LAKE IROQUOIS — Thousands of fish are being added to Lake Iroquois to help replenish the sparse population that remained following last summer’s massive fish kill.
Lake Iroquois Association board member Jim Shearl said Friday that the LIA’s main lake was restocked with 1,000 channel catfish and 1,000 large-mouth bass on May 1, and 400 walleye will also be added to its waters this fall.
The LIA board determined the type and number of fish to add to the lake using the recommendations of Bill Hancock, the head of Marine Biochemists at Lonza. Hancock and his group had conducted an electrofishing survey last fall to determine the lake’s remaining fish population after a phenomenon known as “inversion” caused thousands of fish to die and float to the surface last July, according to Shearl, chairman of the LIA’s recreation committee.
“Inversion means cold water on the bottom of the lake rolled to the top, causing the water oxygen to be tied up,” Shearl said. “The result was that many of the desired game fish in the lake were killed. Residents of the lake immediately mobilized and cleaned up the lake, but the loss was substantial and is requiring an ongoing restoration process. Among the water management steps are adding more fish and restoring the habitat.”
The LIA used its own funds to do the restocking, in addition to the more than $2,000 that was donated by local residents toward the effort following the fish kill, Shearl said.
In addition to restocking, the LIA’s bass club is making PVC pipe habitat structures that will be placed on the bottom of the lake to serve as additional habitat for fish nesting, Shearl said.
Also, several aquatic plants have been ordered to increase the food for the fish and for general improvement of the water quality, Shearl said. The plants include arrowhead duck weed, bulrush, sago pond weed, spatterdock, water star grass and American pond weed.
“All of these are desirable food for fish,” Shearl said.
The plants will be delivered in late May, and the LIA’s bass club has agreed to help with the planting.
“The locations of where the plants will be planted will be determined between now and planting time next month,” Shearl said. “We will need areas that have some protection from boat traffic and drain tile that bring rushing water into the lake.”
Shearl said fencing structures will be put around the plants along the shoreline to protect the plants from large fish, especially any remaining grass carp.
“These protective structures will be marked but may present some inconvenience,” Shearl said, “so please understand the purpose of the fencing and accept the situation until the plants can become established.”
Improvements are also being made to the LIA’s 5-acre fishing lake, which was not believed to have been affected by the fish kill.
“Alum (aluminum sulfate) was added to the fishing lake in late April,” Shearl said. “The purpose of adding this product is to tie up the excess phosphorous, which is detrimental to the overall health of the water.”
The LIA is working with Hancock on that project, which will reduce the phosphorous levels at the fishing lake, Shearl said.
“We are to be part of a large phosphorous monitoring project planned by his company,” Shearl added. “Initially, our participation will be by addressing the phosphorous level of the fishing lake. The cost of that project is estimated at $3,500 and will come from LIA reserve funds. If this project fairs well, we might try the same idea ion our main lake sometime in the future.”
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said naturally occurring “lake turnover” — also known as “inversion” — was likely to blame for last July’s fish kill at the lake near Loda in southwestern Iroquois County. Testing of water samples from the lake detected “very low” levels of the herbicide atrazine but otherwise came up clean, the IEPA indicated.
THE RACE TO RESTORE LAKE IROQUOIS
To assist in funding the restoration of the Lake Iroquois Association’s main lake, the LIA is planning a 5K and 10K Run/Walk on Saturday, June 22.
The event is dubbed “The Race to Restore Lake Iroquois.”
There will be eight age divisions for male and female runners, as well as a race for kids ages 10 and under.
The races will wind through the street of the LIA and nearby Bayles Lake.
The races will start at 7 a.m. at the LIA clubhouse, 140 Shawnee Lane, Loda.
To enter the races, people can visit www.lialakeescape.com or https://runsignup.com/Race/IL/Loda/2019LakeEscape10k5kRunWalkandkidsrun.
To be a sponsor, people can contact the LIA at 217-386-2311.
Prizes will be hand-painted plaques and pictures, all of them unique and of an LIA theme.