US Long-Term Ecological Research Network

North Temperate Lakes LTER: Fish Lengths and Weights 1981 - current

Abstract
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 four 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. Dominant species vary from lake to lake. Perch, rockbass, and bluegill are common, with walleye, large and smallmouth bass, northern pike and muskellunge as major piscivores. Cisco have been present in the pelagic waters of four lakes, and an exotic species, rainbow smelt, is present in two. The bog lakes contain mudminnows.
The only sampling done in 2020 were a single gill-netting replicate in Sparkling, Crystal, and Trout lakes. Sampling in Fish Lake was suspended in 2021 due to significant lake level changes.
Sampling Frequency: annually Number of sites: 11.
Core Areas
Dataset ID
6
Date Range
-
LTER Keywords
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 circa 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 electro-fishing 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: All night seining was discontinued.
Short Name
NTLFI01
Version Number
31

Landscape Position Project at North Temperate Lakes LTER: Fish 1998 - 1999

Abstract
As part of the Landscape Position Project, we conducted fish sampling on each of 26 lakes using a variety of gear types. Sampling was conducted beginning in the 3rd week in June and running through the endof July in 1998. In 1999, sampling was conducted from early July through August. We used vertical gillnets of various mesh sizes (19, 32, 51, 64, 89-mm stretch mesh) to sample pelagic fishes. The nets were fished in the deep basin of each lake for one diel cycle. We used fyke nets to sample fishes in the shallow near shore areas. Three nets were set, one each at differing locations defined by substrate type (muck, sand and cobble) for one diel cycle. Three crayfish traps were set along side each of the fyke nets. We performed electrofishing over two, 30 minute transects along the near shore area between 0.3 and 1.5-m in depth. Our goal was to capture, identify and measure as many game and non-game fish species as possible Sampling Frequency: one survey on each lake in late June through August of 1998 or 1999 Number of sites: 26
Core Areas
Dataset ID
100
Date Range
-
LTER Keywords
Maintenance
completed
Metadata Provider
Methods
Fish SamplingFish sampling was conducted on each lake at least one month after thermal stratification had taken place, beginning on the 3rd week in June and running through the 3rd week in July. This was done to minimize the effects of winter stress and spawning on fish weight given their length. Several gears were employed to estimate fish diversity in each lake, each being effective at catching a different set of fishes.Vertical gillnets were employed to sample pelagic fishes. A spectrum of mesh sizes (19, 32, 51, 64, 89-mm stretch mesh) were used, with each mesh size effectively catching a different size range of fish. The nets were fished in the deep basin of each lake for one diel cycle.Fyke nets were employed to sample fishes in the shallow near shore areas. Mini fyke nets with a mouth opening 0.75-m high by 1.25-m wide constructed with 4-mm delta mesh, with a 1-m by 5-m single lead were set so as the lead ran perpendicular from shore and that the mouth sat in approximately 1-m of water. There were 3 nets set at differing locations defined by substrate type (muck, sand and cobble) for one diel cycle. Three crayfish traps were set along side each of the fyke nets so as to sample the same habitat type sampled by each fyke net.Electrofishing occurred in the near shore area between 0.3 and 1.5-m in depth. Two 30 minute transects were performed such that a variety of substrate types were sampled. The dipnets used to net fish during electrofishing consisted of 4-mm delta mesh and were capable of retaining small fishes (down to 20-mm). Our goal was to capture and identify as many game and non-game fish species as possible.Fish ProcessingFish caught in each gear type were processed by measuring mass and total length of all fish of each species; however, a subset of each species was measured when the catch rate was high. Two fish in each 5-mm size class for each species were weighed and length measurements were taken so as to collect weight measurements for a wide size range of each species. If the catch of a given species in a given size class (small, medium or large) within a particular set or electro-shocking run exceeded 30 fish, 30 were measured for each species. Those not measured for length in each size class were counted and recorded so as to associate them with those that were measured to allow length frequency distributions to be generated while expediting our processing and avoiding redundant weight and length measuring. Each fish was identified to genus and species using the taxonomic key in Becker (1983). Any game fish killed were turned over to the appropriate Department of Natural Resource Game Warden.
Short Name
LPPFISH1
Version Number
9

Biocomplexity at North Temperate Lakes LTER; Coordinated Field Studies: Coarse Woody Habitat Data 2001 - 2009

