Live fish are once again swimming in southern Iowa’s Carter Lake, following a late-September fish kill intended to eliminate unwanted and harmful species.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff dumped 150,000 1-2 inch bluegill and 1,500 4-5 inch largemouth bass into the lake yesterday afternoon. Nebraska Game and Parks officials also plan to add 2,800 catfish.
“The blue gill will start spawning this spring. The little blue gill that may be 4 to 5 inches long can have a few thousand eggs, and we’re putting in 150,000 — I can’t do the math, but it’s a lot,” said Chris Larson with the Iowa DNR.
Prior to the September fish kill, conducted by the DNR, the lake had been filled with unwanted common carp, buffalo, and gizzard shad that were having a negative effect on water quality.
Their bottom-feeding activity stirred up sediments, including lake-bottom phosphorus, thus worsening algal blooms and turbidity. The species are also commonly considered “rough fish” by anglers because they compete with more popular game fish for food and eat their eggs.
Water quality has already demonstrated a noticeable improvement in clarity. Visibility has increased from 2 feet in the spring to 3 feet this week.
The rotenone-induced fish kill eliminated 88 tons of these unwanted carp and other bottom feeders. The fish kill and ongoing restocking efforts are part of a $5.5 million improvement project for the lake, which is being funded by numerous Nebraska and Iowa fishery and lake restoration programs. The improvements are expected to enhance not only the lake’s fishing prospects but local economy.
The lake will be stocked again several times over the coming years. The fish are expected to grow rapidly given limited competition for food. Larson said the lake ought to be fishable again by the fall of 2011, and in 3-4 years every species should have catchable members.
Little Fish Hold Big Promise For Carter Lake [KETV 7 Omaha] Live fish return to Carter Lake [Omaha World-Herald]