After 16 years as the Avoca district fisheries
biologist for the Indiana Div. of Fish and Wildlife, nobody
has ever known Lake Monroes fishery better than Steve
Andrews who now manages fish and wildlife at Crane.
"I really enjoyed managing
Lake Monroe and figuring that fishery out. It was definitely
a challenge. I enjoyed developing the predator stocking
program there," said Andrews in a recent interview
from his new office at Crane.
"Monroe is probably one of
the more complex and dynamic fisheries in the state. Nobody
will every fully understand what is going on out there.
We may be got a hold of some of the basic interactions...the
ones you notice," said the biologist who conducted
a dozen fisheries surveys of various types at Monroe. "There
has been a gradual improvement in the crappie fishing over
the last 10 years or so."
The average size of Monroe crappie
has increased over the past 10 years. It is possible to
catch nice 11 and 12 inch crappie at Monroe now, but they
are very hard to locate and are usually in deeper water
than most anglers try at Monroe. The presence of larger
crappie in Monroe is probably directly related to Andrews
stockings of wiper and walleye, and the pressure those predators
exert on Monroes volatile gizzard shad population.
Monroes gizzard shad population
accounts for nearly one-third of the entire fishery. This
population explosion was one reason Andrews stocked wiper
and walleye. The results are noticeable, but so are environmental
factors at Monroe.
"One of the things I noticed
is the increasing development at the lake, and in particular,
all the small coves now have a group boat pier in them.
Development was noticeable. Also, there has been a noticeable
increase in fishing for largemouth bass and particularly
in tournament fishing. . The number of boats on the lake
has increased to the point that I only go to Monroe during
the week" he continued.
"I think tournament fishermen
are pretty good at regulating themselves Catch and release
fishing has been a main factor that has kept the bass fishing
good. I would say Monroe is in the top 20 bass lakes in
the state. The numbers of larger bass are still relatively
good compared to a lot of lakes," said the Bedford
Lake Monroes future? Heres
what Andrews said: "I dont know that anybody
ever figured out the entire fish population there, but Monroe
will probably continue to (be similar to) what it has been
for the next 10 to 20 years, and there may be a gradual
decline due to aging of the lake. People at Monroe are fortunate
that so much of that watershed is protected from development.
Predator stocking can at least convert shad into usable
Andrews new territory may not be
as overwhelming as Monroes 100,000-acre fishery, but
Lake Greenwood inside the Crane reservation is home to nesting
bald eagles and is one of the most beautiful and interesting
bodies of water in southern Indiana. Andrews is already
working on improving or at least holding the line on the
Lake Greenwood covers 800 acres
and is open to the public in the Cranes public fishing
and boating program. Any U.S. citizen can fish Greenwood
by purchasing either a $15 annual pass or a $2 daily pass.
"Greenwood is primarily warm
water fishery: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, crappie,
channel catfish. It is unusual in that it has a reproducing
white bass population, and it doesnt have gizzard
shad as a forage bass. White bass are apparently spawning
in the lake somewhere," explained the 45-year-old biologist.
He is attempting to get walleye
established in Greenwood. The species was introduced last
year in the "first modern day stocking" of walleye.
As many local anglers familiar with
Greenwood will remember, a large variety of species was
stocked at the impoundment over 20 years ago. Northern pike
and walleye were among them, but, as Andrews explained,
"they never did contribute anything to the fishery."
You may find walleye in Greenwood
soon, however. There were two stockings in 2000, he said.
One dose of 27,000 1- and 2-inch fingerlings went into Greenwood
last June, and 900 "advanced" fingerlings, 6-
to 8-inches long were stocked in October.
"Survival of those (June) fingerlings
was very limited, if at all. Survival was relatively good
for the October advanced fingerlings. The Indiana DNR did
a fall shocking survey. They had a catch rate of 6.5 per
hour. There standard for a successful stocking is 7 per
hour. I have had at least one report of walleye being caught
last fall, but we do have a few yellow perch in the lake,
in the 6- to 10-inch range that might look like walleye.
We do plan to stock walleye for at least the next two years,"
Unlike Monroe where walleye were
intended to help control gizzard shad, there are no gizzard
shad in Greenwood, so far
knock on wood. Andrews said
there was a gizzard shad "scare" in the early
90s. A 12- to 15-inch slot limit for largemouth was imposed
then, mainly in response to gizzard shad showing up in a
survey. The shad have not reappeared, but the slot limit
is coming back at Greenwood.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists
conducted a fishery survey on Greenwood last summer, and
the outcome of that survey has stimulated some tinkering.
"We had a fish management meeting
a week ago between federal and state biologists. We agreed
to a slot limit for Greenwood this year. The goal is to
increase the harvest of smaller bass," he added.
Andrews described Greenwoods
fishery, overall, as being in "good condition, especially
the panfish and channel catfish. Largemouth bass are good
in numbers, but there arent many legal fish."
The slot limit, he hopes, will increase the number of larger
bass and decrease the number of small ones.
Heres Andrews summary of other
discoveries from the summer, 2000 Greenwood survey:
*Bluegill: "Bluegill were nice
size, 9.5 to 10 inch maximum, average about 7.5 inches,
and abundant. There was concern that smaller bluegill were
not as abundant as they should be. That might be related
to the high density bass population. Out of 111 bluegill
(in the survey), 31 were 8 inches or larger. So, over a
fourth of the bluegill were large ones. There were some
big redear in the survey. The biggest was 10 inches."
*Crappie: "The crappie fishery
was average. Most fish were in the 9- to 10-inch range.
There are both white and black crappie in Greenwood.
*Channel Catfish: The average was
in the 2.5- to 3-lb. range. They have established a reproducing
population in Greenwood and that is kind of unusual. Typically
you see catfish reproduction controlled by bass predation,
but Greenwood apparently has some other forage opportunity
for bass that is different. There is a large population
of shiners. That may be what they are eating. There is also
a fairly large population of spotted suckers and white suckers.
Crane also offers reserved public
deer hunts in the season, and there is a group campground
for scouts and the like at one of the military reserves
other, smaller lakes; however, Greenwood is the only spot
open to general public use. Crane is not open to the public
for spring wild turkey hunting.
The Crane website address is: