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Quite a stockpile

 

by les winkeler, the southern

 

 

 

Sean Hirst holds a pair of smallmouth bass that were stocked into Kinkaid lake recently. Through the group efforts of the State of Illinois, Kinkaid Conservancy and the Kinkaid Area Watershed Project Smallmouth and other species have been reared in ponds near the lake for stocking purposes. (State of Illinois)

 

MURPHYSBORO - Kinkaid Lake is something of a living laboratory. The scenic 2,850-acre lake in Jackson County is home to one of the most successful stocking programs in the state. Over the past several years, Kinkaid has become a muskie fishing destination. Muskellunge are not an indigenous species.

 

In the meantime, a walleye stocking program has met mixed success and a smallmouth stocking program is in its infancy.

 

 

 

 

Shawn Hirst, an Illinois Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist, oversees all three projects.

 

He said Kinkaid is a perfect venue for stocking programs.

 

"The main thing is, you obviously have to have a rearing pond because it's a lot better to stock advanced fingerlings, which means four inches or above, compared to one or two inches," Hirst said. "The survival rate is much better."

 

Silt basins constructed at the lake several years ago do double duty as rearing ponds for largemouth bass, smallmouth, walleye and crappie. To date, muskies remain the stocking program's poster child.

 

"The size of the fish stocked," said Hirst, explaining the program's success. "Basically on the muskie there is no harvest whatsoever because of the 48-inch length limit. Very few of them are caught and none of the males can even reach that. They seem to be long-lived.

 

"The walleye are stocked at one or two inches. We could stock 10 times as many as we're getting to make a difference, but we just can't get that many through our state hatcheries."

 

The decision to introduce a new species involves multiple variables. The primary variable is the body of water itself.

 

"You can't force a fish into a lake," Hirst said. "The muskies wouldn't do well at Crab Orchard, it's turbid and shallow. They'd just die out when they got to adult size in the summer. It's like you couldn't put trout in Crab Orchard, but they do well in Devils Kitchen because you have deep, oxygenated water.

 

"Kinkaid is suitable for just about anything, but at some point you don't want to stock too many predators so they crash the food base."

 

Kinkaid is suitable for different species because of a variety of habitat. The north end is shallow with stained water while the south end is clear and deep. In addition, the lake has a strong forage base.

 

"It's mainly gizzard shad and spotted suckers," Hirst said. "The lake board tries to but threadfin shad every year from down south and we try to go to Baldwin Lake every year to try to collect threadfin."

 

Although walleye have been stocked into the lake for years, the species hasn't taken hold like muskies. The spillway barrier constructed a few years ago may help keep larger fish in the lake.

 

"I use one of the ponds to raise walleye because we don't think they are reproducing in the lake," Hirst said. "The number of walleyes we stock as fingerlings every year is 55,000 and the lake should probably get double that.

 

"I can raise 5,000 walleye fingerlings in that pond and this year we ended up with 1,300 six-inch fish, which might be better survival than we get out of the 55,000."

 

Now, Hirst is also monitoring a new smallmouth program.

 

"Three years ago, I finally got approval to stock smallmouth in Kinkaid," he said. "That's the one I'm most excited about. There is really no other place to go; there are a few isolated areas in small creeks where the fish are going to be three or four inches.

 

"There are some smallmouth in the Ohio, but nothing you can really guarantee you can catch a smallmouth."

 

The shoreline erosion project under way at Kinkaid Lake has been a happy coincidence for Hirst.

 

"They've done two or three miles I think," Hirst said. "Before that, it was bare muddy bank, 10-foot high. Now, it's that rip rap which is excellent smallmouth habitat."

 

There have already been reports of anglers catching some smallmouth. However, the results will not be immediate.

 

"It's not the actual stocking we're doing that's the bonus," Hirst said. "It's when those fish end up spawning, that's when you'll see the increase in fish. Stocking 3,000 smallmouth in Kinkaid is kind of a drop in the bucket.

 

"In three or four years if those fish spawn, and we'll have year classes every year and if we can get some fish from hatcheries, that would really make those fish start showing up."

