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Carter Lake Revisited

It has been going on three years since the rotenone renovation of Carter Lake just across the road from the Omaha’s Eppley Airfield.  That was done as part of a major Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation project.  If you want to review the amount of work done, how extensive the project was at Carter Lake, here are some links that provide more details, http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/2010/10/carter-lake-renovation-update/ , http://www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/water/lakerestoration/12report.pdf .  Yes, that last link is to a document published by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  Carter Lake is a border water and there were a lot of different agencies in both Nebraska and Iowa that partnered together to complete the Carter Lake Aquatic Habitat rehabilitation project.

Obviously, when we undertake a major Aquatic Habitat rehabilitation project our overarching goal is to improve fishing.  We accomplish that by improving water quality which results in better fish habitat which produces more and faster-growing fish which means better fishing.  Better fishing is the ultimate goal, but there are lots of other benefits too!

Let me show you some recent pictures of Carter Lake:

Here are some off-shore breakwaters.  Notice the notch to allow water, and fish, access to the wetland area behind the breakwater.  Also notice the vegetation, habitat, both behind the breakwater and the submerged vegetation in front of the breakwater.  Notice how clear the water is!

This shoreline had some re-shaping done and then rock rip-rap was placed for protection of that shoreline.  There is more clear water and more submerged aquatic vegetation in front!

In this photo you can see a series of “hard points” or breakwaters that will provide more shoreline protection.  Stable, protected shorelines do not erode and do not dirty the water!  These breakwaters will provide shore-fishing access as well.

Storm drain improvements will mean cleaner water too!

And if you look close, there are a variety of “lily pads” or waterlilies!!!!

How about it bass anglers?  Want to toss some baits in there?

Power-boating is still allowed on parts of Carter Lake, and is often the case, multiple-uses creates challenges.  In the eye of a pointy-headed fisheries biologist there has to be A LOT of aquatic vegetation to be a problem ( http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/2013/06/weeds/ ).  Carter Lake does NOT now have too much aquatic vegetation.  However, there is a mechanical harvester and other control methods being used to keep some areas open for boats.

Yes, clean water means more aquatic vegetation.  That is the idea, that is the “price” of clean water!

I did not include any pictures of all the waterfowl and other birds using Carter Lake right now.  Clean water and fish habitat are good for a lot of other critters too!

Re-stocking of Carter Lake started three years ago this fall, right after the rotenone renovation.  Largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish have been re-stocked.  Most of those fish were stocked as fingerlings, but a few largemouth bass were adult-size.  Regardless of the size of fish at stocking, growth rates of fish stocked after a rotenone renovation are usually much faster than normal, and I am confident that with the water quality and habitat Carter Lake now has there are some fish that are catchable-size now!  In fact I have been hearing some reports of folks catching a lot of bass there.  It is time to start fishing Carter Lake again and fishing will get even better in the next few years!

Thanks Mark for the photos!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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