The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


May 26, 2012

Survey states local lakes full of fish

DANVILLE — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) did a recent fish survey on both Lake Vermilion and Lake Mingo. Our regional fisheries biologist Mike Garthaus has supplied me with the raw data from those surveys. The IDNR surveys these lakes every other year and looks at the entire fish community in both lakes.

The surveys are done by running a shocking device around the shoreline at or around the spawning period. The shocking device can reach a depth of about six feet and the stunned fish rise to the surface and are collected, weighed, measured, and then released.

I was involved in shocking lakes back in the late 1960’s and early ’70’s while taking classes toward my master’s degree. It is a very interesting way to collect fish unharmed and return them to the water near the spot where they were taken.

Garthaus told me that we were lucky to have both of these lakes within our area and that both were good lakes with lots of fish.

Lake Vermilion was rated very good on largemouth bass of all sizes with the largest collected being a 6.8 pound fish. There were even two smallmouth bass taken during the survey.

The crappie population was rated as excellent with the crappie regulations on the lake working very well. Garthus told me they made three runs along the banks they surveyed and that they finally stopped picking up crappie because there were so many. The bluegill population was good but the fish were not large and long-eared sunfish were also present in the lake.

The channel catfish population is ok with the largest taken weighing in at six pounds. Several flathead catfish were also taken and the carp population showed fish of all sizes with the largest weighing in at seven pounds. There were no hybrid stripers, walleye or musky found in this survey.

Garthaus rated the largemouth bass population as good in Lake Mingo with a nine pound two ounce fish, the largest ever taken in any of their surveys. A bass weighing six pounds two ounces was also taken.

The crappie regulations on the lake have helped that species and Garthaus rated that population equal to that at Lake Vermilion. The bluegill in Lake Mingo are larger than in Lake Vermilion with fish eight inches plus being taken. The bluegill regulation on the lake has helped spread the big fish around to people fishing the lake. The population of redear sunfish has declined over the years.

Channel catfish are regularly stocked into the lake so that population is excellent. The carp population has larger fish than Lake Vermilion.

No musky were taken from the lake but that didn’t surprise Garthaus because most of the muskies are taken during the spring netting survey. There were also no hybrid stripers or walleyes found in the survey.

Garthaus told me that these are both good lakes that get little press so the pressure on these lakes is low and they both have a great fishery.

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Fridays and Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail:

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