Lake survey brings encouraging results
It’s been several years since the lake at Chapman State Park was stocked with several species of fish in the wake of a drawdown necessitated by dam repairs.
But biologists are encouraged with the status of the population in the wake of what Fish & Boat Commission Fisheries Biologist Brian Ensign called a “cursory night boat electrofishing survey” undertaken earlier this summer.
As the lake was refilled, the Commission stocked bass and bluegill in addition to seasonal trout stocking.
Ensign said an hour and a half of electrofishing yielded 67 bass an hour, 46 of which were 12 inches or longer, maxing out at 15.2
But in addition to the bluegill caught in that effort, pumpkinseed, yellow perch (three to nine inches) and some brown and yellow bullhead were also collected.
“All other fish would be remnant species that survived during the initial drawdown and then final construction,” Ensign explained. “On another positive note, there is a sustainable forage base consisting of Golden Shiners, White Suckers and Golden Redhorses and their resulting offspring is providing an important food supply for these newly stocked game species.”
There’s also reason to believe that there are larger bass present in the lake.
Ensign explained that the lake’s water chemistry “is somewhat problematic for our electrofishing boat gear type primarily due to low conductivity levels.”
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That means, he said, that the larger bass can elude the electric field.
“I can attest we did miss a fair number of them while sampling the entire shoreline of the lake,” Ensign said. “It’s somewhat frustrating but good to know the larger guys are present.”
Looking more generally at the stocking plan, Ensign said they believe that the effort is “working as intended” with no further stocking of species like perch, pumpkinseed and bullheads to take place.
“Again, they will only continue to repopulate the lake and soon reach quality sizes in just a few more years,” he said. “We will continue to monitor and assess the population.”
Special regulations remain in place for the reservoir.
“All species, except trout — catch and release/no harvest; it is unlawful to take, kill, or possess any fish, except trout,” per the Commission’s 2022 fishing handbook. “All fish caught other than trout must be immediately returned unharmed. For trout, inland regulations apply. This regulation will remain in effect until further notice.”
As the regulations state, those restrictions don’t include trout.
“We will however continue to maintain our annual adult trout stocking program with stockings of rainbows and browns in the preseason, in-season and winter periods,” Ensign said.
According to trout stocking schedules, the lake was stocked in March and then again in May with brown and rainbow trout and will be stocked again on Dec. 12.
“The stocked trout fishery is presently and will always be the most popular species of interest with our anglers who frequent the lake,” he added.