DNR conducts fish survey on Kokomo Reservoir
By: John Martino
For those who enjoy fishing, we are fortunate to live in and around Howard County. Sure, we may not have blue ribbon trout streams that course through our region or nationally renowned waterways, but at least our county is not void of public places to fish. Our most popular are of course the Wildcat Creek and her offspring, the Kokomo Reservoir. The fish caught and memories made on our area waterways are unfathomable. But many may wonder if the fishing is actually that good.
“Hey John, we are going to be at the Kokomo Reservoir and want you to go with us,” said the voice on the other end of the line. It was my friend Tyler Delauder, who is the Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist for this part of Indiana. He began explaining his department was preparing to conduct an “impoundment status and trend survey” of the reservoir. Lakes are selected randomly and the last one completed locally was 2008.
First, let’s give a little history. The reservoir was built as a water supply for rapidly growing Kokomo. With completion of the 600 foot long levee in 1958, the waters of the Wildcat were held back creating the lake. Technically it is listed as 484 surface acres, but to me it seems larger.
From the beginning, the reservoir has always supported good numbers of popular game fish species and the DNR has used fishery surveys since 1964 to monitor fluctuations in fish populations. These studies are conducted roughly every 10 years.
The DNR employs two methods for monitoring our reservoir as well as other lakes. General surveys provide a snapshot of the entire fish population. Supplemental surveys target only one particular species.
Biologists obtain fish for sampling using several processes. Electrofishing is a shallow water tool using electricity to mildly immobilize fish making them easier to capture. Gill and trap nets are placed in deeper water to obtain fish from the varying depths. All fish are counted, weighed, measured and a scale sample taken before being released. Much like the rings on a tree, scale samples can provide biologists with a wealth of information as far as growth rates. Additionally, the team also document dissolved oxygen content, temperature and turbidity of the water.
When looking at historical statistics of the surveys they continue to show our local impoundment has always provided decent fishing. It’s interesting seeing the trends in gamefish numbers and it proves what most anglers would think. All popular game fish have cycles where their numbers were higher during certain years. On several studies crappies were more prolific and other years it may have been bluegills or white bass. One thing of interest was the fact that 1785 largemouth bass were collected during the first survey conducted in 1964 while the average number during subsequent studies numbered around 100.
So what did the recent survey reveal? Delauder is pleased with what he saw. “Overall I am happy with the catch compared to others we have done in similar reservoirs,” said the fisheries biologist. “We collected 18 largemouth bass in 30 minutes at one station, which is more than we collected at Roush and Mississinewa Reservoirs.”
He went on to say “I was glad to see a good number of walleyes in the survey, no huge ones but they are definitely surviving and growing. Overall it appears the Kokomo Reservoir is doing just fine and anglers should be happy.”
In 1997 the DNR began stocking walleyes into the reservoir, which they still do annually. Each spring 25,000 fingerlings, averaging 1.4 inches are set free in the lake and have provided anglers with an additional opportunity.
Kokomo Reservoir weekly bass tourney
The team of Ethan Miller and Adam Blankenberger reeled in first place at last Monday’s Kokomo Reservoir open team bass tourney, sponsored by Cardwell Built Construction and Roby’s Bullseye Outdoors. The winner carried five largemouth to the scales totaling 8.38 pounds. Second place went to Erick Miller and Lee Barker with three fish weighing 6.02 pounds. Eric Kinny and Chance Taskey snagged third place and the tourney’s “biggest fish” with two bass totaling 5.47 pounds with their largest topping out at four pounds.
36th annual Jim “Moose” Carden Kids Fishing Clinic
Registrations for this summer 36th annual Jim “Moose” Carden Kids Fishing Clinic will take place Monday, June 10 beginning at 8am. Sign up will be held at the Kokomo Event and Conference Center.
Registration forms must be signed by a legal guardian. The forms and complete clinic details will appear in this column next Sunday. They are also available on the Kids Clinic Facebook page.