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clear lake.jpg (100156 bytes)Clear lake

 

 

Local bait stores:

freemontbaitsupplymap.jpg (94288 bytes)Fremont Bait Supply

1706 East State Road 120

Fremont, IN. 46737

(260) 495-5701

 

 

tristatebaittacklemap.jpg (99859 bytes)TRI-STATE BAIT & TACKLE
5275 NORTH STATE ROAD 127
FREMONT, IN  46737
Phone:260-833-1283

 

Clear Lake is an 800-acre natural lake located five miles east of Fremont off State Road 120 in Steuben County.  There is a public access site on the east side of the lake and outboard motors are permitted.  The lake has been stocked 19 consecutive years (1984 through 2002) with 1Ĺ long fingerlings.  Stocking density since 1988 has averaged 108 fingerlings/acre.

A creel survey was conducted April-October, 2001 to measure walleye harvest five years after implementing the 14 inch minimum length limit.  Walleye harvest totaled 613 with an additional 781 caught and released.  These fish ranged in length from12 to 21 inches and averaged 16.1 inches. Twelve species were observed in the catches and walleye ranked number one by weight.  Over half of the walleye harvested were 16 inches or longer.  Walleye harvest was highest at Clear Lake in July followed by August.

Tables

 

Survey 

A SURVEY OF FISH HARVEST AT CLEAR LAKE

STEUBEN COUNTY

2001

Larry A. Koza, Fisheries Biologist

 

Fawn River State Fish Hatchery

6889 North State Road 327

Orland, Indiana 46776


Abstract

 This survey was conducted from April 20 through October 31, 2001.  Clear Lake anglers fished a total of 19,997 hours (25 hours per acre) and harvested 6,541 fish or 0.33 fish per hour.  Twelve species were represented in the harvest.  The top species harvested by number were yellow perch (33.2%), bluegill (15.9%), black crappie (13.8%) rock bass (11.5%) and walleye (9.4%).  A total of 5,123 pounds of fish were harvested, or 6.4 pounds per acre.  The dominant species harvested by weight were walleye (18.9%), largemouth bass (17.0%), yellow perch (16.1%),  bluegill (11.6%), black crappie (11.0%) and rainbow trout (9.8%).  The total number of fish harvested declined 38% from the previous creel survey.   Total fishing pressure also declined from 21,720 hours in 1988 to 19,997 in 2001, a drop of 8%.  Perch remain the dominant species harvested numerically although the total number of perch harvested declined 42%.  Other species exhibiting significantly lower harvest were smallmouth bass (74%), rock bass (59%), bluegill (47%), rainbow trout (35%), walleye (33%) and largemouth bass (27%).  Declines in the harvest of largemouth and smallmouth bass as well as walleye were offset by the significant increases in the numbers of the these species that were caught and released (758%, 1,237% and 210% respectively).

Walleye fishing was the focus of this survey.  In 1996, a 14 inch minimum size limit for walleye was enacted in Indiana.  The purpose of this regulation was to decrease the large number of small walleye that were being harvested while increasing harvest of larger walleye.  Since numerous pre-size limit creel surveys have occurred at Clear Lake, it was thought to be an ideal study lake.  A total of 613 walleye were harvested during the current survey.  Only 5.5% were less than 14 inches in length while 43% were less than16 inches in length.   Almost 17%  were 18 inches or larger and 4% were 20 inches or larger.  Daytime harvest of walleye in 1988 was 914 fish. Approximately 65% of those walleye were smaller than the current legal size limit of 14 inches and 82% were less than 16 inches in length.  In 1981 87% were less than 16 inches in length and 65% were smaller than 14 inches, while in 1978, 77% were less than 16 inches in length with 76% being less than 14 inches.   Harvest of large walleye increased significantly in 2001 compared to 1988.  A total of 354 walleye 16 inches in length or larger were harvested in 2001 compared to only 193 in 1988, or 1.8 times as many. Despite an overall walleye harvest that was 74% greater by number than the 2001 harvest, the yield in pounds of walleye harvested in 1988 was actually slightly smaller (968 lbs. vs. 959 lbs. respectively).  The average walleye harvested in 1988 measured 13.3 inches in length and weighed 0.90 pounds.  By comparison, the average walleye harvested in 2001 measured 16.1 inches in length and weighed 1.58 pounds.   This represents a 21% increase in average length and a 76% increase in average weight.  Although walleye harvest failed to meet the IDFW goal of one fish per acre (0.77), it exceeded the goal of one pound harvested per acre (1.21).  Anglers at Clear Lake strongly support the size limit.