 

les.winkeler@thesouthern.com

 

(618) 529-5454 ext. 5088

 

 

 

 

http://www.southernillinoisan.com/articles...rs/19163819.txt

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Quite a stockpile

 

by les winkeler, the southern

Sean Hirst holds a pair of smallmouth bass that were stocked into Kinkaid lake recently. Through the group efforts of the State of Illinois, Kinkaid Conservancy and the Kinkaid Area Watershed Project Smallmouth and other species have been reared in ponds near the lake for stocking purposes. (State of Illinois)

 

MURPHYSBORO - Kinkaid Lake is something of a living laboratory. The scenic 2,850-acre lake in Jackson County is home to one of the most successful stocking programs in the state. Over the past several years, Kinkaid has become a muskie fishing destination. Muskellunge are not an indigenous species.

 

In the meantime, a walleye stocking program has met mixed success and a smallmouth stocking program is in its infancy.

Shawn Hirst, an Illinois Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist, oversees all three projects.

 

He said Kinkaid is a perfect venue for stocking programs.

 

"The main thing is, you obviously have to have a rearing pond because it's a lot better to stock advanced fingerlings, which means four inches or above, compared to one or two inches," Hirst said. "The survival rate is much better."

 

Silt basins constructed at the lake several years ago do double duty as rearing ponds for largemouth bass, smallmouth, walleye and crappie. To date, muskies remain the stocking program's poster child.

 

"The size of the fish stocked," said Hirst, explaining the program's success. "Basically on the muskie there is no harvest whatsoever because of the 48-inch length limit. Very few of them are caught and none of the males can even reach that. They seem to be long-lived.

 

"The walleye are stocked at one or two inches. We could stock 10 times as many as we're getting to make a difference, but we just can't get that many through our state hatcheries."

 

The decision to introduce a new species involves multiple variables. The primary variable is the body of water itself.

 

"You can't force a fish into a lake," Hirst said. "The muskies wouldn't do well at Crab Orchard, it's turbid and shallow. They'd just die out when they got to adult size in the summer. It's like you couldn't put trout in Crab Orchard, but they do well in Devils Kitchen because you have deep, oxygenated water.

 

"Kinkaid is suitable for just about anything, but at some point you don't want to stock too many predators so they crash the food base."

 

Kinkaid is suitable for different species because of a variety of habitat. The north end is shallow with stained water while the south end is clear and deep. In addition, the lake has a strong forage base.

 

"It's mainly gizzard shad and spotted suckers," Hirst said. "The lake board tries to but threadfin shad every year from down south and we try to go to Baldwin Lake every year to try to collect threadfin."

 

Although walleye have been stocked into the lake for years, the species hasn't taken hold like muskies. The spillway barrier constructed a few years ago may help keep larger fish in the lake.

 

"I use one of the ponds to raise walleye because we don't think they are reproducing in the lake," Hirst said. "The number of walleyes we stock as fingerlings every year is 55,000 and the lake should probably get double that.

 

"I can raise 5,000 walleye fingerlings in that pond and this year we ended up with 1,300 six-inch fish, which might be better survival than we get out of the 55,000."

 

Now, Hirst is also monitoring a new smallmouth program.

 

"Three years ago, I finally got approval to stock smallmouth in Kinkaid," he said. "That's the one I'm most excited about. There is really no other place to go; there are a few isolated areas in small creeks where the fish are going to be three or four inches.

 

"There are some smallmouth in the Ohio, but nothing you can really guarantee you can catch a smallmouth."

 

The shoreline erosion project under way at Kinkaid Lake has been a happy coincidence for Hirst.

 

"They've done two or three miles I think," Hirst said. "Before that, it was bare muddy bank, 10-foot high. Now, it's that rip rap which is excellent smallmouth habitat."

 

There have already been reports of anglers catching some smallmouth. However, the results will not be immediate.

 

"It's not the actual stocking we're doing that's the bonus," Hirst said. "It's when those fish end up spawning, that's when you'll see the increase in fish. Stocking 3,000 smallmouth in Kinkaid is kind of a drop in the bucket.

 

"In three or four years if those fish spawn, and we'll have year classes every year and if we can get some fish from hatcheries, that would really make those fish start showing up."

 

les.winkeler@thesouthern.com

 

(618) 529-5454 ext. 5088

http://www.southernillinoisan.com/articles...rs/19163819.txt

 

 

 

I guess I will have to add Kinkaid Lake to my list of places to fish in four or five years.

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