139K pounds of fish from lake
DNR hires commercial angler to clear carp, bigmouth buffalo from Twin Lakes
TWIN LAKES — Believe it or not, experts say they’re good to eat.
But “rough fish” like carp and buffalo aren’t usually sought by anglers, and they can muddy up the waters and take up space from more sought-after fish.
This week commercial fishing crews could be seen hauling tons of problem fish out of Twin Lakes as part of an Iowa Department of Natural Resources effort to improve water quality.
“We have an ongoing restoration project at North Twin Lake,” said Michelle Balmer, with the DNR’s Lakes Restoration program. “One of the ways we are trying to improve water quality is to target the ‘rough fish’ in the lake and remove them. Here rough fish would refer to carp, common carp, and bigmouth buffalo.”
That’s why the department set up a competitive bidding process, and entered into a contract with commercial angler Greg Moore, Balmer said.
The contract offers a cash payout if the angler removes a target of 139,000 pounds of buffalo or more.
“There are huge numbers of buffalo in that lake,” Balmer said. “In these shallow lake systems, they uproot a lot of vegetation from the bottom while they’re feeding, and they stir up a lot of bottom sediments. That recycling in these shallow lakes causes them to be more turbid or cloudy, and also redistributes nutrients in the water column. So things like phosphorus get kicked up and can fuel algae blooms.”
Removing high numbers of these fish means sport fish like bass and bluegill will have more room to flourish, she said.
The fish will then be sold on the commercial market, though she’s not sure where they will go.
“It depends on the market, and where the market it selling to,” Balmer said. “I’m sure some of them stay in the states, and some of them go abroad.
“In Europe, carp are a highly prized fishing species. It’s really amazing to see the difference. But here very few anglers target them. They’re actually good eating, and the same with the buffalo, but they are very difficult to clean.”
The angler will bring them in with a net, but they’re required to monitor those nets closely and release any sport fish, Balmer said. The nets are only used during cooler temperatures in order to put less stress on fish which might be caught in the net.
While the majority of the lakes in Iowa are man-made, the Twin Lakes are some of about 30 or so natural glacial lakes, she said. This is also one of only two lakes in Iowa where the DNR is trying this right now.
“This is the first year we’re doing this at North Twin,” she said. “We’ve been working with the local community a number of years to improve water quality in the watershed and in the lake itself.”