INTRODUCTION

Clear Lake is an 800 acre natural lake located five miles east of Fremont, Indiana in Steuben County.  It has an average depth of 31 feet and a maximum depth of 107 feet.  There are three inlets to Clear Lake and one outlet.  One of the inlets is on the east shore and originates from Lake Anne.  The other two are located on the south and southeast shores and originate from drainage.  The outlet is located on the north end of the lake and flows into Round Lake.  Approximately 95% of the shoreline is developed residentially and there is a small marina on the west shore.  A state owned public access site with a concrete boat ramp is located on the southeast corner of the lake.

Clear Lake was first surveyed by biologists from the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife (IDFW) in 1972.  The purpose of this survey was to determine the condition of the sport fishery in the lake.  The sport fishery was found to be satisfactory following the survey, however it was determined that a significant habitat niche existed that was being underutilized by the existing fish population. In order to take advantage of this niche as well as a thriving forage base, it was recommended that trout and walleye stocking programs be implemented. 

 

In 1972 IDFW biologists stocked rainbow trout in Clear Lake for the first time.  Stockings of rainbow and/or brown trout have occurred on an annual basis since (Table 1).  Walleye stockings began in 1974 (Table 2) and are also conducted annually.

Additional fish population surveys were conducted by IDFW biologists in 1982 and 1986 to monitor the over-all health of the Clear Lake fishery.  Both surveys revealed the presence of a good sport fishery dominated by yellow perch and bluegill.  It was determined that walleye and trout stockings should continue at Clear Lake.  

Several angler creel surveys have also been conducted at Clear Lake, the first in 1978 followed by one in 1981 and a third in 1988.  In 1988 anglers fished a total of 25,133 hours at Clear Lake and harvested 11,864 fish weighing 6,579 pounds.  A total of 11 species were represented in the harvest.  Yellow perch dominated numerically (31.8%) followed by rock bass (19%), bluegill (16.8%), rainbow trout (10.4%) and walleye (9%).  The top species harvested by weight was rainbow trout (25.3%) followed by yellow perch (15.6%), walleye (14.6%), largemouth bass (12.5%) and rock bass (11.7%).

METHODS AND MATERIALS

The present angler creel survey was conducted from April 20 through October 31, 2001.  The main parameters measured during the survey included fishing pressure, fish harvest and species preference of anglers.  Two fishing periods were used for this survey, a morning period and an afternoon period.  The morning period began at 6:00 a.m. and ended at 1:30 p.m. while the afternoon period began 2:00 p.m. and ended at 9:30 p.m..  Angler counts were conducted three times a day and anglers were interviewed as they completed their trip.  In addition, any anglers still fishing when the clerk finished his shift were interviewed and noted as partial trips.  Information collected from anglers included number of hours fished, number of fish harvested by species and length of fish harvested.  The number of bass and walleye caught and released by anglers was also recorded. Additional information collected included species preference, county of residence, opinion regarding the status of the health of the Clear Lake fishery, satisfaction with that days fishing trip and opinion regarding walleye size limit.  The data was expanded separately by month, weekend or weekday, and boat and shore fisherman.  Holidays were included with the weekend periods.  Fish weights were calculated using regional length-weight regression equations.  

RESULTS

The angler analyst interviewed 692 parties comprised of 1,243 anglers during this survey.  These anglers fished a total of 19,997 hours (25 hours per acre) and harvested 6,541 fish or 0.33 fish per hour (Table 3).  Twelve species were represented in the harvest.  The top species harvested by number were yellow perch (33.2%), bluegill (15.9%), black crappie (13.8%) rock bass (11.5%) and walleye (9.4%).  A total of 5,123 pounds of fish were harvested, or 6.4 pounds per acre (Table 4).  The dominant species harvested by weight were walleye (18.9%), largemouth bass (17.0%), yellow perch (16.1%),  bluegill (11.6%), black crappie (11.0%) and rainbow trout (9.8%).  

