Statement as issued Thursday by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:
The DNR will drain Kunkel Lake in Ouabache State Park this fall to remove existing fish and restock the impoundment with desirable sport fish.
The public can learn more about the project at a Sept. 16 meeting with DNR fisheries biologist Jed Pearson and Ouabache property manager Scott Crossley. The meeting is at 6 p.m. in the Lodge at the park.
Carp and small bluegills currently dominate the 25-acre lake in Wells County. Not enough largemouth bass are present to prey on bluegills, and few young bass are present.
The lake is also overrun with a dense population of rusty crayfish. Crayfish, along with carp, roil the bottom and muddy the water. As a result, few aquatic plants are present and oxygen is available for fish only in the top 5 feet of water.
By draining the lake and restocking a mix of largemouth bass, bluegills, channel catfish and redear sunfish, biologists hope to improve habitat conditions and restore balance within the fish community.
“Unless we drain the lake and start over, the lake will stay muddy, fishing quality won’t improve, and few anglers will want to fish there,” Pearson said.
Draining began yesterday and is expected to take two weeks. The drawdown will be done in stages to prevent any large-scale movement of sediment into the Wabash River.
“We’ll take steps as needed during the drainage process to minimize any sediment that may come from the lakebed,” Crossley said.
Once the water level is lowered as much as possible, Pearson will apply rotenone, a fish toxicant, to eliminate any fish that do not leave the lake.
The drain valve will then be closed to allow Kunkel Lake to refill. Restocking will occur once sufficient water is available to support fish over winter. Fish used in the restocking effort will come from DNR fish hatcheries.
Ouabache State Park (stateparks.IN.gov/2975.htm) is at 4930 E. St. Rd. 201, Bluffton, 46714.