Sports and Outdoors

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fish management activities at area lakes

Indiana DNR Release:

A group of lake residents and anglers have developed a long-range plan to improve fishing quality at seven natural lakes north of Columbia City, working in partnership with the Indiana DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation (TWF).
Known collectively as UTRLA, the Upper Tippecanoe River Lakes Association, the group met six times since last fall to review the status of fishing conditions at Big, Crane, Crooked, Goose, Loon, New, and Old lakes, and to foster and promote consensus-driven actions.

In general, the group rated bluegill fishing as good at Big, Goose, New and Old lakes but bluegill size as poor at Crane, Crooked, and Loon. Each lake was thought to have ample numbers of bass but group members wanted to see more big bass.
“We have a general idea of the quality of fishing at each lake but we need current information, so the first thing we are going to do is conduct a series of surveys this year,” said Jed Pearson, DFW fisheries biologist.
Once the surveys are complete, UTRLA and the DFW will compare the results this fall with management targets set earlier by the group and identify where improvements are needed.
Future actions will likely focus on habitat protection, changes in fishing rules, control of invasive species, and public educational programs.

Survey Schedule:

Fish sampling will get underway at the UTRLA lakes in late April and early May, when biologists assess bass populations in each lake with electro-shocker boats. Targeted sampling for bluegills will take place in early June.

“Sampling these two species at these times will give us the best picture of their number and size,” said Rod Edgell, another DFW biologist.
In mid- to late June, Pearson and Edgell will conduct additional electro-shocking, and set nets and traps in each lake to assess the entire fish population, including all species.
“We’ll look at the balance between predator fish and prey fish, check out the numbers of non-game species, look for infestations of carp or other nuisance species, and get an overall picture of the health of the fish community,” Pearson said.

Beginning in mid-May and lasting through August, fisheries personnel will periodically be stationed at each lake to count and interview anglers, as well as to examine their catch.

“The fishing surveys will let us know how many fish are caught by anglers, what size of fish are caught, how anglers rate fishing at each lake, and whether the lakes are meeting the target objectives set by the group,” Edgell said.

A summary report of the findings will be published next winter.

Fishing and Lawn Care Seminar, April 14

UTRLA will host a fishing seminar called "Knowledge—The Key to Fishing Succcess" on Tuesday evening, April 14, at the Big Lake Church of God, north of Columbia City. The event is free and open to the public.

The guest speaker is John Bales, education director of the Northern Indiana Spoonpluggers. Bales will explain spoonplugging, a highly successful method of fishing in northern Indiana lakes, and demonstrate spoonplugging equipment, which can be especially effective at catching bass and muskies.
The seminar is at 7 p.m., and also will include a session on lawn care for lake residents called "Caring for Your Lawn Without Ruining Your Lake." The session will be presented by Jerry Hohla, a soil scientist, water quality specialist, and fly fisherman.

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