The highest fishing pressure occurred during the month of July (3,960 hours) followed closely by May (3,858 hours) and September (3,381 hours).  These three months totaled 56% of the fishing pressure for the entire survey.  The majority of the fish harvest at Clear Lake in 2001 (69.3%) also occurred during these three months with September leading (28.3%) followed by May (26.9%) then July (14.1%).  September also led all months in the number of fish harvested per hour (0.55) followed by May (0.46) and April (0.37).  Anglers fished the least at Clear Lake in October when only 1,289 hours were exerted.   The lowest catch per effort for Clear Lake anglers occurred in August when only 0.14 fish per hour were harvested.  Boat anglers accounted for 98% of the total fishing pressure as well as 98% of the harvest.  The length of an average fishing trip was 4.01 hours for a boat angler and 1.68 hours for a shore angler.

 Clear Lake anglers in 1988 harvested 11,864 fish in 25,133 hours, a rate of 0.47 fish per hour. This represents a 42% higher success rate than the 0.33 fish per hour experienced by anglers in 2001.  However, a night fishing period was sampled during the 1988 survey which was not used in the present survey.  Therefore for purposes of comparison only the daytime data from 1988 will be used unless otherwise noted.   Daytime anglers in 1988 harvested 10,612 fish in 21,720 hours, a rate of 0.49 fish per hour (Table. 5). This represents a 48% higher success rate than the 0.33 fish per hour experienced by anglers in 2001. The lowest harvest per effort during the three previous surveys occurred in 1981 when 0.39 fish per hour were harvested by anglers.  In 1978, anglers at Clear Lake enjoyed the highest total harvest, as well as the highest catch per effort when 17,800 fish were harvested at a rate of 0.79 fish per hour.  Total fishing pressure in 1978 totaled 22,589 hours, slightly higher than the daytime fishing effort in 1988.  The highest total fishing pressure occurred in 1981 when anglers spent 32,754 hours fishing at Clear Lake.  Yield as measured in pounds of fish harvested did not vary much between the three earlier creel surveys.  During the 1978 survey 6,140 pounds of fish were harvested.  This increased to 6,777 pounds in 1981 and then decreased slightly to 6,579 in 1988.  Fluctuations in yield never exceeded 9.5% during these three surveys.  Total yield in 2001 was 5,123 pounds, or 24.4% less than the maximum yield of the three previous surveys which was experienced in 1981.  Yet there was a 48.8% decrease in the number of fish harvested between 1981 and 2001.   

Yellow perch

Yellow perch was the dominant species harvested during the survey by number (33.2%) and ranked third by weight (16.1%).  The 2,169 perch harvested ranged in length from six to 12 inches and averaged 8.8 (Table 6).  The total weight of perch harvested was 822.85 pounds or 1.03 pounds per acre.  Anglers harvested perch at a rate of 0.11 per hour and 2.7 per acre.  Perch was also the dominant species in each of the three prior creel surveys comprising 31.8% of the total harvest in 1988, 40.7% in 1981 and 37.7% in 1978.  However, the number of perch harvested has steadily declined.  In 1978, the perch harvest was 6,687 fish.  This was followed by a harvest of 5,204 in 1981 and 3,771 in 1988.  The 2001 harvest of 2,169 perch represents a decline of 67.6% from the 1978 harvest.  The harvest of perch per angler hour in 1978 was 0.30 fish per hour.  The harvest rates in 1981 and 1988 were lower but similar to each other at 0.16 and 0.17 fish per hour respectively.  However, the harvest rate again declined in 2001 to 0.11 per hour. 