Abstract
These data were collected to test for changes in the population dynamics and the food webs of the fish populations of Little Rock and Camp lakes, Vilas County, WI, USA. Little Rock Lake was the site of a whole-lake removal of coarse woody habitat in 2002 and Camp Lake was the site of a whole-lake coarse woody habitat addition in 2004. Sampling began in May of 2001 and ended in August of 2006. Some sampling was repeated from 2007 to 2009. Number of sites: 4. Two lakes with reference and treatment basin in each lake.
Core Areas
Dataset ID
215
Date Range
-
Maintenance
completed
Metadata Provider
Methods
Fish were collected by beach seining, hook and line angling, and minnow traps. Commonly captured species were largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, rock bass, and black crappie. Population Estimates: Chapman-modified continuous Schnabel mark-recapture population estimates were conducted on each basin of Little Rock and Camp lakes annually. Adult population estimates for largemouth bass, yellow perch, rock bass, and black crappie were calculated for Little Rock Lake during 2001-2006. All fish were captured by hook and line angling, minnow traps, and beach seining. Adult population estimates for largemouth bass and bluegill were calculated for Camp Lake during 2002-2006. All fish were captured by hook and line angling and beach seining. Fish Length/Weight Tag data: Length, weight, and mark data was recorded for all fish used to collect diet information. Diet information was collected from up to 15 individuals of each species biweekly May-September using gastric lavage. Diet information was collected from largemouth bass, yellow perch, rock bass, and black crappie in Little Rock Lake from 2001-2005 and 2007 - 2009. Diet information was collected from largemouth bass and yellow perch in Camp Lake from 2002-2005. Fish Length Tag data: Length and mark data was recorded for all fish used to calculate the mark-recapture population estimates. Length and the mark were recorded from all fish captured in Little Rock and Camp lakes from 2001-2006. Length and mark data exists for all fishes collected in Little Rock Lake from 2001-2006 and 2007 - 2009. Fish species from Little Rock include largemouth bass, yellow perch, rock bass, and black crappie. Length and mark data exists for all fishes collected in Camp Lake from 2002-2006. Fish species from Camp Lake include largemouth bass, yellow perch, and bluegill. All fish were captured by beach seining, hook and line angling, and minnow traps. Minnow trap CPUE: Minnow traps were the most effective gear for capturing yellow perch on Little Rock Lake. Standardized minnow trapping was conducted on both basins of Little Rock Lake in 2003-2005. In 2003, 10 minnow traps in each basin were deployed biweekly and picked twice per week. In 2004-2005, 20 minnow traps in each basin were deployed biweekly and picked twice per week. Catch per unit effort was calculated as catch of yellow perch per trap. Age Growth Rates: Growth rates were calculated for a subset of fish collected from Little Rock Lake (2001-2004) and Camp Lake (2002-2005). Back-calculated growth rates from five fish from every 10 mm size increment were examined. In the process, age was determined from scale samples and length at each annulus was back-calculated. Size-specific growth rates were calculated based on the relationship between fish length at age and ln transformed growth rate at age. Back-calculated growth information was assessed from largemouth bass, yellow perch, rock bass, and black crappie in Little Rock Lake. Back-calculated growth information was assessed from largemouth bass and bluegill in Camp Lake.
Short Name
BIOSASS1
Version Number
9

Biocomplexity at North Temperate Lakes LTER; Whole Lake Manipulations: Rainbow Smelt Removal 2001 - 2009

