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Summit

Fish and Wildlife Research and Management Notes
  Author:
Douglas C. Keller, Fisheries Biologist
 Date: February 27, 2002

 Title:
Evaluation of Walleye stockings at Summit Lake

 
INTRODUCTION

Summit Lake is located within Summit Lake State Park and is approximately four miles north of New Castle, Indiana. Summit Lake was constructed in 1980 by the Big Blue River Conservancy District and stocked by the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and channel catfish. Summit Lake State Park opened in 1988.

When at full pool, Summit Lake covers 835 acres. However, the lake is commonly a few feet below full pool since there is a small watershed that feeds the lake. There is virtually no agricultural land within the watershed since the state park owns most of the property, so water quality and clarity is very good.

Summit Lake contains a dense, slow growing yellow perch population. It appears that the abundant perch population is negatively affecting bluegill growth in years when perch abundance is extremely high. Yellow perch is a preferred forage species for walleye. Therefore, walleye have been stocked in an attempt to reduce the perch population. The first stocking occurred in 1999 when nearly 2 million walleye fry were introduced. That stocking appeared to be a total failure as no young-of-year (YOY) walleye were collected. The 2000 Summit stocking was composed of 70,000 fingerling walleye. While an improvement over the 1999 stocking, the collection of 1.8 YOY walleye per hour of electrofishing in the fall of 2000 still fell far short of the criteria for a successful stocking of seven per hour of electrofishing. Again, no walleye from the 1999 stocking were collected during the 2000 survey.

In the spring of 2001, another 70,000 walleye fingerlings were stocked that averaged 1.8 inches long. A fall evaluation was conducted October 3 and 9, 2001 to evaluate the success of the 2001 stocking and survival of older walleye. Sampling effort consisted of 3 hours (12, 15 minute stations) of D.C. electrofishing at night.

Seven YOY walleye were collected in the present survey for a catch rate of just 2.3 per hour. YOY walleye ranged from 7.9 to 10.3 inches in length and averaged 8.7 inches. Once again, the 2001 stocking fell far short of the electrofishing success criteria of seven YOY per hour.

Two one-year-old walleye were sampled that measured 13.1 and 13.2 inches long. A few reports from anglers throughout the 2001 fishing season revealed that they were catching some of the walleye from the 2000 stocking, however, no legal size fish were reported. In three years of fall sampling at Summit Lake, there has yet to be a walleye from the 1999 fry stocking to be collected.

Walleye stocking success continues to be poor at Summit Lake. A report published by the Walleye Technical Committee of the North Central Division of the American Fisheries Society revealed factors that affected stocking success of hybrid walleye, also known as saugeye (Mosher 2001). Although Summit is stocked with walleye rather than saugeye, some of these same factors may be the reason for the poor walleye stocking success. Of the 21 Midwestern lakes included in the study, Mosher reported that YOY saugeye catch rates were suppressed in lakes that contained greater numbers of largemouth bass and bluegill. Lakes with clear water had poorer saugeye catch rates than the more turbid bodies of water. More saugeye were collected in lakes with gizzard shad and without yellow perch. The three most abundant species found in Summit Lake in 2000 were bluegill (34.2 percent ), yellow perch (30.8 percent ), and largemouth bass (19.3 percent ) (Wisener 2001). According to Mosher, high abundance of all three of these species resulted in poor saugeye success. Luckily, no shad have ever been found at Summit. While shad may indeed increase survival of walleye and saugeye, their introduction would likely ruin the quality panfish populations that currently exist at Summit Lake. The final common thread for poor saugeye success in Midwestern lakes is clear water. Due to Summit Lake's small watershed that contains little agricultural land, the water is usually very clear. In late May of 2000, the secchi disk reading, a measure of water clarity, was 13 feet.

One more walleye fingerling stocking (70,000 fish) will be attempted at Summit Lake in 2002. Another stocking evaluation will be conducted in October of 2002. If the success of the 2002 stocking again appears poor, then spring walleye fingerling stocking may be discontinued. If that happens, the possibilities of stocking advanced fall walleye fingerlings will be explored.

