An interesting article I found. Having some trouble posting the link.
Ohio's Lake Doctor
Doctor, my lake has become mesotrophic and most certainly eutrophication is rapidly setting in; can you help me?
A lake doctor? Why not? We have doctors or experts who treat all sorts of human maladies. When our favorite hunting dog becomes sick, off to the veterinarian we go. In fact, we can even get expert advice on sick house plants or tropical fish. Doesn't it make sense that something new such as aquatic management should come along to cure a lake's ills?.
Surprisingly the answer is no - if the word "new" is left in the statement. Aquatic management, from a private standpoint, has been in Ohio since 1957, namely in the person of Francis (Frank) H. Bezdek. I first ran across Frank one day when doing a story on Wingfoot Lake. Frank Balint, Wingfoot Lake's park manager, was so impressed with the work Frank Bezdek was doing that he encouraged me to contact him. Three years later, the improved size of Wingfoot's 'gill and crappie, coupled with respectable catches of bass, walleyes and northern pike, caused me to become interested in aquatic management from a private standpoint.
I first met Francis Bezdek at the Wingfoot Park's manager's office. It was October, and Frank let me keep him company-if I didn't mind tagging along as he stocked 700 walleye, checked the fish in two trapnets and inspected 200 feet of gillnet. He did this all in about two hours-the only evidence that said he is 65 years of age is his birth certificate. He had been up since early morning, and at 5:30 in the evening he was putting my younger legs to shame.
Frank inspected each of the fish that were hauled to the boat. The walleye and northern pike seemed to receive special attention. After a careful inspection of each, a look of satisfaction would cross his face. When back in the boat, Frank explained why he was especially interested in these predators.
It seems that about 10 years ago Wingfoot was experiencing too many weeds and tried aerial spraying as a method of destroying them. This one-shot attempt was unsatisfactory, and after a thorough check, Frank Bezdek's credentials brought him to Wingfoot. Frank's experience with thousands of impoundments gave him practical experience that could be gained only from work in the field. First, Frank viewed the entire lake and found that it was 35% weed choked. Large amounts of weeds give panfish protection from predation and don't allow the game fish to keep their numbers under control. Frank pointed out that Wingfoot had loads of bluegills, but due to excess numbers, they were stunted. When questioned as to how a stunted fish can be identified, he pulled a bluegill from a trapnet and pointed to its eye. A stunted fish's eye is too large for its head. Even when an insufficient food supply retards the fish's body growth, the eye continues growing at the normal rate. Hence, stunted fish have oversized eyes. To also determine how the feed has been over the past few years, a scale can be removed and its rings analyzed. A wide space between rings indicates a good year, while a narrow band indicates a poor year, much like the rings of a tree. This scale inspection allows for careful comparative yearly monitoring.
Before any action is taken, Frank takes an inventory of the present fish population-like the examination done by a family physician. The problem must be carefully diagnosed, then its treatment prescribed and carefully watched.
Wingfoot's problem was basically too many weeds, which was not only leading to stunted panfish, but aging the lake at a rapid rate. The thick weeds were falling to the bottom, decaying and making the lake shallower. Many of the bays had extremely thick muck due to the inordinate amount of rotting weeds. The rotting weeds also caused the water to become discolored. All of this increased silting harmed the spawning areas of game fish, which prefer a clean gravel bottom.
The next stop involved the removal of weeds and creating controlled fish holding areas. Since Wingfoot Club is part of the Goodyear Rubber Company, two problems were solved with one idea: Floating tire islands were formed to offer protection and shade for baitfish and game fish. These structures can also be moved from area to area, and the fish will always be found underneath them, even after they are moved.
A lake such as Wingfoot needed more than removal of weeds. Walleye have been stocked every year, along with northern pike. After eight years, Wingfoot is experiencing a solid game fish population. While some oldtimers may bemoan the good old days of catches of 200 and 300 bluegills, the size of today's 'gills is much better and the numbers caught still are very substantial. Test nets also showed an abundant supply of 12 to 13-inch bullheads. These chunky scaleless piscators were a beneficiary of the lake management program. Five years ago the average bullhead size was a great deal smaller. Quantities of small fish were replaced with fish of quality size.The lake level has also been dropped. Why? First, if the shoreline is exposed to air and rain it allows the muck to dry out and compact. This retards the aging process of the lake while allowing rain and snow to wash the spawning gravel clean of sediments. With clean gravel, the game fish spawn will be better the following spring, and the sediment buildup will be greatly slowed. In fact, rye grass at times will be planted on this exposed shore to speed up the breakdown of these organic materials. In the spring when the water level is up again, large amounts of rye grass can darken the water's color, helping to retard a large buildup of weeds. Another reason for dropping the lake's level is that it deters erosion of the banks. On a windy day, the waves will feather against the dry, gently sloping lake bottom, thus preventing erosion. Frank prefers the use of natural controls whenever possible.
Asked why he got started in the private lake business, Frank paused. "If you stay with the government you have two choices. Either make no waves or get out," he said. After four years, he got out. It doesn't take long to understand that he's a man who speaks his piece and lets the chips fall where they may. I can take it: I have a tough skin when I need it, he says-and he sometimes needs it. Frank takes positions that run counter to some popular opinions. For example, he is not opposed to commercial fishing in Lake Erie. In one of his letters he states,
Lake Geneva in Switzerland, for one, has had commercial fishing since Roman times, and whether we like it or not, commercial netting of trash fish must continue in Lake Erie to keep these fish from taking over the lake and also ruining the sportfishing. However, catfish and whitebass are not sufficient, in and of themselves, to keep the Ohio commercial fishermen afloat especially with the investment the fishermen have and the wages (with no investment) many other jobs pay in the private sector. This means, of course, that the commercial fishermen must be allowed to take some game-food fish. But this is not easy to police by game wardens.
If this statement tends to upset the hook and line fishermen, Frank feels that the perch population would increase if sport anglers were allowed to keep more walleye. Walleye feed on perch, and the larger the walleye population the smaller will be the schools of perch. So a larger walleye creel limit is his answer to boosting perch catches.