The Round Goby invasion and its influence on Angling tactics
The Round Goby is a small, aggressive fish that feeds on the bottom. It has the ability to proliferate in new surroundings due to its tolerance to a wide range of environmental conditions. It can spawn up to 4 times in one growing season. (www.invadingspecies.com)
The native Mottled Sculpin looks very similar to the Round Goby. The main difference is the sculpin does not have a black spot on its dorsal fin and has 2 pelvic fins and not one like the Goby. (www.invadingspecies.com)
The evolution in angling approaches extends beyond bait selection to encompass preferred fishing locations. Ice anglers are currently discovering Lake Trout and Whitefish in shallower waters than traditionally expected. Remarkably, these fish are frequently encountered in depths of less than 30 feet, marking a departure from established norms. This phenomenon is attributed to their pursuit of Round Goby, a prey species that thrives in hard, rocky substrates and shallow shoals. It is noteworthy that while these fish exhibit a preference for rocky and harder bottoms, they are also adaptable to sand and silt substrates when necessary.
Ice fishing baits that have performed well for Simcoe Gamefish due to their Goby like appearance.
A Lake Simcoe Whitefish that fell victim to a goby hair jig.
While Round Goby offer an alternative food source for several fish species within Lake Simcoe, predicting the long-term consequences for the aquatic ecosystem remains a complex challenge. However, there is a notable positive aspect to their presence: Round Goby have shown an inclination to consume the invasive Quagga and Zebra Mussels, which have drastically altered the Lake Simcoe landscape. These freshwater mussels function as filter feeders, extracting substantial quantities of plankton and nutrients from the water, thereby depleting the lake of essential nutrients required by native fish species. By preying upon these mussels, Round Goby may play a pivotal role in unlocking nutrients from the lake bottom and redistributing them throughout the aquatic food web, potentially mitigating some of the adverse effects caused by the invasive mussels.
Laboratory investigations have yielded precise insights into the dietary habits of Round Goby, revealing their predilection for Lake Trout eggs and fry. An illuminating study conducted in Lake Erie further underscored this behavior. When nesting Smallmouth Bass were temporarily extracted through angling efforts, Round Goby promptly infiltrated the vacated nests and, on average, devoured approximately 2000 eggs before the vigilant male bass was reinstated. Significantly, in instances where the male bass remained undisturbed at his nest, no eggs or larvae fell prey to Round Goby consumption.
The impact of the Round Goby extends beyond aquatic environments, posing a significant concern for researchers. There is a strong belief that the Round Goby is implicated in the occurrence of Type E botulism outbreaks. This bacterium has the potential to infect fish-eating avian species, including gulls, loons, and cormorants, significantly impairing their mobility, rendering them unable to fly or hold their heads aloft. Tragically, these afflictions can lead to the unfortunate drowning of infected birds. This toxin is transmitted through a complex chain: an infected mussel is consumed by a Round Goby, and subsequently, the infected goby is ingested by a bird, facilitating the spread of the toxin within the ecosystem.
Round Goby's feed on Zebra and Quagga mussels which may help to redistribute important nutrients from the bottom back into the aquatic foodweb.
Information from this article was gathered from:
Cudmore, Becky & Koops, Marten. (2007). Risk assessment of round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) to Lake Simcoe, Ontario: A Quantitative Biological Risk Assessment Tool (QBRAT) case study.
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