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jbmaine

Seeing a lake come back

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Hi all,

As the winter doldrums continue and I watch the snow come down, I thought I'd post the story of our ( my wife and I's ) favorite lake. This is a lake I have a long history with. I learned to fish, swim, water ski on this lake, and have fished it off and on for 60 some years.

 

In 2002 when I met my wife ( second wife) and she wanted to learn to fish, this lake is where I took her, and it didn't disappoint.

 It was full of bass, pickerel, perch, sunfish, minnows, and we caught fish everywhere. 10-15 bass a trip was common, from dinks to 4-5 lber's.

For years this was the only lake we fished.

 

Then in the late winter, early spring of 2009 we had heavy rains and snow melt. The water levels were up to 5 ft. above normal and many low lying camps were flooded. By early summer we saw massive weed growth and bad water visibility. By early fall the lake was full of floating weed rafts 10-15ft. in dia., and the fish started to disappear.

 

In 2010 we fished it six times and only caught one bass, and it was sickly looking. The lake association survey reported high phosphorus levels and bad water quality.

 

Over the next few years we would fish it from time to time, just to see, and it was bad. No fish, no turtles, and awful visibility. All the locals I talked to said the same thing, the fishing was dead.

 

However in the fall of 2017 we actually caught a couple of small bass.

 

In this last year ( 2018) we really saw the lake start to come back. The water was clearer, less odd looking weeds and we saw perch and bait fish again. More importantly we started catching decent bass. This last fall we caught multiple *** lb. LM with a 5+ lb. bass the best. From reading the lake association most recent report it looks like the lake is finally back to pre 2009 water quality standards

 

It is so nice to see a lake get turned around and come back to life. We can't wait for Spring and to get back on it.

 

             Thanks for listening

                               Jim 

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Interesting & some what unfortunate situation Jim.

 I know that 'sickening feeling' as one of the smaller but super fertile lakes I fish was 'sprayed' for weed control a few years back - totally ruined the fish.    Past trips have yielded No bait sighted & No bass sighted or caught.

 Although it seems to have taken almost 10 years, glad your 'honey hole' is showing signs of returning to form. 

Thanks for sharing.

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

 

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Spraying for weeds or harvesting weeds seems as bad for the fishery as all the lawn chemicals.  The algae seems to be able to bloom faster than weeds can grow, and blocks out all the light for the weeds.  So you end up with pea soup water, and no cover.  It's a game changer for sure, when you're used to fishing the lake with weeds.  There's one place where there's a mansion built on what was several small cabin's worth of property.  The lawns are golf course green quality, and certainly fertilized and watered.  The water near the break wall almost fluoresces on bright days.  Fishing used to be good on that point, but not so much.

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They spray the TN river for weeds too. Everyone hates it but no once can stop it. The only grass in my area is downtown where there are no docks just industry along the banks 

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That's so good to hear! Hopefully everyone is responsible with the lake and what they keep and the fish in your lake keep growing and growing. 

 

We have a lake around here that I have a feeling will be rebounding. It's a really clear 300+ acre lake on top of a mountain that has a ton of heavy weed growth in it, but the lake is full of 5-7 pounders if you know how to fish it. A majority of the lake is only 3-6' deep and other than the main creek channel and right by the dam, it's fairly shallow. However, this fall the fish & boat commission found a leak in the dam and had to draw the lake down drastically in order to fix the leak. From what I've heard, the dam has already been repaired and is filling back up. I just hope that the fish didn't get washed down the outflow whenever they drew the lake down to basically a creek.

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Heartening story. And one that gets repeated over and over all across the country, and the world.

 

I love hearing these types of stories. But what is really heartening is that there are people out there who are in position to actually notice such things. I'm talking about anglers in particular, but also about conservationists of all walks, environmental professionals, and law-makers, too, who have enough experience and integrity to care about such things.

 

The sad -no tragic- thing is that so few people actually have any idea, both how widespread such destruction is, and how resilient nature can be -if given the proper opportunities to rebound. The Clean Water Act, among many others, was instrumental. These stories are actually far less frequent than they were in past decades. I could share a bunch of horror stories, and many that eventually turned around; Sometimes amazingly so.

