US Long-Term Ecological Research Network

WDNR Yahara Lakes Fisheries: Fish Lengths and Weights 1987-1998

Abstract
These data were collected by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) from 1987-1998. Most of these data (1987-1993) precede 1995, the year that the University of Wisconsin NTL-LTER program took over sampling of the Yahara Lakes. However, WDNR data collected from 1997-1998 (unrelated to LTER sampling) is also included. In 1987 a joint project by the WDNR and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for Limnology (CFL) was initiated on Lake Mendota. The project involved biomanipulation of fish communities within the lake, which was acheived by stocking game fish species (northern pike and walleye). The goal was to induce a trophic cascade that would improve the water clarity of Lake Mendota. See Lathrop et al. 2002. Stocking piscivores to improve fishing and water clarity: a synthesis of the Lake Mendota biomanipulation project. Freshwater Biology 47, 2410-2424. In collecting these data, the objective was to gather population data and monitor populations to track the progress of the biomanipulation. The data is dominated by an assesssment of the game fishery in Lake Mendota, however other Yahara Lakes and non-game fish species are also represented. A combination of gear types was used to gather the population data including boom shocking, fyke netting, mini-fyke netting, seining, and gill netting. Not every sampling year includes length and weight data from all gear types. The WDNR also carried out randomized, access-point creel surveys to estimate fishing pressure, catch rates, harvest, and exploitation rates. Five data files each include length-weight data, and are organized by the type of gear or method which was used to collect the data: 1) fyke, mini-fyke, and seine netting 2) boom shocking 3) gill netting (1993 only) 4)walleye age as determined by scale and spine analysis (1987 only), and 5) creel survey. The final data file contains creel survey information: number of anglers fishing the shoreline, and number of anglers that started and completed trips from public and private access points.
Core Areas
Dataset ID
279
Date Range
-
Metadata Provider
Methods
BOOM SHOCKING1987:A standard WDNR electrofishing boat was used on Lake Mendota set at 300 volts and 2.5 amps (mean) DC, with a 20 % duty cycle and 60 pulses per second. On all sampling dates two people netted fish, the total electrofishing crew was three people. Shocking was divided into stations. For each station, the actual starting and ending time was recorded. Starting and ending points of each station were plotted on a nap. A 7.5 minute topographic map (published 1983) and a cartometer was used to develop a standardized shoreline mileage numbering scheme. Starting at the Yahara River outlet at Tenney Park and measuring counterclockwise, the shoreline was numbered according to the number of miles from the outlet. The length of shoreline shocked for each station was determined using the same maps. The objectives of the fall 1987 electrofishing was: to gather CPE data for comparison with previous surveys of the lake; develop a database for relating fall electroshocker CPE to predator density; collect fall predator diet data; make mark-recapture population estimates of YOY predators; and determine year-class-strength of some nonpredators (yellow perch, yellow bass, and white bass).1993: Electrofishing was used to continue marking largemouth and smallmouth bass (because of low CPE in fyke nets), to recapture fish marked in fyke netting, and to mark and recapture walleyes ( less than 11.0 in.) on Lake Mendota. Four person crews electrofished after sunset from May 05 to June 03, 1993. A standard WDNR electrofishing boat was used, set at about 300 volts and 15.0 amps (mean) DC, with a 20 % duty cycle at 60 pulses per second. On all sampling dates two people netted fish; thus, CPE data are given as catch per two netter hour or mile. Shocking was divided into stations. For each station the actual starting and ending time and the generator s meter times was recorded. Starting and ending points of each station were plotted on a map. 7.5 minute topographic maps (published in 1983) were used in addition to a cartometer to develop a standardized shoreline mileage numbering scheme. Starting at the Yahara River outlet at Tenney Park and measuring counterclockwise the shoreline was numbered according to the number of miles from the outlet. The length of shoreline shocked for each station was determined using these maps. The 4 person electroshocker crews