Strategic Fisheries Management Plan for Canandaigua Lake, Thomas L. Chiotti, Bureau of Fisheries, Division of Fish and Wildlife, NYSDEC, March 23, 1981 with updates by Peter Austerman-