State workers collected more than 3,000 pounds of mostly rough fish from Grand Lake on Wednesday.

High winds Tuesday made the lake too choppy for workers to empty the six nets placed Monday on the lake’s southwest shore in the state-protected Mercer Wildlife Area. The area is accessible only by boat.
Debra Walters, Ohio Division of Wildlife fish biologist, said workers lifted the nets alongside two boats and used dip nets to remove the fish and put them into containers and onto the bottom of the boat. Two day’s worth of fish overflowed the containers.

Ideally, the nets will be emptied daily, weather permitting, she said. Any game fish alive in the nets are thrown back into the lake.

"We were catching quillback carpsuckers that weighed probably eight to 10 pounds," Walters said. "The whole bottom of two boats were filled because we didn’t have enough containers."

Studies show that rough fish removal can help improve water quality. Bottom feeders such as carp constantly rile up the phosphorous-laden sediment. Carp also excrete high amounts of phosphorous, which feeds toxic blue-green algae blooms.

State officials estimate by weight 90 percent of the fish in the lake are rough fish, which do well in poor water quality conditions. Rough fish removal is one of several recommendations in a master plan for restoring the lake.

Walters said some game fish including crappie, perch, sunfish and channel catfish also perished in the nets, which is unavoidable. State officials will evaluate sport fish mortalities to determine if the approach is safe for that population, she said.

"When you have eight to 10-pound quillback in a net, they beat up the other fish," Walters said. "It’s very, very crowded in those nets."

After removing fish Wednesday, workers only set three nets to help workers better handle the amount collected today.

"We’ll see how it goes on a single day’s catch today with three nets," Walters said.

On Fridays, all the nets will be left open for the weekend so fish can swim through.

"The quillbacks appear to be getting ready to spawn and will be moving more and be in the shoreline area where our nets are," Walters said.

"When the carp and shad start to spawn in mid-May, our catches of them will probably go up."

The fish will be picked up daily by G.A. Wintzer & Son rendering facility in Wapakoneta to be turned into poultry feed.


By Nancy Allen, The Daily Standard