were used again from September 20 to October 19. Fall shocking had several objectives: to gather CPE data for comparison with previous surveys of the lake; develop a database for relating fall electroshocker CPE to piscivore density; and make mark recapture population estimates of young of year (YOY) piscivores.1997:5/13/1997-5/20/1997: Electrofishing was completed at night on lakes: Mendota, Monona, and Waubesa. A standard WDNR electrofishing boat was used, set from 320-420 volts and 16-22 amps DC, with a 20 % duty cycle at 50 pulses per second. Two netters were used for each shocking event. At a particular station, starting and ending times where shocking took place were recorded. The location of the designated shocking stations is unknown.9/23/1997-10/14/1997: Electrofishing was completed at night on Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Wingra. A standard WDNR electrofishing boat was used, set from 315-400 volts and 16-24 amps DC, with a 20% duty cycle at 60 pulses per second. Two netters were used for each shocking event. Starting and ending time at each shocking station was listed. The location of the designated shocking stations is unknown.1998:Electrofishing was completed at night on Mendota, Monona, Wingra, and Waubesa from 5/12/1998- 10/28/1998. A standard WDNR electrofishing boat was used, set from 240-410 volts and 15-22 amps DC, with a 20% duty cycle at 50-100 pulses per second. Two netters were used for each shocking event. Starting and ending time at each shocking station was listed. The location of the designated shocking stations is unknown. FYKE NETTING1987:Fyke nets were fished daily from March 17 to April 24, 1987 on Lake Mendota. The nets were constructed of 1.25 inch (stretch) mesh with a lead length of 50 ft. (a few 25 ft. leads were used). The hoop diameter was 3 ft. and the frame measured 3 ft. by 6 ft. Total length of the net was 28 ft. plus the lead length. Nets were set in 48 unknown locations. Initially, effort was concentrated around traditional northern pike spawning sites (Cherokee Marsh, Sixmile Creek, Pheasant Branch Creek, and University Bay). As northern pike catch-per-effort (CPE) declined some nets were moved onto rocky shorelines of the lake to capture walleyes. All adult predators (northern pike, hybrid muskie, largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, gar, bowfin, and channel catfish) captured were tagged and scale sampled. Measurements on non-predator species captured in fyke nets were made one day per week. This sampling was used to index size structure and abundance, and to collect age and growth data. In each net, total length and weight of 20 fish of each species caught was measured, and the remaining caught were counted.1993:Same methods as 1987, except fyke nets were fished from 4/8/1993-4/29/1993 on Lake Mendota. The 1993 fyke net data also specifies the &ldquo;mile&rdquo; at which the fyke net was set. This is defined as the number of miles from the outlet of the Yahara River at Tenney Park, moving counterclockwise around the lake. In addition, abundance and lengths of non-gamefish species captured in fyke nets were recorded one day per week. Six nets were randomly selected to sample for non-gamefish data. This sampling was used to index size structure and abundance, and to collect age and growth data. In each randomly selected net, total length and weight was measured for 20 fish of each species, and the remaining caught were counted.1998:There is no formal documentation for the exact methods used for fyke netting from 3/3/1998-8/12/1998 on Lake Mendota. However, given that the data is similar to data collected in 1987 and 1993 it is speculated that the same methods were used.MINI-FYKE NETTING1989:There is no formal documentation for the exact methods used for mini-fyke netting on Lake Mendota and Lake Monona from 7/26/1989-8/25/1989. However, given that the data is similar to data collected from 1990-1993 it is speculated that the same methods were used. In the sampling year of 1989, mini-fyke nets were placed at 22 different unknown stations.1990-1993: Mini-fyke nets were fished on Lake Mendota and Lake Monona during July-September at 20, 29, 13, and 15 sites per month during 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993, respectively to estimate year-class strength, relative abundance, and size structure of fishes in the littoral zone. Nets were constructed with 3/16 in. mesh, 2 ft. diameter hoops, 2 ft. x 3 ft. frame, and a 25 ft. lead. Sites were comparable to seine sites used in previous surveys. Sites included a variety of substrate