Lake Ecology

Something is Fishy at the Berksdale Golf Course Ponds.

Starting in February, the two southernmost ponds on the Berksdale Golf Course were drained and the existing fish were removed to initiate an experimental aquaculture program to benefit the Bella Vista Lakes. Right away some encouraging things were noted. Black crappie, brook silversides, and a lone smallmouth bass were noted. These fish are among the less tolerant species to poor water conditions, so there presence was a good indicator that the program can succeed. Additionally, largemouth bass, bluegill, green sunfish, gizzard shad, common carp, grass carp, and a few bullheads were present. The number of fish and their overall biomass indicates that the ponds are highly fertile and capable of producing well for us. Water depth was perfect and there are few snags to cause problems with future fish harvest.

Initially, walleye were considered for this trial endeavor, but locating a good source for fry on short notice has been an issue. At this point the walleye project will need to be deferred to next year. Focus has recently changed from walleye to black crappie. Twenty adults have thus far been collected from our lakes to be used as brood stock in the golf ponds. Approximately 20 more will be collected in subsequent days. These fish will be allowed to spawn at will in the golf ponds and will be harvested in October.

– Rick Echols

Sampling Discovers Saugeye in Lake Avalon

The elusive fish was discovered late afternoon February 22nd. Our Lake Ecologist Rick Echols tell us how he discovered the fish and gives anglers a few tips. Click Here to read the whole story.

More Rainbow Trout Stocked in Lake Brittany

Over 470 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked in Lake Brittany Thursday, February 11th. Rainbow trout are native to cold waters and make great winter time fishing. A few lucky fisherman were there pull fist few fish out of the water

Something is a Buzz at Lake Norwood

On Thursday February 4th, the two Solar Bee units that have been stirring the water in Lake Windsor since 2009 were removed, serviced, and placed in Lake Norwood.  Research over the last few years has indicated that the units made no measureable difference in water quality in Lake Windsor because of the sheer volume of the lake.  Water quality has improved in Lake Norwood with a significant reduction in harmful blue green algae blooms.  Beneficial plankton growth is promoted which in turn feeds fish.  The decision was made late last year to double down on the positive effects observed in Lake Norwood by adding the Windsor units.  Purchasing more units for Lake Windsor was deemed to be cost prohibitive.

The Solar Bee is a nearly maintenance free solar powered water circulating device.  They work by moving surface water which discourages blue green algae.  In addition, nutrient rich water at depth can be transported to the surface which serves to make nutrients available without the addition of fertilizer.  Two of the three Solar Bee units that have been in place in Lake Norwood for more than three years have now been purchased from Medora Corporation at a used price.  One unit was returned to the company, so Lake Norwood now has four functioning units.  Considering that they were new units when installed, the POA is getting a deal.  Medora Corporation did gain valuable data that will allow the company to make design adjustments that will improve efficiency and possibly allow repurposing for improved fish production.

Rainbow Trout Stocked in Lake Brittany

Check out the beautiful rainbow trout stocked in Lake Brittany on January 7th, 2016.

The next trout stocking dates for Lake Brittany will be February 11, March 10, and April 7, 2016.

Biological Benefits of Lake Drawdown

Man-made lakes trap sediment that otherwise moves naturally through streams. Streams flowing into a lake will deposit sediments where they meet the lake. Over time, the stream/lake confluence and the upper end of the lake and coves will build-up with sediment and become shallower. This represents a net loss of water volume and, therefore, a reduction of adult fish habitat for the lake. If left unmaintained the upper lake area will fill-in and become a wetland. The accumulated sediment must be removed to maintain a viable resource.

A common complaint from lakefront property owners and lake users involves the excess growth of aquatic plants (weeds) rooted in the lake bed in shallow water areas. The plants grow where sunlight penetrates to the lake bottom. The weeds can make swimming, fishing and boat access difficult in those areas. However, aquatic plants are essential for the ecology of the lake, so it is desirable not to eradicate the plants completely, whether by stocking grass carp or using chemical herbicides. During the winter lake drawdown, the lakebed in these shallow water areas will be exposed to the air and frozen, which kills the roots of the aquatic weeds. The occasional lake drawdown helps control aquatic weeds in unwanted areas and allows them to grow in deeper water areas, avoiding less desirable aquatic weed control measures.

Fertile water is necessary for the quality fishing we value in the Ozarks. Nutrients flow into the lakes from tributary streams. These nutrients that benefit the lake food chain are often buried in the sediments, as they accumulate in the lake and do not cycle in the lakes natural food-chain. By allowing the lakebed to dry, crack open and aerate during the lake draw-down, the nutrients are released from the sediments in the lakebed when the lake refills. This is similar to aerating your lawn along with using fertilizer – it helps your soil to breathe and cycle nutrients. If terrestrial weeds and grasses can be established in the exposed lakebed during a drawdown, the lake receives an even better boost in nutrients from the rotting grass and weeds that die when recovered with water. Seeding the exposed lakebed with something like winter ryegrass might help accomplish this nutrient release when the lake refills.

While the lake’s water level is lowered, the fish in the lake are more crowded. This makes it easier for the big fish to eat the little fish and, therefore, usually results in temporarily increased growth rates. This helps keep the fish populations balanced with the proper proportions of prey to predator fish.