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Perch still a problem fish in lake, pond

A view of Lake Ronkonkoma at Lake Ronkonkoma

A view of Lake Ronkonkoma at Lake Ronkonkoma County Park. (July 22, 2010) Credit: Brittany Wait

Attempts to reduce the population of an undesirable fish in Lake Ronkonkoma and Montauk’s Fort Pond had mixed results, a state environmental official said Thursday.

Seeking to curtail a proliferation of white perch in both bodies of water, the state Department of Environmental Conservation restocked the lakes two years ago with walleye, said Charles Guthrie, the state’s regional fisheries manager. Walleye is popular with local anglers and a natural enemy of white perch.

Though the number of white perch has declined in Lake Ronkonkoma, samples of walleye caught there found they were too small to be fished legally, Guthrie said Thursday in an interview. “We caught almost none that were over 18 inches,” the legal minimum for walleye, Guthrie said.

Walleye samples in Fort Pond were large enough to be fished — but there’s still an overabundance of white perch there, he said. “We were catching thousands of white perch,” in Montauk, Guthrie said.

White perch are unpopular because they are small and eat newly hatched largemouth bass, a popular fish, Guthrie said, adding that the lakes will be restocked next year.

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