Following the 2001 survey, 50 advanced fingerling walleye were available from DFW and stocked at Summit. These YOY walleye averaged 8 inches long. A total of 382 one-year-old walleye that averaged 13.5 inches long were also stocked by DFW. With the addition of the age 1 walleye just stocked and the few walleye that are present from the 2000 stocking, there are some walleye at or near legal size. There is a 14 inch minimum size limit in effect on walleye and a six fish bag limit.

 

 

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Fish and Wildlife Research and Management Notes

 

Author: J. Rhett Wisener, Assistant Fisheries Biologist

 Date: January 10, 2001

 Title: Summit Lake

 INTRODUCTION

Summit Lake is part of 2,500 acre Summit Lake State Park. The park and lake are located approximately 4 miles north of New Castle, Indiana. In 1980, Summit Lake was constructed by the Big Blue River Conservancy District and stocked by the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and channel catfish. It was not until October of 1985
that the lake opened for public use because it was slow in filling and recreational facilities were not completed. Summit Lake State Park opened in 1988.

At full pool, Summit Lake is 835 acres. However, due to its small watershed, Summit is commonly a few feet below full pool. Since most of the watershed lies within the state park, most of the land has permanent vegetative cover. This has enabled the lake to maintain good water quality.

The last fish community survey at Summit Lake occurred in 1998. Yellow perch was found to be the most abundant species by number at that time. There was much concern with this because compared to 1996, perch growth had slowed substantially and bluegill growth and abundance had also diminished. To try to reduce the yellow perch population and improve growth
of bluegill and perch, a recommendation was made to stock walleye. Summit Lake should have the habitat and water quality to support walleye. Perch is also a preferred forage species of walleye.

Summit Lake was first stocked with nearly 2 million walleye fry in 1999. In a fall evaluation that year, no young-of-the-year (YOY) walleye were collected in three hours of electrofishing. The majority of the young walleye likely fell prey to the abundant perch. Summit was again stocked with walleye in 2000, but this time 70,000 fingerlings were stocked.

A fish community evaluation was conducted in 2000 to evaluate the status of the predator and prey populations. A fall evaluation was also conducted in 2000 to determine the success of the fingerling walleye stocking.

METHODS

FISH COMMUNITY EVALUATION
The fish community survey was conducted May 23 to 25 and May 31 to June 2, 2000. Sampling effort consisted of 1.5 hours of D.C. electrofishing at night with two dippers, twelve gill net lifts, and six trap net lifts. Collected fish were identified to species and measured to the nearest 0.1 inch. Scale samples were taken from the dominant game fish and carp for age and determination. Estimates of total weight collected by species were figured using district average weights.

FALL EVALUATION
A fall evaluation was conducted on October 10 and 11, 2000. Total survey effort was 2.75 hours (eleven 15 minute stations) of D.C. electrofishing at night. An attempt was made to collect all walleye observed. Collected walleye were measured and weighed.

 

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

FISH COMMUNITY EVALUATION
A total of 1,925 fish, that weighed an estimated 698.95 pounds, was collected. Twelve species comprised the total catch.
Bluegill was the most abundant species collected by number (34.2 percent ) and fourth most abundant by estimated weight (8.4 percent ). Bluegill percent abundance by number was significantly higher than it was in 1998 (21.9 percent ). The increased bluegill abundance resulted from a tremendously successful spawn in 1998 and a descent spawn in 1999 when other species exhibited little spawning success. A total of 658 bluegill, that weighed an estimated 58.44 pounds, was collected in the present survey. Bluegill ranged in length from 1.4 to 8.6 inches and averaged 4.6 inches. Nearly 18 percent of the bluegill were considered a harvestable size of 6 inches or longer in the present survey, an increase from just over 12 percent in 1998. Bluegill proportional stock density (PSD) is the proportion of 3.0 inch and larger bluegill that are also 6.0 inches and larger. Optimum bluegill PSDs range from 20 to 40. The present bluegill PSD was 15, while in 1998 it was 11. Growth of bluegill at Summit Lake is slightly to well above normal for 1-year-old to 2-year-old fish compared to average growth of bluegill across central Indiana. Growth of 2-year-old and 3-year-old bluegill has improved slightly since 1998.