Abstract
Rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) are a harmful invasive species in lakes of northern Wisconsin. Smelt were first detected in Sparkling Lake, Vilas county, WI in 1980 and their population has since increased dramatically. We attempt to remove rainbow smelt from Sparkling Lake through a combined strategy of harvest and predation. If successful, such a strategy might be employed to restore other Wisconsin lakes invaded by smelt to a more natural species assemblage without resorting to piscicides. The data sets presented here report the harvest component of smelt removal. An assessment of the rainbow smelt population, supplementing annual LTER data, was performed during the late summer of 2001. The spring removal effort began in 2002 at ice out using multiple gear types. In 2002, the removal effort also continued from mid to late summer using horizontal gill nets. However, from 2003-2009 we took advantage of smelt spawning behavior and our efforts were condensed to a spring removal at ice-off and we utilized only fyke nets. The total weight of each catch was recorded and length-weights as well as sex ratios were documented for a subset of the catch from each removal event. The removal effort resulted in the removal of the majority of the adult population multiple times. However, smelt are a robust species and the population continuously rebounded from large removal years. As a result, catches have fluctuated from 16kg to nearly two tons. We have observed an overall reduction in fish size and an increase in the proportion of males to females. Sampling Frequency: annually
Dataset ID
218
Date Range
-
LTER Keywords
Maintenance
completed
Metadata Provider
Methods
Setting NetsSet nets in areas of high catch first, moving clockwise around the lake.GPS location of netRecord dates in that locationNumber nets consecutively from first net set. (Nets do not need to be pulled in order they were set.) If a net is moved, keep the same number and add an a, b, c, etc after.Sketch net location on a map with the net number (keep with In-Boat data sheets)Pulling NetsTake lake map with net numbers and In-Boat data sheetRecord date, time, collectors namesAt each net, record net number, number of bags and any comments (note anything unusual)For a zero catch… note if the net was fishing (tipped over, twisted, etc). If there were no problems write NORMAL SET.Try to set the net in exactly the same location. (Over burlap if applicable)Data CollectionIf there is not enough time, please follow this order for priority of data collection.Daily CatchUse Daily Catch sheetRecord date, net number, bag number, number of bags from that netWeigh bags in kilograms. Record.Note if fish were kept for sex determination, length – weight or scales and the number kept.Sex ratioUse Sex sheetRandomly select 2 nets. Sample 50 fish from each net.Record date and net numberWeigh two empty buckets and record weight.Separate fish by sex. Try not to squeeze out eggs/sperm.Count number of males and females. Record.Weigh buckets with males or females in them. Record.Length WeightUse Length Weight sheetSelect a random net and sample 30 fish from itRecord date, net number, if fish were frozenRecord length, weight and sex.Compare to scale sheet. Collect scale sample if category is not filled. Pull scales from behind the dorsal fin. Note on data sheet that scales were taken. Scale envelopes should have date, length, weight, net number and sex of fish on them.
Short Name
BIOSMLT1
Version Number
36

Biocomplexity at North Temperate Lakes LTER; Coordinated Field Studies: Predation Study Data 2000 - 2004

Abstract
These data were collected to track changes in dietary composition, changes in age and growth structure, and changes in species and size of prey of fish predators in Sparkling Lake, Vilas County, WI, USA. Sampling began in May of 2000 and ended in September of 2004. Fish were collected with a boat-mounted electrofishing system, usually by conducting a complete lap around Sparkling Lake shortly after dark. Commonly captured species were rock bass, smallmouth bass, and walleye. Less common species were pumpkinseed sunfish and yellow perch. Dietary Composition: Fish stomach contents were collected by gastric lavage, and fish were released after capture. Stomach contents were sorted and counted by major taxonomic groups, dried in polystyrene weighboats at 57 deg C for 48hrs, and then weighed to 0.001g. The count under a taxonomic group heading indicates how many individuals of that group were found in that diet sample. The mass of that group is given in the adjacent ''net wt'' column. Diets varied across sampling dates and years, with a trend towards decreased abundance of the exotics rusty crayfish and rainbow smelt and increased reliance on native minnows. Prey Data: Fish stomach contents were collected by gastric lavage, and fish were released after capture. Once collected, crayfish and fish prey were measured unless advanced digestion had occurred. If possible, the carapace, right chela and left chela of crayfish prey were measured . Due to digestion, it was usually not possible to get all three measurements. The total length of prey fish was recorded. Young-of-year smelt and crayfish were often too small or digested to measure; these were often just counted. Gut labels on each sampling date correspond with the same gut labels in other datasets. Prey fish and crayfish size and composition varied across sampling dates and years, with a trend towards decreased abundance of rusty crayfish and rainbow smelt and increased reliance on native minnows. Age Growth Data: Scale samples were taken from captured predator fish in the summers of 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2004. Number of sites: 1 - Sparkling Lake Sampling Frequency: 2000: twice; 2001-2004 weekly or biweekly
Core Areas
Dataset ID
128
Date Range
-
LTER Keywords
Maintenance
completed
Metadata Provider
Methods
please see abstract for methods description
Short Name
BIOROTH1
Version Number
7

Biocomplexity at North Temperate Lakes LTER; Coordinated Field Studies: Fish Individual 2001 - 2004

