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Area fisheries suffer lower-than-expected winter kill

Glenwood Area Fisheries Supervisor Dean Beck said that most of the fisheries in Douglas County and the surrounding area came through the winter much better than expected despite almost perfect winter kill conditions.

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“It just never fails to amaze me,” Beck said. “You think you’ve got a reasonable projection of what might happen, and they pull through. They’re pretty resilient systems.”

The lake that was hit hardest in Douglas County was Gilbert Lake, a 201-acre body of water near the west edge of Lobster Lake. This winter had conditions that were potentially as tough on fish as any that Beck said he could remember since moving to the area in 1989. Cold temperatures led to early ice that got thicker and thicker as the winter progressed.

Heavy snow that piled up on some lakes also kept the sun from reaching plants in the water that produce oxygen. As the plants die, they use up more oxygen during the decaying process.

The DNR has already moved some adult bass, bluegill and perch into Lake Gilbert since the ice came off and also plan to stock walleye fry in the lake. Other lakes in the county and surrounding areas came through the winter in relatively good shape.

“Some of them I was concerned about locally – [Lake] Villard, Emily, they’re good,” Beck said. “The fish must have been swimming sideways.”

The ice left almost all the area lakes the week of April 25. Lakes in this region of the state have held up well in the past, and did so again against some tough conditions.

“High ground water table and the interconnectedness of the lakes certainly helps a lot,” Beck said. “Those lakes that don’t have a lot of interconnectedness could get stagnant and hold a lot of aquatic plants that die off and use up oxygen when the bacteria breaks that down.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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