Spaulding Outdoors by Jack Spaulding
The renovation of West Boggs Lake in Loogootee will not only restore fishing conditions, but is also expected to revive the lake’s contribution to the local economy.
West Boggs Lake was once a premier bluegill and bass fishing lake, drawing anglers from 81 Indiana counties, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. Anglers spent an estimated $1.1 million in the local community in 1999, according to an Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) survey.
The quality of the fishery declined when populations of undesirable fish increased.
From 2004-10, the DNR survey found recreational boating decreased by 11 percent and the number of angler visits decreased by 63 percent. The once million-dollar fishery now contributes about $326,000 annually to the economy.
“Anglers buy bait, food, gas and lodging in the area, bringing economic gain and tourism to the community,” DNR Fisheries Supervisor Brian Schoenung said. “In a small town, the nearly $800,000 dollars lost annually can have a big impact.”
The fisheries renovation at West Boggs is scheduled for late September, beginning with the removal of adult bass and catfish that will be returned to the lake after it is treated. Trained DNR staff will apply rotenone in the West Boggs watershed to eradicate the remaining fish in the lake.
Rotenone is a naturally occurring substance in several plant seeds and stems and is an EPA-regulated piscicide. Rotenone quickly detoxifies in the environment and has virtually no effect on mammals and birds.
After the fish eradication, the lake will be allowed to refill and will be stocked with hatchery-raised game fish and the fish salvaged from the lake before the renovation.
A similar renovation in 1994 increased the number of angler visits to the lake annually by 71 percent.
“The fisheries renovation will not only make for better fishing, but also has the ability to revitalize a small community,” Schoenung said. “Small family-run businesses often depend on these anglers spending funds in their stores.”
Trail Creek salmon
fishing to improve
Fall fishing opportunities on Trail Creek in northwestern Indiana should improve thanks to a change in how the sea lamprey barrier on the stream will be operated.
The seasonal modification to the LaPorte County barrier will make it easier for salmon and steelhead trout to move upstream, while still blocking the invasive sea lamprey, according to DNR Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert. “Anglers should be excited about this change,” he said.
The change involves the lower end of the fishway, also known as a fish ladder. From roughly Sept. 1-Dec. 1 each year, the lower end will operate as a pool and weir fishway, while the upper end will be maintained as a vertical slot, with removable trapping equipment.
The modification was carried out by the DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, with cooperation from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a Canadian/U.S. treaty organization responsible for the sea lamprey control program.
The modified fish ladder will reduce the time spent by DNR staff to trap fish, evaluate them and then transfer them back to the stream during the salmon run.
Selective fall trapping will be used as a management tool to collect biological data during fall and to help Lake Michigan fisheries staff gauge the strength and timing of salmon and steelhead runs. Trapping is also necessary during spring and summer to remove upstream migrating sea lamprey and to collect Skamania steelhead brood stock, which provide for the future of the Skamania fishery.
Sea lampreys are a pest in the Great Lakes. They are native to the Atlantic Ocean and made their way into the Great Lakes in the early 1900s via the St. Lawrence Seaway. An adult sea lamprey can kill more than 40 pounds of fish in its lifetime.
“Sea lampreys are incredibly destructive and must be controlled,” said Bob Hecky, chair of the Great Lakes Fishery Com-mission. “The billion-dollar Lake Michigan fishery depends on effective sea lamprey barriers like the one on Trail Creek.”
Field trip grant benefits more
than 1,500 Hoosier kids
Students at 20 Indiana schools this academic year will learn about the outdoors thanks in part to a grant program supporting field trips to state parks and reservoirs. The Discovering the Outdoors Field Trip Grant Program is for public, private, parochial or home-school educators and is administered through the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation (INRF), the supporting nonprofit of the DNR.
The grants fund transportation costs, program fees and classroom supplies related to preparation or follow-up for the field trips. More than 1,500 K-12 students will benefit from the grant program in 2014-15. The program expects to distribute $5,125 through 23 grants. All valid applicants will be receiving funds this year.
This is the second academic year the grant program has been in effect. Last year, the program awarded $4,411 through 19 grants to 16 schools, benefiting about 1,400 kids. “We are happy to see those numbers increase this year,” said Ginger Murphy, deputy director for stewardship for DNR State Parks & Reservoirs. “We received lots of kudos from participating schools about the interpretive programs we offered in the first year.”
The fund was established in memory of Tom Huck, a longtime DNR employee who was an ardent supporter of outdoor experiences for children, with financial help from the Indiana Master Naturalist Advisory Council, according to Bourke Patton, executive director of the INRF.
“Donations are welcome from individuals, organizations or businesses to help sustain this grant program in coming years,” Patton said. Visit www.IndianaNRF.org to donate. Indiana has 24 state parks and eight reservoirs eligible for field trip funding. Field trips to parks and reservoirs engage students in learning about Indiana’s fish, forest, wildlife, natural habitats and conservation.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments may contact Jack Spaulding by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to him in care of this publication.