Smallmouth Bass Update 2017
Courtesy of Luke S. Roffler, Senior Fisheries Biologist – Racine, Kenosha and Walworth Counties, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Lake Beulah has been stocked with five inch smallmouth bass in Fall 2014, 2015 and 2016. The fish were offloaded from the Gollon hatchery truck onto the boat tanks and released in deep water at five locations. The three stockings were financed by the Triangle Sportsmen’s Club, the Lake Beulah Protective and Improvement Association (LBPIA), and individual donors, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) crews provided assistance.
Recent fish surveys do not indicate high numbers of smallmouth bass (SMB). The initial stocking is three years old and probably averaging about 10” or less in length (see chart below). Most of the stocked fish are also less likely to be captured during our surveys, as mature fish (typically 3-4 years for SMB) are generally more susceptible to capture. The other limitation is the total number of stocked fish, which currently stands at 5,530. Assuming 30% survival to adulthood (which is probably generous), we’d have roughly 1,700 bass (2.0/acre) from these three stocking events. Again, this is the best case scenario from the last three stocking events; when these fish begin to show up in our surveys, it will be easier to get a better handle on abundance and growth.
Reproduction is the next question. As adult densities increase over the years, I think we can expect to see some low levels of natural reproduction. Not many of the lakes in this area are considered suitable for SMB success, but Beulah is. The combination of size, depth and good spawning substrate (gravel to cobble) should provide the stocked fish a chance to reproduce. We won’t know until we start seeing young bass that can’t be explained by the stocking records. This is obviously even farther into the future. Whether SMB reproduction can ever hit a level where stocking is unnecessary (e.g., Geneva or Delavan) is a whole other question.
The decision of whether to continue the stocking program is up to the various parties involved in paying for the fish. The more stocked year classes we have in the lake, the greater the odds of increased adult densities and possible reproduction. And since the state is currently footing the bill for large fingerling walleye, there’s really not much else the lake needs to bolster the fishery.
Walleyes: Lake Beulah has been designated as a sentinel lake for the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative (WWI), giving it a higher priority for walleye stocking and monitoring. The WWI stocking program is an unprecedented investment in walleye stocking via state and private hatcheries. The program is expected to result in stocking of fall fingerling walleyes across the state, which should produce fishable and, in some lakes, sustainable walleye populations for years to come.
Cisco: On August 23, volunteers from Camp Charles Allis, the Lake Beulah Protective and Improvement Association, a Madison fish research team and a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) crew used specialized netting to find out if any Cisco fish still live in the lake. Lake Beulah, being a deeper lake, is one of only a few southeast Wisconsin lakes that could support a population of Cisco fish. While the DNR knows that Cisco lived in the lake in the past, the last two attempts to find them proved unsuccessful and it is now believed there is no longer a population of Cisco in Lake Beulah as the water has warmed to the point the fish cannot survive. The Cisco is a deep and cold-water loving fish that cannot tolerate warmer waters. It can grow to around 20” in length.
The crew set out two sets of nets, one in the deepest part of the upper lake and one on the other side of the channel in about 50 feet of water. The nets are set vertically in deep water, with large floats at the surface. The size of the openings in the nets vary in order to trap different size fish. Nearly all the fish were dead upon being reeled up. After extricating them from the net, basic data was recorded. Netted species were crappie, large mouth bass, bluegill and one nice sized northern pike. Final survey results are pending.
Photos courtesy of Tom Bernhardt, Camp Charles Allis
Fishes of Wisconsin
by George C. Becker
Many lake residents have noticed wood ducks along their shore and are interested in providing nesting boxes on their properties.
Here are some resources for more information on wood ducks and plans for boxes:
Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program
A citizen-based monitoring initiative that allows the public to assist in recording and preserving turtles in Wisconsin.
The Mussel Monitoring Program of Wisconsin would like your help in finding out what mussels occur in your area!
Planting a Native Plant Butterfly Garden or Monarch Way Station:
Providing food and shelter for monarchs and other pollinators also helps conserve native plants, reduce habitat fragmentation and increase biodiversity in the landscapes.
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in Wisconsin Invasive species are non-native plants, animals and pathogens whose introduction causes, or is likely to cause harm to the environment, economy or to human health. AIS can reduce or eliminate native species and recreational opportunities. AIS also can negatively impact real estate prices and the over-all economy.
Plants & Trees
Oak wilt is a fungal disease that can harm and kill oak trees. It is prevalent in Wisconsin and is spread from diseased to healthy trees by insect vectors or via connections between tree roots. Read More about Managing Oak Wilt.