View Mobile Site


Low lake level's effect on fishing good - for now

Environment could become unhealthy

POSTED: December 13, 2007 5:02 a.m.

As the level of Lake Lanier keeps dropping lower, it's like fishing in a goldfish bowl.

The record low lake level has put many at a disadvantage - with folks fearing job losses and water shortages - but anglers are taking advantage.

Tony Carere, who has lived around Lake Lanier for 12 years, reports more luck on the lake this year. On Thursday, Carere said he caught seven healthy looking fish in three hours. He reels in more spotted bass than anything, he said.

"It seems to be better all around," Carere said. "Either I'm getting a little bit wiser or (I'm) in the right place at the right time."

According to one expert, there are a lot more right places.

"The same numbers of fish are trapped in a smaller area of water," said Dennis Schmitt, fisheries biologist for Georgia's Department of Natural Resources. "They're easier to reach."

During the drought, fishing is not just better for those with poles. It has its perks for those seeking fish underwater, too.

As of Saturday night, Lake Lanier had dropped to 1,051.75 feet above sea level according to the U.S. Geological Survey Web site. Schmitt said the lower water level makes it easier for the predatory fish such as largemouth and striped bass to feed.

Smaller fish are running out of hiding places, and the predators do not have to work as hard for their food. As a result, they are able to put on more weight, Schmitt said.

But in the long run, the smaller fish will also benefit from the lower lake level.

"When the water comes back, (the prey) have more space to spawn and less competition for nesting," Schmitt said. "And they'll be successful.

"You're just making room. By getting rid of the old you've got room to bring in the new."

Continued drought conditions, however, will make the lake an unhealthy environment for the fish and as a result have a negative impact on fishing, he said.

"After a certain point in time ... it's going to impact your predators, because they're basically going to eat up their food," he said.

Schmitt said the lake levels will have to be low for more than a year to make Lanier an unhealthy environment.

But for anglers who do not live on the lake, the lower levels may be making it harder to get to the fish.

Only two of 104 boat ramp lanes managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remain open, said Jonathan Davis, operations project manager with the corps. Those two are Tidwell and Shoal Creek.

When the water at the end of the ramp lane is less than three feet deep, the corps closes it for safety reasons, Davis said.

Fewer ramps mean fewer parking spaces for those wanting to take advantage of the good fishing, but the corps is not any less strict about illegal parking.

"Obviously, we're not going to be able to accommodate everybody," Davis said. "It's always been first come first served.

"When an area's full it's full."

Again, the corps' adherence to the rules has to do with safety, Davis said. If a parking area is overcrowded with vehicles, it would be more difficult for emergency services to get to the lake, he said.

"The reason we have the parking rules in the first place ... are for safety and security reasons," Davis said. "And those reasons don't go away just because we have less areas open."

"These are unusual times," Davis said. "But it doesn't mean we throw all rules out the window and let people get into a dangerous situation."


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.




Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...