Update on Marble and West Hottes Lake Restoration Project

(photo by Steve Weisman) Curly-leaf pondweed blankets the shallows on this section of East Lake Okoboji.

Curly-leaf pondweed more noticeable this year

June 6, 2014 Comments (0) Conservation / Wildlife

Trumbull Lake on its Way Back

(A follow up to a previous story)

By Steve Weisman


Stocking of perch eggs in strategically placed tree limbs.

With Trumbull Lake now nearly half full, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has begun its initial restocking efforts. According the Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist Mike Hawkins, perch will be introduced into the lake first and after they have been established a predator fish will be added.

Hawkins explains the initial perch stocking. “The first stocking was completed in May.  Approximately 900,000 perch eggs were placed in the lake. Perch lay their eggs in a gelatinous mass that attaches to aquatic plants.  The egg masses were placed on cattails and tree branches submerged in the water.”

With no other fish predators in Trumbull, Hawkins notes that the stocking should be very successful. “In late July to early August, we will stock around 230,000 1-2” perch fingerlings that could reach eight inches in length by late next year (2015),” said Hawkins.  “After being stocked these fish will grow and reproduce rapidly on their own and a predator fish like the northern pike will be stocked after the perch are established.”

At this point, the restoration is going as planned. The lake bottom had a chance to dry out and compact, aquatic plant life returned and with the lakebed and drainage ditches dry, DNR personnel were able to eliminate common carp from the Trumbull Lake watershed. “We have good aquatic plant growth all around the lake with a nice open pool in the middle. Now, if the weather will cooperate, we hope to have the lake at full pool yet this year.”


Need for the shallow lake restoration

Since its inception in 2006, the Lake Restoration Program has become a real success story with shallow water lakes throughout the state being restored to its historical quality. In northwest Iowa these success stories include Diamond Lake (west of Spirit Lake), Dan Green Slough (north of Spencer) and Four Mile Lake (west of Estherville). Trumbull Lake was in desperate need of the shallow lake restoration program.

Here is the way the State Highway Commission in 1916 described Trumbull Lake. “Trumbull is a clear open body of water, five feet in depth. The beaches are covered in gravel. Fishing has always been considered good, and many big pickerel as well as quantities of smaller fish are taken during the season. The shooting is good: the outlying sloughs and sheltered bays afford both shelter and feeding places for wildlife.”

Over the past few years, the lake had deteriorated to very turbid water conditions and poor water quality, very little aquatic vegetation and a fishery that was dominated by the common carp.

Initially, the goal was a drawdown, but then Mother Nature stepped in with drought-like conditions and the lakebed went totally dry. So, the project became a total lake renovation!


The future

With Mother Nature’s help, Trumbull Lake is now filling with the hope that by the summer of 2015, anglers will be catching adult perch in the lake. However, there really is more to do, if we want the lake to remain a shallow clear water jewel. Hawkins reminds area residents, “We don’t want to forget the other important parts of a healthy lake. For a lake to be truly healthy, its watershed (land that drains to the lake) must be healthy.”

That takes everyone thinking about where the water and soil that leaves their property is headed.  Technical and financial assistance is available for wetland restorations and addressing erosion. The Trumbull Lake watershed encompasses nearly 54,000 acres, and it will take many partners working together to improve this drainage and ensure the project’s long-term success.

The science of soil erosion prevention and soil health has come a long way.  Soil professionals with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service can be a great resource. Simple practices can be put in place that can have an immediate impact on the lake. From no-till farming, to grassed waterways, to buffer strips and wetland restorations, there are a wide range of viable options that will not adversely impact farming income.

It takes research and planning by a lot of entities. At this point, though, Trumbull Lake has a fighting chance to be the lake it once was. Just remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day!

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