Turbidity Control And Fish Population Renovation On Blue Mountain Lake, Arkansas

Blue Mountain Dam, a flood control project on the Petit Jean River in west central Arkansas, was completed in 1947 impounding a 2,900 acre reservoir. The reservoir is relatively shallow, receives strong wind action and has a watershed to lake area ratio of over 100:1. Since four to five years after impoundment, the lake has been plagued with heavy concentrations of colloidal turbidity and a fish population dominated by non-foragable sizes of buffalo, carp, drum and gizzard shad. Combinations of fall-winter drawdowns, commercial fishing for nongame species, a selective shad kill and the planting of rye grass in the exposed lake bed produced beneficial results in reducing colloidal turbidity and improving the fish population. However, these results were shortlived. A continuation of these efforts in a more intensive and drastic form was initiated in June, 1965. The lake was dewatered to expose 1,500 to 2,000 acres of lake bed. This area was seeded by airplane with approximately 10 tons of a mixture of Tracy sorghum, Sorghum sorghum var. Tracy, sweet sudan grass, Sorghum sorghum var. sudanensis, and a sorghum-sudan grass hybrid. Four months later, almost the entire lake bed was a dense growth of sorghum-type plants six to eight feet tall. The drawn down lake remained open to both sport and commercial fishing throughout the summer. In October of the same year, over 95% of the total fish population by weight was removed by treating the lake with 6,000 pounds of 7.6',1, powdered rotenone. Restocking, primarily with yearling fish, in the winter of 1965-66, totaled over one and one-third million fish. Since refilling, the lake has remained relatively clear (visibility 14 to 18 inches) except during high water, and the fish population shows rapid expansion, excellent growth and high survival. Game fishes, such as channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, white bass, Roccus chrysops, and crappie, Pomoxis sp are dominant. Through the first half of 1967, the fishermen's harvest has been excellent with reports that fishing success is similar to that experienced for the first few years after initial impoundment of the lake.

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