Bullheads ‘evicted’ from Mirror Lake

Stubborn, obstinate and tenacious people are often called “bullheaded”.  Add fins, gills and a preference for lakes rather than land and you’d be referring to bullheads.

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By JENNIFER GARREAU | Record Editor

Stubborn, obstinate and tenacious people are often called “bullheaded”.  Add fins, gills and a preference for lakes rather than land and you’d be referring to bullheads.

The scaleless, thick, heavy headed fish that have overpopulated Mirror Lake, have now received their eviction notice.  Jeff Hendrickson from the North Dakota Game Fish Department and Scott Howe, former chairman of the Hettinger Park Board have been trap netting the prolific members of the catfish family and removing them from the lake twice a week, for a little over a month.  They have so far removed more than 16,000 pounds of fish, which is more than 200,000 bullheads.

Bullheads wreak havoc in lakes on the habitat of other gamefish and waterfowl by rooting up vegetation, which is a protective cover for other gamefish such as bass and bluegills and by stirring up bottom sediment in their search for food.  With their voracious appetites they have also been known to feed on the spawn of various other sportfish species. Because they have a high reproduction rate, few predators and can survive acidic waters with low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels, that would make more sensitive fish go belly up, they quickly overpopulate small lakes, chocking out other fish and stunting their own growth in the process.

After the fish are netted they are taken ashore and dumped into the bucket of a Bobcat donated by South West Grain and then put in a dump truck donated by the Frey Ranch.  They are then drove to Cordele Kok’s ranch where they will become fertilizer.  “It’s quite something to see,” said Howe.

Hendrickson stated that they will complete the project in August and then stock the lake with catfish and in the spring of 2015 walleye, bluegill and perch and more catfish will be stocked in Mirror Lake.

This summer the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reported stocking walleye in a record 133 lakes across the state.  “With a record number of fishing waters across the state, the demand to stock these new waters with hatchery fish has greatly increased,” said Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development supervisor.  “We’ve increased our efforts to make sure we meet the record production demands.”

Weigel said that with the cooler weather and increased water levels in many lakes stocking conditions were optimal this year.  “They should find lots of food and good survival conditions which bodes well for future fishing opportunity,” he said.

“I hope this encourages the community to get involved with the Park Board, because we sure can use the help,” said Howe.

 







GAMES