Bluegill

A total of 1,040 bluegill weighing 595 pounds were harvested by Clear Lake anglers during the current creel survey.  They ranged in length from 6.0 to 11.0 inches and averaged 8.9 inches (Table 7).  Bluegill eight inches in length or larger comprised 77.4% of the total harvest.  In addition, 58.8% were nine inches in length or larger and 33.5% were ten inches or larger.  The harvest rate for bluegill was 0.05 per hour and 1.3 were harvested per acre.  The average bluegill harvest in Indiana natural lakes is 30 fish per acre.  Bluegill harvest was much higher in 1978 when 4,903 were caught from Clear Lake.  The harvest rate for bluegill that year was 0.22 fish per hour.  Bluegill were harvested at a rate of 0.04 fish per hour in 1981 when 1,334 fish were taken by anglers.  This number increased to 1,956 bluegill in 1988 while the catch rate increased to 0.09 fish per hour.  Bluegill yield was 1,407 pounds in 1978 or 1.76 pounds per acre.  This is roughly 2.4 times the current yield of 595 pounds.  Although more bluegill were harvested in 1981 than 2001, the yield was 20% less at only 398 pounds.  A total of 638 pounds of bluegill were harvested in 1988, slightly more than in the current survey.  Despite having a recorded bluegill harvest 88% higher than the 2001 harvest, the yield in 1988 was only 7% higher.   Clear Lake bluegill anglers in 2001 were most successful in the month of May when 59.7% of the harvest occurred.  The next closest month was June with 13.2%.  The harvest rate for bluegill in May was 0.16 fish per hour, more than three times the average harvest rate for the entire survey period of 0.05 fish per hour. 

 

Black crappie

Black crappie were third in abundance and fifth by weight among species harvested.  They comprised 13.8% of the total harvest by number and 11.0% by weight.  Crappie ranged in length from 8.5 to 14 inches and averaged 10.4 inches (Table 8).  Over 76% of the crappies harvested were 10 inches or larger and 7.7% were 12 inches or larger.  The 903 black crappie harvested weighed a total of 562 pounds.  Crappie were harvested at a rate of 0.05 per hour and 1.1 per acre.  Crappie harvest was highest in April (51.5%) followed by May (43.5%) with 95% of the harvest occurring during those two months.  2001 marks the first year crappie comprised more than 2% of the total harvest at Clear Lake.  Harvest has been as low as 141 crappie in 1988, while 253 were harvested in 1978 and 287 in 1981.  

 

Rock bass

A total of 903 rock bass weighing 562 pounds were harvested from Clear Lake.  They were the fourth most abundant species harvested by number (11.5%) and ranked seventh by weight (5%).  They ranged in length from 6.5 to 12 inches and averaged 9.4 inches (Table 9).  Rock bass were second in abundance among species harvested in 1988 and ranked fifth in both 1981 and 1978.  In 1988, over 2,200 rock bass were harvested which more than doubles any other years harvest.  The closest year would be 1981 when 973 were harvested.  

 

Walleye

Walleye was the number one species harvested by weight in the survey (18.9%).  They also ranked fifth by number in the Clear Lake harvest (9.4%).  The 613 walleye harvested weighed 968 pounds.   They ranged in length from 12 to 21 inches and averaged 16.1 inches (Table 10).  Over 57% of the walleye harvested were 16 inches in length or larger, 16.7%  were 18 inches or larger and 4.0% were 20 inches or larger.  During the 1988 survey, which was prior to the imposition of a 14 inch minimum size limit in 1996, anglers harvested 1,068 walleye.  This total included fish harvested during the previously mentioned night period.  Daytime harvest of walleye in 1988 was 914 fish. Approximately 82% of all the walleye harvested in 1988 were less than 16 inches in length.  In fact, 38% of the harvest that year was comprised of fish less than 12 inches in length and 65% were smaller than the current legal size limit of 14 inches.  In terms of actual numbers, 687 of the 1,068 walleye harvested in 1988 were less than 14 inches in length compared to only 33 of the 2001 harvest.  Harvest of large walleye increased significantly in 2001 compared to 1988.  A total of 354 walleye 16 inches in length or larger were harvested in 2001 compared to only 193 in 1988, or 1.8 times as many.  The large percentage of walleye harvested that were less than 16 inches in length is not restricted to just the 1988 creel.  In 1978, 77% of the walleye harvest consisted of fish less than 16 inches in length and in 1981 87% were in that size range.  Despite a walleye harvest that was 74% greater by number than the 2001 harvest, the yield in pounds of walleye harvested in 1988 was actually slightly smaller (968 lbs. vs. 959 lbs. respectively).  The average walleye harvested in 1988 measured 13.3 inches in length and weighed 0.90 pounds.  By comparison, the average walleye harvested in 2001 measured 16.1 inches in length and weighed 1.58 pounds.   This represents a 21% increase in average length and a 76% increase in average weight.  Although walleye harvest failed to meet the IDFW goal of one fish per acre (0.77), it exceeded the goal of one pound harvested per acre (1.21). 

