The St. Joseph River smallmouth bass population is alive and well.
That’s the report from Indiana fisheries biologists who spent six days on the river from Bristol, Ind. to the Michigan state line while studying the bass population, tagging fish and collecting data.
Their work well help them monitor Indiana’s new slot size limit in which fish measuring 12 to 15 inches are protected. Under the recent law change, anglers may keep five bass, but only two can be over 15 inches.
The research team handled more than 1,000 bass, including some largemouth, during the study. Of those fish, 150 were tagged with metal tags on the fishes’ upper lips. Anglers who catch tagged fish are encouraged to gently remove the tag and contact the DNR with information about the number on it, size of the fish and where it was caught. Bass Pro Shops gift cards will be awarded to several who report them.
The biologists attempted to collect river bass in August but water temperatures were too high and only few fish were located. When they returned last week, hundreds of bass were shallower and within reach of the electrodes (5 to 6 feet) on their shock boat. The electrodes dangle in the water and temporarily stun fish so they can be netted.
“There was a remarkable difference in the number of fish we saw last week and the ones we saw in August,” he said.
Scale samples, length, weight and location of each fish was recorded and will be used to compare to subsequent studies along with data the DNR receives from information obtained from anglers who catch tagged fish.
“We collected some of the best smallmouth I’ve ever seen in a river,” said Hoosier biologist Neil Ledet who headed the project. “We saw a few in the 18-inch class, a 20-incher and several other nice fish.”
In addition, he noted a strong number of one-year old smallmouth (5-6 inchers), an indication there was a good spawn last season. However, bass in the 12-inch size class were scarce.
“It shows what we’ve always said; you get good bass spawns on rivers during low water spring seasons than you do during high water periods,” he said.
Not surprising, Ledet added, the best numbers of smallmouth were found where habitat was the greatest, an indication how important good habitat is to gamefish.
“We found the most smallmouth where there was flowing water, cleaner bottoms and deeper pools,” he said. “Those deeper pools give fish a place to winter.”
Diverse habitat was critical, too. For example, the best collections came from areas where the river meandered and offered good shoreline cover and log jams. Straight runs of the river with limited cover produced fewer fish.
For example, the stretch from Cleveland Road downstream yielded fewer bass than the stretch from Cleveland to the South Bend dam.
“The upper stretch is more diverse and the river meanders more, and that was always where found more and bigger fish,” Ledet explained.
In another example, crews collected 25 bass per hour from the South Bend dam to Veteran’s Park in Mishawaka. Yet, from Vets Park to the Mishawaka dam, the count jumped to 132 per hour.
And from Bristol, Ind. to CR 17 east of Elkhart, they collected 400-plus smallies and two-thirds came in the first mile and half downstream from Bristol.
“It’s all about the habitat,” said Ledet.
He noted that largemouth tend to dominate the catch in the wider, slow, moving sections, such as the impoundment areas above the Elkhart dam and from McNaughton Park to the Twin Branch Dam. That should come as no surprise to anglers.
All of the fish that the DNR captured were released alive and didn’t waste any time getting acclimated. One tagged fish was caught by an angler the day after it was tagged.
“That just shows that handling and tagging these fish isn’t causing them any harm,” Ledet said.
Anglers who catch tagged fish must remove the tag and report it by phone (812) 287-8300 or online at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/7709.htm.
Walleyes in Pine
The Indiana DNR stocked 4,018 walleye advanced fingerlings at Pine Lake in LaPorte last week.
The walleyes were reared by inmates at Terre Haute’s Federal Correctional Complex as part of a partnership between the DNR and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The walleyes averaged 7.5 inches and are expected to reach legal size (14 inches) in two or three years.
Pine Lake is a 564-acre natural lake in LaPorte. It is connected by a channel to 125-acre Stone Lake, which has a public access boat ramp.
Pine Lake was stocked with walleye fry in 1992 and spring fingerling walleyes in 1993 and 1994. Additional walleye stockings were conducted in 2001 and 2002 with advanced fingerlings.
6 Span tourney
R&B Bass Circuit will host an open tournament on the St. Joseph River at 6 Span Access near Elkhart Nov. 9.
Entry fee is $60, there is no membership fee, and all money will be paid back at the ramp. Tournament hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Any combination of four fish over 15 inches or under 12 inches are allowed in the five-fish limit.
Call Andy Buss, 574-993-3028 for details.
Contact Goshen News Louie at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The St. Joseph River smallmouth bass population is alive and well.
- COLLEGE CONNECTIONS: Goshen's Newell an ace for Bethel softball GOSHEN — The Bethel College women’s softball team concluded a spring trip out west with a 4-6 record with standout pitcher junior Natalie Newell (Goshen) posting a 4-2 record.
- Odds and ends from the Elkhart Sectional The 60th boys basketball sectional at historic North Side Gym in Elkhart last week produced a few odd twists and even some firsts.
- PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Oh, so close ELKHART -- Tradition continued for Concord and history was denied Goshen. The Minutemen trimmed the Redskins, 50-45, Saturday night in a Class 4A high school boys basketball sectional championship game at North Side Gym. It's Concord's 13th sectional
- THE SKINNY: Hoop dreams live on for some "If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners." -- Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), "Hoosiers
- OUTDOOR COLUMN: Owls and more on a trip to northern Minnesota You're going to Northern Minnesota?! Now?! The end of February?! That was the reaction from nearly everyone when I told them I was going to Minnesota last month. "Haven't you had enough of snow and cold in northern Indiana this winter? Why do you, w
- PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Panthers dispatch Chargers, on to regionals SYRACUSE -- Pail Widner may not have been on the court scoring baskets, but there is no doubt as to the importance his role played in the NorthWood High School boys basketball team winning the Class 3A sectional championship Saturday night at Wawasee
- PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Warriors win another sectional crown EMMA -- Another year, another Class 2A sectional boys basketball title. Westview made it six sectional crowns in the last 10 seasons Saturday night with a 60-49 win over Bremen in the finals of the Westview Sectional. Despite the seemingly close fin
- OUTDOOR COLUMN: You’ll pay more to fish Michigan this year Hoosiers should be prepared to pay more for Michigan's new fishing licenses that went on sale this month. The 2013-14 licenses remains valid until March 31. The new annual non-resident license will jump from $28 to $76. Michigan has eliminated the re
- COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Robinson pushes Michigan past IU ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Glenn Robinson scored 20 points, including a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:10 to play, and Jordan Morgan had a double-double in his final home game to help No. 12 Michigan finish off its Big Ten championship season with an 84-80 victory over Indiana on Saturday night.
- WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Irish beat NC State in ACCs GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jewell Loyd scored 16 points to help No. 2 Notre Dame beat No. 14 North Carolina State 83-48 in Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals. Kayla McBride was among four in double figures with 10 points for the top-
- More Sports Headlines