Onondaga Lake

Syracuse, New York

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This 2,942-acre body of water averages 39 feet deep and has a maximum depth of 67 feet. After being force-fed municipal and industrial sewage for over a hundred years, the lake went belly-up in the 1950s. The smell was so bad, Syracuse’s west end was nicknamed Skunk City. By 1972 the authorities—concerned over what might emerge from the sticky, slimy waves—banned fishing and a massive clean-up was begun, including construction of a new sewage treatment plant in 1979. Within five years water quality improved so dramatically, game fish returned and prospered. Although the public’s fishing rights were reinstated in 1986 and the health advisory against eating the fish lifted in 1999, this lake is still considered the country’s filthiest and serves as the national poster child for the heartbreak of industrial pollution—and the joys of reclamation. Key species: Walleyes, northern pike, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass

Onondaga Lake Professional Review and Guide

"This 2,942-acre body of water averages 39 feet deep and has a maximum depth of 67 feet. After being force-fed municipal and industrial sewage for over a hundred years, the lake went belly-up in the 1950s. The smell was so bad, Syracuse’s west end was nicknamed Skunk City. By 1972 the authorities—concerned over what might emerge from the sticky, slimy waves—banned fishing and a massive clean-up was begun, including construction of a new sewage treatment plant in 1979. Within five years water quality improved so dramatically, game fish returned and prospered. Although the public’s fishing rights were reinstated in 1986 and the health advisory against eating the fish lifted in 1999, this lake is still considered the country’s filthiest and serves as the national poster child for the heartbreak of industrial pollution—and the joys of reclamation. Key species: Walleyes, northern pike, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass"

Activity Type: Fishing
Nearby City: Syracuse
Driving Directions: Directions to Onondaga Lake

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May 2018