It should be pointed out that the absence of year classes has probably impacted harvest during previous creel surveys.  The DFW did not stock walleye in Clear Lake in 1976, 1978 and 1980.  Any fish harvested representing those year classes would have been the result of natural reproduction, which is limited at best at Clear Lake.   This resulted in the near absence of age II+ fish in the 1978 creel.  This may have contributed to the fact that 52% of the walleye harvested that year measured less than 12 inches in length.  In 1981, the affected fish would have been age I+ and age III+ walleye.  This was reflected in the small number of fish less than 12 inches in length harvested (13%) as well as the number of fish 16 inches and larger, also 13%.    

Anglers also reported they caught and released 781 walleye in 2001 (Table 11).  Walleye catch and release during the day period in 1988 totaled 252 fish and in 1981 353.  Total catch of walleye (harvest + catch and release) at Clear Lake in 2001 totaled 1,394  fish or 1.74 per acre.  Total catch during the day period in 1988 was 1,166 walleye or 1.46 per acre.  In 1981 walleye total catch was 2,549 fish or 3.19 per acre.  Catch per hour (CPH) for Clear Lake walleye in 2001 was 0.07 fish per hour.  Anglers caught walleye at a rate of 0.05 fish per hour in 1988 and 0.08 per hour in 1981. 

Walleye harvest at Clear Lake was highest in July (44.9%), followed by August (19.6%) and May (15.0%).  In 1988, walleye harvest was also highest in July, while in a 1981 Clear Lake anglers had their best success in June.  Interest in walleye fishing at Clear Lake is fair, as 9.7% of anglers indicated they were fishing specifically for walleye.  This ranks second only to bass among species mentioned by name by anglers.  Another 12.5% indicated they were fishing for walleye in combination with another species.  Interest in walleye fishing at Clear Lake seems to have fallen off  since the last survey however.  In 1988, 20% of daytime Clear Lake anglers fished specifically for walleye while an additional 20% fished for walleye in combination with another species.   

 

Largemouth bass

Largemouth bass comprised 7% of the total harvest by number (6th) and 17% by weight (2nd).  The 445 largemouth bass harvested ranged in length from 13.5 to 21.5 inches and averaged 15.5 inches (Table 12).  Only 19 of the bass that were harvested , or 4.3%, were under 14 inches in length which is the legal size limit.  Approximately 35% of the bass harvested were 16 inches in length or larger and 10% were 20 inches or larger. Prior to the imposition of the size limit, the harvest of 14 inch and larger bass at Clear Lake comprised 59.5% (1988), 23% (1981) and 14.4% (1978) of the total bass harvest for their respective years.  A total of 869 pounds of bass were harvested (1.09 pounds per acre).  An additional 4,391 bass were caught and released at Clear Lake in 2001 compared to 512 fish during the day period in 1988 and 244 in 1981.  The CPH and harvest per hour for bass at Clear Lake in 2001 was 0.24 and 0.02 respectively.  Largemouth bass harvest previously ranged from a low of 0.03 fish per hour in 1988 to a high of 0.06 per hour in 1978.  In both 1981 and 1988 the CPH for bass was only 0.05 fish per hour.  The rise in popularity of releasing largemouth bass after they are caught is evident from the data collected during the last three creel surveys at Clear Lake.  Largemouth bass catch and release as a percentage of the total bass catch has increased from 15% in 1981 to 46% in 1988 to 91% in 2001.   Largemouth bass harvest has declined 68% from 1981 to 2001 while at the same time catch and release has increased 1,800%.  July was the top month for bass harvest as 51.7% of the total harvest occurred during this month.  This was followed by May (27.6%) and June (10.3%).  Total bass catch was highest in May (34.4%) followed by July (25.3%) and June (19.5%).  Approximately 79% of the bass catch occurred during these three months. 

Interest in bass fishing at Clear Lake has increased as 39% of all anglers were fishing specifically for bass and an additional 8.5 % were fishing for bass in combination with another species.  Species preference was first measured among Clear Lake anglers in 1988.  During that survey, 15% of the anglers fished specifically for bass while an additional 21.7% fished for bass in combination with other species.  Bass was the top species sought by anglers in 2001 supplanting walleye in 1988.

