Sports and Outdoors

Monday, May 24, 2010

Biologists map bass locations in Noble County lake

Indiana DNR Release:

ALBION – Fisheries biologists who mapped more than 100 locations of legal-size largemouth bass in an 86-acre Noble County lake this month were surprised by what they found.

Contrary to conventional thinking, bass did not concentrate along natural sections of shoreline and avoid residential areas. The biologists found more bass near piers, beaches and areas where homes were present than along undisturbed shoreline areas with cattails and lily pads.

During electrofishing on three nights at Upper Long Lake southwest of Albion, biologists captured 10.9 legal-size bass per 1,000 feet of residential shoreline and 7.5 bass per 1,000 feet of natural shoreline.

The results, said Jed Pearson, biologist with the Indiana DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, demonstrate the need to better understand bass biology and how various factors can affect bass behavior.

The lowest density of legal-size bass, 4.3 bass per 1,000 feet of shoreline, was noted in two manmade channels on the east side of the lake.

Legal-size bass measure 14 inches or longer. Several bass up to 20 inches long were found in the lake.

“We sampled during the peak spawning season hoping to find out what areas provide better bass habitat,” Pearson said. “We figured more bass would be along natural sections of shoreline where lily pads and other natural habitat features are present.”

Some natural areas seemed nearly devoid of large bass. Few bass were found at the north end of the lake in a natural area of shallow water with aquatic plants. No bass were caught in a natural area along the east shore.

In contrast, three sections of shoreline along the south end of lake where homes are present contained 11.4 to 14.7 bass per 1,000 feet.

Although Pearson said residential areas in general held more bass than natural areas, the highest bass density was noted in a natural area along a prominent point on the west side of the lake. Density there exceeded 20 bass per 1,000 feet.

Specific bass locations around the point also were surprising. Both sides looked similar, but 14 bass were located on the north side; two bass were located on the south side.

“Weather, wind direction, depth and slope of the lake bottom, as well as various other features probably play a role in where bass are located,” Pearson said.

Although bass locations were similar from week to week, they can change from season to season and year to year.

“Back in 1995 when we did a similar project at the lake, we found lots of big bass in two channels on the east side. This year we caught only five,” Pearson said. “Something in the channels has apparently changed but we don’t know what.”

“We have a lot to learn,” he added.

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