photos ©2018 John Lyons
by Hanna Edelglass
On May 17, 2018, Steven Hogler – DNR Fisheries Biologist, Green Bay – presented Fish Survey results at our bi-monthly Manitowoc County Lakes Association meeting for members and guests. He indicated that surveys are science based that use standard lake survey protocols that allow comparisons to similar lakes across the state. Survey frequency is based on the size of lakes as well as public access with larger lakes getting surveyed more often. In Manitowoc County, the larger lakes are sampled most intensively every four years while smaller lakes get surveyed every 10 years. In general he indicated that each year, he samples one large lake and two small lakes.
For example, Long Lake and Bullhead Lake were surveyed in 2017. Summaries from these lakes showed increasing numbers of Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass, young Crappies and growing Bluegill, but few Walleye. Similar recommendations were made for Long and Bullhead Lakes, to
- Continue to conduct a ‘full comprehensive fish survey’ based on the sampling schedule.
- Evaluate the results from the Panfish study to see if they can be applied to these lakes
- DNR , Manitowoc County Soil and Water Department, Manitowoc County Lakes Association, Long Lake and Bullhead Lake Associations, and local residents should continue to monitor water quality and to make changes in the watershed designed to improve water quality.
- Encourage ’near shore fish habitat by incorporating woody debris and aquatic plants into their landscape.
Steve indicated that we all share a common goal of sustainable fisheries and stressed that management decisions based on collected data and public input. Based on survey results we have management tools available if needed. They include:
- Making fishing regulation changes
- Species manipulation
- Stocking, which involves many considerations, like ‘current species present, predator-prey ratio, habitat availability, hybridization, diseases, genetic interactions, undesirable species
- Habitat projects
- Making improvements in water quality through watershed changes
Surveys across all Manitowoc County Lakes over the past twenty-five years shows Bass and Bluegill dominate most fisheries with steady panfish numbers although in many lakes panfish are small in size. Other gamefish numbers are moderate but Walleye occur low in number and are sustained through stocking. In some lakes ‘poor water quality, lack of habitat and invasive species may negatively affect fish populations.’
Hogler reminded the group of the ongoing statewide Panfish study. In Manitowoc County, the lakes that are part of the study are Bullhead, English, Harpt, Pigeon, Long Lakes. Each has a temporary panfish regulation to see if that regulation can improve panfish size. Spring Lake is a control lake in the study and its regulations remain unchanged. From 2019-2021 all lakes in the study will be resurveyed and the impact of the regulations will be evaluated in 2022 with recommendations made on a statewide basis.
Questions about different lakes, and comments, followed. One was put by Gene Weyer regarding how our County’s alkaline water impacts fish growth. Watershed management and fish habitat were most urgent matters.