The Bluegill Fishing Potential (BGFP) index was developed so that bluegill fishing quality in Indiana lakes and ponds could be assessed (Ball and Tousignant 1996). Density, growth, PSD, and RSD8 (relative stock density) are the components of the BGFP. Summit Lake received a BGFP score of 20 points and a “good” rating in 2000 compared to a score of 18 and a “fair” rating
in 1998.

Five hundred and ninety-two yellow perch were collected that weighed an estimated 76.83 pounds. As a result of poor spawns in 1998 and 1999, perch abundance by number fell from the 1998 level of 58.6 percent to 30.8 percent in the present survey. Although yellow perch up to 13.3 inches were collected, they only averaged 6.5 inches. The percentage of harvestable size perch continues to decline as just over 9 percent were 8 inches or longer compared to 15 percent in 1998 and 22 percent in 1996. Over 51 percent of the perch collected in 2000 were 3-years-old and less than 7 inches long. Growth rates of perch through 3-years-old are slightly slower than those seen in 1998. Perch growth is much slower than it -3-was in 1990 and 1996. Perch were nearly 8.5 inches long at 3-years-old in 1996, but are now averaging 6.8 inches at 3-years-old.

A total of 372 largemouth bass was collected that was estimated to weigh over 239 pounds. Largemouth again ranked third in abundance by number (19.3 percent ) and first in abundance by weight (34.2 percent ), both increases over 1998 levels, 9.8 percent and 30.4 percent , respectively. Only about 11 percent of the bass in the present survey were 14 inches or longer while in 1998 nearly 24 percent were of legal harvestable size. In 2000, the biggest largemouth found measured 19.1 inches. Largemouth bass PSD is the proportion of 8.0 inch and larger bass that are also 12.0 inches and larger. Optimum largemouth PSDs range from 40 to 60. The bass PSD in the present survey was 20 compared to 78 in 1998. Bass PSD was lower due to the large 1997 and 1998 year classes of bass sampled, of which many were between 8 and 12 inches long. Largemouth growth is normal through 6-years-old. It is taking bass a little over 4 years to reach 14 inches.

A total of 93 black crappie was collected. Crappie ranged in length from 4.5 to 9.5 inches and averaged 7.8 inches. The majority of the crappie found were spawned in 1997. Only 3.5 percent of the crappie collected in 1998 were a harvestable size of 8.5 inches, but in the present survey over 19 percent were considered harvestable. Growth of crappie is mostly near average. Even though they only made up 4.6 percent of the sample by number, the second most abundant species by estimated weight (29.5 percent ) was white sucker. In 1998, suckers only comprised 1.6 percent of the sample number and 11.3 percent of the sample weight. Eighty-eight suckers were collected in the
present survey that were estimated to weigh over 206 pounds. White suckers were found from 14.5 to 19.2 inches and averaged 17.3 inches. Thirty-eight redear sunfish were collected. Redear abundance by number was up slightly from 0.7 percent in 1998 to 2.0 percent in the present survey. All but the four 1-year-old redear collected were well over 6 inches long. In fact, the average redear sampled was 8.6 inches and the largest was 11.5 inches. Redear growth remains well above normal and has even improved since 1998. In 2000, 2-year-old and 3-year-old redear were on average at least an inch longer than those found in 1998. Only 10 channel catfish were collected that weighed an estimated 35.75 pounds. Although not very numerous, the catfish collected were all over 15 inches long. The largest channel caught was 28.2 inches long and estimated to weigh around 9 pounds. Channel catfish were last stocked in 1998.

