The bluegill bite has been hot at Prairie Rose Lake near Harlan. Bluegills have moved close to shore and can be caught on the pea gravel spawning beds placed in the lake during recent renovations. Two years after the lake was restocked, anglers are consistently catching eight to nine inch bluegill, years in advance of most completely restored lakes.
Prairie Rose Lake, built in 1958, was a popular fishing destination in west central Iowa for many years. Low fish populations, historic lake siltation and poor water quality caused in part by an active carp population had kept anglers away.
Land practices to reduce sediment and nutrients in the watershed from reaching the lake began the restoration process in 2008. Soil and nutrient saving practices installed around the lake’s 4,600 acre watershed reduced the amount of sediment and phosphorus entering the watershed by 60 percent.
The lake was drained late in the summer of 2011. In September 2012, the gate was shut and Prairie Rose began to re-fill following the treatment of the watershed to remove undesirable fish species (e.g. common carp). Eliminating carp from a lake improves water clarity, as carp stir up sediment on the bottom of a lake, making the water cloudy. By June of 2013, the lake had refilled and restocking began.
Prairie Rose Lake is one of more than a dozen southwest Iowa impoundments that were completely renovated to restore desirable fisheries for anglers and improve water quality for all Iowans. Recovery times and abundances of fish populations after a fishery renovation varied from lake to lake and often took five to seven years to restore catchable largemouth and bluegill populations.
DNR staff began to evaluate and review their stocking strategies for new and renovated lakes and developed a new stocking strategy to shorten the recovery time of fisheries. This new strategy included stocking pre-spawn adult largemouth bass (1/acre) in the spring allowing natural reproduction to produce the rapid development of a high density largemouth bass population and attain 8 inch bluegill within two years following renovation.
Prairie Rose, along with Twelve Mile, Green Valley, and Little River were restocked using this new strategy, bringing anglers back to the lake within two short years.
Families are once again enjoying a day of fishing at one of the most attractive outdoor recreation areas in western Iowa. Six fishing jetties provide great access for shore anglers and there is a fish cleaning dock located on the lake for successful anglers’ convenience.
Media contact: Bryan Hayes, Fisheries Biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 712-769-2587.