Fishing in the Lake
By Dave Marshall, Underwater Habitat LLC
The stocking of fish in Lake Belle View was completed September 28 with a final transfer of fish captured in the Sugar River. Give them a couple of years to grow and reproduce and it’s expected that Lake Belle View will once again support an outstanding fishery.
Although restoration of aquatic plants is still an ongoing effort, you can already see the results of Meredith Smith’s Belleville High School students who helped plant several species in the lake. If you look closely you will see little patches of white water lily and long leaf pondweed – both desirable native plants that are beginning to provide the habitat necessary to support a diverse fish population.
Unlike typical “farm pond” fish restoration projects where only a few species such as fathead minnows, bass and bluegill are stocked, this project has focused on establishing an ecologically diverse fish population that is typically found in healthy off-channel lake environments. To jump start the game fish population, Gollon’s Fish Hatchery recently delivered 200 young of the year bluegill, 200 black crappie, 75 largemouth bass, 40 walleye, 40 northern pike and 50 pounds of golden shiners. This stocking adds to the 28 some other fish species that were transferred from the Sugar River into the lake this past summer.
How Long Until I Can Go Fishing in the New Lake?
If you wanted to go fishing for fathead minnows, you'd find great success! For the bluegills, bass, crappies, and northern
pike, you'll want to wait a couple of years. The fathead minnows first stocked in the lake had an immediate and very successful hatch. They also found the lake full of water fleas (daphnia magna) upon which to feed. A great start of a forage base for the game fish to utilize as they grow and reproduce.
The fish population will be monitored closely over the next several years to monitor recruitment, survival rates, and growth rates. Importantly, the lake will be monitored to ensure that the common carp do not establish a sustainable population until such time as the recently stocked fish are capable of controlling them.
Monitoring data next summer will provide more detailed information on the fish population including bluegill, black crappie and largemouth bass growth rates and reproduction success. The stocked and transferred fish will need a few years of spawning to expand their populations in the lake. DNR’s Kurt Welke says “We’re excited about the potential fishery for this lake and will follow the fish population closely. For now, fishing in the lake should be discouraged.”
Enjoying the fishing opportunities made available in the Sugar River is encouraged. Just remember, don’t transfer any fish from the river into the lake. Give the newly stocked fish a chance to get established -- then have fun!
Gollon’s Hatchery fish stocking: 200 bluegill, 200 black crappie, 75 largemouth bass, 40 walleye, 40 northern pike and 50 lbs. golden shiners.
Summary of Lake Belle View Fish Sample Conducted by WI-DNR staff in May 2013