 

I'll share one, a stream my dad grew up on. There was a textile mill on it and he said it ran blue, red, purple, or orange every week, depending on the dyes they were using that week. One day he saw a fish in it -a sucker he thought- and ran home and got his mom and dad to come see. But when they returned, it was gone. When my dad told his friends, he said they didn't believe him!

 

Decades later, my dad took me to see his old stomping grounds and when we drove over that very same creek, we saw a nice relief-carved wooden sign announcing a fisherman's access point. It was a flippin' trout stream! And a pretty one too (but, aren't they all!). My dad was actually rendered speechless at first.

 

Years later -in a poignant demonstration of such transformation- I, at about the same age as my dad was back when he saw that fish, saw a huge trout in a small stream near my house. I ran home to get my mom and dad. But when we returned, it was gone! :)

 

Life is, or can be, resilient, providing that the damage is not too widespread or elemental -the cogs in the machinery of the complex energy processing we know as Life, gone. Most people seem to simply take Life for granted. But I've learned, and seen, enough to know the difference; Most recently, spending years in SE Asia where -even for one looking for- high trophic level life is nearly impossible to find. You can believe me when I say, I am SO HAPPY to be back where there are actually deer and turkeys in my back meadow, and lots of large fish in my waters. (I'll bet few people nowadays even know what it took to bring back just deer and turkey's, around the turn of the last century. The initial attempts were failures. Now, we take them for granted. But I don't; Not a one of them. 

 

Let's just say, this is a topic near and dear to very soul.

 

Thanks for the story, jbmaine.

 

  

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There is a conservation area near me that has had its share of fish kills over the years.  Most of these ponds are no more than 10 feet deep, and a lot of them had the weeds removed either by spraying or by the addition of carp into the ponds.

 

Now there is a push to get vegetation back into these ponds.  Mostly lilypads, but several of the ponds have had coontail added.

 

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Glad things are turning around. Many memories are built fishing favorite waters and we certainly dont want to see it end.

I have mentioned this before, but I am on the board of directors for the small lake I live on. We always have a tension caused by excessive weed growth from spring to fall. The lake is shallow, so if we never treated the weeds we would have a swamp, not a lake. It is very difficult to get the right balance from year to year. Also, we have a wide range of opinion between our residents. Some dont want to see ANY weeds , no matter how much herbicide is needed. The other extreme is people who could care less if the lake is completely overrun with weeds. I am more on the weedy side, but dont want it taken over. As long as I can get my jb through it, we're good.

Our lake sprayer is very good, but we still have trouble keeping the weeds from taking over. My excuse to the " no weeds " folks, is that we dont want a fish kill like the one we had in 2011. Most, if not all the big bass died in that fiasco. We are now getting 8 + fish again, and I want that to keep increasing!

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What I have found is places go trough cycles of good and bad every few years. Blairs Valley like which I have fished for 35 years is one such place. When I was a child it was so clear you could see down 20+ feet and catch 50 dinks a day. Now it is full of grass and stained but you can catch decent fish but no numbers.

 

Allen

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Many of us have seen lakes that for one reason or another have been decimated. My story is similar to @fishballer06.  The pain is that it seems as one lake starts to get a good mix of big and average size fish, the Fish & Boat Commish finds a leak in the dam. They drain it and for years and years its either left with very little water or filled up and stocked with fry. That has happened to five lakes I've fished in the last 10 years. Some have come back, others I'm still waiting on. 

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47 minutes ago, Munkin said:

What I have found is places go trough cycles of good and bad every few years.

I've seen that, esp in my small bass waters. Water levels, winterkill, vegetation density, and poor hatch years, all contribute. I call it "boom-n-bust" fishing, bc most of my little waters rebound fairly quickly. I keep track of waters... like an osprey... so I can plan ahead.

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glad things are getting better, I have seen the same thing on lay lake in Alabama they spray weeds and it always kills the fishing in that area for years, I guess sometimes we just get spoiled when we find spots that we have great confidence in, maybe  we get a little lazy as well when we don't have to hunt. have a great year!

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