types and macrophyte densities. To exclude turtles and large piscivores from minifyke nets, some nets were constructed with approximately 2 in. by 2 in. mesh at the entrance to the net. Thus, mini-fyke net data are most accurate for YOY fishes, and should not be used to make inferences about fishes larger than the exclusion mesh size. 1997:There is no formal documentation for the mini-fyke methods which were used on Lake Waubesa and Lake Wingra from 9/16/1997-9/18/1997. However, given that the data is similar to data collected in 1989, and 1990-1993, it is speculated that the methods used during 1997 are the same. SEINE NETTING1989, 1993: Monthly shoreline seining surveys were conducted on Lake Mendota and Lake Monona during June through September to estimate year class-strength, relative abundance, and size structure of the littoral zone fish community. Twenty sites were identified based on previous studies. Sites included a variety of substrate types and macrophyte densities. Seine hauls were made with a 25ft bag seine with 1/8 inch mesh pulled perpendicular to shore starting from a depth of 1 m. Twenty fish of each species were measured from each haul and any additional fish were counted. Gill Netting (1993)Experimental gill nets were fished in weekly periods during June through August, 1993. Gill nets were used to capture piscivores for population estimates of fish marked in fyke nets. All nets were constructed of five 2.5-4.5 in. mesh panels, and were 125 ft. long. Nets set in water shallower than 10 ft. were 3ft. high or less; all others were 6ft. high or less. Sampling locations were selected randomly from up to three strata: 1) offshore reef sets, 2) inshore sets, 6.0-9.9 ft. deep, and 3) mid-depth sets, 10-29.9 ft. deep. The exact location at which the gill nets were set on the lake is unknown because the latitude and longitude values which were recorded by the WDNR are invalid. Temperature and dissolved oxygen profiles were used to monitor the development of the thermocline and guide net placement during July and August. After the thermocline was established nets were set out to the 30 ft. contour or to the maximum depth with dissolved oxygen greater than 2 ppm. Walleye Age: Scale and Spine Analysis (1987) Scales were taken from walleye that were shocked during the fall of 1987 electrofishing events on Lake Mendota. Scales were taken from 10 fish per one-inch length increment. The scales were removed from behind the left pectoral fin, and from the nape on the left side on esocids. In addition, the second dorsal spine was removed from 10 walleyes per sex and inch increment (to age and compare with scale ages for fish over 20 inches). CREEL SURVEYS1989:Fishing pressure, catch rates, harvest, and exploitation rates were estimated from a randomized, access-point creel survey. The schedule was stratified into weekday and weekend/holiday day types. Shifts were selected randomly and were either 07:00-15:00 h or 15:00-23:00 h. In addition, two 23:00-03:00 h shifts and two 03:00-07:00 h shifts were sampled per month to estimate the same parameters during night time hours. During the ice fishing season (January-February) 22 access points around Lake Mendota and upstream to the Highway 113 bridge were sampled. The clerk counted the number of anglers starting and completing trips during the scheduled stop at each access point. During openwater (March-December) 13 access points were sampled; 10 were boat ramps and 3 were popular shore fishing sites<strong>. </strong>At each of these sites, an instantaneous count of shore anglers was made upon arrival at the site, continuous counts of anglers starting and completing trips at public and private access points were made. Boat occupants and ice fishing anglers were only interviewed if they were completing a trip. Both complete and incomplete interviews were made of shore anglers. Number caught and number kept of each species, and percent of time seeking a particular species were recorded. All predators possessed by anglers were measured, weighed, and inspected for finclips and tags. We measured a random sample of at least 20 fish of each non-predator species per day.1990-1993: Same as 1989, except 23 access points were used during the ice fishing season. In addition, 13 access points were sampled during the openwater (May-December) season; 9 sites were boat ramps and 4 sites were popular shore fishing sites. 1994-1999: No formal documentation exists, but given the similarity in the data and consistency through the years; it is speculated tha tthe methods are the same.
Version Number
19