 

Rainbow trout

A total of 439 rainbow trout weighing 502 pounds were harvested during the current survey.  They ranged in length from 10 to 18 inches and averaged 13.8 (Table 13).  Trout comprised 6.7% of the total harvest by number and 9.8% by weight.  Trout harvest by number in 2001 decreased for the first time after two successive increases.  However, in terms of percentage of total harvest, this was the third consecutive increase.  The decrease in the daily bag limit from 10 to five trout enacted in 1999 may have had an effect on total harvest.  Trout were harvested from Clear Lake at a rate of 0.02 fish per hour and 0.63 pounds per acre.  Harvest per hour in 1988 was slightly better at 0.03 fish per hour while yield was substantially higher at 1.14 pounds per acre.  June was the best month to fish for trout as 31% of the harvest occurred at that time.  The next best month for trout fishing was August (21.9%) followed closely by July (21.6%). 

In 1988 in addition to the 679 trout caught during day, 556 were taken at night.  This nighttime harvest accounted for 45% of the total trout harvest.  If a similar percentage of the trout harvest occurred at night during the 2001 survey, that would project out to a total trout harvest of 798 fish.

Trout fisherman at Clear Lake comprised just under 10% of the anglers as 5.3% fished specifically for trout and 4.6% were after trout in combination with another species.  This is very similar to 1988 when 7.1% of the anglers fished specifically for trout and 3.0% fished for trout in combination with another species.  Interest in trout fishing at Clear Lake seems to have leveled off after increasing from 1978 to 1981 and from 1981 to 1988.

 

Smallmouth bass

Clear Lake anglers harvested a total of 127 smallmouth bass in 2001.  They ranged in length from 11 to 22.5 inches and averaged 15.5 (Table 14).  Only four of the bass harvested were less than 14 inches in length which is the current legal size limit.  Smallmouth bass were harvested at a rate of 0.01 fish per hour, similar to that seen during the previous surveys.    Smallmouth harvest by number was much lower than in previous years, however much of this can be attributed to the size limit which was not in effect during the other surveys.  In 1988, 523 smallmouth bass were harvested but only 180 of these (34%) were 14 inches in length or larger.  Similarly, in 1981 only 83 of the 424 smallmouth harvested (39%) were 14 inches in length or larger.  Anglers in 1978 harvested the lowest number of 14 inches or larger smallmouth, only 51 of 498 fish (10%).  Catch and release of smallmouth bass has skyrocketed, similar to the trend with largemouth bass.  In 1988 Clear Lake anglers released 266 of the smallmouth bass they caught (35.4%) while in 2001 that number reached 3,556 (96.6%).  While some of this can certainly be attributed to the size limit, obvious changes have occurred in angler attitudes towards the catch and release of bass, both smallmouth and largemouth.

 

Other Species

Four other species were harvested at Clear Lake during the 2001 survey (Table 15).  They included bullhead, northern pike, redear and pumpkinseed.  A total of 55 of these fish weighing 72 pounds were taken.  The largest fish among these was a northern pike measuring 25 inches in length.

 

Angler Preference

Anglers were asked what species they were fishing for at Clear Lake.  The number one response was bass (39%) followed by any species (18.2%), walleye (9.7%), walleye and bass (7.5%) and trout (5.3%).  (Table 16).  Only 2.9% of the Clear Lake anglers indicated they were fishing specifically for bluegill while 3.0% were fishing for yellow perch.   Several other choices were mentioned, primarily combinations of the above.  Walleye (20.9%) was the top response in 1988 followed by bass (15.0%), walleye and bass (14.4%), yellow perch (10.6%) and trout (8.0%).   Walleye and bass continue to be the preferred species of Clear Lake anglers.  However, it appears the emphasis has switched away from walleye to bass.  Perch and bluegill anglers comprised 10.6% and 6.9% of anglers respectively in 1988.  Interest in these two species has declined noticeably.  

