Spring fishing news
- - Spring fish cleaning clinics
Adult largemouth bass numbers have nearly doubled since 1980 in northern Indiana natural lakes and there are more big bass now, according to DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist Jed Pearson.
The increases, he said, are most likely due to the minimum size limits and widespread acceptance of catch-and-release fishing by area bass anglers.
In 1980 most northern Indiana natural lakes had no minimum size limit on bass. A 12-inch size limit was imposed in 1990, and was increased to 14 inches in 1998.
Based on estimates of the number of 8-inch and larger bass in 59 natural lakes sampled on 171 occasions by DFW biologists, the average density of bass increased from 13 per acre to 24 per acre between 1980 and 2007.
The actual number of 8-inch and larger bass captured by biologists increased from 78 per hour of sampling to 123 per hour.
As bass numbers increased at natural lakes, so did bass size. Bigger bass now make up larger proportions of the adult populations.
The proportion of 12- to 14-inch bass increased from an average of 13 percent in 1980 to 26 percent in 2007. The proportion of 14- to 18-inch bass increased from 8 to 18 percent.
Meanwhile, the proportion of 18-inch and larger bass stayed the same, at 3 percent.
"Indiana now has more bass and more bigger bass in its natural lakes than ever before," said Pearson, who compiled the figures from the large set of data gathered over the 27-year period. "We've also seen a rise in the catch rate of bass by anglers."
In 1980 it took anglers an average of 2.7 hours to catch a bass, including both bass that were taken home and those that were released. Now it takes bass anglers about one hour to catch a bass.
Overall, bass densities ranged from a low of less than one bass per acre at Lake-of-the-Woods near Bremen in 1985, to a high of 69 per acre at Barrel-and-a-half Lake near North Webster in 1998.
Other lakes with unusually high densities of bass included Appleman in 1995, with 52 per acre and Big Long in 2005, with 40 per acre. Both are in LaGrange County. Crane Lake, in Noble County, contained 50 per acre in 1990, and Robinson Lake in Whitley County held 49 per acre in 2002.
Other lakes with low numbers of bass were Maxinkuckee in Marshall County with three bass per acre in 1990, as well as Kosciusko County's Wawasee with four per acre in 1997 and Beaver Dam with four per acre in 1985.
Ball Lake in Steuben County contained less than four bass per acre in 1995 and 1996, but the number rose to more than 15 bass per acre in 2001 and 2002, after imposition of a special 18-inch size limit and two-bass daily creel limit.
Jed Pearson, DNR fisheries biologist,
Spring fish cleaning workshops
Get ready for spring fishing by learning how to make the most of your catch.
The Purdue Cooperative Extension Service is presenting three fish cleaning and preparation workshops this spring.
Learn fish filleting skills and practice your technique. Discover practical methods and recipes to improve the quality and taste of common Indiana fish species while sampling some delicious fish dishes. Gain a better understanding of what the Indiana fish consumption advisory means to you and your family.
Fish preparation workshop locations and dates:
Connersville, April 29, Fayette County Fairgrounds, (765) 825-8502
Bloomington, April 30, Monroe County Fairgrounds, (812) 349-2575
Crawfordsville, May 1, Montgomery County Fairgrounds, (765) 364-6363
Each program begins at 6 p.m. (local time) and lasts three hours. Admission is $10. To reserve your spot for any of the workshops, call the host Extension office.
Jonathan Ferris, Fayette County Extension Office