North Temperate Lakes LTER: Fish Species Richness 1981 - current

Abstract
This data set is a derived data set based on fish catch data. Data are collected annually to enable us to track the fish assemblages of eleven primary lakes (Allequash, Big Muskellunge, Crystal, Sparkling, Trout, bog lakes 27-02 [Crystal Bog] and 12-15 [Trout Bog], Mendota, Monona, Wingra and Fish). Sampling on Lakes Monona, Wingra, and Fish started in 1995; sampling on other lakes started in 1981. Sampling is done at six littoral zone sites per lake with seine, minnow or crayfish traps, and fyke nets; a boat-mounted electrofishing system samples three littoral transects. Vertically hung gill nets are used to obtain two pelagic samples per lake from the deepest point. A trammel net samples across the thermocline at two sites per lake. In the bog lakes only fyke nets and minnow traps are deployed. Parameters measured include species-level identification and lengths for all fish caught, and weight and scale samples from a subset. Derived data sets include species richness, catch per unit effort, and size distribution by species, lake, and year. Species richness for a lake is the number of fish species caught in that lake during the annual fish sampling. Hybrids captured are only included in the richness value if neither of the two hybridized species are caught in the lake that year. Fish identified only to genus or higher taxonomic level are not included if any fish identified to species within that genus or higher taxonomic level are caught. E.g., Unidentified Chub would be only included in the richness value if no other chub is caught in that lake that year. Sampling Frequency: annually. Number of sites: 11
Note that 2020 data does not exist due to insufficient sampling. In 2021, sampling in Fish Lake was suspended due to significant lake level changes.
Core Areas
Dataset ID
245
Date Range
-
Maintenance
ongoing
Metadata Provider
Methods
The same sampling sites are used each year. All sampling occurs between the 3rd week of July and Labor Day. Sampling sites were chosen by random process in 1981 for the Northern lakes (Trout, Allequash, Sparkling, Crystal, and Big Muskellunge). Sites for Lake Mendota were chosen in 1981, and for the other Madison lakes (Monona, Fish, and Wingra) in 1995. All sites are identified with GPS coordinates, except on the bog lakes (Trout Bog and Crystal Bog) where nets are placed equal distances apart around the entire circumference of the lake in approximately the same locations each year.

Night seining is conducted on 6 seine sites per lake, each consisting of 100 meters of shoreline. Prior to 1997 this was subdivided into 3 seine hauls, each covering 33 meters. In 1997, seine hauls were reduced to 2 hauls of 33m each. The final section of the site is used as an alternate seine site in the event of difficulty in one of the first two hauls.
The seine used is 12.2 m long by 1.2 m deep, consisting of two 5.5 x 1.2 m wings surrounding a 1.2 x 1.2 x 1.2 m central bag. The wings are made of 6.4 mm stretch measure knitted delta-strength nylon mesh, and the bag is of 3.2 mm delta strength nylon mesh. The entire net is tarred. The two wings and the opening to the bag have weighted foot ropes and buoyed head ropes. An 8m length of rope is tied between the seine poles as a guide for the maximum spread of the seine.

A trammel net is set at two sites in each lake, and fished for approximately 24 hours at each site. The net is set on the bottom, along a line perpendicular to the shoreline and crossing the thermocline, with the shallow end at about 3m depth,. The trammel net used is 30.5 m long and 1.1 m deep. It consists of two outer nets of 170 mm square 32 kg test mesh multifilament nylon with an inner panel of 51 mm stretch mesh 9 kg test multifilament nylon. The three nets are connected at the leaded foot line and the buoyed head rope.

Fyke nets are deployed at six littoral sampling sites in each lake, and fished for approximately 24 hours. In Crystal Bog and Trout Bog lakes the fyke nets are suspended by placing floats on the hoops and frames to prevent the nets from sinking into the sediments. For the northern lakes, each fyke net is approximately 12 m long and consists of two rectangular steel frames 90 cm wide by 75 cm high and 4 steel hoops, all covered by 7 mm delta stretch mesh nylon netting. An 8 m long by 1.25 m deep leader net made of 7 mm delta stretch mesh nylon netting is attached to a center bar of the first rectangular frame (net mouth). The second rectangular frame has two 10 cm wide by 70 cm high openings, one on each side of the frame center bar. The four hoops follow the second frame. Throats 10 cm in diameter are located between the second and third hoops. The net ends in a bag with a 20.4 cm opening at the end, which is tied shut while the net is fishing. New nets of the same dimensions were purchased for the Northern Highland lakes in 2000. Fyke nets for the Madison lakes are 10 m long (including lead) with 1 rectangular aluminum frame followed by 2 aluminum hoops. The aluminum frame is 98 cm wide x 82 cm tall, and is constructed of 2.5 cm tubing, with an additional center vertical bar. The hoops are 60 cm in diameter and constructed of 5 mm diameter aluminum rod. The single net funnel is between the first and second hoops and is 20 cm in diameter. The lead is 8 m long and 1.25m deep, constructed from 7mm delta stretch mesh.