 

County of Residence

Anglers traveled from 14 Indiana counties other than Steuben County to fish at Clear Lake, as well as Michigan and Ohio (Table 17).  Steuben County residents (35.7%) dominated Clear Lake anglers followed by Ohio anglers (16.4%), lake residents (14.3%) and Allen County anglers (13.5%).  Out-of-state anglers combined comprised 21.5% of Clear Lake anglers.  This group represented the highest percentage of anglers in 1988 (29.1%) followed by Allen County residents (22.5%), lake residents (16.4%) and Steuben County residents (11.7%).

 

Additional Questions

Anglers were also asked if they were in favor of the 14 inch walleye size limit currently in effect at Clear Lake.  The response was overwhelmingly in favor of a size limit (80%).  Just over 68% strongly supported the size limit while 11% somewhat supported it.  Only 2% of the anglers opposed the 14" limit but many of these indicated it was because they thought it should be higher, not that there shouldnít be one at all.  Only 0.3% strongly opposed the size limit.

When asking if they were satisfied with their fishing experience on their current trip, 75% of anglers answered yes while 23% said no and 2% said they didnít know.  The most common explanation for dissatisfaction was the failure to catch enough fish.  Other complaints included they didnít like the trout, the fish were too small and the lake was too hard to fish because the water was so clear.  Only one angler complained about high speed boat traffic on the lake.

The last question asked of Clear Lake fisherman was if they thought fishing has improved at Clear Lake.  Most thought fishing was unchanged (37%) while 32% thought it had improved and 18% thought it had declined.  A small number of anglers (13%) indicated they hadnít fished there often enough to have an opinion,

 

Summary

Anglers harvested 6,541 fish from Clear Lake in 19,997 hours of effort.  Total fishing pressure was 25 hours per acre and catch per hour for all fish was 0.33. Annual fishing pressure less than 50 hours per acre is considered low.  Harvest per acre for all species by number and weight was 8.18 fish and 6.4 pounds respectively.    Harvest from natural lakes averages 22.5 pounds per acre.  Clear Lake falls well below this level.

Twelve species were represented in the harvest.  The top species harvested by number were yellow perch (33%) bluegill (16%) and black crappie (14%).  The dominant species harvested by weight were walleye (19%), largemouth bass (17%), yellow perch (16%), bluegill (12%) and black crappie (11%).   Boat anglers accounted for 98% of the total fishing pressure and 98% of the harvest.                                                                                                            

Yellow perch was once again the top species harvested by number at Clear Lake despite the fact that only 4% of the anglers were fishing specifically for perch, or perch in combination with another species.  However, perch harvest has continued to decline.  Black crappie have for the first time become an important contributor to the fishery, as over 900 were harvested in 2001 comprising 14% of the harvest.  Largemouth bass fishing at Clear Lake is good, although catch per hour (0.24) was lower than average for similar sized natural lakes.  Bass harvest per hour was slightly higher than average.  Approximately 91% of all bass caught were released by anglers.  Anglers harvested 613 walleye from Clear Lake and released an additional 781, more than three times the number released in 1988.  The average size of walleye harvested was 16.1 inches.  This represents nearly a three inch increase in average length from 1988 (13.3 inches).  Walleye harvest by number decreased 43% from 1988 to 2001, however the yield in pounds of walleye harvested increased slightly (1%).  Although the fishery failed to meet the standard harvest goal of one walleye per acre but it did meet the harvest goal of one pound of walleye per acre.  The decline in number harvested was expected following the imposition of the size limit as was the corresponding increase in the average size and weight of walleye harvested.  The walleye minimum size limit has improved the quality of the fishery and anglers strongly support this regulation.  The rainbow trout harvest was relatively low in 2001.  The average size of the rainbow trout also declined.  Rainbow trout in Clear Lake feed heavily on zooplankton during the summer months.  It has been common for anglers to catch trout gorged with plankton.  Based on comments from anglers and personal observations, this was a rare occurrence in 2001.  The zebra mussel population in Clear Lakes has become soundly established.  The filter feeding activity by this exotic mussel has possibly begun to impact the plankton population in Clear Lake.  At this time, options to control the zebra mussel population are not available.        

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that walleye and trout management efforts continue.  Netting and angler spot check surveys should be periodically conducted to monitor walleye and  trout growth rates and diets. 

 

Submitted by: Larry A. Koza, Fisheries Biologist

              Date: 3/26/02

 

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Monroe Reservoir
Pike Lake
Salamonie Reservoir
Lake Shafer
Waubee