Recent survey results indicate special regulations are producing larger bass at Big Long Lake in LaGrange County.
Big Long Lake has a history of overpopulated bass numbers. Slow growth and stunted fish have caused smaller bass, with few bass reaching the 14-inch minimum size limit. Since the implementation of a 12-15 inch protected slot limit for largemouth bass, the 365-acre lake has seen positive changes in fish size.
DNR biologists surveyed the lake in 2010 and found that catch rates of bass were roughly five times higher than other natural lakes in the area. More than 1,900 bass were collected during the survey, and only one bass was over the 14-inch minimum size limit.
“Our objective with the 12-15 inch protective slot was to allow anglers to harvest the smaller bass that made up the majority of the population and protect the few larger individuals,” said Matt Horsley, DNR assistant fisheries biologist. “The remaining small bass now have a better opportunity to grow and reach a larger size.”
This spring, biologists sampled the lake again. During the survey, only 400 bass were collected, and catch rates were similar to those of other lakes in the area. Bass size was far better, with 77 bass more than 14 inches and 11 more than 18 inches. The largest bass captured was a 7-pound, 22.2-inch female.
“Anglers are definitely doing their part in reducing bass numbers and the results have shown,” Horsley said.
Horsley expects that the special regulation will remain in place at Big Long Lake. Other lakes in the north region are currently being evaluated to see if a slot limit might be a feasible option in reducing bass numbers where needed.
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