Crayfish traps are set on all lakes except the bog lakes (Crystal Bog and Trout Bog). Minnow traps are set only on the bog lakes. Prior to 1998, five traps were set at each fyke net site. Beginning 1998, three traps are set per site. Minnow traps and crayfish traps are set in shallow water (approx 1 m), 2 traps on one side, and 1 trap on the other side of the fyke net lead. Minnow traps are baited with 1 slice of bread, and crayfish traps with 120 g of beef liver. Traps are fished for approximately 24 hours. Crayfish are identified to species. Minnows caught in either crayfish or minnow traps are identified to species, and measured for total length. Minnow traps are galvanized steel two piece traps, 44.5 cm long by 30.5 cm maximum diameter with 2.5 cm diameter openings at the ends. The mesh size is 6.4 mm on a side. Crayfish traps are identical, but the opening hole of both sides of the trap has been forced to 5 to 7 cm. Crayfish sampling was terminated for the southern lakes in 2004 after it was determined that the catch per unit effort was too low (2 crayfish caught in 500+ traps)

Gill nets are set at the deepest point of all LTER lakes except Crystal Bog, Trout Bog, and Fish Lake. The nets are set for two consecutive 24 hour sets. The gill nets are a set of 7 nets, each in a different mesh size, hung vertically on foam rollers from the surface to the bottom of the lake, and chained together in a line. Each net is 4 m wide and 33 m long. From 1981 through 1990 the nets were multifilament mesh, in stretched mesh sizes of 19, 25, 32, 38, 51, 64, and 89 mm. In 1991, the multifilament nets were replaced with monofilament nets of the same sizes. Stretcher bars are installed at 10 meter intervals from the bottom to keep the net as rectangular as possible when deployed.

A boom style electrofishing system is used to sample the littoral zone fish community. Prior to 1997, four electrofishing transects were done on each lake. In 1997, the number of transects was reduced to 3. The same transects are used each year. Each transect consists of 30 minutes of current output, with the boat moving parallel to shore in 1-2 meters of water at a slow steady speed. We use the DC pulse system, with 240 volts at 3-5 amps. Transect lengths vary depending upon the size of the lake. If the end of a transect is reached before 30 minutes has elapsed, time is paused while the electrofisher loops back to the start of the transect. The transect is then repeated for the remaining time.

For all collecting methods, the fish are processed as follows. Each individual fish is identified to species. The total length of the fish is measured in mm, from nose to pinched tail. Prior to 1997, the weight of the first five fish of each species in each 10 mm size category was also measured, using Pesola spring balances. Starting in 1997, two fish are weighed for each species in each 5mm size category. A scale sample is collected from each yellow perch, rock bass, and cisco that is weighed. For gill net catches, the depth at which each individual is caught is also recorded.

Protocol Log. 1983: Discontinued fyke nets and trammel nets on Lake Mendota until 1995. 1984: Discontinued crayfish on Lake Mendota until 1995. Only gillnet and seines on Lake Mendota.1995: Resumed sampling Lake Mendota with the full suite of sampling gear. 1995: Began sampling Lakes Wingra, Monona, and Fish. 1997: Two fish are weighed for each fish species in each 5mm size category. Previously, five fish were weighed for each fish species in each 10mm size category. 1997: Data recording switched from manual field sheets to an electronic system. 1997: Changed from 4 to 3 electrofishing runs per lake. 1997: Changed from 18 to 12 seine hauls per lake. 1998: Changed from 30 to 18 crayfish or minnow traps per lake. 2004: Discontinued crayfish or minnow traps on southern lakes. 2020: Fish sampling very limited due to pandemic. 2021: Discontinued all night seining.
Short Name
NTLFI05
Version Number
25
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