DNR grants totaling nearly $660,000 will be used to fight invasive aquatic plants in 63 of Indiana’s lakes and reservoirs, including Geist and Lake Lemon. The money comes from boat registration fees.
Grant applications were submitted by local sponsors who share at least 20 percent of the total cost.
According to Jones Fish Hatchery, Eurasian watermilfoil grows from the bottom up and can get so thick as to impede fish movement and survival. This invasive weed will grow even if segmented, making raking a futile effort.
Jessica, a biologist at Jones, told me the invasive weeds including milfoil, curly leaf pondweed and starry stonewart can make lakes like Lemon difficult to boat.
“Killing these invasives is like having a forest fire," she said. "The seeds from desirable native weeds will germinate and thrive once again. Your DNR may also introduce some positive weed varieties.”
Jessica went on to explain, “The decaying weeds will release carbon dioxide into the water, forcing the fish to move deeper or suspend to find the proper oxygen level."
Todd Staley fished Geist last week and found one patch of weeds near the dam and caught several bass there. In other areas, the bass were off the bank.
A guy at the ramp showed Staley a big mess of bluegill. One was huge. Todd informed the fellow that what he had was a redear.
“It was the largest one I have ever seen,” Staley said.
I heard of a Geist redear weighing 2 pounds but would have to see it lying on the scales to believe it because I know the guy did not weigh it.
The explosion of redear and perch at Geist is the result of another invasive, the zebra mussel. They clear the water by consuming zooplankton. Greater penetration of sunlight helps the weeds grow. The perch like the better water quality, and the redear eat the mussels. However, zebra mussels are not something we want in our lakes.
If you boat at Geist, make sure you dry run you motor just long enough to expel the remaining water and pull the boat and livewell plugs so as not to transfer that water to the next lake you fish.
It will take some time, but the fish habitat should improve making a trip to the lakes treated a more enjoyable experience. The money will be well spent by increasing public use and spiking the economy of the surrounding areas.
Wawasee/Syracuse, Webster, Barbee chain, Chapman and many other natural lakes in northern Indiana are including in the weed treatment.
Griffy Lake in Bloomington received over $11,000 for weed control wear as Geist was granted $5,000. Guffy was restocked about six years ago and should offer some great fishing after things settle down. At least the fish will be able to see your bait.
Lake Lemon should be productive this fall for bass and crappie.