2022 Fish Survey Overview
Dave Ernes – Lake Management Committee
A Fish Survey was conducted on Lake Roaming Rock on September 12-13, 2022 by Jones Fish. Briefly, boats equipped with electrofishing apparatus travel throughout the lake. At each location sampled, the fish are stunned, collected, and assessed by measuring the length and weight. The fish are then returned to the lake unharmed. This process is done in as many areas as is feasible but is not intended to determine the population throughout the entire lake, especially one the size of our lake. This snapshot will give us an unbiased assessment of the current condition of the fishery. It should be noted that the survey was conducted two days after the Bass Tournament and the effect on the survey was expected to be minimal.
Based on the report, Jones Fish believes the overall condition of the fishery is very good. The largemouth bass (bass), the most often sought species, were found to be healthy. The overall food web including both predator and prey species is said to be diverse. The only issue identified is a low number of bass in the 5–9-inch range, representing fish 2-3 years old. The fish representing year-one were found to be good. This gap was not noted for the other species identified in the lake. The cause of this gap has not been fully defined but was speculated to be related to weather conditions during the spring spawning seasons. A link to the full report can be found at the end of this report.
In addition to the specialists from Jones Fish, a member of the Lake Management Committee was also present for the survey. Their input, as well as follow-up questions submitted to the author, were used to evaluate the results.
The health of the bass is measured by a Relative Weight Index. This compares the weight of each fish greater than ten inches in length to one that is considered normal. A value of 100% indicates that the bass are of normal size. The average for our lake was 97.5, which indicates that the bass are of average size with no indications of malnutrition. Another measurement of the bass population is Proportional Stock Density, which is a ratio of the number of “quality” fish versus “stock” fish. This was not presented in the report but was calculated by the author from the data submitted. For bass, a PSD of 40-70 is considered well-balanced, with our lake showed a value of 65.
One other parameter discussed was the distribution of the various fish species throughout the lake. In general, a more significant distribution of fish was observed in the two major coves (Plum, Sugar), and in some of the small coves north of Sugar Creek and along the eastern shoreline. There appeared to be an inverse correlation with the number of fish caught and the density of the vegetation. For example, fewer fish were collected in the southern areas where the weeds tend to be thicker and those that were collected were considered non-prime species (i.e. suckers, catfish).
One area that the report discusses is the level of “structure”, representing features such as submerged logs, that the fish will use for spawning and to avoid predators. They felt the level of structure in the shallow areas was good, but that the deeper areas may benefit with additional structure. (Please note that anyone who considers adding structure on their own would be violating the rules of the Association and can incur fines starting at $1000.)
The LMC and the Board will continue to monitor the fishery as we move forwards and will evaluate adding structures and stocking suggestions as time and budget considerations warrant.
Be Lake Responsible