Other species collected were golden shiner, green sunfish, common carp, walleye, and white bass. At their current levels of abundance, these species contribute little to the fishery. This was the first time that carp were ever collected at Summit Lake. All of the carp collected were spawned in 1999. Carp could become a problem in the future if predator abundance becomes too
low. The one walleye collected was nearly 27 inches long and definitely did not come from any of DFW walleye stockings in 1999 or 2000.

FALL EVALUATION
Only five walleye were collected during the fall evaluation. All five walleye were YOY that ranged in length from 7.4 to 8.5 inches. Walleye stockings are considered successful when at least 7.0 YOY are collected per hour of electrofishing. Obviously with a catch rate of only 1.8 per hour, the 2000 stocking was not successful. The 2000 fingerling walleye stocking was an improvement over the 1999 fry stocking since no YOY were collected during three hours of sampling in 1999. In both 1999 and 2000, many of the stocked walleye probably fell prey to the abundant and voracious yellow perch.

 

CONCLUSION

The most noticeable difference in the Summit Lake fishery from 1998 to 2000 was the significant decrease in yellow perch abundance. Perch spawning success was much poorer in 1998 and 1999 than it was in previous years as evidenced by the decreased catch of 1-year-old and 2-year-old perch. Yellow perch are still too abundant as growth remains much slower than it was in the early to mid 1990 s and growth has even declined through 3-years-old since 1998. With the large group of
3-year-old perch found in 2000, they could easily become more abundant with successful spawns in the coming years. A more abundant perch population would lead to even slower growing perch and slower growing and decreased bluegill populations.
Bluegill and redear have taken advantage of the dip in perch abundance. With less competition, both species have increased in number since 1998. Bluegill appear to be the only species to have had a descent spawn in 1999. Bluegill and redear growth have also improved since 1998. Growth rates of 2-year-old and 3-year -old bluegill are slightly better than they were in 1998 while
2-year-old and 3-year-old redear have improved their growth by at least an inch.

Largemouth bass abundance was considerably higher in 2000 than it was in 1998. Themajority of the bass were 2-years-old and 3-years-old. At their current growth rates, these year classes will reach the minimum size limit of 14 inches shortly after 4-years-old. It is important to maintain the increased bass abundance at Summit because with more bass there is more predatory pressure on yellow
perch and less desirable species such as suckers and carp. For this reason, anglers are encouraged to practice catch and release of all largemouth bass.

The 2000 fingerling walleye stocking was not successful by DFW standards, but it was an improvement over the 1999 fry stocking. Fingerling walleye stockings should not be discontinued just yet because largemouth bass alone have not proven capable of providing enough predation to control the perch. If walleye can be established, they may provide enough additional predatory
pressure on perch to benefit the entire fishery. Another 70,000 walleye fingerlings should be stocked at Summit Lake in 2001. Fall evaluations will continue as long as walleye stockings continue. If there is not a successful stocking of walleye within the next couple of years, then stocking efforts should be discontinued.

Another fish community evaluation should be conducted at Summit Lake in 2002. With perch abundance still not under control it is important to closely monitor the fishery.

Summit Lake should continue to provide good fishing opportunities for largemouth bass and panfish. Bass fishing should improve as the 1997 and 1998 year classes approach “keeper” size. While catch and release of largemouth bass is strongly encouraged, anglers keeping bass must keep in mind that there is a 14 inch minimum size limit and a five fish daily bag limit. Panfish anglers not only should catch good numbers of bluegill and redear over 6 inches long, but also numerous yellow perch. Although many of the perch caught will likely be small, anglers are encouraged to harvest all yellow perch they catch to aid in reducing their overly abundant population. Other quality fishing opportunities at Summit exist for crappie and channel catfish.

LITERATURE CITED


Ball, R.L. and J.N. Tousignant. 1996. The Development of an Objective Rating System to Assess Bluegill Fishing in Lakes and Ponds, Research Report. Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 18pp.


 

These management and research notes are issued periodically to provide a quick source of information on wildlife surveys and investigations, and various wildlife programs prior to more formal reports. Any information provided is subject to further analysis and therefore is not for publications without permission.

 

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