Abstract
Fish Data collected for Biocomplexity Project; Landscape Context - Coordinated Field Studies. The eight sportfishes of concern in this dataset; Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Bluegill-Pumpkinseed hybrid, Largemouthbass, Smallmouthbass, Rockbass, Walleye, and Yellowperch, are the only species for which standard metrics (length (mm) and weight (g)) were taken. All other fish were identified to species and counted. Sampling Frequency: annually Number of sites: 58
Core Areas
Dataset ID
43
Date Range
-
LTER Keywords
Maintenance
completed
Metadata Provider
Methods
(revised 6or28or02)NOTE: This protocol is for each sample site. Eight sites are sampled on each lake.Day CrewEquipment checklist:25 (50 halves) Minnow Traps and Floats Measuring board25 (50 halves) Crayfish Traps and Floats GPS25 slices Beef Liver (6.5 packages) Balances (5, 10, 30g)25 slices of white bread (2 bags) Computer16 Reflectors 12 volt batteriesForceps Data sheetsScale Envelopes and paper (write in rain) Full fuel tankID keys PFDsForceps OarsSmall Tubs AeratorsMinnow nets Measuring tapePlace 1 slice of white bread in each minnow trap and 1 slice of beef liver in each crayfish traps. Minnow traps have 2.5cm diameter openings and crayfish traps have 7.6cm openings.Locate the beginning of each site using the GPS.Set three minnow traps and three crayfish traps in shallow water (approx. 1 m), spaced approximately 15m apart along the 50m riparian transect corresponding with plots A, C, and E. Set the crayfish and minnow traps within two meters of each other.Traps are fished for approximately 24 hours. Crayfish are identified to species, counted per trap, and returned to the lake. Fish caught in either the crayfish or minnow traps are identified to species. Bluegill, pumpkinseed, rock bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and walleye are measured for total length, weighed and scales taken if necessary (see processing fish below). Any other species caught are identified to species, counted for each trap, and returned to the lake.After pulling the traps at each site, set out the reflectors for electrofishing. The reflectors should be placed 25m before the start of the adjacent riparian transect and 25m after the end of the transect.Night CrewEquipment Checklist:Fishboards (large and small) ElectrofishBoxBalances (5, 10, 30, 60, 100, 500, 1000 grams) ForcepsComputer HeadlampsScale envelopes Cliplights (2)Batteries (2-12 volts) Running lightsFull fuel tanks (generator and boat) AeratorsPFDs GPSOars Dip nets (2)Big Tubs (3) Small tubsRubber boots and gloves (2 pairs) Spotlight (2)Locate each site by finding the reflectors with the spotlight.Electrofish eight 100m transects on each lake after sunset.Follow a 1.5m depth contour along the shoreline, but make sure to electrofish near littoral structure (docks, cwd, etc).Two dipnetters will net all fish regardless of size and place them in the livewell.The driver should record the average DC electrical output in amps and the time taken to complete each transect on the driver datasheet.times Note – Communication between the driver and the netters is essential. It is the netters responsibility to let the driver know about obstructions (logs, rocks, etc) in the water and to let them know if they have to back up for missed fish. Dont be shy, the driver has to hear you over the generator.PROCESSING FISHSort fish into small tubs by species if necessary.Measure the total length (from nose to end of caudal fins pinched together) in mm and weight in grams for these seven species:Bluegill PumpkinseedLargemouth Bass Smallmouth BassRock Bass Yellow PerchWalleyeTake several scales from 5 fish of each of these species (bluegill, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and walleye) from each 10mm size class. Keep track of the number of samples taken from each of these species using the scale tally sheet.For yoy fish (for yoy lengths see Table 1), take lengths and weights of 30 fish of each of the above seven species per lake. If possible take several of the 30 required fish from different locations, not all from the same site.Weights should be taken with the appropriate sized spring balance – the fish should be in the mid-range of the scale.Record the date, lake code, site number, fish ID number, species, length, and weight on the scale envelope.Take the scales from behind the left pectoral fin if looking at the fish from the dorsal side. Place at least 5 scales in the scale envelope.Take the third dorsal spine from 5 yellow perch and bluegill for each age class (Table 1). Place it in the scale envelope.Identify all other fish and keep a count for each species for each trap or electrofish run.If a fish cannot be positively identified, preserve it for later identification.Revive fish that have not recovered by holding them by their dorsal surface in the water and gently rocking them to the left and right to move water across the gills.times Note - Remember to hang pesola spring balances to dry after each sampling. If the springs rust they are not reliable. Spring balances are to be calibrated weekly.
Short Name
BIOFISH1
Version Number
6
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